Support that Spans across a Child’s Life
“Bridging Richmond” brings education, business and civic leaders together to boost student success
University Public Affairs
The past, present and future of Bridging Richmond was the focus of a reception on Oct. 23 to welcome Kelli Parmley into her new role as the effort’s executive director. Bridging Richmond is a collaborative regional partnership housed at VCU that focuses on ensuring student success in the Richmond region from “cradle to career.”
Bridging Richmond was created to prepare children for school through early childhood education, to support children inside and outside of the classroom and to promote academic success. The partnership also is dedicated to encouraging high school graduates to enroll in and complete some form of postsecondary education and to enter a career and contribute to the civic infrastructure of the region
During the reception at the Virginia Historical Society, VCU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beverly J. Warren, Ed.D., Ph.D., discussed Bridging Richmond’s launch nearly four years ago. She said Bridging Richmond was formed to make a collective impact, using data-informed decision-making and aligned efforts already in place to produce the greatest results.
“We have a passionate and compassionate community, particularly as it relates to young people in our region,” Warren said. “Bridging Richmond came to be known as the effort to align the region for collective impact.”
Warren said that since the effort’s formation, Bridging Richmond has identified core educational outcomes, identified unique transition points in a child’s education, sought to leverage existing work by United Way and Smart Beginnings to prepare children for kindergarten, supported efforts by the YMCA and United Way for quality out-of-school programs and collaborated with the Richmond Promise Neighborhood program.
VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., praised Bridging Richmond’s ongoing efforts.
“I’m very excited where we find ourselves today,” Rao said. “And much of that excitement is because of our new executive director.”
Parmley, who was appointed as executive director on Aug. 1, is responsible for managing the initiative and carrying out action plans that support the effort’s key priorities and strategies.
“Kelli Parmley did a listening tour to find out what Richmond really needs,” Rao said. “As part of that listening tour, she gave a strong, honest assessment of the programs already in place in Greater Richmond.”
Rao said Parmley also brought a finer definition of what constitutes success in the region in areas such as workforce training, education and attracting and retaining top talent.
“What she found is that our region is program rich but system poor,” Rao said. “We need for a system to help connect all of the great things we are all doing separately to the same end – and that system is Bridging Richmond.”
A new executive task force was announced at the reception to focus on the long-term success of Bridging Richmond.
“We have a strong anchor institution (VCU) behind us and community funders and service providers here tonight. The community has an opportunity to leverage these assets,” Parmley said.
Stewart Roberson, executive-in-residence at the VCU School of Education and chairman of the board and president/chief executive officer of Moseley Architects, will lead the executive task force.
Other representatives are:
- Robert Crum, executive director of the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission
- Marcus Newsome, superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools
- Darcy Oman, president and CEO of The Community Foundation
- Gary L. Rhodes, president of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
- Kim Scheeler, president of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce
- Tom Silvestri, publish and president of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and leader of the Richmond Media Group
- Beverly Warren, provost and vice president for academic affairs at VCU
Parmley will serve as an ex-officio member of the committee.
“Bridging Richmond has been incubating like a fine wine,” said Rhodes. “And now we have the potential for extreme impact on the children of our community.”
Charlie Agee, director of corporate contributions and community relations for Altria, agreed that the time is right for Bridging Richmond to move forward. Altria is a founding partner of Bridging Richmond.
“The original vision for Bridging Richmond was to bring representatives from K-12, business and higher education all together as one, developing and focusing on shared priorities,” Agee said.
“While rooted in a top notch higher education institution, Bridging Richmond recognizes that supports are necessary outside of the educational pipeline,” Agee said. “And what we’re all trying to figure out together is how to best arrange the assets we already have in this community.”
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