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Five simple ways you can show love for Richmond Public Schools right now

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This fall marks my tenth year teaching elementary art in Richmond Public Schools. The past decade has been a crazy ride with constant shifts in leadership and a pervasive feeling that we are barely keeping our heads above water. Regardless of this, I continue to believe that I am right where I belong and that my work allows me to truly live out my values. I know firsthand how hard the teachers in RPS work and how much they give despite the challenges we face. I also know how awesome our students are and how much many of them have to overcome on a daily basis.

This fall is also my second year as a parent of an RPS student and I am so thankful for the love my child experienced last year in Kindergarten and for his enthusiasm for learning and school. I know that the Richmond community wants to see things get better so that ALL of our children can experience this joy and support in our public school system.

If you feel like I feel, there are many ways to help, right now. Richmond native, Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Join me and so many others as we shift the negative narrative about Richmond Public Schools and allow our values to speak through our choices and actions. Thanks for giving your love, Richmond!

1. #CleartheList

Many teachers have created Amazon wishlists and are using social media to share their needs for the school year. (I’m updating mine today!) The hashtag #clearthelist is trending this summer as many celebrities are endorsing this movement to provide teachers with classroom supplies. This whole thing was actually started by a Virginia teacher this July through a facebook page that went viral.

2. Donors Choose

You may have already heard about the website, Donors Choose, which allows teachers to create requests for funding of supplies, projects, professional development and even classroom trips or visitors. It’s super easy to use and you can search by city or zip code to find live projects. Often there are matching funds available through organizations.

3. RPS Shines

Local volunteer organization, Hands on Greater Richmond, has partnered with Richmond Public Schools to organize volunteers this summer for the second annual RPS Shines initiative. There are opportunities for community members to sign up and come out for a three hour shift to beautify schools before the students return in a few weeks. My son and I will be helping out at our school this Wednesday. Giving time is a great way to help if you can’t give money.

4. STAY RVA

Supporting Together Area Youth (STAY) RVA is a movement comprised of parents and neighbors who want to help Richmond’s local public schools thrive. We are a positive-minded, solution-oriented, action-based organization. We want you to be a part of STAY… STAY in the city, STAY committed, STAY open-minded. We want to build communities of support around every school and engage in honest conversations about why schools have not had the resources they need. We want to BECOME genuine community members who work to form relationships with all people.

5. The Ultimate Backpack

The goal of The Ultimate Backpack is to fill 15,000 backpacks before the school year starts. The Ultimate Backpack presented by CoStar Group school supply and backpack drive will take place on August 14, 2019 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m..at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery on Ownby Lane in Richmond. Participants can drop off donated backpacks or any school supplies from the supply list below to Hardywood Brewery (Downtown). You can make a monetary donation and we will purchase the needed supplies. These donations will help us purchase school supplies at a discount and fill any gaps not covered by the community. Please contact Timmy Nguyen at VCU if you have any questions.

Needed school supplies include:

  • Composition notebooks
  • Crayons
  • Erasers
  • Folders
  • Glue stick
  • Highlighter
  • Loose leaf paper
  • Markers
  • Pen & pencils
  • Pencil pouch
  • Scissors (blunt tip)
  • Spiral notebooks

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New report finds Virginia Capital Trail generated $8.9 million in local economic activity last year

The report concluded that the Capital Trail contributed approximately $8.9 million in economic activity during FY 2018-19. The Trail which has seen a 65% increase in trail usage in March and a 46% increase in April over last year, is a driving stimulus for local business, tourism, and economic activity, the report found.

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The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation recently released an economic impact report by the University of Richmond in collaboration with the Institute for Service Research, the findings were significant.

The report concluded that the Capital Trail contributed approximately $8.9 million in economic activity during FY 2018-19. The Trail which has seen a 65% increase in trail usage in March and a 46% increase in April over last year, is a driving stimulus for local business, tourism, and economic activity, the report found.

The full economic impact report can be found here.

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Community

Venture Richmond Spruces Up Downtown

There are 126 new hanging baskets installed along Broad Street from Belvidere to 12th Street in the Arts District and in the Shockoe neighborhood. Just one of the new beautification projects from Venture Richmond recently completed.

