VCC’s Community Development Learning Initiative Launches
In late 2009, Virginia Community Capital (VCC) received a two-year, $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help strengthen the capacity of nonprofits in Virginia as they plan and implement community development projects. Called the Community Development Learning Initiative (CDLI), the enterprise expands upon VCC’s core mission and will serve to build many new partnerships across the region.
Program Development Manager Jennifer Pierce from the VCC Richmond office has been overseeing this effort and explains how a determination of need was an important first step: ”We began this spring by convening several roundtables with over 30 leaders from statewide organizations to discuss potential points of collaboration and identify areas of weakness. Leadership development was cited again and again, so we decided to consider immediate ways to address this factor.”
VCC is determined to contribute in the most efficient manner possible, without duplicating programs. As a result, partnerships with existing organizations and educational offerings hold high appeal.
The Virginia Housing Coalition held its “First-Ever Summer Symposium” on June 17, in Richmond. The event featured a gathering of over 50 housing development specialists as well as the prestigious Annual Housing Awards Dinner, broadly known as the Commonwealth’s largest community housing meeting of the year. Understanding that this occasion represented significant opportunities for both professional and personal development, VCC decided to sponsor emerging leaders in the field at the symposium and dinner as the first CDLI training program.
“We asked member organizations of the housing coalition to identify individuals that they would like to see attend this year’s housing symposium,” Pierce explains, “then, we asked the prospects to submit written responses, which outlined why they would be a good candidate for the scholarship.” A total of 13 applicants received full scholarships to the workshops and dinner.
Tamarah Holmes, CDBG Coordinator at Chesterfield County and VCC scholarship recipient, was very grateful for the support. “I learned a lot,” she summarized with energy, citing a best practices workshop as one of the most educational for her. She also enjoyed learning how some communities managed obstacles, presented in the general session: “Overcoming NIMBY: Success Stories Using State Housing Programs.”
Holmes acknowledged the value of connecting with other professionals, adding, “I appreciated networking with other people, not just people in community development housing, but also other opportunities for personal development with other nonprofits.”
About Virginia Community Capital:
With offices in Christiansburg and Richmond, Virginia Community Capital (VCC) is dedicated to the prospect of building wealth for all through our lending, savings, and advisory services. As a community development financial institution (CDFI), our mission is to offer innovative, flexible financial products designed to support housing and community development ventures, increase jobs, and encourage sustainable communities. In partnership with our for-profit bank, Community Capital Bank of Virginia (CCB), the non-profit VCC offers loan capital broader and more flexible than bank lending in low- to moderate-income communities in underserved geographies and markets. Learn more at vacommunitycapital.org.