Monday, July 6, 2015

City Launches Open Data Portal



Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced a new measure to advance transparency by launching the City's new Open Data Portal, accessible at data.richmondgov.com <https://data.richmondgov.com/browse?category=Well-Managed+Government> . The Open Data Portal features tools which allow users to combine data sets to build their own views of information. The portal includes several data sets such as the City’s payment register, real estate assessments, community survey data, neighborhood statistics, motor vehicle accident information and much more. The data sets are organized into the City's focus areas of Unique, Healthy and Inclusive Neighborhoods and Communities; Economic Growth; Community Safety and Well-Being; Transportation; Education and Workforce Development; Sustainability and the Natural Environment; Well Managed Government.

“We are making this data available to advance transparency in government,” said Mayor Jones. “This online research tool will provide residents with information to help them understand how public money is being spent.”

The Payment Register is a record of City non-payroll payments. The register currently displays payments made in May 2015 and will be updated on a monthly basis going forward. Payment data that would reveal the identity of social services providers has been redacted to protect the identities of social service program participants. All data appearing on the Portal will be vetted and approved by an Open Data Workgroup and the directors of the departments that own the data.

“The City’s Departments of Information Technology and Finance have been working for more than a year to provide this tool to residents to advance the Mayor’s objective of a well-managed government,” said Doug McCollough, Director of the City’s Information Technology Department.

In January, Richmond City Council passed an ordinance (No. 2014-257-2015-9) to publish the City’s payment register on www.Richmondgov.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

City Announces $300,000 Grant from Kellogg Foundation


The City of Richmond announced today that it has been awarded a grant of $300,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan. The grant was awarded to support the city’s continued work toward a stronger system of early childhood development and education in the City of Richmond. This award is a direct result of the work of the Early Childhood Task Force, convened last August by the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building in collaboration with Richmond Public Schools and with the participation of numerous early childhood providers and community organizations.

The grant aims to support Richmond’s efforts to institutionalize stronger coordination across multiple early childhood services and to develop new models for connecting families to needed support services. “I am very pleased that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has recognized the important work on poverty reduction being done in Richmond and elected to provide significant financial support to our efforts in early childhood,” stated Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “This support from a major national foundation further validates our comprehensive, holistic approach to meeting the needs of low-income communities, starting with our youngest residents.”

The grant fund will support work in three areas: First, it will support the work of the Richmond Early Childhood Cabinet, a collaborative working group of City of Richmond and Richmond Public Schools (RPS) program managers and staff members involved in providing services to young children and their families. Second, the grant will support high-quality research, in partnership with the VCU Center for Society and Health, to guide policymakers concerning Richmond’s overall system of early childhood development. Third, the grant will support a pilot project based in Gilpin Court, in partnership with the FRIENDS Association of Richmond, to develop strong resident leaders who can be peer advocates for quality early childhood education.

“Both common sense and research evidence point to the critical importance of the early years of human life, when the brain is developing, for lifelong outcomes,” stated Dr. Thad Williamson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building. “Kids who arrive at Kindergarten already behind, too often never catch up. We won’t make the dent in poverty we need to if parents don’t have access to safe, quality child care.”

“What we have not had to date is the collaborative framework needed to tie different services together into a common vision for families and the community as a whole,” continued Williamson. “This grant from the Kellogg Foundation gives us a golden opportunity to develop and sustain a new collaborative approach to better identifying and meeting early childhood needs in Richmond.”

A key goal of the Early Childhood Cabinet is to define a shared roadmap for the provision of comprehensive support services for families of young children, particularly low-income families, from birth to age five. Critical goals of this effort include increasing the number of children who enter kindergarten prepared to learn and improving access to affordable, quality child care for working parents in low-income neighborhoods. This grant will also support the work of a partner group, the Richmond Early Childhood Action Council, which will bring together City and RPS staff with a wide range of community providers and stakeholders to help develop and articulate a strong community-wide framework for excellence in early childhood education.

