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THRIVE Participant Perspective--East End Renaissance Council

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

Each Friday, we'll bring you the perspective of a nonprofit in our THRIVE accelerator program and share a little about their organization.

East End Renaissance Council

This session of THRIVE, facilitated as always by our partners at The Spark Mill, was presented by Robert Dortch from the Robins Foundation. We asked the team from EERC to tell us about their experience this week.

What are you hoping to get out of this program?

Marvin Roane, President: To be able to get an understanding of how nonprofits can better thrive in this modern world of collaboration. To build capacity and relationships and how we can bring more visibility to our mission. To look at things we do well and how to pair my vision with the structures already in place.

Carlton Webb, Board Member: I was hoping to get exactly what I'm getting--insight into the particulars, being involved in the whole process of being a nonprofit, how to connect to those processes from where we are. A lot of nonprofits I've encountered since I’ve been in Richmond, the people have come from outside of the community they target. They don’t get as holistic in their approach and end up being piecemeal, no matter how well intentioned.

Tell us about your experience in the program.

Yvette Davis-Rajput, Consultant: Being able to learn about mission, how that one sentence [the mission statement] can have a huge impact.

Bonita Kirk, Board Member: It is helping us to be more accountable to those areas that we need to focus on. That connectivity piece, that engagement piece is huge--the relationships with the funders. Here we are on the ground doing the work, and the funders don’t know about us. We’ve done a lot of sweat equity. We weren’t engaging at the level to let people know the work we’re doing. People weren’t seeing it through osmosis.

From Robert's Presentation

Carlton: I’ve had the opportunity to have conversations and doors open that I didn't know were doors that I needed to have opened. There’s a culture and there’s a community to fundraising and fundraisers. Relationships with each other go beyond their particular titles.

What did you learn, or feel spoke to you about today?

Bonta: This is helping us with strategic planning. Are we comprehending how to navigate the nonprofit world, the grant world? Let’s assess what we’ve been doing and evaluate what our capacity is and is not.

Yvette: The importance of diversifying your funds and your approaches. This would give us some clarity and help grassroots organizations like us be at the table.

Marvin: I saw the wheel of contributors, how each one, individual, corporate, earned income, are all roles we’ve engaged, but the grant piece was what we’re missing. We couldn’t get grants. I had to figure out other routes and means. How can we understand how important the relationship with donors and funders is?

From Robert's Presentation

How do you see this applying to your organization?

Marvin: This will help me fine tune the purpose for the organization. In strategy, my team has been asking questions. They’ve helped me define and redefine, to look at strategic vision, to help me see the blind spots and gaps. We come together and talk out things that we don’t normally have time to do. The level of commitment they’ve shown to do this [is impressive].

Renaissance is rebirth, family, community and culture, especially as it relates to African Americans. Times have to change in order of us to be the best we can be in community.

Carlton: with the uplifting of the community comes self-empowerment, and that's our ultimate goal.

About EERC

Their mission is to develop and prepare youth for true “Independent Living” providing adolescents with a realistic understanding of how societal systems work (meaning youth will receive tools, tips, information, workshops and training in areas that are vital to successful integration into the larger society).


The vision of the East End Renaissance Council is to develop youth mentally, physically, morally and emotionally. To provide youth with skills in areas that will enhance and develop belief in self and each individual's gifts, talents and abilities.


The THRIVE accelerator program provides an opportunity to look beyond the current challenges and obstacles and plan out a direct and streamlined path forward. Organizations will spend concentrated time planning and executing real-time solutions with guided facilitation.

The second cohort focuses on helping organizations engage leading practices in program design, community engagement, board development, fundraising, storytelling, and HR/operations with a racial equity lens. This experience creates a set time for teams of boards and staff to come together to look at their organization holistically and then apply what they are learning to their specific context.

THRIVE was created through collaboration between The Collaboratory of Virginia and The Spark Mill, and is currently sponsored by Carmax, Robins Foundation, and Virginia Community Capital.

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