March 16, 2022
VCU is the recipient of $1.4M for two projects included in federal spending package
Funds will be used for programs targeting gun violence rates and recruiting teachers for early childhood education.
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Funding for two Virginia Commonwealth University projects — one focused on reducing gun violence and the other on early childhood education — was included within the bipartisan Omnibus Appropriations Agreement for Fiscal Year 2022 approved by Congress last week.
The funding requests for the VCU projects were introduced by Rep. Donald McEachin and supported by Sen. Mark Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine. They are the first federal earmarks awarded to VCU in recent history, following the House’s announcement last year that it would reestablish congressionally directed funding after a 10-year hiatus under a new program for high-need community projects.
One project, RVA Gun Violence Prevention Framework, will receive $996,000. It will establish an evidence-based public health response to address the underlying social, economic and systemic factors that promote gun violence. The effort is tailored to, and informed by, the community and acknowledges violence as a public health crisis. A partnership between VCU and VCU Health System and the city of Richmond, the project seeks to decrease violence rates by engaging in systems-level changes and addressing individual and community-level behaviors and norms.
“VCU is incredibly grateful for this federal support for the RVA Gun Violence Prevention Framework,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System. “VCU’s charge as an institution is to address pressing social issues in our urban community. This violence intervention program fits that mission perfectly – a collaboration between VCU, city leaders and stakeholders to make this community safer. Gun violence is a serious public health threat — we must have a public health response, and this funding will help us make our communities safer for us all.”
The second project, RTR Teacher Residency Early Childhood Pathway, will be awarded $400,000 and will enable RTR Teacher Residency — a highly selective graduate teacher residency program of the VCU School of Education — to launch a new pipeline to recruit, support, train and retain high-quality early childhood teachers in Central Virginia public schools.
The project was considered a priority because early childhood education has been scientifically demonstrated to enhance cognitive, psychosocial and motor development, making children more “school ready” for K-12 education and yielding long-term economic and social benefits for individuals and society.
“Studies consistently demonstrate that high-quality early childhood education has incredible benefits for children — improving mental and physical development, helping them get ready to enter school and improving their lives and outcomes in the long term,” Rao said. “By providing a new pipeline to recruit, train and retain early childhood teachers in Central Virginia public schools, VCU’s School of Education's successful [RTR] program will help ensure that more children have access to early childhood education and its life-changing benefits. This federal support for the program is invaluable and will demonstrate best practices for the nation’s communities to consider.”
Rao thanked McEachin, Warner and Kaine for supporting the projects.
“We are really grateful to Rep. McEachin, as well as Senators Warner and Kaine, for their strong and steadfast advocacy,” he said.
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