“A strong educational foundation is one of the greatest gifts we can provide to our children,” stated David Young, Executive Director of the FRIENDS Association for Children. “We see the impact this has on our preschoolers every day, as we prepare them for success in kindergarten and lifelong learning. FRIENDS Association for Children is proud to partner with the City of Richmond, Richmond Public Schools, VCU Center for Society and Health, and a variety of community partners to help make quality and affordable early childhood education programming available to all children and families throughout the Richmond Metropolitan area.”

“We are excited about this opportunity to bring focus to early childhood needs, and highlight our existing assets, in the City of Richmond," said Jacque Hale, Director of Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond. "The network of players and providers that serve children from birth to five is complex.  This grant will help us all get on the same page and work together towards a shared goal: all children, from birth to age five, are healthy, well-cared for, and ready to succeed in school and in life.”

Funds from this grant will be placed in a Special Fund in the Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services, pending Council authorization of acceptance of the grant. Implementation of the grant will be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Mayor Jones Announces New Deputy CAO for Finance and Administration


Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced the appointment of Lenora Reid as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Finance and Administration. Reid has worked as Director of Finance for the City of Suffolk since 2012, during which time the City earned a “AAA” bond rating.

“Ms. Reid is an accomplished leader in public finance,” said Mayor Jones. “I look forward to her aggressive efforts to strengthen capabilities in our finance team and deliver results.”

Reid previously worked in several positions for the City of Richmond from 2003 to 2007, to include serving as Acting City Controller. She worked as Controller for the City of Portsmouth from 2008 to 2012.

She is a Certified Public Accountant and holds the professional designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant. She earned an MBA from Strayer University and dual bachelor’s degree with honors in accounting and management from the University of the District of Columbia.

As Suffolk’s Finance Director, Reid has been responsible for all aspects of accounting and reporting, budget and strategic planning, purchasing, and preparation of the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR.

“I’ve worked with Leonora Reid for some time,” said Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn. “I know her work, her ability to get things done, and I trust her to build and lead teams. She will be a great addition to our City leadership team.”

“The City advances when professionals return here after building skills in other localities,” said Kathy Graziano, who chairs the City Council’s Finance Committee. “I look forward to working with Ms. Reid to strengthen the City’s finances and reporting.”

Reid will begin City service on July 1. She succeeds Norman Butts, who resigned to spend more time with his family.

“We’re grateful to Norm Butts for his contributions to the City, and we wish him all the best,” said Cuffee-Glenn.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mayor Jones Announces City-Wide Rollout of Recycling Carts


In a June 10 press conference, Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced the city-wide distribution of new 95-gallon recycling carts in July 2015. The announcement follows the City’s grant award -- first announced in January of this year -- in partnership with Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) for a public/private recycling program. Click here for more information on the Richmond Recycles program.

“The City will receive nearly $560,000 as one of four cities chosen to partner with Curbside Value Partnership for this first of its kind program,” explained Mayor Jones. “This effort is in line with our RVA Green sustainability plan and we are pleased to be moving forward with our city-wide distribution of these recycling carts.”

In early July, city-wide delivery of approximately 57,000 new 95-gallon recycling carts. Some 6,000 residents received a cart in January during the initial roll-out. All carts are expected to be in place by the end of 2015. The City is working locally with Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA) and TFC Recycling to facilitate the program. CVWMA provides the recycling contract service with TFC, which collects recyclables. In addition to being able to recycle more, residents who receive trash collection in the alleys will also have their recycling cart emptied there.   

“We are very glad to have an opportunity to celebrate with the City; not only is recycling about to get a lot easier for the residents of Richmond, but we anticipate a substantial increasing in the amount of material recycled – helping to support a strong regional recycling economy and a healthy environment,” said the Recycling Partnership Executive Director, Keefe Harrison.

