The 3rd annual Greater Richmond Challenge is coming to town in May, and while the deadline for applications has officially passed, I understand that the Chamber of Commerce is still accepting late applicants for what might be one of the more educational community initiatives around. (For the record, I participated in the first two Challenges and serve on the planning committee for the current Challenge.)
For two days in May, diverse teams of Richmond region residents fan out to explore key issues facing our community -- education, affordable housing, transportation, crime and safety. In addition to meeting, interacting and developing relationships with fellow residents, participants are exposed to some of the key solution builders in our community.
In 2006, I received the education of a lifetime about the challenges faced by lower and middle income families in their quest for affordable housing (both those looking to rent and to own). And I walked away inspired beyond belief by the work of the Better Housing Coalition and other area organizations. I also walked away with a handful of new friends -- most of whom remain friends today.
In 2007, my disinterest in secondary education was challenged when my team set forth to explore how Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover are dealing with the challenges of educating our youngest citizens. I was impressed with the commitment demonstrated by school administrators in Hanover, and blown away by the passion and energy of the principal of Woodville Elementary School in Church Hill -- Mrs. Taylor needs to be cloned and distributed nationwide. Once again, I ended the challenge with new friends and acquaintances.
The pending birth of our first child is keeping Nikole and I from participating in the Greater Richmond Challenge this year, but I'll be cheering from the sidelines as another 100 residents set forth to learn more about our community, about each other and about themselves.
Go and apply today. (There are scholarships available, and a high likelihood that those who have a financial need will receive support to participate.)