Wednesday, June 28, 2017
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Richmond, VA, is a city that symbolizes America’s history of racial oppression and current inequity.  In the mid-nineteenth century, it was the nation’s largest interstate slave market; it was the capital of the Confederate States; and Virginia led a campaign of “Massive Resistance” following Brown v. Board of Education.  Just 20 years ago, Richmond was a city “starkly divided along racial lines” and “congenitally resistant to change of any kind,” in the words of Senator Tim Kaine, who served as the city’s mayor from 1998-2001.

Truth, Racial Healing & TransformationInitiatives of Change USA (IofC), with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), is embarking on a multi-year effort to lift Richmond from systems and structures that reflect the centuries-old notion of human hierarchy and create a place where everyone’s humanity is respected regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin. Richmond is one of 14 communities across the United States selected by WKKF to implement this initiative, known as Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT). This 3-year 1.7 million project is intended to catalyze a community-wide process. A coalition of partners is growing that includes universities, museums, non-profits, corporations and faith communities.

This model of community change will be manifested in the following program areas:

  • Narrative Change – With its TRHT partners, IofC will continue to challenge patterns and systems that perpetuate incomplete or skewed versions of the US racial history. Activities in this program area will focus on educating and building awareness about the manner in which history and the legacy of racial history is taught, communicated and informs the manner in which our communities are constructed.
  • Racial healing and Relationship building – work in this area will be based on a core belief in the power of our individual and communal stories, and the need to have requisite skills and behavior to effectively receive and share such stories with another, to dialogue, and to understand. IofC will support racial healing and relationship building by organizing a targeted program of facilitated healing experiences for the sharing of personal stories, community rituals, and relationship/trust-building activities.
  • Transformation – in tandem with narrative change and relationship building efforts, an equal investment must be made to address the policy and structural changes that remain as barriers to opportunity and equity in our communities. As our truth-telling and relationship-building program methodology posits that each person must take responsibility for being a part of creating inclusive communities, it naturally produces a coalition of influencers across all sectors. IofC will convene these influencers to help challenge institutionalized systems that perpetuate separation (i.e., segregation and concentrated poverty; law (civil, criminal, & public policy); and economy (structural inequality and barriers to opportunity).

Truth, Racial Healing & TransformationThis work is generational and cannot be achieved overnight. Our focus during this initial 3-year program period will be to develop an evidence base for racial equity that resonates across sectors; to engage communities that have traditionally not participated in racial equity conversations to-date (including but not limited to faith communities, the counties that surround Richmond, and immigrant populations); and to foster relationships within and across communities that lead to productive partnerships for tackling some of Richmond’s most intractable challenges.

As we continue to build partnerships and develop strategies, we have launched a new TRHT Richmond website (www.GreaterRVA.org) to keep Richmond partners and the wider community informed about the program’s goals and activities. Please visit early and often, and get in touch with anyone on the IofC team with questions! 

Follow us on the TRHT website

Initiatives of Change USA is inviting applications to fill three positions to support TRHT in Richmond, VA. Deadline extended to August 25, 2017.