The Richmond (VA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated established a partnership with Richmond Public Schools to implement an Umbrella Project at Franklin Military Academy. The project “Focused Motivated Achievers ²” (FMA²) began in the fall of 2014 with the goal of providing experiences to enhance the growth, social development and academic achievement for a group of female middle school students. We challenge and motivate our students to exceed their own expectations and academic achievement and social progress.

In addition, it is our hope that the students will receive enriching experiences to prepare them for college and/or a career of their choice. All members of the Chapter provide weekly lessons, activities, guest speakers, and occasional field trips that include exposure to The Arts, National and International Trends & Services, and Health & Human Services.

The following is a list of numerous activities we have provided for the students:

Health & Human Services

  • provided the Colgate Dental Van for free check-ups for the young ladies
  • provided a “Shape Fit” yoga class
  • provided a “healthy eating for an active lifestyle” class by Health Heart Plus, a community based organization
  • presented information on holistic beauty and self- image for the young ladies

Youth & Education

  • arranged a field trip to Richmond Community Hospital to give students an overview of STEM careers
  • arranged a field trip to the Freedom Classic Basketball game for students and their parents (chaperones)
  • arranged a medical tour at VCU Medical Center to expose students to various medical careers and give the young ladies an overview of various career pathways and the requirements

Arts & Culture

  • Featured a historical presentation on “Girl Power” with a guest speaker re: the documentary “4 Little Girls” about the girls that were killed in a church by a bombing in Alabama. [A Chapter member was friends with one of the little girls.]
  • arranged for the young ladies to attend The Nutcracker performance and have dinner following the performance.
  • provided a dance workshop for the students involving different music genres
  • organized a field trip to the Alvin Ailey Dance performance at the Opera House at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and dinner at the Kennedy Center Cafe on the rooftop.
  • Hosted the young ladies at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) for several exhibits, including family day with their parents and/or family members
  • arranged for the young ladies to attend The Lion King Production

International Trends

  • organized a presentation on Haiti’s culture from former City Councilperson, Willie Dell and Dr. Lerla Joseph. Both presenters shared experiences withtheir work in orphanages, hospitals and in the countryside. In addition, a discussion regarding the many languages spoken in Haiti.
  • Explored Haitian culture through “The Amazing Race” conducted by a Chapter member to learn about currency, geography, artifacts and cuisine.
  • commenced service learning with discussions regarding the assessment of needs in Haiti and how to address the core issue for lasting impact.

The partnership with students will continue through completion of their high school education.

Our goals for FMA² are:

  • Maintain our relationship with the students until they graduate from high school in 2021.
  • Increase student attendance
  • Increase academic achievement
  • Decrease behavioral referrals

At the conclusion of each school year, we administer a survey to each participating student to provide us feedback on the current year’s programming and activities. Their responses drive our planning to address their needs and aspirations.