FutureRVA Updates

Save the date for the Education Summit on July 18, 2019

New this summer, ChamberRVA presents the Education Summit. The summit aims to align educational and business communities around tomorrow’s workforce talent requirements and discuss innovative educational approaches to address these requirements. Featuring Kirk Cox, Atif Qarni, James Lane, Paula Pando, Katherine Rowe and more.

FutureRVA focuses on strengthening the talent pipeline, retaining new talent and preparing people for the twenty-first-century economy. To continue advancing the conversation and accelerate our work, ChamberRVA is excited to introduce a new event this summer: the Education Summit.

In July, we’ll host state-level representatives and educational leaders in a discussion of new legislation, policies and thinking that directly impact workforce and education. We’ll examine the increasingly important working relationship between education and business to better prepare our workforce. Summit presenters include some of the most influential people reshaping education in the Commonwealth – Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane, President of Reynolds Community College Paula Pando and President of William & Mary Katherine Rowe. We’ll also hear from Renee Haltom of the Richmond Fed who will give us an understanding of the regional economic landscape, and from a panel of business leaders who will discuss talent, their projected needs and perceived gaps today.

Hundreds of leaders from the business and educational sectors across Central Virginia and beyond will hear from these panelists how we are reshaping education to accelerate the Commonwealth’s growth. Participants will learn about topics such as how state universities are building academic programs in partnerships with the state and businesses to produce more in-demand graduates, as well as how new Commonwealth requirements for career and technical education (CTE) will affect Virginia’s schools. The event will offer insight into the perspectives of state-level policymakers and an introduction to progressive approaches to enhancing the talent pipeline. Attendees will leave informed and primed to help advance this future.

Save the date for the Education Summit on July 18, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. to noon, and stay tuned for more information coming soon.

Chesterfield adjusts their approach while the Chamber brings West Cary Group aboard

Chesterfield is taking what they’ve learned from Ford NGL and reimagining it to fit the county’s unique needs. Meanwhile, we’ve been working with West Cary Group to develop an integrated communications strategy that will create a groundswell of support in the community.

With the new superintendent and CTE director in place, Chesterfield County Public Schools is looking at aspects of what they learned from the Ford NGL model to aid them in their high school redesign. This will include career pathways, project-based learning and other CTE integrations as a part of the High School Innovation Grant they received from the Virginia Department of Education. The district has decided not to move forward with Ford NGL implementation at this time. They are, however, currently working on curriculum to create a freshman academy that would be piloted in the five comprehensive high schools that were part of Ford NGL’s Explore visits. Based on what they learned from Ford NGL during the Explore phase work and the Academies of Nashville Study Visit last fall, the five principals who attended identified aspects of the model that resonated with them and that they wanted to begin to implement as early as September 2019.

The Chamber has asked West Cary Group to develop an integrated communications strategy that conveys the value and possibility of a Richmond region where all students have viable options after high school – in both college and career tracks. Informed by research and insights from the business community, education stakeholders and families within our region, we’ll share compelling stories that demonstrate the importance of making different post-secondary “off ramps” available to all RVA’s young people. Building on this foundation, we aim to create a groundswell of community support and bring to life the many pathways to success in RVA.

We’re already gearing up for Mission Tomorrow 2019!

A major focus for this year will be integrating the event into school curriculum so that students are both better prepared to take full advantage of their time with employers and better able to reinforce and explore further what they learned. The Chamber has a great video that we’ve turned into thirty-second commercials for a new marketing effort.

This year marks the fourth year of Mission Tomorrow, the Chamber’s highly successful program to expose eight graders in the region to a variety of potential career options. Mission Tomorrow is the largest program of its kind in the country and has been widely praised across the region for its profound impact. From our student surveys last year, we learned that the industries students are most interested in are arts and communications, STEM, and health sciences. Moreover, 84% saw new careers they hadn’t known about before, and 84% would like to learn more about the careers they saw.

We’re already preparing for Mission Tomorrow 2019 in October with a new marketing effort. Thanks to BES Studios, we have an excellent video to use in promoting this year’s event – including two commercials that we plan to air on local and cable television to garner early awareness and support, especially among parents. Watch the full video.

A key point of emphasis for this year’s Mission Tomorrow effort is working with the school systems to integrate the event into the school curriculum so that it’s part of a prolonged discussion of careers. State education regulations require each student to develop an Academic and Career Plan by eighth grade, and the Mission Tomorrow event can provide an exciting and concrete opportunity for students to learn about a wide range of careers that are in high demand in our region.

Mission Tomorrow will take place October 23 and 24, 2019, at the Richmond Raceway. Learn more about exhibiting, sponsorships and volunteering at missiontomorrowrva.com.

We’re expanding our talent attraction and retention efforts with a new college-focused program

After studying the highly successful Campus Philly program that’s doubled the young professional population in Philadelphia in recent years, we’re bringing lessons back to RVA and exploring ways to expand and evolve our YRichmond program.

When we talk about talent attraction and retention, the natural place to start is our incredible state system of colleges and universities – energetic centers where the next generation of workers is preparing to enter the workforce. That’s why our YRichmond and YRichmond on the Road programs travel around the Commonwealth spreading the word about living, working and playing in RVA and helping up-and-coming graduates connect to the region’s many employers. But could we do more?

We looked around the country and discovered Campus Philly – many thanks to SIR for bringing this great organization to our attention. Campus Philly has set the national standard for improving graduate retention in a region. Founded in 2004, the nonprofit works to fuel economic growth by encouraging college students to study, explore, live and work in the Greater Philadelphia tristate region. And their work is paying off: between 2000 and 2017, the Philadelphia region more than doubled its number of college-educated 25- to 34-year-olds.

