Our Changing Church Hill

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I attended a play recently titled Church Hill: A Changing Neighborhood.

The play was produced by the Armstrong High School Leadership Program students, working alongside college students from the University of Richmond in the "Documenting a Changing Neighborhood" class.


I brought the bulletin home with me to reflect on the words:


“Today, Church Hill is home to some of the
most acclaimed restaurants and bakeries in the United States, as well the nation’s largest food desert. It includes most of the subsidized housing
in Richmond, the city that claims the greatest concentration of public housing south of
New York City.”

As a resident who has lived here for over a decade I can attest to these changes. I am seeing trendy restaurant spots pop up in parts of Church Hill.


However, it appears few indigenous Church Hill residents are working at or frequently visiting these new establishments.

Here at CHAT, we aim to see all Church Hill residents benefiting from these changes. We are committed to preparing the young people we serve to be ready for these job opportunities. We are taking more and more steps to prepare our youth for life after high school through the work we do.


CHAT has begun calling our faith-based high school a “Marketplace Academy.” Twice a year we organize “Marketplace Days” for students to participate in mock interviews with local business professionals, practicing salesmanship and interview skills.

CHAT’s After School program selects teens to work as Street Leaders throughout the year at tutoring sites and summer day camps. We run a jobs program that continues to grow, providing youth with opportunities to learn woodworking, screen printing, sewing, and urban farming.


In addition, CHAT was the recipient of a community innovation grant from the Robins Foundation, and we plan to open up a café in early 2017 —


A significant opportunity to do more workforce development with our youth and provide jobs for indigenous residents of the community.

I’m excited to get more and more involved in these efforts in my role with CHAT. This spring I began a transition from Operations Director, to the Director of CHAT’s Work Leadership Institute. In this new role, I’ll be providing support to CHAT’s small businesses, help make the new café space a reality, and connect classroom curriculum to all that we do in our jobs programs.


I continue to ask for your support, both financially and through prayer as I step into this new role with CHAT. I am both excited and overwhelmed as there is much work to be done, but I feel strongly that the Lord is calling me to do it! In a recent CNN article highlighting Chicago’s gun violence, Pastor Ira Acree offered up his thoughts on reducing crime.


He shared “If you really want to stop the epidemic of violence, the best way to stop a bullet is with a job.”

I’m excited by the prospect of job creation and am committed to seeing Church Hill youth and native residents a part of these developments. 

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