Change the World RVA is a 501(c)3 established to support high school and college students in Richmond, Virginia who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability. We partner with other organizations, local churches, and professionals to make a meaningful difference in the lives of homeless youth. We are an all-volunteer organization. We are the only organization in the region that specifically addresses the needs of high school and college students facing homelessness.
The Problem. During the 2012-2013 academic year, there were nearly 1,400 homeless students in the Richmond Public Schools. Imagine how difficult it would be to study, take tests, and pay attention in class if you hadn’t slept well and were worried about where you were going to sleep each night. Many of our students are unaccompanied youth, completely on their own. Many sleep on friends’ couches, in relatives’ apartments, in motels, or in emergency shelters. Food insecurity and poverty pose additional challenges. Our students have faced a lot of disappointment and broken promises in their young lives.
What we can do. Despite these difficult odds, many of these students are working hard in school and dreaming of changing their circumstances. We can help. Sometimes the students’ needs are small. Bus passes and cell phones link students to school, jobs, and services. Sometimes their needs are big. Housing, for example. The students and their families can’t solve these problems alone. The schools can’t address these challenges alone. The good news is that as a community — with focus, resolve, ingenuity, and lots of generosity & love — we can make great things happen for these terrific young people.
Services and support we offer. Change the World RVA helps our students succeed in high school, college, and in life. We
- Provide each student with a network of caring adults, including a mentor;
- Help with obtaining safe and stable housing, including host families;
- Offer a popular and engaging weekly after school program;
- Host a weekly support group, facilitated by a mental health professional;
- Support a peer group, other students who face the same struggles and dreams of success;
- Sponsor our now legendary Birthday Card Brigade;
- Organize field trips and college visits;
- In partnership with other community groups, support food and hygiene pantries in 3 Richmond high schools (Armstrong, Huguenot, and George Wythe);
- Provide emergency transportation, bus passes, cell phones;
- Facilitate bridges to existing services (housing, health care, job training); and
- Offer support through the college years. We stick with our students even after they turn 18 and graduate from high school.
This is just a sample of the support we provide for our students. As needs emerge, we do our best to address them. Most importantly, we want each student to feel love and support from a network of caring adults — mentors, tutors, drivers, host families, and teachers. And we want them to surround themselves with like-minded peers. We want them to learn to advocate for themselves and others.