Critical Issues in the Richmond Region
A critical component of community engagement is responding to community-identified needs. Many agencies and organizations in the Richmond region collect data and generate reports that are helpful in understanding the needs, opportunities and priorities of the region. These reports address issues such as health, education, economic development, demographics and more. Faculty and students are encouraged to review these reports as an initial step in preparing to engage in the Richmond region.
Strategic Alignment of VCU's Regional Engagement
VCU is working with community leaders and university faculty, staff and administrators to identify potential focus areas for VCU's regional engagement, as specified in Quest for Distinction to "Advance focused and strategic university-community engagement that addresses critical needs and opportunities in the region." The following reports, recently released indicators of pressing regional needs, serve as guidance documents for this process.
Bridging Richmond convened local data and research professionals representing multiple sectors to form the Regional Data Advisory Committee (RDAC). RDAC, led by Bridging Richmond in partnership with the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium, developed a rigorous approach to select core indicators for education, from cradle-to-career, in the Richmond Region. This report compiles baseline data on these indicators in order to capture the current state of the region.
The Office of Community Wealth Building is charged with leading a comprehensive poverty reduction initiative encompassing workforce and economic development, housing, education and transportation within Richmond City. This annual report shares a detailed account of the office's work and accomplishments to date.
The Capital Regional Collaborative is a collaborative effort between government, business and the community to identify and implement regional priorities that will enhance the quality of life in the Richmond Region. This report compiles baseline indicators in priority areas that help capture the current state of the Richmond region, compare it to similar communities and measure progress over time.
Virginia's Department of Health released a plan to lay out 13 priority goals that address issues significantly impacting the health and well-being of the people of Virginia. This plan provides a framework to guide the development of projects, programs and policies to advance Virginians' health.
VCU: "Identifying Regional Priorities and Opportunities"
In 2014-2015, the Division of Community Engagement collected and reviewed publicly available community assessments to gain a better understanding of community-identified priorities. Twenty-four reports from the past 10 years (2005-2015) were reviewed for their geographical focus, explicit population of interest, data collection methods and stated priorities.
Community & Economic Development
Housing Virginia launched its Rural Housing Initiative in Fall 2015 to determine housing needs and gaps in rural regions around the state. This information, along with best practice research and policy recommendations, is included in this report.
Blueprint Chesterfield is Chesterfield County's system for planning, establishing and resourcing community priorities to help leaders use feedback to shape the five-year plan during the budget process.
The United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg conducted a needs assessment to identify trends within the community. Their study focused on several key indicators, including: a community overview; education; self-sufficiency; and health and well-being for children, adults, and older adults.
The Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission, commissioned by Major Dwight C. Jones, released a report with recommendations and strategies for ending generational poverty and creating an empowered, diverse population. The recommendations were made as a result of committee meetings and public comment through focus groups and online surveys.
In a collaborative effort between the Center for Social Science Research at George Mason University, the Center on Human Needs at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Engaging Richmond, a community needs assessment was conducted in Richmond’s East End. This process engaged residents, as well as service providers and school staff in the area.
The United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg compiled secondary data related to children and families living in poverty, as well as information about health, early care and education.
The Capital Region Collaborative has created a comprehensive report of the thoughts and opinions of the Capital Region community regarding aspirations and community priorities. They utilized focus groups, community conversations, telephone surveys, and online surveys to connect to the community.
In a partnership between the VCU School of Social Work, the VCU Department of Psychology, and the Asian American Society of Central Virginia, a needs assessment of the greater Richmond area was conducted using surveys administered at community events as well as online. This assessment looked at a variety of social, cultural, health, and behavioral factors.
Sponsored by the MetLife Foundation, the Aging in Pace Initiative held a workshop at The Richmond Convention Center in which leaders from local businesses, local government, advocacy organizations, and more gathered to create a plan for a Richmond area that supports its aging residents.
