Tell us about yourself.
My name is Gail Crawford and I’m the President and Founder of Making a Difference for You (MAD4YU) Community Enrichment Resource Center. I have been with Bank of America for 46 years and I have a background in Information Technology. I have always had a desire to give back to the community and have volunteered throughout my years at Bank of America. This desire to give back inspired the creation of MAD4YU.
What is the focus of your work?
When MAD4YU was founded, its primary services were teaching computer literacy to children and seniors, and tutoring for students having difficulty learning. It acquired a multi-room facility with donated computers, in-kind contributions and volunteers. It evolved by responding to other client needs that surfaced.
Services currently provided, but are not limited to: free tutoring, homework help, communication technologies, PC training, college and job readiness preparation including resume writing and online submission, personal and professional development, adult literacy, health and housing resources and social advocacy.
MAD4YU’s service users include non-mainstream Richmond Virginians who are struggling with job readiness, faltering grades, and aging – with limited access to tools needed to live fulfilling and productive lives. These citizens come from diverse backgrounds: elderly, youth, homeless, Veterans, immigrants, single-parent family, economically disadvantaged, learners who process differently etc.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
No narrative can capture the essence of volunteers tutoring eager Greater Richmond students, many who were on the verge of failing and/or who learn differently. Hearing the testimonies of the parents, children, seniors and volunteers is very rewarding. Student’s grades are improving, parents are pleased, seniors are experiencing a rewarding learning curve as they attend our basic computer, internet and email classes and volunteers look forward to truly making a difference in the lives of others.
What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?
Funding and space are our major challenges. Currently, we receive no outside funding. In 2017 alone, the organization provided in excess of $150,000.00 in tutoring services to over 45 clients on a weekly basis, with an annual budget of under $50,000.00. This is based on more than 6,000 hours at an average rate of $30.00 per hour (many tutors charge upwards of $40-60 per hour) for tutoring/training services.
MAD4YU is currently housed in the MAD4YU Community Enrichment Resource Center. Our 55 volunteer instructors operate out of a 979 sq. ft. office space to teach 45 students on a weekly basis. Students cram into strategically decorated and organized classrooms, which are equipped with donated computers, equipment and supplies. Refreshments are available when volunteers and students take their breaks. Word has circulated in nearby Richmond/Henrico County schools, which are now referring their students who also need homework assistance.
Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?
We are a very diverse organization, some of our families speak Spanish, Arabic and other foreign languages. During the tutoring sessions for the children, the parents attend one on one ESL sessions. We have also developed resources for the parents, youth and adult volunteers based on their needs that include sites for mentorship information, business groups, books for graduates, sites for graduates, staffing agencies, career coaching, scholarships, intern programs, resources for teens, resources for medical students, resources for college and high school students and resources for parents and single moms. It’s our way of giving back to the volunteers because without them we could not have made the impact we have made thus far on the community.
Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?
MAD4YU has received in-kind services and/or partnered with organizations such as: Hands on Greater Richmond, Ezyetts Youth and Family Services, AmeriCorps/The Literacy Project, Bridge to Well Being, AARP SCSep program, Anthem CareMore, Aetna Better Health, United Health, Unique Dreams, and the Federal Reserve Bank to name a few. It is important – now more than ever – that the organization strategically assesses and get a handle on its diverse activities to address its effectiveness and sustainability.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
Hands on Greater Richmond has proven to be very resourceful, all our volunteers register and express interest via their platform. We utilize ConnectVA for posting needs and resources and our goal is to utilize the platform more in 2019…..the partnership with ConnectVA and the Community Foundation has proven to be very rewarding and we look forward to a lasting relationship.