Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities
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.
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:
- Affordable Housing – From 2015, RISC brought together over 1,000 people at the Nehemiah Action assembly to press Richmond’s Mayor and City Council to fund the city’s dormant Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Since 2015, the trust fund has leveraged $80.2 million in affordable housing projects and services. Safe, affordable housing has been provided for 1,100 Richmond families, senior citizens, and formerly homeless individuals, and 773 jobs have been created. In 2019, RISC succeeded in getting the City Council to approve an allocation of $2.9 million to the Fund – the largest to date.
- Evictions – 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. Last year, because of the power of ornigazed people, RISC got the City Council to fund an Evictions Diversion Program. The Program was kicked off this past October, and is projected to protect 300-500 families from the horrors of an eviction
- School Suspensions – 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.
- Primary Care for the Uninsured – 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.
- School 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%.
- Elementary Reading – 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 background learn to read for theist 50 years. In Fall 2018, the Program was piloted in six elementary schools. This year the pilot continues, and RISC is monitoring closely the data around reading gains.
- 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 52 people have been hired to date.
- RISC has followed up to ensure that all these commitments are met.
Read more about RISC in the news.
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.
Rev. Brenda Summerset
Ebenezer Baptist Church
First Unitarian Church
Emily Small Unzueta
RISC Lead Organizer