The attraction and retention of young talent is also a key issue for the state, so we were able to leverage FutureRVA resources to obtain a GO Virginia grant to help our work in this area. GO Virginia is closely integrated with our efforts, as they plan to use our output as a model that regions across the Commonwealth can follow.

We brought the Campus Philly team to Richmond in January for a half-day workshop to learn more about the secret sauce behind their successful programs. In mid-April, Rachel Burgess of SIR and Kelley McCall of ChamberRVA will travel to Philadelphia to attend Campus Philly’s Young, Smart & Local conference on best practices for talent growth and attraction, where Mayor Levar Stoney will be a keynote speaker.

We are actively working with employers and post-secondary institutions to develop our structure and determine which aspects of Campus Philly’s model we should build here in the Richmond region. Another potential next step is to create a HYPE Leadership Team subcommittee dedicated to this effort to help guide our work and make sure we stay closely in touch with the young professionals of today. More to come!

Everyone’s talking about Richmond Marine Terminal

As our newly formed Richmond Marine Terminal Committee takes shape to start implementing the recommendations of our Task Force’s whitepaper, RMT has enjoyed plenty of well-deserved press in recent months.

Richmond Marine Terminal has been in the news lately, for good reason. Word is spreading about RMT’s impressive growth, like its 70% compound annual growth rate and 32% increase in containers since the previous year – not to mention how it’s taken the equivalent of a quarter million semi-trucks off the interstates in the past ten years. Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch article and editorial.

This growth is spilling over: We’re celebrating Brother International Corporation’s recent decision to relocate its East Coast distribution operations from New Jersey to the Panattoni development, with another building on the way. We heard about this news and more during our Economic Development Forum in January with panelists from Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Henrico County Economic Development Authority, the Port of Virginia and Colliers International.

JMI is working on implementing some of the recommendations of our RMT Task Force’s whitepaper by developing a communications campaign for Richmond Marine Terminal focusing on increasing awareness of its remarkable growth and accomplishments, enhanced capabilities and impact on the broader regional economy.

Show your support for the Henrico CTE Signing Day on April 23!

Athletes committing to schools get plenty of fanfare; why not also celebrate our students who have decided to enter the workforce and start their career upon graduation? Henrico CTE has gained national attention for their “signing day” that recognizes dedicated seniors and their future employers.

We know there are many high-paying, in-demand jobs that don’t require four-year degrees. Career and technical education in high school prepares young people to enter the workforce upon graduation in jobs that offer good pay, health insurance and retirement benefits – advantages that not many eighteen-year-olds are thinking about. And local businesses who hire workers right out school get to shape their talent pipeline and watch employees grow with the company.

Henrico CTE decided that these students and the employers hiring them deserve recognition. As part of their Enrolled, Employed, Enlisted initiative, the CTE department puts on a “signing day” inspired by National Signing Day for athletes. Students don promotional clothing and sit side by side with their future employers to sign letters of intent in front of family members, school leadership and the media. The letters outline what students must do before and during employment, what the employer will provide in pay and training, and an estimate of the position’s value. The event celebrates both students and employers who recognize the value of a CTE education.

People are noticing – Henrico CTE’s Signing Day has been featured on the Today Show website and shared by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame. Mark your calendar for the 2019 Signing Day on April 23 and show your support for the students, schools and employers who are making workforce development a reality in the Richmond region.

Learn more about Henrico CTE Signing Day.

YRichmond on the Road keeps getting bigger and better

Each semester, our YRichmond on the Road program visits more schools and talks to more soon-to-be graduates eager to join the workforce and plug into a community. This spring, we made our most career fair stops yet, including at two new universities.

YRichmond on the Road has had another strong semester with seven career fair visits this spring. This semester saw both our first visit to Virginia Tech and our first visit to Georgetown’s multi-school career fair, which hosts students from Brown, Duke, Yale, NYU, Swarthmore, Georgetown, UVA, UR and William & Mary. This spring alone, we talked to 763 students looking for their next step after school – and 93% said they’d consider moving to the Richmond region after graduation!

Since YRichmond on the Road’s beginnings in 2017, we’ve made 19 total career fair visits at 10 different schools across Virginia and DC, and we’ve talked to 1,895 total students. Overall, 95% over the past two years said they’d consider giving the Richmond region a try to live, work and play after graduation, even though only 23% on average are from the area.

FutureRVA is bringing best practices from Nashville and Hampton schools back to RVA

We just brought another RVA delegation to Tennessee to learn firsthand from the Academies of Nashville, and we’ll be traveling to the Academies of Hampton in just a few days to see their already-impactful high schools there.

We wrapped up our third Nashville trip in March, taking key Chamber leadership there last month on another enlightening Academies of Nashville study visit. Attendees toured multiple academies, heard directly from students pursuing different career focuses and attended breakout sessions with leadership from Nashville’s schools, business community, nonprofit support organizations and more.

We’ll be taking another RVA group in April to the Academies of Hampton to observe the only Ford NGL community in Virginia, whose first cohort of academy students are finishing their sophomore year.

Learn more about the Academies of Nashville and the Academies of Hampton.

ChamberRVA continues to advocate for Navy Hill

We know that the proposed Navy Hill development would mean big growth and needed investment for our community. With the help of FutureRVA funds, we’re developing a campaign to build support for the project.

The Navy Hill project has enjoyed its share of front-page coverage. This project will transform downtown Richmond while addressing community needs in a broad-based manner. The Navy Hill project would be the largest economic development initiative in the city’s history, with thousands of residences, a new convention center hotel, a new arena, a reborn Blues Armory and a new bus transfer plaza among its many amenities. It also will create over 20,000 jobs, $300 million in minority business development and hundreds of new affordable housing units.

The project would stimulate economic growth and create tax revenue to fund schools and other city services. It’s projected to create over $1.2 billion in new tax revenues for the city, and the mayor has stated that $600 million of that should go to schools.