The Central Virginia Health Planning Agency conducted a needs and assets assessment for The Community Foundation, with a focus on health and human services in the greater Richmond area. The assessment includes public data, surveys, and interviews.
In a collaborative effort, VCU Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, City of Richmond Hispanic Liaison Office, VCU Community Solutions, Richmond Behavioral Health Authority, and more conducted a needs assessment to better understand health and safety concerns, as well as service needs, of the Latino community in the Richmond area. This assessment included surveys completed by Latino adults, as well as interviews with community leaders and focus groups with Latino parents.
The Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC and the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC performed an assessment of Richmond’s competitiveness utilizing news sources and a fifteen-year survey of electronic databases.
The Age Wave Initiative, chaired by Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging, and VCU’s Department of Gerontology, has created a strategic plan to develop communities for all ages and abilities by hosting a series of community forums and focus groups.
The United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg has implemented a Community Impact Plan designed to mobilize people, multiply investments, and maximize opportunities for education, economic stability, and safety. This plan was developed as the result of a needs assessment utilizing public data and focus groups.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond annually surveys experts to identify the most pressing current and emerging issues in the Fifth District. This report presents findings from the 2016 survey, which includes responses representing a broad cross-section of community perspectives across Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Housing & Homelessness
Upon request from the Capital Regional Collaborative, the Partnership for Housing Authority has sought to generate a better understanding of housing quality in Richmond, and identify room for improvement. This needs assessment utilized public data as well as interviews with housing experts and surveys with various stakeholders.
As a part of the Community Development Block Grant Program within the Department of Economic and Community Development in Richmond, Housing Opportunities Made Equal has prepared an analysis of social and demographic trends in order to identify barriers to housing choice.
In order to create a plan to address the gaps in Richmond’s homelessness prevention system and better facilitate the goal of preventing and ending homelessness, a community forum of over one hundred stakeholders gathered together. Homeward has taken initiative in monitoring and implementing this ten year plan.
Bon Secours Health Center has conducted a series of needs assessments for the regions surrounding their various facilities, including St. Francis Medical Center, Richmond Community Hospital, Richmond Memorial Medical Center, and St. Mary’s Hospital. These needs assessments utilized focus groups, surveys, and secondary data.
On behalf of Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Centers, Community Health Solutions conducted a community health needs assessment for the Sheltering Arms-Hanover hospital area. This assessment looked at important health concerns, significant service gaps, and suggestions for improving community health.
Community Health Solutions conducted a community health needs assessment on behalf of the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU utilizing surveys of community stakeholders and quantitative data of community health status indicators.
The Food Policy Task Force commissioned by Mayor Dwight C. Jones released a report with recommendations for combating the “food deserts” of Richmond. This needs assessment included a community forum and local community data regarding food security; education and awareness; health and nutrition; school and community gardens; quality of school food; and community assessment.
In order to compile an overview of the language needs of the Richmond Community, the Virginia Department of Health assessed US Census data, as well as data from a variety of state agencies.
Nonprofit Organization Needs
On behalf of the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence, the Knowledge Advisory Group conducted a needs assessment to determine nonprofit resource needs. The assessment was conducted via focus groups and a web-based survey that reached out to a multitude of sectors, including nonprofit, faith-based, business, government, and foundations.
Through surveys, interviews, and focus groups, the City of Richmond identified the needs of the Richmond Public Library, and created a strategic plan to ensure that the library is able to meet the needs of its community.
KFH Group, Inc. has prepared a plan on behalf of the GRTC Transit and VA Department of Rail and Public Transportation in order to identify transportation priorities, foster local partnerships, and support coordination efforts. This plan was developed through focus groups with key informants.
Bridging Richmond, staffed and supported by VCU, in collaboration with VCU’s Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium, utilized public data, focus groups, and community forums to develop a common metric to measure success on shared goals.
This report highlights the innovative work happening across the Commonwealth as communities strive to ensure children start school healthy and ready to learn and hold promise as the talented future workforce Virginia needs.