Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Mayor Stoney and Superintendent Kamras Announce Arts-Integrated Early Learning Initiative


Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney and Richmond School Superintendent Jason Kamras joined Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam and State School Superintendent Dr. James Lane
October 10 at Martin Luther King, Jr. Preschool Center to announce Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (RPAA) as the 19th affiliate organization of Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Preschool Center ‘drumline,’ Tappin’ Crew performed before the event. Media was allowed into classrooms to observe Wolf Trap teaching artists providing arts-integrated experiences to preschoolers.

Mayor Stoney Announces the City of Richmond has the Highest Municipal Equality Index Score in Virginia


Mayor Stoney is proud to announce that the City of Richmond received the highest Municipal Equality Index scorecard in the Commonwealth of Virginia as determined by the Human Rights Campaign. Out of the 11 municipalities scored in Virginia, Richmond received a 94. Out of the 506 municipalities scored in 2018, the City of Richmond experienced the most significant score increase nationwide.
Richmond was named a “MEI All-Star” and spotlighted as a “city boldly leading the way to equality” in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 MEI report. 
“I am thrilled that Richmond has taken so many positive steps to protect and support our LGBTQ community,” said Mayor Stoney. “I have always said that no matter the color of your skin, the neighborhood you live in, or who you love, that you are welcome in the City of Richmond – and Richmond’s 2018 MEI scorecard echoes that message.”
Each year the Human Rights Campaign rates cities across the United States based on their initiatives to support LGBTQ communities. This process is called their Municipal Equality Index (MEI) scorecard where cities are scored from 0-100 on items such as non-discrimination laws, transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, inclusive workplaces, and LGBTQ liaisons in the city’s executive office, to name a few. 
In 2017, Richmond received a 42 on the MEI scorecard. By working with City Council to establish a Human Rights Commission and non-discrimination laws, designating a policy advisor to serve as the Mayor’s LGBTQ liaison, and offering transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, Richmond was able to increase its score by 52 points since 2017.
Richmond’s score increase is celebrated by state groups such as Equality Virginia, a non-profit that advocates for equality for LGBTQ Virginians, and Virginia Pride, an organization that provides support and resources for the LGBTQ community.
“The work for full lived equality begins in our local communities,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “Equality Virginia applauds the efforts of Mayor Stoney and the Richmond City Council towards creating a city where gay and transgender people can live, work, and play free from discrimination. To see Richmond’s MEI score double in one year shows just how seriously Mayor Stoney values creating an inclusive city.” 
“The work that Mayor Stoney’s Administration has done to make Richmond a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ community members to live, work, and visit is incredible,” said James Millner, President of Virginia Pride. “Mayor Stoney campaigned on making Richmond a more inclusive city that celebrates its diversity and he has kept his promise.” 
“I am delighted that Richmond is able to progress at this level,” said Mayor Stoney. “However, we would not have been able to make it this far without the help of officials, such as Councilmembers Parker Agelasto and Ellen Robertson, who were key in moving Richmond’s Human Rights Commission and non-discrimination laws forward in the city council.”
Fortune 500 companies look to the Human Rights Campaign report as a guide to where they may relocate as they need cities that reflects their values.
Local organizations have also demonstrated support of Richmond’s efforts to protect the LGBTQ community.
“Richmond is leading the way on a national level,” said Bill Harrison, Executive Director of Diversity Richmond, an organization dedicated to being a voice and resource for LGBTQ Richmonders. “Mayor Stoney is building bridges to make Richmond a stronger, healthier, and more prosperous city.”
“We are grateful for Mayor Stoney’s leadership to make Richmond a more inclusive place,” said Katherine O’Donnell, Richmond Region Tourism Executive Vice President. “Celebrating diversity and equality is important for Richmonders, as well as visitors. With tourism in our region continuing to grow, the Human Rights Campaign’s latest index score is a reminder to LGBTQ+ travelers that Richmond is welcoming, friendly and open to all.”
Mayor Stoney said that the news should be celebrated by the entire city. 
“We have come a long way over the past two years, and will continue our great work to make Richmond more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mayor Announces Appointments to Teacher Advisory Council



