Providing resources to the Greater Fulton community of Richmond, Virginia

Ujima Legacy Fund – $20,000 grant for the NRC Recording Studio

Dozens of Richmond men united to raise more than $40,000 for some of RVA’s most under-served communities. The men of Ujima presented the money to two non-profit groups Thursday night.
The Ujima Legacy Fund donated $20,000 to help fund the Children’s Arts, Gardens and Education Lab in Richmond’s Mosby neighborhood.

“It brings in instruction for the kids. It brings in supplies,” said Art Burton with the Kinfolks/ Renew First Generation Initiative. “It allows us to plant 15 gardens, do 15 murals and reduce the violence in the community.”

46 men donated more than $1,000 of their own money as part of an African-American male giving circle.

“Ordinary men who get up everyday,” said Robert Dortch, Jr. with Ujima. “Who work hard…who are committed to making a difference. And they are saying we want to come together to invest and support our children. We care about our children. We care about our community.”

Burton says the money will have a profound impact on the young children in the Mosby Court area.

“Just to know that they have men like the men of Ujima standing in their lives,” said Burton. “And for us to know that…it’s an incredible feeling.”

The money will fund summer programs for 125 kids ages 6 to 18.

“It’s just divine,” said Cheryl Groce-Wright with the Neighborhood Resource Center of Greater Fulton.

Groce-Wright also got a $20,000 check.

“It provides employment opportunities for people who live right down the street,” said Groce-Wright.

The center has a state of the art recording studio, but they don’t have studio techs or managers.

“And that’s what the grant is going to allow us to do,” said Groce-Wright. “Is to have the staff to run this studio like a professional studio.”

Mr. Dortch says this is just the beginning.

“And by making this investment in our community we are taking action,” said Dortch. “We are willing and committed to doing even more.”

How much more? The Ujima Legacy Fund wants to raise $100,000 next year. Click here if you would like to learn more.

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June 11, 2015   No Comments

Pat Asch Fellowship for Social Justice recipient is Cheryl Groce-Wright

YWCA Pat Asch Fellowship for Social Justice grantee Cheryl Groce-Wright and the Greater Fulton Neighborhood Resource Center should absolutely and positively be on your radar.

APRIL 15, 2015; 9:00 AM • BY SUSAN HOWSON

YWCA Breakfast and Outstanding Women Awards Events

YWCA Breakfast and Outstanding Women Awards Events

The YWCA’s Pat Asch Fellowship for Social Justice awards one woman a significant chunk of change to take to the next level whatever plan she has for making change in her community. The requirements: you have to be 50, working in the City of Richmond, Henrico, Hanover, Chesterfield, Goochland, or Powhatan, and a total social justice superhero.

Have you guys met Cheryl Groce-Wright?

Executive Director of the Greater Fulton Neighborhood Resource Center since 2012, Groce-Wright helps the Fulton area regrow programs that the rest of the city’s neighborhoods may take for granted. This Times-Dispatch article from 1967 is an eerie description of the state of the “Bottom” before it was bulldozed into oblivion. Many of the current Fulton Hill residents are transplants who have moved “up the Hill,” just to see the neighborhood lose its stores, post office, banks, and library.

“The Neighborhood Resource Center was created to be a positive in a neighborhood that had just been left on its own,” explains Groce-Wright, who took over after the passing of tireless activist and local treasure, Mary Lou Decossaux, who founded the Center in 2005. The history of its early days is a fascinating thing, and a testament to how much change can truly be accomplished by a neighborhood who knows it can determine the path of its own future.

Groce-Wright admits that she spent some time worrying how to walk in Decossaux’s beloved footprints–though she’s not a native, she’s been doing social work and research benefiting various aspects of the City of Richmond since 1993. She decided, ultimately, what the neighborhood already had–her own strengths were plenty. ‘I thought, ‘I don’t have to be Mary Lou,’ ” she remembers. ” ‘I can be who I am to move this mission forward.’ ”

“Fortunately, I walked into an organization that was already plugged into the neighborhood in several ways–providing childhood care for preschool and school-age kids. At the time, it was a computer lab too, where you could get help with resume writing, job listings, notary services, copying, faxing, phone–that kind of thing.” That computer lab grew into the Financial Opportunity Center, which is primarily funded by LISC, and still serves as the adult programming of the NRC.

In 2010, Groce-Wright also organized Greater Fulton’s Future, a community initiative anchored by charrettes–“laid-back facilitated meetings with neighbors, where we asked them what they would like to see.” As a result, GFF organized five work teams in the areas of housing (renovated several homes through Rebuilding Together Richmond), economic development, legacy (did a full oral history of Fulton before its destruction), parks and infrastructure, and services (got Bon Secours to send their health caravan to the area once a month).

Oh, and Groce-Wright also was a primary mover and shaker in the Stone Brewing Co. decisions, leading neighborhood meetings, working with council representative Cynthia Newbille, and making the trip out to Stone to make sure it was up to muster. She’s now firmly for the idea, by the way, and believes the brewery will make many of Fulton’s goals a reality–goals like a new grocery store, more river access, and, of course, jobs.

