Within the brightly colored walls of
The offices house the Carver Promise, a project for first-, second- and third-graders. The program has made a pledge to these students: They will receive not only mentoring as they continue school but also help in applying for college.
That’s one of several ways VCU lends a helping hand to the Carver community. Under its Division of Community Engagement, the university has established the Carver-VCU Partnership. The goal of the partnership is to improve the quality of life for Carver residents through projects ranging from the Carver Promise to back-to-school drives and home beautification campaigns. At the same time, the partnership gives VCU students an opportunity to become engaged in the neighborhood.
Brenda Drew is the executive director for the Carver Promise. She relies heavily on VCU students to run the mentoring program and believes that volunteering is an important part of an education.
“College kids have a great opportunity to expose themselves in terms of maturing and really saying, ‘What kind of person am I?’ They’re growing intellectually. It’s very cool for them to grow socially; it’s very self fulfilling,” Drew said.
Most of the students at Carver Elementary are from
According to the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority,
Because of such poverty, children often lack access to such resources such as the Internet. So VCU’s Division of Community Engagement provides a computer lab at the
Ronald Brown is a Carver resident and the community development coordinator for the Carver-VCU Partnership, which was created 12 years ago. He believes the projects help bring together the community and the university, which can sometimes seem like adversaries.
“It’s nice when we could work hand and hand and minimize that barrier between us that ‘I’m from the university, you’re from the neighborhood,’” Brown said.
Tiffany Jones, a VCU sophomore majoring in fashion design, volunteers as a computer lab monitor for the Carver-VCU Partnership. She believes that the partnership is necessary for the university and the community.
“Some have the impression that VCU is taking over the area, and this is a community and historic place, and it’s really important that VCU shows a more caring side. If we’re going to be in their space, at least do something to include them and help out the community. VCU definitely has the resources,” Jones said.
The newest class of 76 first and second graders was inducted into the Carver Promise last week.
Drew, a former high-school principal, came out of retirement to work for the Carver Promise. Becoming an executive director for a nonprofit organization is not what a lot of people envision for their retirement. But for Drew, there would be no other choice.
“I love it,” she said. “I feel like I am helping someone who needs my help the most.”