In addition, residents who use recycling carts will be able to sign up for the Recycling Perks program, which rewards those who recycle by offering incentives from local businesses that participate in the program. The program has three key advantages: (1) promotes local merchants, (2) helps divert waste from landfills, and (3) allows residents to save money through discounts as participating merchants.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

City's Minority Business Development Holds Third Money Smart for Small Business Program Graduation


Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the City’s Office of Minority Business Development recently held a graduation ceremony for the third round of participants who have successfully completed the City’s Money Smart for Small Business program. The Money Smart program is a nationally acclaimed, comprehensive financial education curriculum developed jointly by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the U.S. Small Business Administration, to assist minority and emerging small businesses in specific areas that will increase their ability to be sustainable and successful.

“The Money Smart for Small Business program provides small and minority owned businesses with a wealth of business resources and knowledge which strengthens the diversity of businesses, consumers and employers. Entrepreneurship and a vibrant small business community are vital components in our efforts to reduce poverty and the city’s unemployment rate,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

Since the program’s 2012 inception, the 10-module training curriculum provides introductory training for small businesses in the basics of organizing and managing a business and prepares entrepreneurs for more advanced training and technical assistance. The modules are: organization types, time management, financial management, record keeping, banking services available for small businesses, credit reporting, risk management, insurance, tax planning and reporting, and selling a small business and succession planning.

“I would like to personally thank Wells Fargo, State Farm, Money Management, and all of our partners who volunteered their time and teaching talents to this program,” said Pat Foster, interim director of Minority Business Development. “We are proud of all of the Money Smart program’s graduates and the overall program success as we celebrate its third year.”

The Office of Minority Business Development will offer additional Money Smart for Small Business programs this year in addition to other technical assistance classes and individual counseling. For more information, contact Minority Business Development at (804)646-5947 or visit www.richmondgov.com/MBD.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Richmond Fire Encourages Everyone to Practice Water Safety This Summer


The City’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services will be operating a two person bike team on Saturdays and Sundays through Monday, September 7, 2015, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Belle Isle. These teams have had a direct impact on the safety of visitors and they will serve as water safety ambassadors during peak season. This year alone, the department has responded to 30 emergency calls resulting in 24 people rescued from the James River, two body recoveries, and responding to four good intent calls.

The James River Park System is Richmond's largest, most unique and best known park and receives well over 500,000 visitors a year. It is actually a system of parks along both sides of the James River as it passes through the city, making Richmond the only urban city in the country with Class IV white water rapids in the middle of downtown. Regardless of its natural beauty, there are many dangers when visiting the James River or any body of water. Here are some water safety tips we recommend you follow:
  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well and swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near or in water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone, supervise them!
  • By law, when the James River water levels are at 5 feet and above, everyone on the river must wear a lifejacket. When water levels are at 9 feet or above, no one is allowed on the river without a permit.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious wading around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  • Never mix alcohol and water activities as it impairs judgment, balance and coordination, swimming skills, reduces the body’s ability to stay warm, and isn’t allowed in city parks.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or utilize the local emergency call system.
  • If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
For more information on the Park services, visit www.richmondgov.com/Parks/parkJamesRiverSystem.aspx.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Survey to help transform the Main Street Station


The City of Richmond is creating a new public space in the train shed and the area around Main Street Station. The 100,000 square feet of soon-to-be glassed-in space within Main Street Station will be revitalized as a transportation hub with space for experiencing the best of Richmond through recreation, shopping, food and beverage, celebration, tourism, and events. With indoor space the size of an entire city block, this renovation can transform Downtown Richmond by creating a centrally located, historically significant destination for the RVA community.

To ensure that this revitalization effort is successful, the City is undergoing a comprehensive research process. The Southeastern Institute of Research, located right here in Richmond, is leading this research effort. As part of this process, input from the Richmond community is needed.

Please click here to take part in the survey to help transform the Main Street Station.