City seeks funds for East End improvements

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The future of Richmond's East End has received a lot of attention lately. Monday, city and school leaders announced a possible first step. The city will apply for a federal grant to fund a neighborhood project.

City, school, and community leaders signed off on the grant proposal during a meeting at City Hall. Mayor Jones says it's part of a broader revitalization effort in the embattled East End.

"We're going to be working on housing and retail development, employment, health care, and all of the social indicators that will help families be stronger and more secure," said Jones.

The focus of Monday's meeting was education. Richmond hopes to be one of 20 cities selected for a federal "promise neighborhoods" grant. Using that money, school and community leaders hope to unite school and other neighborhood programs under one umbrella-- known as the East End Children's Zone.

Woodville Elementary will serve as ground zero for the project, which is modeled after a successful venture in Harlem.

"We've had visits to New York, and people from the Harlem Children's Zone have come here. So it has the makings and the foundational support to be an extremely successful venture," Richmond Schools Superintendent Yvonne Brandon said.

Each face at the table represented an organization that helped lay the groundwork for the grant proposal.  The philanthropic community has worked to raise funds required to match the federal money.

"We're not waiting to match it- we've matched it and beyond, and those things have to show up strong in our application," said Donald Coleman.

Donald Coleman represents the targeted district on the school board. He says several organizations are already working on ways to combine services to serve individual children from birth all the way through high school.

"When we work together, we're going to see some transformation. I really believe that," he said.

The grant application is due this Friday. Grant recipients will be announced in September.

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