Composed of 19 teachers from across the Richmond Public School system, the council will help provide insight into what attracts teachers to Richmond and what will keep them living and working here. It will also offer input to the administration on ways the City can support students outside the school day so they can enter the classroom eager and ready to learn.
“Our educators are a valuable asset with a unique perspective on how to help our children,” said Mayor Stoney. “I look forward to hearing their ideas and I am grateful for their commitment to our kids.”   
The Council will hold its first meeting on Monday, October 15, and will convene bimonthly thereafter with strategic support from Brionna Nomi, doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education.
The Mayor has appointed 19 teachers to the inaugural MTAC representing the diversity of Richmond’s teaching force. They include:
Ms. Coretta (Cory) Adkins, G.H. Reid Elementary School
Mr. Derrick Bates, George Mason Elementary School
Mr. Joshua Bearman, Franklin Military Academy
Ms. Victoria Carll, Open High School
Mr. Brian Condit, Albert Hill Middle School
Ms. Christal Corey, Boushall Middle School
Mr. Marvin Gilliam, George Wythe High School
Ms. Mary Gresham, Richmond Technical Center
Ms. Giles Harnsberger Garrison, Albert Hill Middle School
Dr. Stephanie Hooks, Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School
Ms. Kieasha King, Woodville Elementary School
Mr. Chris Lombardi, Mary Munford Elementary School
Mr. Luis Luna, Huguenot High School
Ms. Catherine Marchetti, Maymont Preschool Center
Ms. Kerry L. Richardson, Barack Obama Elementary School
Ms. Ester Orellana, Huguenot High School
Mr. Darrell Turner, Blackwell Preschool Center
Ms. Elizabeth Wait, Armstrong High School
Ms. Mayzie Zechini, J.L. Francis Elementary School


Thursday, October 4, 2018

City Launches “Change for RVA Schools” Campaign


Dine in. Take out. Build Schools. Click here to watch Mayor Stoney’s video.

Today the City of Richmond launched a new campaign, “Change for RVA Schools”, to promote and encourage dining in Richmond restaurants as a means to support funding for new school facilities in the city.

“The conditions in many of Richmond’s aging city schools detract from the positive learning environment our kids deserve,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “Making a difference and creating positive change for our kids is deliciously simple; eat city food, help city schools.”


Every time someone visits a Richmond restaurant, 1.5% of their bill will go toward building revenue for new school facilities.

Residents will see ads on GRTC buses and messages posted via social media encouraging them to visit restaurants throughout the city.


For more information, visit ChangeForRVASchools.com and follow the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Virginia Municipal League and Mayor Stoney Call for State to Fund the True Cost of Education


On October 2, 2018, the Virginia Municipal League (VML) adopted its 2019 legislative program, which includes support for funding the true cost of public education.



Specifically, VML calls for the Commonwealth of Virginia to recognize that the current Standards of Quality do not acknowledge the actual cost of educating students, which includes pupil transportation, school support staff, access to broadband and other necessary technology and competitive staff salaries. These operational costs are in addition to the necessary facility maintenance and construction costs borne by school systems across the state. 



Since 2009, local governments have taken on a much larger share of the funding, which has resulted in approximately $4 billion above the required local effort for Standard of Quality programs in 2016 and 2017.



“I applaud VML for acknowledging that the Commonwealth of Virginia needs to fund the true cost of education,” said Mayor Stoney. “Since 2009, Virginia has decreased state funding for K-12 education by an estimated $378 million per year. Expecting localities to make up the difference is unsustainable and irresponsible, and does an injustice to our children.” 



Mayor Stoney today announced that he will submit a resolution on October 8, 2018 that, if adopted by city council, would call upon the Virginia General Assembly to fulfill its constitutional obligation to adequately fund the true cost of education in Virginia.


“I am calling on leaders in other localities to join us and adopt similar resolutions that underscore our unified commitment to our kids,” the mayor said. “Localities need more money, for better schools, to build stronger students. Our children are counting on us, and it’s time for the General Assembly to step up.”

Monday, October 1, 2018

Mayor Introduces Legislation to Establish Richmond History and Culture Commission



Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced he will submit legislation to City Council for its October 8 meeting establishing the Richmond History and Culture Commission. 
 
“I think it is important that a city with such a rich culture and complex history as Richmond have an entity dedicated to understanding, evaluating and advancing its significant sites and landscapes,” said Mayor Stoney.

