Finding passion and purpose in developing the potential of young people
Each month, a different member of our team will share insights into a specialized area of our work - from family philanthropy to addressing social issues. They may share their personal connection to the subject, a good book worth reading or the latest happenings in the community. Our hope is that you will get to know the names and faces working on your behalf, and you will feel comfortable reaching out with your own ideas and questions.
This week's blog is by Greg Gallop, Community Engagement Officer, who focuses on Educational Success for older youth and Community Vibrancy in the performing arts.
I first found my passion for helping others further their education as a college student at the University of Virginia. Learning new things – particularly philosophy, law, and history – always interested me, so I found joy in sharing what and how I learned with my peers. As a student-athlete, the athletics department gave us what they considered the essentials for success, even placing us in tutoring regardless of whether we thought we needed it. My Academic Coordinator introduced me to my major, one with limited space that required an application. Upon acceptance, I went on to TA for a Commercial Law class and found it rewarding to help students prepare for tests and strategize for success in the course. I held this position for 5 consecutive semesters and felt fulfilled every minute of it.
Greg Gallop, Community Engagement Officer / former UVA football player
In my role at the Community Foundation, I have the privilege of getting to know the people and institutions aligned with our focus on Educational Success from middle school through college/career readiness. After visiting several nonprofits and becoming familiar with the needs and aspirations of this younger age group, I have developed a deep understanding of the importance of quality Out-of-School Time (OST) programming. Not only does it provide extended structure and resources after the final bell rings, but it also exposes students to new experiences, potentially piquing their interests in constructive activities that lead to an active lifestyle, career path, or even an artistic outlet.
There is a strong network of organizations collaborating to ensure that young people have opportunities to reach their full potential. Among them, NextUp RVA is a community-wide collaboration that provides free, high quality programs for Richmond Public Schools. They create efficiency by coordinating services of other like-minded organizations within the walls of the school they are serving. Currently, NextUp RVA is active in Henderson, Boushall, and Lucille Brown Middle Schools. The folks at Higher Achievement believe that middle school is the last, best chance for students to get on track for higher education. The Richmond branch brings that possibility to life for over 400 middle schoolers by connecting them to after-school and summer learning, caring mentors, and a culture of high expectations. They work in conjunction with NextUp at Boushall and Henderson and even extend into Wilder Middle School in Henrico County. Partnership for the Future provides high-potential high school students from challenging circumstances with tools and experiences necessary to attain a college degree. They do so through one-on-one mentoring, personal development workshops, SAT prep, college visits and coaching on scholarship/financial aid applications. They also help participants connect their educational and career goals by matching the students to summer internships within a network of local corporate and nonprofit sponsors.
Fortunately for Richmond, we have a mayor who has publicly stated his commitment to and passion for furthering out-of-school time opportunities for students. In collaboration with funders like the Community Foundation and service providers like the aforementioned three, the city is on the verge of creating a coordinated system of quality programs that are both equitable and accessible to all who wish to participate.