Welcome To Our World: Change the World RVA

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Nelson Mandela:




It’s a one-of-a-kind program. It’s so personal.

The teenage years are fraught with challenges. To offset the effects of everything happening in their lives, world, and minds and bodies, all teenagers need stability in their relationships, schools, and homes. But what if there’s no home to go to?

Overlay homelessness or home insecurity on top of the day-to-day challenges of the teen years, and many young people in our community may find it impossible to stay in school – much less hold on to any dreams they might have about their future.

OUR PURPOSE Change the World RVA exists to help high school and college students who are experiencing homelessness achieve their full potential, doing everything that’s needed – through efforts large or small – to help the students graduate, become self-sufficient, and realize their dreams.

OUR PROMISE We provide unconditional love and support for our students in a family-like setting, with caring adults and peers offering community, compassion, and acceptance. Students participate in college visits (above left) and group art projects (right).

WHO WE ARE In 2012, members of the Bon Air United

in our society; each of us has something to

Methodist Church established a ministry to

contribute – a ride to a job interview, a safe

support high school students experiencing

home until graduation, a tutoring session, a

homelessness. Our first activity was a grad-

birthday card. Or simply – a prayer.

uation party for 23 Richmond Public School students who had reached this crucial milestone. Celebrating with these young people was wonderful fun, but it wasn’t a solution to youth homelessness. Change the World RVA (CTWRVA) was established as an all-volunteer 501c3 organization in 2013 with two core beliefs: it’s incumbent on all of us to share our resources, energy, and fellowship to ensure that students experiencing homelessness don’t slip through the cracks

Since 2012, we’ve celebrated the achievements of 25 high school and college graduates.


We’re students who are going to change the world.

The name of our organization was suggested by our co-founder, Elaine Williams, whose greatgrandmother always told her that she would change the world.

When a reporter was visiting one day, Elaine asked, “Why does he always call us ‘homeless students’? Why doesn’t he call us ‘students who are going to change the world.’?”

From that moment, the resilience, determination, and generosity of our students has inspired us all.

HOW WE SERVE CTWRVA is a nimble organization, with a

help our students open bank accounts. We

“whatever it takes” mindset. Every student in

provide group and individual therapy. We

our program knows they can count on us to help

celebrate birthdays and milestones.

them – no matter what they need: • All of our students needed a quiet place to study with internet access. They got it.

Our goal is to support our students as parents and grandparents would support their children. We’re more than a safe

• Dmitri needed a reliable used car to get to

and comfortable space. We’re family. In fact,

work. A “car guy” friend of CTWRVA helped.

that’s what students say they love most

• Tré’Von needed a weekly ride to the Citizen’s Police Academy. Volunteers stepped up. We solve problems. We help students

about CTWRVA. The students and volunteers have created a culture of caring, acceptance, and nurturing that goes beyond what we could have imagined in 2012.

succeed in high school, and we support them in college. We ensure that they’re stably housed. We provide cell phones and cell service. We

Students and volunteers gather for a pool party and cookout (above left).

Malala Yousafzai:



OUR STUDENTS Annually in Richmond Public Schools, nearly 2,000 students are without a safe, stable home – and historically there have been few or no resources to help them. This is finally improving, and we’re proud to play a part in this effort. At any given time, 12-18 students are active in our program. Typically, they come to us while in high school. Like other young people, they have high hopes and big dreams. They just need some extra help to make them real. All of our students are minority, and more than half are LGBTQIA+. New students come to us through referrals by social workers, teachers, and current students. Students can stay in our program for as long as they need us. Older students often return as volunteers.



Approximately unaccompanied youth and young adults up to age 24 experience a homelessness episode of longer than one week.


of youth facing homelessness in the U.S. are LGBTQIA+ and especially at risk to become victims of violence or suicide. The lack of a high school diploma or GED is the nation’s correlate for elevated

#1 41,000 risk of youth


unaccompanied youth in the U.S. ages 13-25 experience homelessness on any given night.


of adolescents aging out of foster care and juvenile justice systems will be homeless within months because of limited education and a lack of social support.


We do our best to ensure that each of our students is safely and stably housed. For

Most CTWRVA students who have gone on

older, unaccompanied youth, we partner with

to college have remained in our program. Of-

organizations in the Richmond Youth Host

ten, the college years are when they need our

Home Program.

support the most. A failed midterm, a bad room-

All of our students have graduated from high school. Most attend college or trade school. We reach out to our community network to help our youth find jobs and jumpstart careers.

mate, homesickness, or other obstacle can derail a student’s dream of a college degree. Volunteers and community friends gather at Richmond City Hall after our students registered to vote.

Harriet Tubman:




It’s a place to be after school, a place where I met my best friend.

