About the Project

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These are questions that residents, businesses, nonprofits, and public servants are pursuing together along Rt 1 in the Southside of Richmond.

Thriving Cities Group, a nonprofit offering insights and resources to help individuals and communities reach their full potential, is facilitating this project. The project’s goal is strengthening people’s ability to join in the decisions affecting their neighborhoods by:

  • Gathering community history, hopes, and challenges.

  • Highlighting key opportunities and needs for common action.

  • Connecting neighbors and networks along the corridor, as well as across the city and region, to work together toward Rt 1 thriving.

The project includes:

  1. Community Organizing

    • Listening Process - through surveys and interviews, we are listening to key issues residents face along Rt 1 and Jeff Davis.

    • Steering Committee - made up largely of residents from the corridor, the committee provides feedback and guidance for the project.

    • Working Groups - focused on addressing the most prominent issues that arise from the listening process, the working group includes representatives from neighborhoods, businesses, non-profits, foundations, and city government.

  2. Community Resourcing

    • Community Map - a user-friendly and interactive digital map of assets along the corridor today.

    • Compiled History and Interviews - a history of the corridor as well as interviews of those currently living, working, and serving along it.

    • Opportunities and Needs - an analysis of key opportunities and needs for thriving along the corridor, along with projects to generate thriving.

    RVA Thrives

    Steering Committee

    The Steering Committee for RVA Thrives is made up primarily of residents from neighborhoods along the corridor, but also includes representatives from businesses and non-profits active along the corridor. The Steering Committee is presently being facilitated by Thriving Cities, and this Committee's primary roles are to connect the project to others living and working along the corridor, provide active feedback and guidance on the creation and direction of the Working Groups, and support the Working Groups' alignment and collaboration with related nonprofit, city, or business initiatives. A long-term goal for the Steering Committee is that it develops into a permanent organization dedicated to thriving throughout the Jeff Davis Corridor. 

    Community Advocates

    In the spring of 2017, Community Advocates were hired to help design and undertake a community listening process in neighborhoods along the corridor. Each advocate either currently lives along Rt 1 or has a close connection to it, and the collected over 700 surveys and 50 interviews in over the course of the summer. You can see our Community Advocates here

    Focus Areas

    At the end of the summer, the Steering Committee held a retreat in which they discussed results from the surveys and interviews undertaken by the Community Advocates. The Steering Committee selected Jobs Access, Neighborhood Beautification, and Neighborhood Safety as the three areas around which they wanted to form Working Groups. Each Working Group seeks actionable initiatives and partnerships to help address those problem areas. 

    Working Groups

    The working groups report and make recommendations to the Steering Committee. Their purpose is to research, define, and create an execution plan to address at least three problems identified through the listening process. The working groups are resident-led, but like the Steering Committee can include representatives from neighborhoods, businesses, non-profits, foundations, and city government. The Working Groups began meeting in January 2018.

    Project Timeline

    RVA Thrives from the River to Walmsley started in January of 2017, and below is a timeline of the project through 2018. 


    • Jan-May: Building relationships, Steering Committee, and Community Advocates team 
    • June-July: Listening Process
    • Aug-Sept: Data analysis, Steering Committee narrows down working group focus areas
    • Oct-Dec: Recruiting for working groups


    • Jan-Mar: Working Groups begin meeting and researching solutions
    • Apr-June: Community input on solution areas & community Resourcing materials finished and published
    • July-Sept: Steering Committee and Working Groups engage stakeholders to seek funding and or policy changes to the proposed solutions.
    • Oct-Dec: Evaluation of the process & Feedback panels


      About the Data Collection

      Why are we collecting data?
      We want the Cowardin-Jefferson Davis Corridor to thrive, and the best way to do that is to first figure out what the community wants and needs. To help identify these wants and needs, Thriving Cities Group has aimed to conduct interviews and collect 1000 surveys between the months of June and August 2017. We have also partnered with the Richmond City Health Department (RCHD) to gather information on access to and need for health care in the community. The information we gather will help provide a unified voice for local community activists – the people who best know what to ask for and who to ask. This brings meaningful and sustainable change to the Cowardin-Jefferson Davis Corridor.

