Expanding Job Access, Education Equity In The Richmond Area

Redevelopment efforts, funded by Capital One New Markets Tax Credit financing, have been underway in Richmond, Virginia

In Richmond’s East End, an area east of downtown that includes historic neighborhoods such as Church Hill and Fairmount, more than two-thirds of residents live below the poverty threshold. To improve economic and financial sustainability, redevelopment efforts in the Church Hill neighborhood have been underway with an eye toward creating jobs and providing access to healthy food, affordable healthcare and quality education.

When the Church Hill North Retail Center opened in 2019, it brought a grocery store, pharmacy, bank, culinary school and retail space to the area that was previously designated a food desert. Not only did this investment support public health and food access initiatives, it also provided an opportunity for small businesses like Hope Pharmacy to serve the neighborhood. The $40 million project was supported by $26.5 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing, which was led by Capital One.

The Market at 25th, a community-driven grocery store, was identified as the single greatest need for the neighborhood to provide healthy food choices to residents in an area that faces chronic public health issues such as diabetes and obesity. Within the Market at 25th, Hope Pharmacy accommodates the needs and wants of the diverse patient population within Church Hill, while ensuring they receive quality, affordable medication and services.

Two years later—and less than a mile away from the Church Hill North Retail Center—Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School (AJC) is taking on another factor that impacts long-term socioeconomic success: quality education. Named for one of the most prominent African American scholars in U.S. history, Anna Julia Cooper’s legacy as an activist for the “education of neglected people” is embodied by the school’s commitment to social justice and educational equality.

The school is an independent, faith-based school that provides full-tuition scholarships to fourth through eighth grade students of limited economic resources—primarily students of color who live in one of the four public housing developments nearby.

Currently serving just over one hundred students, the school is expanding to add kindergarten through third grade, nearly doubling its student body size. The expansion includes new construction of a two-story classroom building, a gymnasium and outdoor play space, a large stage and fine arts area, a library and a cafeteria. The project was supported by a $9 million NMTC investment by Capital One and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation community development entity, and it will have an outsized impact on quality educational attainment in the neighborhood.

Beyond academics, AJC focuses on social, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of its students and takes a family-and community-centric approach to student engagement. And student engagement doesn’t end when students graduate: The school’s innovative Graduate Support Program welcomes alumni back in the afternoons to complete homework, get tutoring and academic support and have dinner. AJC’s comprehensive support has led many graduates to pursue both a high school and college education.

Supporting the broader community is core to AJC’s mission as well. The gymnasium and cafeteria will be available for gatherings and social activities, from evening sports leagues to adult education and enrichment programs. 

“This application of New Markets Tax Credits enables more than 100 additional students to get a quality, holistic education that will empower them to graduate high school and seek out higher education opportunities,” says James LaFleur, a relationship manager with Capital One. “Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School not only provides access to education and academic excellence, but also provides pathways to quality jobs and careers for its students.”

Job creation and retention continue to play a role in revitalization efforts across Richmond. In the Grace Street Commercial Historic District of Richmond, renovations are underway for the 166,276 square-foot Richmond Times-Dispatch building. The $23 million renovation project in downtown Richmond is being supported by $5 million in NMTC financing by Capital One and the Virginia Community Development Fund. Once complete, the new building will consist of a reconfigured home for Richmond Times-Dispatch employees, corporate headquarters for Shamin Hotels—the largest hotel owner and operator in Virginia—and additional office space for tenants. 

“Keeping Richmond Times-Dispatch in downtown Richmond was a priority for the newspaper and broader business community,” says Ian Joseph, a relationship manager with Capital One. “It helps retain jobs on-site, and also supports Shamin Hotels’ work with the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority to hire among low income residents.” 

The NMTC program is a federal initiative that encourages investment in lower income communities with a modest tax credit that provides an incentive for development. Authorized under the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000, since 2003 more than $50 billion in NMTC investments have been made, leveraging more than $100 billion in total capital investment to businesses and revitalization projects in communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment.

The redevelopment efforts in Richmond highlight how NMTC can support solutions to the toughest challenges communities are facing, says John Chamberlain, NMTC Managing Director at Capital One. By tapping into NMTC as a tool for improving employment, food accessibility and education, communities can enable greater access and equity for residents.