As I take a moment to reflect on my career path, I am thankful for the opportunities that I have received. Opportunities to grow, try new things, and step out of my comfort zone. Throughout my formative years and into college, there was always an adult “pouring into my life.” My family cheered me on from the sidelines and my mentors gave me that extra push. As you think about your career, can you name the mentor(s) who encouraged you?

If you were able to name at least one person who served as your mentor/coach, consider yourself lucky. Unfortunately, not every person in their developmental years has the chance to cultivate relationships with instrumental figures like mentors. That reality led to Partnership for the Future (PFF) and Leadership Metro Richmond joining forces to help our future workforce. Founded in 1994, PFF began as a college access organization with the focus on preparing students with limited resources for the college process. Fast forward to 2014, PFF realized that we needed to ensure that our students were persisting through, graduating from college, and finding meaningful work experiences…that’s where LMR comes in.

The COACHES RVA program was created to help PFF students build their network of individuals who can help guide them through important transitions into adulthood. COACHES have been instrumental in assisting students with life challenges. For instance, a PFF graduate was recently faced with a severe situation where her lack of confidence (stemming from abandonment issues) and a lack of familial support led to her inability to focus on her school work. Ultimately, this student was placed on academic probation and forced to leave campus without a place to go. While PFF did all that we could for this bright student, it was the LMR Coach who had the biggest impact in connecting her with resources outside of college, helping her find a job and a place to stay, and even reengaging the college (since it was the Coach’s alma mater). Thanks to the diligence of this wonderful Coach, this young lady recently returned to school and now has another identified mentor on her campus. It is because of this Coach, that this young lady will be able to finish her college degree and create a better life for herself.

While not every coaching story will sound like this one, it is important to understand that you serving as a mentor, coach, and door opener can make all of the difference. You can help our region by ensuring that our next generation of talented leaders are connected to the right people locally and developed for further greatness. Mentor a child and become a part of the army of leaders working for the greater good of our young people.

Charleita Richardson
Class of 2008

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