Although negotiations between the city and NH District Corporation are ongoing at this time, our work doesn’t stop. We’re now exploring the advocacy side of this effort and developing a campaign to build support for the project. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, your support and voice in the community can only help advance the cause!

We held our Spring Biannual Summit and released our 2019 Spring Biannual Report

FutureRVA investors gathered at the Chamber to hear from leadership on program updates and next steps. We also released our Spring Biannual Report.

Our 2019 Spring Biannual Summit was held on April 8, 2019. Notably, Chesterfield Superintendent Mervin Daugherty updated FutureRVA investors on the district’s plan for high school redesign. Attendees also learned more about our new Education Summit and our broad-based communications plan to reach parents, and received takeaways from our spring trip to the Academies of Nashville and our local placemaking and advocacy initiatives.

Read the Spring Biannual Report.

Older Updates

December 2018

Read Ford NGL’s final Phase 1 report for Chesterfield, and look out for their final regional report in early 2019.

After returning to Chesterfield to observe school in session, Ford NGL has published their final Phase 1 Key Findings and Recommendations Report for Chesterfield County Public Schools. Their final report for the region is expected in early 2019.

Ford NGL follows a five-phased “roadmap” to help communities shift their high schools to an academy model. Both ChamberRVA and Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) contracted with Ford for the first two phases of the roadmap to explore and envision what this high school transformation might look like in our region. Ford is helping Chesterfield explore the academy model in five of their eleven high schools, and they are helping the Chamber act as the convening organization to support this change across the region.

During Phase 1 in late summer, Ford traveled to the Richmond region to meet with school district and community leaders. Through these meetings, they assessed schools, teachers, employers and the larger community while helping these stakeholders understand the benefits and features of the academy model. After releasing a preliminary Phase 1 report in September, Ford returned to Chesterfield in late October to observe schools while class was in session. Their final Phase 1 report for CCPS includes these classroom observations to provide a comprehensive analysis of Chesterfield’s readiness and commitment to support a high school transformation to the academy model. They will release a final regional Phase 1 report in early 2019.

Read the final Chesterfield Phase 1 report.

Thank you to Altria’s CreateAthon for volunteering their time and talent to identify key FutureRVA messaging!

During CreateAthon, professional marketers volunteer to help nonprofits with a specific communications need. ChamberRVA was selected this year for our FutureRVA initiative, and our CreateAthon team helped us develop key messaging strategies.

We all know that public education is a reliable spark for passionate debate. That’s why having a comprehensive communications plan is so important for any community considering transforming their high schools to an academy model (you can read about Ford NGL’s recommendations for a communications plan in their Phase 1 report).

With FutureRVA funding, we’ve hired West Cary Group to develop an integrated communications strategy for this initiative. And when we had the opportunity to work with CreateAthon – Altria’s 24-hour, volunteer marketing blitz – we jumped at the chance. Our CreateAthon team did amazing work developing a detailed messaging strategy for the Richmond region. Their work will be plugged into the larger campaign and communications platform, where it will inform our strategy for a number of stakeholder groups. Thank you CreateAthon, and thank you Altria!

We published our Fall 2018 Biannual Report. Read about our third quarter accomplishments.

We held our second FutureRVA Biannual Summit in October to talk about our progress over the summer and fall and what’s coming up next. At the summit, we released our second biannual report.

Our second Biannual Summit in October was an excellent discussion of FutureRVA’s work over the summer and early fall, with an eye toward next steps for this winter. FutureRVA investors, the FutureRVA Advisory Council and the ChamberRVA Executive Committee heard about Ford NGL’s work in the region, our September study visit to the Academies of Nashville and our talent attraction programs like YRichmond on the Road. We also delved into upcoming advocacy work like the Navy Hill project and Richmond Marine Terminal.

Check out the Fall Biannual Report for lots of important updates:

  • A summary of Ford NGL’s Phase 1 visit to the Richmond region in August
  • An introduction to the Navy Hill project
  • Numbers from this year’s Mission Tomorrow event
  • A summary of our study visit to the Academies of Nashville in September
  • Numbers from another successful semester of YRichmond on the Road
  • A look at upcoming work for our new Richmond Marine Terminal Committee
  • A timeline of FutureRVA milestones over the last year
  • Next steps for both of our strategic focus areas – workforce and advocacy

You can read all FutureRVA publications, including Ford NGL’s reports and the RMT whitepaper, here.

Mission Tomorrow 2018 was a big success! Read on below to hear what students thought of this year’s event.

Our third year of Mission Tomorrow was bigger and better than ever. After the event, we gathered student feedback to measure our effectiveness and keep improving the event for next year. Read the student survey responses below.

In October, nearly 13,000 of the region’s public school eighth graders headed to the Richmond Raceway for our Mission Tomorrow career exploration event. Over the course of two days, students came from all of the region’s eight school districts: Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Richmond and Powhatan.

Nearly 150 businesses from 16 leading industries set up fun, hands-on booths to introduce the next generation of workers to career options. And we used FutureRVA data to grow our exhibitor numbers based on what we know are the region’s most in-demand industries – since last year, we more than doubled our construction industry exhibitors!

Afterward, students took a survey to be entered to win iPads and Kings Dominion tickets. Here are some highlights of what we heard:

  • The top three industries students found most interesting were: arts, AV technology and communications; science, technology, engineering and math; and health sciences
  • 88% discussed careers with exhibitors
  • 84% saw new careers they hadn’t known about before
  • 84% would like to learn more about the careers they saw
  • 65% said the event was fun and interesting
  • 58% would like to receive more information from their school district on how to pursue a career they saw
  • 55% said they discussed the event afterward with a teacher, counselor, parent or guardian

We couldn’t have done it without the support of the RVA business community! Learn more about Mission Tomorrow at missiontomorrowrva.com, and see pictures of this year’s event on our Facebook.