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Venture Richmond just completed efforts to enhance the downtown area including Canal Walk and Brown’s Island.

They’ve been funding beautification projects in the downtown area since 2013. Over the years they’ve worked with

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Capital One volunteers, and Virginia BioTech Park volunteers.

“Beautification projects are critically important to Downtown and its gateway neighborhoods. They help to inspire civic pride, create a sense of place and enhance the environment for businesses, residents and visitors, as well as attracting bees and butterflies to our urban areas,” said Lucy Meade, Director of Economic Development and Community Relations.

This year’s beautification projects included:

  • 126 hanging baskets installed along Broad Street from Belvidere to 12th Street in the Arts District and in the Shockoe neighborhood
  • 24 planters on Broad Street, 3rd Street, and 5th Street
  • 13 planting beds in the 400 block of East Grace Street
  • 5 medians including two blocks of Broad St. from Foushee to 1st Street, 3rd Street and I-95 ramp; 12th and Canal streets, and 14th and Dock streets (last two complete in early July)
  • 300+ annuals planted along the Canal Walk and around the Headman Statue on Brown’s Island

In addition to items above, the Clean & Safe Program’s contractor, Community Business Group (CBG), a local minority-owned firm, has been providing the “essential service” of sidewalk cleaning seven days a week throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, they have collected 269,000 gallons of trash and leaves.

​Following damages that occurred to businesses during recent protests, Venture Richmond and CBG launched a new Graffiti Cleaning Pilot Program as part of Clean & Safe. Property owners and businesses in the Downtown Service District area can request help removing graffiti by emailing [email protected].

Another item you’ll see soon is social-distancing circles on Brown’s Island to help visitors mantain social distancing.

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Venture Richmond teams up with city for “Picnic in a Parklet” program to assist businesses during reopening phases

“We acknowledge the difficulty Richmond businesses face when trying to safely reopen and want to do what we can to make that easier on them,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Riverfront and Downtown Placemaking for Venture Richmond. “Parklets have the potential to offer an attractive, comfortable space for customers to physically-distance adjacent to the business, which may be needed for a smoother reopening. We look forward to working with any business in the city that submits a request.”

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Venture Richmond has announced a new initiative, “Picnic in a Parklet,” a program designed to assist Richmond restaurants and other businesses with Phase 2 and 3 of Forward Virginia. Through this new partnership with the City of Richmond, business owners can receive design and permitting assistance for their requests for more outdoor space, particularly parklets.

Parklets are outdoor patio spaces constructed in the on-street parking lane of the street in front of a business that can function as an area for customers to gather and/or take to-go orders and eat outside in a physically-distanced environment. Parklets are, by definition, public space; but, restaurants can offer lightly packaged to-go orders for people who simply want to dine in the parklet in front of the restaurant.

“Transforming our use of public space innovatively and sustainably requires partnerships just like this one,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. “By linking the business and design communities, this program will expand the city’s growing network of creatively designed public spaces.”

Business-owners who are interested in temporarily converting an on-street parking space adjacent to their storefront into a parklet will be connected with Venture Richmond to better assess their needs. If a parklet will be helpful and appropriate, Venture Richmond will work with the American Institute of Architects Richmond Chapter (AIA Richmond) to connect businesses with a certified architect for pro-bono parklet design services. Venture Richmond will assist the applicant through the steps needed to obtain a permit from the City of Richmond.

“We acknowledge the difficulty Richmond businesses face when trying to safely reopen and want to do what we can to make that easier on them,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Riverfront and Downtown Placemaking for Venture Richmond. “Parklets have the potential to offer an attractive, comfortable space for customers to physically-distance adjacent to the business, which may be needed for a smoother reopening. We look forward to working with any business in the city that submits a request.”

Unless otherwise specified or revoked, parklet permits are valid for three years. All requests within Richmond City limits will be considered.

Requests for parklets can be submitted through the RVA Strong website. General information about parklets can be found here, and more information about the City of Richmond’s Parklet Program can be found here.

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