By introducing 100 Life Skills Every Young Person Should Know, we help our students learn to navigate whatever life brings – from writing a great resumé to creating a budget to identifying a potential scam, and everything in between. Here are some of our current favorites:

• How to sew and mend • How to parallel park • How to do basic home improvements • How to deal with an emergency

• How to use a credit card • How to manage stress • How to advocate for yourself


Academic Support

In 2018, we moved to our current location in downtown Richmond. In this cozy space, students share meals and camaraderie, laughter and tears. Feelings are validated. School assignments are completed. Our programs seek to address every aspect of a teen’s life, offering: Living Assistance • Weekly afterschool program • Weekly group therapy (individual as needed) • Housing support (rent and utility emergency payments; security deposits; host home placements) • Cell phones and monthly cell service • Back-to-school shopping • On-site food pantry and grocery gift cards

• Laptops, wifi-enabled study space and tutors • College visits • Financial help with college fees and deposits • Dorm supplies and transportation to college • Housing for college semester breaks • Graduation celebrations Fun! • Birthday Card Brigade and celebrations • Local field trips and favorite restaurant visits • Movies, museums, Go Karts • Hiking, exploring, visiting local businesses • Annual adventures, with past trips to the Outer Banks, NC; the White House & Washington, D.C.; Lancaster, PA; Busch Gardens Our cozy downtown home is on multiple bus routes and near many RVA attractions.

James McBride:



OUR ORGANIZATION Change the World RVA is an all-volunteer 501c3 organization. We operate on a small ($55,000 – $65,000) annual budget, yet we’ve been able to creatively address our students’ most critical needs and develop effective programs for them. We’ve achieved a lot We’ve been extremely fortunate. Whenever our students have a need, the community steps up in ways big and small. All funds go directly to our programs and our kids. Our Board of Directors reflects the Richmond community and the students we serve. Currently, 50% of our board is comprised of African Americans, all of whom are professionals, with experience serving differently advantaged, motivated young people. Community support

WE’RE SO PROUD ... Here are just a few of our amazing achievers:

graduate Elaine is a community or• VCU ganizer along the Richmond Highway

Corridor with RVA Thrives. She received the VCU Outstanding Alumni Award (the youngest graduate to do so) and the RVA Community Makers award. Elaine serves on our Board of Directors and regularly volunteers with our students.

• Adrienna graduated from Longwood

University with a degree in Social Work. She is attending cosmetology school and plans to start her own business.

• MarKeem holds an associate degree

in Business from Reynolds Community College and now works full time in customer service for the Virginia Board of Nursing (VA Dept. of Health). He also owns Make Your Mark, a party business.

• While in high school, Tré’Von completed

the Richmond Citizen’s Police Academy. As a senior, he completed EMT training at Reynolds Community College in a dualenrollment program. He now works for an ambulance company and is applying to nursing school.

We partner with many regional community groups and nonprofits to provide the help our

• Podium

students need to succeed, including:

• Shalom Farms

• Advocates for Richmond Youth

• Side By Side

• Art 180

• Synapse (local business network)


• VCU School of Social Work

• Churches, civic and community groups • Planned Parenthood

Students enjoy sun and surf at the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Margaret Mead:



WE’D LOVE YOUR HELP There are so many ways to help our students

like a small thing, but driving a student to

change their world! Whatever your area of

a doctor’s appointment, to school, to a job

expertise or interest, however much time you

interview or to work is often the difference

can spare, whatever level of commitment you’d

between success or failure for a young

like to share – we welcome your help. From a

person. It’s also a wonderful opportunity

simple act, such as “liking” our Facebook page,

for these students to meet and get to know

to cooking dinner for our weekly afterschool

a caring adult!

program, to making a financial contribution, know that your kindness is appreciated.

• Help us share our students’ stories – Our students are amazing, and we’d love an

A complete Volunteer List is on our website,

invitation to speak about their achievements

but we offer the following areas as an overview

with your church, organization, or community

of the range of opportunity for your involvement:

group. When possible we bring a student with

• Join the Birthday Card Brigade – Our goal is to overwhelm our students with love and cards

us so you can hear about our work from the experts, our awesome students.

on their birthdays. This simple act of caring has a huge impact on the “birthday student” when they discover that so many people in the community care about them. • Host a student in your home – Whether on an emergency, short- or long-term basis, the Richmond Youth Host Home Program places students in volunteer host homes and provides ongoing support for both the family and the student. • Become a volunteer driver – It may seem

Our volunteer friends from WestminsterCanterbury (above left) are part of our community family, supporting youths such as Tré’ (above) achieve their goals.



Change the World RVA and our students thank you.

changetheworldrva.org • changetheworldrva@verizon.net

You may donate online by clicking here. Or, you may mail your donation to: Change the World RVA P.O. Box 3562 Richmond, VA 23235

Change the World RVA is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization; our tax ID # is 46-3336048. Your gift is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.