The next Nashville study visit is on March 4–6, 2019. Register now!

If you missed the September trip to the Academies of Nashville, reserve your spot now for the next study visit in March. Contact Monica Callahan at monica.callahan@chamberrva.com for more information.

Twice a year, the Nashville Hub hosts structured visits to the Academies of Nashville so that communities from around the world can learn how the region has transformed its high schools into personalized learning communities that offer all students “the four r’s” – rigor, relevance, relationships and readiness. Participants learn about the strategies and structures that are advancing high school reform in Nashville. The agenda brings a high-level view of the schools’ systemic transformation, including the deep engagement of the business community.

FutureRVA made our first study visit in the spring of 2018, and we recently made our second in September. Attendees have included RVA superintendents, school board members, high school principals, CTE directors, and business and civic leaders. We welcome anyone interested in how the academy model can transform the high school experience to join us on our next trip.

The next study visit to the Academies of Nashville is on March 4–6, 2019. Registration is now open. Mark your calendar and contact Monica Callahan at monica.callahan@chamberrva.com for more information.

We formed a Richmond Marine Terminal Committee to advance the recommendations laid out in our RMT Task Force whitepaper.

Our Richmond Marine Terminal Task Force released a whitepaper in January 2018 on maximizing the economic development opportunities of the City’s new lease with the Port of Virginia. We’ve now created an RMT Committee to advance the whitepaper’s strategic recommendations.

Richmond Marine Terminal is a 121-acre facility a few miles south of Richmond along the James River. The terminal is central Virginia’s main multimodal freight and distribution channel and serves waterborne, rail and truck shippers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Its location halfway between Maine and Florida gives RMT unique access to inland markets and makes it competitive as both a domestic and an international distribution channel.

In 2016, the City of Richmond signed a 40-year lease with the Port of Virginia that allows the port to continue operating the Richmond Marine Terminal through 2056. The lease called for a long-term strategic plan that reinvests in the terminal and continues to recapture its potential.

ChamberRVA formed the Richmond Marine Terminal Task Force to take full advantage of this economic development opportunity and align local jurisdictions, private sector businesses and the Port. In January 2018, our task force released a whitepaper of strategic recommendations for transportation, logistics, workforce, and land management and business development.

We have now formed a Richmond Marine Terminal Committee to advance the whitepaper’s recommendations. These include creating a regional alliance, developing a commercial branding campaign and communications plan, supporting infrastructure priorities and developing a workforce development plan and system. Matthew Wells, senior regional manager for state government relations at WestRock and a member of the FutureRVA Advisory Council, will serve as the RMT Committee’s chair.

Read the RMT whitepaper.

YRichmond on the Road finished up the fall semester with six more college visits – and 95% of students saying they’d move to RVA after school.

Our new YRichmond on the Road program continues to grow every semester, visiting college career fairs across the state to introduce soon-to-be graduates to living and working in RVA. This fall, 95% of students we talked to said they’d consider moving to the Richmond region after graduation.

Our successful YRichmond program takes college interns working in town for the summer and shows them everything great about living, working and playing in RVA. And with FutureRVA funds, we’ve expanded this into YRichmond on the Road, a new program that takes our talent attraction efforts and hits the road. We head to college career fairs around the state and talk to rising young professionals about the many industries and career paths in the Richmond region – along with the great quality of life and endless fun to discover.

After starting out in fall 2017 with two college career fair visits, YRichmond on the Road grew to four visits in spring 2018 and six visits in fall 2018. In all, we’ve surveyed 1,132 students from VCU, VSU, UR, JMU, UVA, W&M, CNU and ODU since fall 2017 – and 1,058 of them said they would consider relocating to or staying in the Richmond region after graduation!

Read about our next steps.

  • Ford NGL’s Phase 1 reports will inform the region’s and Chesterfield’s work going into Phase 2 this spring.
  • CreateAthon’s recommendations will be woven into our larger communications campaign for the academy model.
  • We will continue to advocate for the Navy Hill project. (You can help by liking and sharing our social media posts!)
  • We’re taking registrations for the spring study visit to the Academies of Nashville on March 4–6, 2019. Register now by contacting monica.callahan@chamberrva.com.
  • Our Richmond Marine Terminal Committee will begin work advancing the strategic recommendations laid out in our RMT whitepaper.
  • YRichmond on the Road is planning next semester’s trips as we get the dates for schools’ spring 2019 career fairs.

September 2018

Read Ford NGL’s preliminary Key Findings and Recommendations report on the Richmond region.

Ford NGL visited RVA in August as the first part of their Phase 1: Explore work. We brought regional superintendents, post-secondary leaders, the business community, civic leaders and more to the table to start talking about a high school transformation in the Richmond region – in all, Ford met with a total of 78 regional leaders while here. Ford NGL is returning this fall to observe Chesterfield while school is in session, after which they will release their final Phase 1 Key Findings and Recommendations report. Read the preliminary report here.

The process of transforming high schools to a career academy model is a long one, and it requires the participation of the entire community. Ford NGL helps communities follow a five-phased roadmap unique to each location. Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) signed on with Ford to begin this shift in five of their eleven high schools, and ChamberRVA signed on separately with Ford to champion and guide this process across the entire region as other districts come onboard. Both Chesterfield Schools and ChamberRVA are in the first phase of our respective contracts with Ford NGL, with the Chamber’s work complementing and supporting CCPS’s.