If all of this sounds overwhelming, it’s with good reason. Sitting with Cheryl Groce-Wright at a table in the exact middle of the Center was like being at the epicenter of the most productive hurricane ever. An adult computer course was in progress about a foot from me, a line of small children snaked happily by on their way outside, something inside the on-site kitchen started to smell amazing, and a neighborhood resident stops by to get something from the library. Those kids, by the way, are enrolled in an official Montessori preschool program with a sliding-scale weekly tuition (“We thought, why stop at just after-school care? Why not offer a preschool? And why stop at just a preschool, why not have the best preschool?”). They ate a vegetable-laden lunch on tiny picnic tables under a tree outside, chatting with each other and generally seeming well-behaved and jubilant.

Meanwhile, Groce-Wright recounts the success of their newest tax preparation program, which turned in more than 70 tax returns in its first year alone. Oh, and have you seen our enormous garden out back, with its raised beds, tended by the kids, who frequently turn the vegetables into their next nutritious meal?

This building practically pulses with the fruits (and vegetables) of the very hard work of so many committed residents. A “center,” it truly is, and Groce-Wright’s own down-to-earth, “let’s make things happen” friendliness is evident throughout. Recently, it’s starting to make beneficial partnerships with nearby organizations like Church Hill Activities and Tutoring and Peter Paul Development Center that have made even more resources possible. But that’s not to say the NRC Is without need–they’re constantly looking for volunteers to tutor kids, teach a class, work in the gardens, lead a workshop, all sorts of things.

So with so many ideas for further expansion and programming, what’s Groce-Wright going to use her $17,500 fellowship grant for?

After observing so many communities get on their feet and seeing the pride and empowerment that comes from hoeing your own row, she has a notion that teaching a community how to organize itself, and then turning that community into a teacher of another community may just make change expand exponentially.
“For me,” she says. “I’ve seen such amazing transformation happen in people’s personal lives when they’ve been invovled in changing their communities. Folks that really know that they’ve made an impact–it’s really life changing…Improve your own situation and then teach and help others make their own change.”

The first step is attending an international conference in England and learning from community developers from all over the world, then visiting cities who have made huge strides, like Chicago and Atlanta. Then, stay tuned. Groce-Wright has plans for Fulton that could inspire your own neighborhood to come take some lessons. And that’s really the idea.

“It seemed really natural to me that one of the outgrowths of NRC could be not only helping communities figure out what they need in order to help themselves, and help residents be not only part of the change, but teach that to other communities. Improve your own situation, then teach and help others make their own change.”

Keep an eye on Fulton as the next couple of years unfold. Any community powered by the energy of Cheryl Groce-Wright, the team of volunteers and employees at the NRC, and the dedicated residents of the Greater Fulton area is bound for great heights.

June 11, 2015   No Comments

NRC Works hiring an Employment Coach for the Financial Opportunity Center

Employment Coach/Specialist, Part-time position

Organization and Program Overview
NRC Works – A Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) helping low to moderate income families boost earnings, reduce expenses, and make appropriate financial decisions that lead to asset building through an integrated service model approach. The center provide individuals and families with services across three critical and interconnected areas: employment services, financial coaching and access to income supports.
Position Description
The employment coach provides direct services to low to moderate-income individuals who are enrolled as Financial Opportunity Center participants. The Employment Coach assists clients in preparing for the workforce through education, training, and job readiness preparation. The main focus of their position centers on one-on-one employment coaching. Examples of services include skills and training needs assessment, resume guidance, mock interviews, career counseling, and referrals to education and training programs. The employment coach would also conducts job readiness classes for the community.

The employment coach will also work closely with the income supports coach and financial coach to ensure that the client is getting assistance across these three major service areas.

Provide one-on-one employment coaching to program participants
The employment coach will:
o Conduct a skills and training needs assessment
o Discuss an employment plan based on the client’s employment goals
o Assist clients in developing a personalized and professional resume
o Prepare clients for the job search process
o Prepare clients for the interview and hiring process including conducting mock interviews
o Monitor job retention and provide services to working clients
o Understand other services offered by the agency, such as the income supports services and financial coaching, and connect the clients to these other services
Data entry and outcome tracking of program participants
The employment coach is responsible to:
o Maintain contact with the client and monitor the status of their employment (e.g. interviewing, working, lay-off, in search of career enhancement)
o Use Efforts to Outcome (ETO), a client management system, to document and reflect the outcome of their clients in a timely and accurate manner
o Update the Combined Financial Assessment (CFA) for their clients to reflect changes to their budget when client experience a change in employment or wages OR alert the financial coach to this change [in instances where the financial coach makes all budget updates–depending on the process at the FOC]
Provide group based education on employment topics
o The classes may be part of a larger job readiness class offered by the FOC, or may be occasional workshops to the public
o Develop workshop materials or tailor existing materials to meet the needs of the community
o Workshops should be relevant to the community, and may include topics such as: interviewing skills, resume writing, career choices, and more.
Develop relationships with local training and education providers

• Bachelor’s degree from a four year accredited institution
• 2-3 Years previous experience in workforce development preferred
• Previous work experience in the social services sector preferred
• Strong communication skills. Must be able to communicate effectively with clients during workshop presentations; and with FOC team members.
• Previous work experience with the FOC’s target population, and/or the ability to provide services in a culturally sensitive manner
• Proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and resume writing software
• Internet and Resource Savvy

To apply send cover letter, resume and three references to Position open until filled, best consideration given before Dec. 31, 2014.

December 16, 2014   No Comments