In recent years, the City of Richmond has undertaken serious efforts to determine how to effectively tell a more holistic and inclusive narrative of its history, from the work of Slave Trail Commission, to the Monument Avenue Commission, to the recent Urban Land Institute Rose Fellowship focus on Shockoe Valley.

“In order to take the next steps forward, we need to create a broad and coherent framework that will seek out the voices of local Richmonders and guide us as we embark upon these important projects,” the mayor added.

Commissions dedicated to historic resources exist in many cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. Fredericksburg and Virginia Beach are among those with similar bodies in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 
 
If approved by city council, the History and Culture Commission would focus on items such as honoring and memorializing the history of Shockoe Bottom, and providing guidance on the recommendations of the Monument Avenue Commission regarding the reinterpretation of the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue, among others. 
 
“This is the latest step in the city’s evolution to understand its past, tell its full story and by doing so, move us forward to a brighter future,” the mayor said. 
 
The 13-member commission would serve as an advisory body to the mayor and be staffed by the Department of Planning and Development Review. 
 
Mayor Stoney’s proposal also calls for two Richmond Public School high school students to serve on the commission, in addition to a member of city council, an assigned staff member and nine appointees. 
 
“It is crucial to have young voices involved in these important conversations,” Mayor Stoney said. “They are the future of the City of Richmond and should have a say in what happens.”

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mayor Announces New Location for 2018 - 2019 Cold Weather Overflow Shelter


Working with the City of Richmond’s Department of Social Services, Mayor Levar Stoney today announced the City’s 2018 - 2019 Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will operate from the Conrad Center, 1400 Oliver Hill Way.

“Allowing some of our most vulnerable residents to spend another winter in the deplorable conditions of the old Public Safety Building is unacceptable,” said Mayor Stoney. “That is why the City of Richmond will step up and relocate programs and services to a more suitable and accommodating city building as a temporary solution to provide safety and warmth this winter.

“The ultimate long-term goal is to find permanent, suitable housing for all of our citizens year-round, so that we don’t have to have this same challenge every year,” the mayor continued. “That is why I am pleased to support Councilwoman Robertson’s ordinance that would require the city to develop a strategic plan to address homelessness.”

The City of Richmond has previously operated the cold weather shelter at the city’s Public Safety Building, 501 N. 9th Street, to help prevent the possibility of hypothermia of citizens during extremely cold weather, when wind chill or temperature forecasts reach or drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, from October 1 through April 15. The Conrad Center, which is currently being used by the Office of Community Wealth Building (CWB), will have suitable restrooms, reliable heat and enough sleeping space to accommodate 150 to 175 persons. During the coming winter season, CWB services will transfer to the East District Initiative, located at 701 N. 25th Street.

“In an ideal scenario, we would have an organization or a ministry that would have been able to step up and commit to providing shelter from the extreme cold for people during the winter months, and that organization or ministry would have access to a site in a neighborhood filled with residents who embraced the opportunity to help people in need,” said Reggie Gordon, Interim DCAO for Human Services. “That did not happen. Therefore, the city will step up with the Conrad Center and we will rely on the existing shelter providers in the homeless services system, hoping that they, too, will be able to expand their bed space on the coldest nights.”

Gordon said citizens should make plans now for the cold weather or take advantage of existing bed space in the homeless services system, so they will not have to rely upon the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter, which should be used as a last resort.

Additional Information:
Single adults needing overnight shelter are to call the Housing Crisis Line at (804) 972-0813 for a referral to the appropriate shelter. Single adults residing in the City of Richmond who are not eligible for existing shelter or are advised all available beds have been filled, should report to Commonwealth Catholic Charities (511 West Grace Street) to receive a referral to the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter.

Individuals seeking access to the Overflow Shelter must have a referral. Food will not be provided and pets are not allowed.

The Department of Social Services provides emergency assistance with gas and electric disconnection notices for City residents who qualify. Residents may also call the Fuel Line at (804) 646-7046.

The elderly or residents with disabilities should contact Senior Connections for assistance at (804) 343-3000, Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Office of Community Wealth Building Career Center services, previously offered at the Conrad Center will now be available at the East District Initiative, located at 701 North 25th Street.

Limited client services provided by the Department of Social Services at the East District Initiative will now be available at Marshall Plaza, located at 900 East Marshall Street.