During Phase 1: Explore, Ford NGL likes to say that we’re “dating” – getting to know each other through a lot of listening. The goal of this phase is to help regional stakeholders understand the benefits of the career academy model and begin fostering support for it. For part one, we convened stakeholder groups of regional superintendents, post-secondary leaders, the business community and civic leaders, as well as Chesterfield district leadership and the Chesterfield school board, to learn about Ford NGL’s approach and offer feedback. Since Ford needs to observe actual classroom operations before making final Phase 1 recommendations, they will return for part two in the fall to visit Chesterfield while school is in session, and then deliver the final Phase 1 Key Findings and Recommendations joint report for both Chesterfield and ChamberRVA in the winter.

Read Ford NGL’s preliminary Phase 1 report here.

The Nashville Study Visit is almost here! See the entire list of 29 attendees.

We’re making our second trip to the Academies of Nashville to observe their successful schools there, and we’re bringing a diverse group of RVA leaders with us – see the full list below. The September visit is closed, but mark your calendar for the spring 2019 visit on March 4–6.

Nashville is perhaps the best example of the academy model at work, transforming from a struggling public high school system eleven years ago to the highly successful Academies of Nashville that have been turning out graduates prepared for college, career and life ever since. Luckily, as part of the Ford NGL network, we’re connected to our peer communities across the country and globe to share lessons learned and best practices. Nashville is a particularly valuable asset with their years of experience, and they host two formal study visits a year for interested localities and other Ford NGL communities to learn firsthand from their established academy system.

ChamberRVA first explored the Academies of Nashville during our InterCity Visit in 2015. Then, after launching FutureRVA in 2017, we returned in March of this year with a small delegation from our FutureRVA Advisory Council. Now that the FutureRVA initiative has gained so much momentum – including Chesterfield’s decision to pilot the academy model in five high schools – we’re excited to bring school, post-secondary and business leadership from across the Richmond region to see the academy model firsthand and dive deeper into the systems and processes that make it possible. Perhaps most exciting is that school leaders will visit the academy programs most relevant to them and connect directly with their Nashville counterparts through “role-alike” programming.

Here are all of September’s attendees:

  • Carrie Coyner, Chesterfield School Board
  • John Erbach, Chesterfield School Board
  • Javaid Siddiqi, Chesterfield School Board
  • Dianne Smith, Chesterfield School Board
  • Robert Thompson, Chesterfield School Board
  • Donald Fairheart, Chesterfield Interim Superintendent
  • Tyren Frazier, Chesterfield Education Foundation
  • Shawn Abel, Midlothian High School Principal
  • Christopher Jones, Thomas Dale High School Principal
  • Joi Lowery, Meadow Brook High School Principal
  • Deborah Marks, Clover Hill High School Principal
  • John Murray, Matoaca High School Principal
  • Belinda Merriman, Chesterfield County Head of High Schools
  • David Eshelman, Chesterfield CTE Director
  • Lisa Webb, VCU
  • Genene LeRosen, JSRCC
  • Moses Foster, West Cary Group
  • Bill Fiege, JTCC
  • Leslie Parpart, CarMax
  • Dawn Page, Richmond School Board
  • Jason Kamras, Richmond Superintendent
  • Tracy Epp, Richmond Chief Academic Officer
  • Caprichia Moses, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond
  • Robert Bolling, ChildSavers
  • Bev Cocke, Henrico School Board
  • Mac Beaton, Henrico CTE Director
  • Robert Turpin, Hermitage High School Principal
  • Kelley McCall, Federal Reserve Bank
  • Monica Callahan, ChamberRVA

If you were unable to make this Study Visit, save the date for next spring’s trip on March 4–6, 2019, and contact Monica Callahan at monica.callahan@chamberrva.com to reserve a spot.

Mission Tomorrow is coming up soon on October 18 and 19. Sign up to get involved – exhibiting is free!

Our Mission Tomorrow career exploration event is entering its third year bigger and better than ever. With all the region’s 12,000+ eighth graders coming to learn about the types of jobs and industries available in RVA, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to engage your company with the workforce of tomorrow.

How can we take workforce development further, setting up a pipeline of talent that will keep RVA thriving for generations to come? By starting the career conversation sooner and introducing our young people to all the options available to them across the region. That’s exactly what Mission Tomorrow achieves, through an interactive career exploration event that reaches all of RVA’s 12,000+ public school eighth graders – think “career con,” but for middle schoolers.

Over 150 businesses come to the Richmond Raceway and set up fun, hands-on booths that display the best their company and industry have to offer. Students can handle technology and mechanical equipment, climb into a mock ambulance, step into a broadcast newsroom, play “the game of life” with financial experts and much more. In only our third year, we’re already the largest event of this kind in the country – and we want you to be a part of it!

There are multiple ways to get involved. Exhibit – for free! – to interact directly with RVA’s next generation of workers. Become a sponsor to help ensure the best experience possible for everyone involved. Volunteer to guide the day along and help the event run smoothly. No matter how you dig in, we’re certain you’ll realize the importance of Mission Tomorrow and the breadth of its impact. Visit missiontomorrowrva.com to learn more and sign up.

Wow – Chesterfield is taking their career academy pilot from four to five schools!

Chesterfield is now piloting the career academy model in five of their eleven high schools, up from the original four schools they had named! Thomas Dale will join Midlothian, Meadowbrook, Clover Hill and Matoaca as the county’s – and the region’s – first high schools to shift to an academy model.

To truly strengthen our workforce and foster sustainability, FutureRVA must pursue a regional approach. Our talent pipeline will succeed when every student across the region graduates secondary school prepared for college, career and life and equipped with the skills that are in demand by local employers.

That’s why we’re partnering with Ford NGL to pursue a community-connected high school transformation across RVA, shifting our traditional high schools to a proven career academy model. Each of the region’s eight districts – Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan and Richmond – has the opportunity to decide on and enact this change in their locality. ChamberRVA is the convening organization, gathering regional leaders and aligning their distinct goals.

