During the spring of 2016, the JLNVB began working with the AJLI to reevaluate and reenergize our direct impact on South Hampton Roads. As a result, the Community Council has been working hard to implement several critical changes to strengthen and expand our reach to address the needs of our community by shifting its focus from a project-based mindset to a results-based approach. Moving forward, the JLNVB Community Impact Strategy will seek to address the most critical issues identified within our community that align with the overall mission. As part of the new Community Impact Strategy, members of the Community Impact Development Committee have started researching and sharing information on various issues with our members. The goal is to educate the membership and ensure a holistic understanding of the societal challenges in South Hampton Roads before selecting our future focus areas.
In October 2016, our members identified their top 10 focus areas – listed below – that will be evaluated further and narrowed down to our top four signature focus areas over the course of Spring 2017. Please click on the below links to read more about each issue.
- Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is described by the U.S. Department of State as the “act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion.” For more information on human trafficking, please read the attached PDF.
- Women in Advocacy
Over the last century, individual Junior Leagues have played an active role in educating the public on the pressing issues of the day and advocating for change, legislative or otherwise, on behalf of those who don’t have a voice. Junior Leagues across the country have formed Public Affairs Committees (PACs), State Public Affairs Committees (SPACs) and Legislative Issue Committees (LICs) to educate and take action on public policy issues relevant to the Junior League Mission. Please click here to learn more about SPACs and what other Junior Leagues are doing.
- Childhood Literacy
Childhood literacy has been a concern in the United States for over 30 years. Research consistently shows that children who have reading skills below grade level as young as 6 will continue to struggle throughout adulthood. Adults who are functionally illiterate are more likely to live in poverty and their children are often behind when entering school, perpetuating the cycle. Early intervention to help these children can help end the cycle of illiteracy and allow the children to perform at a level comparable to their peers. More information is available here.
- Education and College Readiness
Hampton Roads is a large region that includes many different school districts with each district covering multiple demographics. On average, the students in this region perform as well as or better than their peers across the state and country and their performance is steadily improving. However, areas of high poverty and low population score far lower than Virginia’s averages. Currently, programs are focusing on targeting hard skills and career preparedness, but less effort is focused on soft skills such as collaboration, time management, and problem solving. Please click here to read more about this topic.
- Battling Homelessness
Homeless is defined as “a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” and its leading causes are insufficient income, lack of affordable housing, and domestic violence. On any given day in South Hampton Roads, there may be 1,400 people without a home and two to three times that presenting for services in the community throughout the year. To learn more about the causes and consequences of homelessness, please click here.
- Foster System Transition
The best outcomes for older youth in foster care are associated with permanency achieved by returning home, being placed with relatives, or being adopted. For youth for whom permanency cannot be achieved, the years immediately after exit from foster care at age 18 into the early twenties become a critically vulnerable period. Abruptly faced with living independently, often with no “home base” to offer security, these young adults flounder. Common challenges include the inability to secure and maintain a living wage, and to secure stable housing. Without dependable adults to turn to, many become homeless, rely on public assistance, have unaddressed physical and mental health concerns, and become involved in the criminal justice system. In contrast, other young adults typically depend on family for financial, emotional, educational, and housing support well into their early twenties. More information regarding this topic may be found here.
- Career Readiness and Financial Literacy
Basic job skills and financial literacy are necessary in order for an adult to provide for themselves and their family. There are many resources in the Hampton Roads region focused on providing training in these skills to various populations, however there is still a great need in this area. Potential community partners have already been identified for many of these programs. The Women’s Initiative Committee has worked diligently this past year to develop strong relationships with these partners and to explore areas of need. For more information on how JLNVB can help click here.
- Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
Sexual Assault is any type of forced or coerced sexual contact or behavior that happens without consent. In the United States one in five women has been raped and nearly half of all women report being victims of other types of sexual assault. By raising awareness about the issue there is the opportunity to remove some of the stigma associated with being a victim, to help encourage victims to seek the support services they need, and to educate those who are not victims why this is an important topic and why it matters. Please click here to read more.
- Food Insecurity and Childhood Obesity
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. It is an issue that impacts every community in the U.S., and refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the level of the household. The USDA estimated that 13% of the overall population and 18% of children in the United States lived in food-insecure households in 2015. Inadequate food intake in children is associated with a number of serious mental, physical, and behavior deficits. To learn more about this issue’s impact and presence in our community, click here.
- Maternal Health: Breastfeeding
In the United States, many new mothers want, and try, to breastfeed, but that is not always enough to make it possible. Rates of breastfeeding vary across the country, because of a variety of barriers mothers face when starting and continuing to breastfeed. This could be due to mothers not getting the support they need from healthcare providers, family members or employers, or perhaps it is due to an inability to produce enough supply for their child. To learn more click here.