In September, students visited the Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School
, as well as Richmond's East End and Church Hill communities to learn about the school, the neighborhoods, the history of Richmond and the impact that history still has today. The experience encouraged students to investigate social issues and engage multiple perspectives to thoughtfully consider the poverty cycle from many angles. The Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School is an independent, faith-based middle school, providing full-tuition scholarships to students of limited economic resources primarily from Richmond's East End. Through a program focused on the whole child, the school helps empower students and graduates to change the trajectory of their lives, setting their sights on success in high school, college and serving their communities.
In October, class participants were welcomed by HomeAgain
, an organization whose mission helps families and individuals experiencing homelessness secure and maintain a home, again. Students learned about HomeAgain's services in education and programs for families and single women, men and veterans. During the site visit, students actively participated in the work of the family shelter by cleaning and organizing the facility. They then returned to campus to reflect on their experience, the organization, its clients and their work to break the poverty cycle.
Collegiate students were deeply impacted by their experience.
"I am so happy that Richmond has such amazing organizations like HomeAgain," said one student. "Their mission is spot on. It made me realize how much I take for granted."
Later in the semester, students will meet with Mrs. Jones to not only learn the needs of the organization, but to meet those needs through an abbreviated version of the design thinking process.