Chesterfield has decided to lead this transformation by partnering with Ford NGL to shift five of their eleven comprehensive high schools to the career academy model. Originally, the county was going to pilot this shift in only Midlothian, Meadowbrook, Clover Hill and Matoaca high schools, but they recently added Thomas Dale to the list as well. Chesterfield is currently in Phase 1 of this work with Ford NGL, in tandem with ChamberRVA’s Phase 1 work. Ford has visited the county once and will return in the fall to observe classroom operations before delivering their final Phase 1 findings – read the preliminary Phase 1 report here. And don’t forget that Chesterfield’s entire school board and the five high school principals will be attending our Academies of Nashville Study Visit, along with Richmond and Henrico school leadership; see the entire list of attendees.

August 2018

Ford NGL is here this week – RSVP below for the stakeholder meetings if you haven’t already!

Ford NGL is coming to the Richmond area for four days this week to start the conversation on our high school transformation process. They’ll be kicking it off by meeting with a variety of stakeholder groups.

Ford NGL’s high school transformation process comprises five phases that play out over two to four years. So far we’ve signed on with Ford NGL to complete Phases 1 and 2. During the first phase, “Explore,” we will work to help regional stakeholders understand the benefits of the career academy model, and we’ll begin fostering support for it. In the second phase, “Envision,” we’ll deepen stakeholders’ understanding of and support for the academy transformation, and we’ll start setting up the structures needed to implement it. Chesterfield Schools has also signed on with Ford NGL in a separate contract; our Phase 1 and 2 work will complement theirs.

During their RVA visit on August 13–16, Ford NGL will meet with a variety of regional stakeholders. These meetings have three goals: help stakeholders understand the academy model, start asset mapping the Richmond region and start building a plan for high school transformation. Stakeholder groups includes district leaders, school boards, regional superintendents, post-secondary leaders, civic organizations and FutureRVA leadership.

Email workforce@chamberrva.com to attend the stakeholder meeting that interests you!

We released the Summer Interim Report recapping our second quarter work.

The FutureRVA Summer Interim Report features findings from our occupational demand analysis and a timeline of FutureRVA milestones past, present and future.

In March 2018, our first Biannual Report introduced the FutureRVA initiative, including our goals, investors and Advisory Council members. We also included a skills gap analysis with quantitative and qualitative data on employment demand by industry.

Before our second Biannual Summit on October 30th and accompanying Biannual Report, we want to catch you up on everything that’s been happening with FutureRVA – and there’s a lot! Check out the Summer Interim Report for a look at our occupational demand analysis, a rundown of our second quarter accomplishments, a timeline of FutureRVA milestones and a list of next steps. (And eagle-eyed readers might notice that Genworth has switched locations on the investor page – they upped their investment to the $25K level!)

Read the Summer Interim Report here.

RPS is coming to Nashville in September, joining leadership from Chesterfield, Henrico, post-secondary and business.

Richmond will now join Chesterfield and Henrico on our study visit to the Academies of Nashville. Jason Kamras, the new superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, committed to joining our second Nashville trip, along with Dawn Page, chair of the Richmond School Board, and Tracy Epp, Richmond’s chief academic officer.

The Chamber was very pleased to host Superintendent Jason Kamras at our board meeting on July 25th. Kamras spoke about his vision for Richmond’s schools while frankly acknowledging obstacles, with an emphasis on equity and justice for all students. He gave an overview of the numerous community meetings held during his first 100 days, and told board members that he will gladly attend any meeting they might request of him. After speaking, Kamras took questions and comments from board members, many of which focused on the business community’s readiness to support the city’s schools.

Following the meeting, Kamras committed to attending our second study visit to the Academies of Nashville in September, along with RPS School Board Chair Dawn Page and Chief Academic Officer Tracy Epp. Kamras, Page and Epp will join leadership from Chesterfield Schools, Henrico Schools, post-secondary institutions and the business community as we experience firsthand how the career academy model works.

Check out everyone heading to Nashville in September to date:

  • John Erbach, Chesterfield School Board
  • Robert Thompson, Chesterfield School Board
  • Carrie Coyner, Chesterfield School Board
  • Dianne Smith, Chesterfield School Board
  • Javaid Siddiqi, Chesterfield School Board
  • Donald Fairheart, Chesterfield Interim Superintendent
  • Tyren Frazier, Chesterfield Education Foundation
  • Bev Cocke, Henrico School Board
  • Mac Beaton, Henrico CTE Director
  • Robert Turpin, Hermitage High School Principal
  • Kelley McCall, Federal Reserve Bank
  • Rhodes B. Ritenour, Bon Secours
  • Heidi Crapol, VCU
  • Lisa Webb, VCU
  • Genene D. LeRosen, Reynolds Community College
  • Moses Foster, West Cary Group
  • Bill Fiege, John Tyler Community College
  • Leslie Parpart, CarMax
  • Dawn Page, Richmond School Board
  • Jason Kamras, Richmond Superintendent
  • Tracy Epp, Richmond Chief Academic Officer

(We also learned about a fun connection: ChamberRVA’s high school summer intern also serves on Kamras’s Student Advisory Council. If you’ve met Ty, you know he’s a future leader in the making!)

Watch Ty, our summer high school intern, talk about the importance of experiencing different career paths.

Ty may be young, but he’s on his way to a great career in whatever field he chooses! Watch a quick interview about what he’s learned and what he has planned for the future in this promotion for Mission Tomorrow.

Mission Tomorrow is coming up soon on October 18th and 19th. With all of the region’s 12,000+ public school eighth graders attending, this year is set to be bigger and better than ever!

Last year, over 140 local businesses set up fun, interactive exhibits at Richmond Raceway to introduce students to careers in their industries. This year, we’re expecting nearly 170 exhibitors. We’re still recruiting companies and organizations (did we mention it’s free to exhibit?) to set up hands-on booths that engage the next generation of workers and get them thinking about possible careers in different industries.

