Richmond

RISC

Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities

Background

What is RISC?

Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities (RISC) is an interracial, interfaith, nonpartisan organization which brings congregations together to build the power to meet God’s call to “do justice.”

The member congregations of RISC are building powerful justice ministries so that they can get beyond the symptoms and solve serious community problems.

Current Membership

RISC’s membership is composed of 21 congregations and a seminary in the Greater Richmond area. These congregations include people of all political persuasions, and from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds.

About RISC

Staff

Lead Organizer: Emily Small Unzueta
riscorg@gmail.com

Associate Organizer: Denzel Mitchell
denzel@riscrichmond.org

Contact

www.riscrichmond.org

PO Box 4931
Richmond, VA 23220

804.476.0664

What we do

Our Impact

Because it can bring the power of large numbers to bear, RISC has been able to obtain commitments for specific solutions to urgent community problems, including those shared below.

Affordable Housing

RISC brought together over 1,000 people at the Nehemiah Action Assemblies between 2011 and 2015, to press Richmond’s Mayor and City Council to fund the city’s dormant Affordable Housing Trust Fund. In 2015, we won, and since that time the city allocated just under $10 million to the Trust Fund has leveraged millions of dollars in affordable housing projects. Safe, affordable housing has been provided for over 1,100 Richmond families, senior citizens, and formerly homeless individuals.
In 2020, RISC fought to get City Council to allocate a dedicated stream of revenue for the Affordable Housing, winning this in early 2021. The dedicated stream will grow to an annual allocation of $10 million annually by 2026. In the meantime, to provide much needed millions for affordable housing now, RISC succeeded in getting the City to allocate $20 million from its American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

School Suspensions & Truancy

In the 2003-2004 school year, the truancy rate in Richmond’s public schools had climbed to 26%. RISC obtained commitments from state senators and then-Mayor Douglas Wilder to expand Richmond’s anti-truancy programs. In the first year after these improvements, the overall rate had dropped to 15%.

In 2010, RISC obtained a commitment from the Richmond Public Schools to ensure that every student suspended multiple times in the same school year receives an individual intervention with parents, teachers, and administrators.

Education

In 2017, Richmond Public Schools approached RISC to work on a solution to their reading crisis – over 10,500 children failing to read on grade level. RISC pressed for a proven solution called Reading Mastery, which has helped students from all backgrounds learn to read for the last 50 years. In Fall 2018, the Program was implemented in six elementary schools.

Eviction

Nearly 1 in 3 renters receive an eviction notice each year – giving Richmond the dubious distinction of having the second highest eviction rate in the nation. In 2019 because of the power of organized people, RISC got the City Council to fund an Evictions Diversion Program. The Program saves approximately 500 renters a year from the horrors of suffering an eviction.

Access to Healthcare

Since 2007, RISC has pressed VCU’s Virginia Coordinated Care Program to use its state and federal dollars more efficiently in order to ensure that more low-income uninsured persons have access to primary care. Since RISC began its work on this issue, the number of individuals with access to primary care has jumped from about 10,000 to 27,000.

Job Training

In 2016, RISC got commitments from VCU Health and HCA Virginia hospitals to build a healthcare careers pipeline for job-seekers in Richmond’s neighborhoods with the highest levels of unemployment. The pipeline, which includes workforce centers and the community college, provides training, mentorship, and in-demand hospital jobs with opportunities to advance. The pipeline launched in June 2018, and hundreds of students have completed the Program / been hired as a result.

community organizing careers

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