      Who is collecting the data?
      Thriving Cities Group hired 8 community residents to collect the interviews and surveys. You can learn more about the data collection team here.

      Where will the survey data end up?
      The survey data will be in the hands of The Thriving Cities Group. We will share the results with community residents, activists, and key decision-makers in the city of Richmond at the Route 1 Steering Committee meetings. The survey data will also be shared with the Richmond City Health Department.

      Where will the interview data end up?
      The interview data will also be in the hands of The Thriving Cities Group. We will share the results with community residents, activists, and key decision-makers in the city of Richmond at the Route 1 Steering Committee meetings. The interview data will not be shared with the Richmond City Health Department

      How will the data be used?
      Survey and interview responses will be used primarily to identify the wants and needs of the Cowardin-Jefferson Davis Corridor. They will also help determine the extent to which community members are willing to act to fulfill those wants and needs. Richmond’s community activists and the Thriving Cities Group understand that communities are best able to thrive when change comes from within the community. Our goal is for the data we gather to assist the community to best help itself. The Richmond City Health Department will also use the survey data to assess current community health needs, plan health projects and interventions, and apply for grant funding.

      What did we learn from the surveys and interviews?
      We don’t know yet. We’re still in the process of collecting and analyzing the data. When the data is analyzed, we’ll post the results here. Check back here in mid-to-late Fall to see the results.

      Methods and Results
      The survey uses a geographic-based sampling method. Based on community input, the Route 1 Corridor was divided into neighborhoods. Community members and the Thriving Cities Group identified places within neighborhoods that would attract many different types of individuals from that neighborhood. Survey times vary to ensure a wider variety of community members. While the survey is inclusive of community members, it is not truly representative. Only individuals 18 years and older living or working in the neighborhood are eligible to participate. The survey is administered both on paper and electronically. Surveys are also administered in Spanish.

      Interviews are taking place in coffee shops, community centers, libraries, or other central, public locations. These recorded interviews last around an hour, and bilingual interviewers are available for those who speak Spanish. Once transcribed, interview recordings are destroyed.

      All data collectors received training and practiced administering the survey and interviews before they were asked to do it in the community.

      Institutional Review Board (IRB) Information
      This research was reviewed and approved by the University of Virginia’s IRB. The IRBreviews all University-funded and/or -sponsored research for compliance with federally-mandated research guidelines. All individuals conducting surveys and interviews received IRB training and certification. All survey and interview participants went through the informed consent process. Have any questions or complaints about the research? Contact the UVA IRB at (434) 924-5999 or irbsbshelp@virginia.edu.

      Our Richmond Team

      Community Advocates:
      Thriving Cities hired Community Advocates to assist with conducting community outreach, survey distribution, and interviews during the summer of 2017.


      Alfredo Martinez

      A carpenter by trade, Alfredo lived on the corridor for 4 years when he moved to the States. Alfredo is primarily focused on engaging the Spanish-speaking community in our work on the corridor.


      Anthony (Ajay) Brewer

       Ajay owns Brewers cafe in Manchester. He grew up on the Southside and is committed to raising his son in the same community – a community that he has had a hand in changing.


      Debra Keys


      Debra has lived in the Hillside Court Community for ten years. Her goal is to see her community become unified.

      Elaine Williams

      Elaine is a recent VCU School of Social Work graduate who lived on the Southside in high school with family. Elaine wants to see justice for a community that has largely been ignored.



      Rodney Gaines

      Rodney grew up in Davee Gardens and has lived there most of his life. He wants a community where his grandchildren can come visit and he can provide healthy food for them not just junk food from the corner store.


      Shakirah Jones

      Shakirah is a rising senior in high school and lives in the Oak Grove neighborhood. She has learned that she can make a difference in the community through projects related to working with the homeless in the community and she wants to do the same with the project on the corridor.


      Yolanda Vaughan

      Yolanda has lived in the Davee Gardens community all of her life. Her parents started the Davee Gardens Civic association. Yolanda wants to be apart of carrying on the work her parents started in the neighborhood, she also wants her community to be the type of place that her friends who have moved away would be proud to come back to and raise their families in.