As part of this recruitment, we’ll be publishing a series of videos on social media that feature area professionals talking about their career journeys. It’s vital that students, parents, teachers and the business community understand the impact that exposure to different career paths can have on RVA’s young people. And who better to speak on this than one of the Chamber’s favorite young people? As a summer intern through the Partnership for the Future program, Ty has blown us all away with his drive, curiosity and professionalism as a rising high school junior.

Watch the video interview with Ty here.

Save the date for our second Biannual Summit on October 30th!

We’re gearing up for the next FutureRVA Biannual Summit in the fall. We’ll have a lot of exciting information to share, including findings from Ford NGL’s Phase 1 research, takeaways from our second Nashville visit and a recap of Mission Tomorrow 2018.

Mark your calendars for the second FutureRVA Biannual Summit on October 30th. Plenty has happened since the inaugural summit in March, when we were introducing the idea of the career academy model. Now we’ve picked up incredible momentum and Chesterfield has committed to piloting the model in four of its eleven comprehensive high schools. By the time of the summit, we’ll be working on Phase 2 of Ford NGL’s high school transformation process; we’ll have taken Chesterfield, Henrico and Richmond school leadership to see firsthand the model at work in the Academies of Nashville; we’ll have completed the third year of our Mission Tomorrow event; and we’ll be mid-semester in our YRichmond on the Road talent attraction program.

At the summit, we will release our second FutureRVA Biannual Report; you can read the first report here. Investor companies, the FutureRVA Advisory Council, the ChamberRVA Executive Committee and the Chamber Foundation Board will be invited to get an update on research, partnerships and other accomplishments to date. The summit will take place Tuesday, October 30, 2018, from 3:00pm to 4:30pm with a one-hour reception to follow.

June 2018

We’ve signed on with Ford NGL to start transforming our region’s education and workforce development systems.

Ford NGL helps schools, school districts and entire communities shift their traditional high schools to a “career academy” model that teaches students real-world skills and prepares them for life after school. Since school districts across greater Richmond would sign on with Ford NGL separately to implement the change in their respective localities, ChamberRVA is a natural convener to synthesize these distinct efforts and ensure region-wide cohesion. We’ve signed on with Ford NGL for guidance in this process, so that we’re ready to support school districts if and when they decide to pursue the move to an academy model. Currently, Ford NGL is preparing to assess in depth the workforce needs of our region, and we’re conducting our second workforce survey to support their research.

Ford NGL, or Ford Next Generation Learning, is ready to help RVA’s high schools make the change to a career academy model, and they’re ready to teach us how to guide and support this process across the region’s multiple districts. We’ve contracted with Ford NGL to help us fully understand what their model for community-connected school transformation can look like in greater Richmond, guiding us through their proven multiple-phase system.

Ford NGL will help us set up the systems, structures and processes necessary for a shift to the academy model across multiple school districts. Through our work together, they will 1) develop a 2019 action plan and timetable for initiating the transformation, and 2) establish a 2019 budget for Richmond investors to consider, including professional development, staffing and orientation needs. Chesterfield has signed on with Ford separately, and our work will align with the first two phases of their “Ford NGL Roadmap.” Currently, Ford NGL is preparing to assess in depth the workforce needs of our region, and we’re conducting our second workforce survey to augment their data.

Take our workforce survey and help inform RVA’s future career academies.

Chesterfield is shifting four high schools to the career academy model.

Chesterfield has committed to pilot the career academy model in four of its eleven high schools, and has signed on with Ford NGL to help guide the process.

To begin the transformation of four of its comprehensive high schools to a career academy model, Chesterfield County has signed an eight-month contract with Ford NGL, or Ford Next Generation Learning. Ford NGL helps guide school systems in a five-phased transformation to the academy model, supporting districts through steps like research, stakeholder buy-in and implementation. Chesterfield has contracted with Ford NGL for the first two phases of this process, in which they will be conducting necessary research and beginning to gather stakeholder support. Phase 1 begins in summer 2018, continuing into the fall.

We’ll be taking Chesterfield and Henrico school leadership to Nashville in September to learn more about their highly successful career academies there.

We took some members of the FutureRVA advisory council to Nashville on a fact-finding mission back in March 2018, and now we’re heading back with school leadership from two RVA school districts. The Academies of Nashville have been a model of success in transforming their public school system into engaged, high-performing academies that turn out young people ready for their next step in life.

The Academies of Nashville have used the Ford NGL model for eleven years now, and have drastically improved graduation, attendance and testing metrics after coming worryingly close to a federal takeover of the city school district. The Academies offer two study visits per year to other localities interested in the career academy model. ChamberRVA visited with some of our FutureRVA advisory council in March 2018, and in September 2018 we will be returning with local school leadership. Chesterfield County is sending their entire school board and interim superintendent, and Henrico County is sending their director of career and technical education, a high school principal and a school board member. In addition, ChamberRVA has been in talks with Hanover County and Richmond City, both of whom have expressed interest in learning more about the academy model.

Read our whitepaper on how to maximize all the economic development opportunities at the Richmond Marine Terminal.

With an excellent location and extensive shipping and storage capacity, Richmond Marine Terminal has the potential to make Richmond a major player in regional trade – not to mention the many benefits of moving shipping off highways and onto barges.

In 2016, the City of Richmond signed a forty-year lease with the Port of Virginia. The lease called for a long-term strategic plan to reinvest in Richmond Marine Terminal and fully realize the economic development opportunities created by the new arrangement. ChamberRVA launched the Richmond Marine Terminal Task Force, and earlier this year we delivered our strategic recommendations on how to fully leverage this lease and align all stakeholders, including local jurisdictions, private sector businesses and the port.

