Church Hill Activities and Tutoring Founder & CEO Steps Down After 15 Years Impacting East End Youth
Percy Strickland passes leadership baton to executive director, says organization is at its ‘strongest season of programming’ in its history
CHURCH HILL, RICHMOND, Va. (Dec. 20, 2016) — Percy Strickland, founder and CEO of Church Hill Activities and Tutoring (CHAT) (www.chatrichmond.org) steps down from top leadership post following 15 years serving Richmond’s East End students and families, with the organization poised for growth and expansion in 2017. More jobs, increased reach and volunteers and a cafe project with Bon Secours are teed up for the new year.
“When my wife and I opened our front door to neighborhood youth more than 15 years ago, we never could have imagined that simple action would grow into the community institution that exists today,” Strickland, Church Hill resident, husband and father of four said. “What started as tutoring and hanging out on our front porch has grown into a holistic and integrated set of programs that serve the youth of Church Hill in so many ways.” [See video blog announcement here.]
CHAT has served more than 500 young people in the Church Hill community since its founding, and currently serves 150 weekly through four main program areas, including:
The After-School Tutoring Program, with over 80 students and 70 volunteers meeting each week;
Life Skills Training, aka “Wacky Wednesday,” allowing students grades 3 through 12 to work with volunteers to learn cooking, sports, sewing, urban farming and public speaking
Church Hill Academy, a 9th-12th grade high school with 40 current students and 35 graduates [See: “Church Hill Academy to move locations in new partnership with Fulton Hill Church”]
Tiny Tykes, a licensed preschool with three classes and 38 students, providing quality, affordable childcare to East End families, removing barriers to employment;
The Work Leadership Institute, providing 30 students with summer jobs, and opening the Front Porch Cafe in spring 2017, a project with Bon Secours
Nehemiah’s Store, a woodworking business operated featuring handcrafted items made by the youth of Church Hill in Church Hill
“For these last 15 years, I was just what we needed, a builder who jumped in to dig the foundation and frame up the walls,” Strickland said. “Now, we need to turn this foundation into an institution that will serve this community with excellence for the next 15 years, and beyond. We need a new generation to lead the charge. CHAT has never been about me, it’s always been about seeing the transformation that can occur when we come together, with our diverse gifts and talents, for the flourishing of our community -- helping each one of our students break entrenched cycles of poverty and live into the future God has for them,” he said.
CHAT is the proud first recipient of the Lora M. and E. Claiborne Robins "Community Innovation Grant," and placed first or second in the Community Foundation's "Amazing Raise" for over four years in a row. The East End nonprofit continues to invest in the lives of aspiring youth, in a city and neighborhood deeply affected by years of structural injustice, with a passionate belief in the power of Christian fellowship to transform communities.
In addition to impacting Church Hill preschool through high school youth, through its Summer Immersion Internships and Year-Long Residencies, the organization offers college students and young adults from Richmond and beyond, the opportunity to explore vocational urban ministry by supporting/staffing CHAT programs. Interns and Residents live in pre-arranged group homes in Church Hill and commit to simplicity, discipleship, prayer, service and community. They engage in 40-50 hours of vocational work a week; their gifts, skills and interests are matched with the needs of the community. Many interns and residents have gone on to part- and full-time employment at CHAT, overseen by Executive Director, Stephen Weir.
“I passed the mantle of day-to-day leadership to Stephen Weir nearly two years ago,” Strickland said. He has been living out our core values in the community for nearly a decade, engaging with the work in every way possible. Alongside Stephen, we have an amazing staff, which includes many of the earliest staff members who joined us in the first few years. We have an incredible board of directors that will be chaired by Pastor Don Coleman [of East End Fellowship] going forward. We have an army of volunteers that shows up each week, and most of all, we have the incredible youth who will go on to achieve more than we can imagine. The truth is, I’ve worked myself out of a job; it’s time for a new wave of leaders to take the helm.”
About CHAT – “We Equip and Serve the Youth of the East End to Make Transformative Decisions”
Church Hill Activities and Tutoring (CHAT) is a system of integrated programs that empower aspiring youth to break the cycles of poverty and reach for their goals. Since 2001, more than 500 Church Hill youth have been served by the organization. CHAT believes in the power of community and fellowship to transform lives, and ultimately, the community. We establish strong connections through learning and enrichment activities in a safe and secure environment to ensure future success. By working one-on-one with families and children, CHAT sets the stage for reconciliation and justice for all. For more information, contact Stephen Weir, CHAT Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 804.467.1004.
Stephen Weir, CHAT Executive Director
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