The James River has been vital to our city’s development since its founding, and it continues to do so today. Through the Richmond Marine Terminal (RMT), we are a pivotal regional player connected to domestic and international trade. RMT’s central location on the East Coast, halfway between Maine and Florida, gives us the edge in accessing inland markets. The port can handle 60,000 containers a year and has over 300,000 square feet of warehouse space. And, of course, it’s multimodal – connected by water, road and rail.

If the Richmond region can fully leverage all of RMT’s advantages, we can reduce the number of trucks on the road, relieving congestion on I-64 and all the costs that go with it, including air pollution. We can also create jobs around RMT in the Commerce Road industrial corridor.

In 2016, the City of Richmond signed a forty-year lease with the Port of Virginia that called for a long-term strategic plan to reinvest in RMT and realize its full potential. To support this, ChamberRVA launched the Richmond Marine Terminal Task Force. In early 2018, the task force’s four subcommittees – transportation, logistics, workforce, and land management and business development – delivered strategic recommendations on how to maximize this lease and align all stakeholders.

Read these recommendations in our strategic whitepaper.

YRichmond introduces young people to living, working and playing in RVA, so they come back to stay after college.

YRichmond partners with local employers to introduce college interns and new hires to life in Richmond and all the cool stuff going on around the region, so they can leave the “I’m just here for my internship” bubble and consider staying in RVA.

Interns and college graduates are vital to the health and growth of our region; YRichmond shows them why RVA is an amazing place to live, work and play. By connecting interns and newly hired associates to the region and to one another, the program helps recruit and retain the best new talent to Richmond.

The Chamber works with local businesses to provide a full schedule of social, recreational, professional and community service events over the course of a 10-week session. Each event is designed to highlight why Richmond is an ideal place to establish roots and engage in the community.

With themes like Innovation Week, Adventure Week, CEO Week and Nonprofit Week and activities like river paddleboarding, Squirrels games, Segway tours, bowling, go-karting, golfing and more, the YRichmond program makes an important connection between the region’s millennial talent and all that Richmond has to offer. Not only are up-and-coming professionals gaining valuable work experience and learning workplace skills, but they’re also expanding their professional networks and exploring in depth a highly livable region. All of these factors come together to recruit and retain young talent to greater Richmond.

Visit the YRichmond site.

YRichmond on the Road talks to college students across the state about all the ways RVA is the perfect place to live, work and play.

Through YRichmond on the Road, we travel to college campuses across Virginia to promote RVA at career fairs. In early 2018, we also set up a booth at the hugely popular SXSW festival, talking to creatives from around the world about all the amazing things going on in Richmond. By hitting the road, we’re attracting vital talent to the region by introducing rising young professionals to our job opportunities, lifestyle amenities and cultural excitement.

With the upcoming workforce gap as the boomer generation starts to retire, we all know how important it is to have a robust talent pipeline. And key to this pipeline is talent attraction and retention. In addition to our existing YRichmond summer program, our new YRichmond on the Road outreach program is an important part of FutureRVA’s comprehensive strategy to strengthen our region.

Through YRichmond on the Road, we’ve traveled to six career fairs at five college campuses across the state so far – VCU, JMU, CNU, UVA and W&M. In our first year last year, we spoke to 557 students. After talking with us and learning more about our region, at least 90% of students said they would move to RVA after graduating – and make that number 100% for CNU and W&M students!

We also set up an interactive booth at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, this year, where we talked to nearly 400 people about the gospel of RVA.

Mission Tomorrow gets eighth graders thinking about what they want to do through a fun hands-on event with local businesses.

Mission Tomorrow is an interactive career exploration event for all 12,000+ eighth graders in the region to meet with area employers and learn about their industries in a fun and engaging way – think “career con,” but for middle schoolers. Not only do students start thinking about their future, but they also learn about which jobs will be available and in demand here in Richmond when they graduate high school. Ours is the largest event of its kind in the country, and we’re only in our second year!

Mission Tomorrow is a career exploration event for eighth graders in the greater Richmond region. Over 140 local businesses set up interactive exhibits at the Richmond Raceway Complex, and students can visit whatever booths interest them and learn more about the types of jobs available at those companies. The exhibits are fun and engaging, from checking out drones, VR, and job machinery to hopping in the back of a mock ambulance and trying on firefighter gear. Students also learn what it means to be prepared for a job and hear about some of the job education resources available to them.

The event is designed to introduce students to all the different career options RVA has to offer. Although eighth grade might seem young, the truth is that the course choices a student makes going into freshman year of high school can impact the career pathways available to them in the future. Those decisions should be informed ones. By getting them thinking about what they like doing and what they’re good at doing, we’re starting the discussion about their future in a tangible way.

Mission Tomorrow’s success hinges on the participation and enthusiasm of Richmond’s local businesses and organizations. The event puts exhibitors’ industries on student’s radars and gets them thinking about the skills they’ll need to get the jobs they want. By participating, RVA’s businesses help shape tomorrow’s workforce, in turn shaping the future of our region.

All eight localities across the region participate – Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan and Richmond. Last year, over 12,000 public school eighth graders attended. This, combined with the 144 company exhibitors, made Mission Tomorrow the largest event of its kind in the country – in only its second year!

Moving forward, we plan to get parents more involved in the Mission Tomorrow event through event volunteering, separate exhibition tours and other opportunities. We’re also developing curricula that schools can use before and after the event to give it context and reinforce lessons learned. This way, the conversation continues beyond simply the day of, extending the career dialogue to home and school so that the experience is more impactful and the message is more meaningful. Students and their support systems will leave Mission Tomorrow thinking about their next steps after school and knowing which jobs and resources will be available to them.

Visit the Mission Tomorrow site.

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