Early Childhood Care and Education

The Early Childhood Care and Education taskforce (formerly Childcare) has an identified goal to improve kindergarten readiness by increasing access to quality Pre-K programs and promoting preschool literacy.  In that vein, they are applying for a grant in the amount of $4,400 for the Zumbini project which is a whole-child music and movement education program designed for children from birth to four years old to include a caregiver.  This is a music and movement program that supports the critical development of social, emotional, cognitive, motor and language in young children.  What will be impactful is that they are working with the  City Neighborhood Centers on this program. The taskforce is also working on determining which children are entering kindergarten with or without Pre-K experience. If they have experience, where was that experience and what is the level of quality of the program. This is to provide some sense of awareness.  The taskforce is reviewing the study authored by Anthony Andrews on strategies and partnerships with business entities as possible Pre-K providers such as the one that Centra had a number of years ago.  The upcoming year priorities are; single point of entry, alignment of Head Start, Measurement of impact-entering kindergarteners, quality programs and awareness of Pre-K subsidies.

Facilitators: Jane Gerdy (jane@eelc.info), Lisa Darby (elizabeth.darby@lynchburgva.gov), Terry Brennan (trzzmd@gmail.com).
Steering Committee Liaison: MaryJane Dolan (maryjane.dolan@lynchburgva.gov).


The Community Taskforce aims to coordinate a pipeline of service providers that offers Getting Ahead participants supportive resources throughout the duration of the class as well as the years beyond. By providing a holistic system of support, the taskforce recognizes the mental, emotional, social, and employment-based resources that must be built for Getting Ahead graduates to experience sustained progress.
The Community Taskforce resulted from the merger of Bridges of Central Virginia’s Government Committee and Poverty to Progress’ Poverty 101 group.
The goals of the Government Committee were to:

  • Train individuals, businesses, government agencies, and other organizations in the Bridges out of Poverty model
  • Develop best practices for implementation of the Bridges framework into organizational policies
  • Teach Getting Ahead classes

With grant funding provided by Central Virginia Health District, Virginia Department of Health, the Government Committee trained all health department staff district-wide, 200 community members, and 30 Getting Ahead participants. The committee also created guidelines for incorporating the Bridges philosophy into organizational practice.
The Poverty 101 group focused on:

  • Creating community dialogue to raise awareness of the impact of poverty in Lynchburg
  • Developing a poverty risk-assessment tool

With a $2,500 grant awarded by the City of Lynchburg, the group launched the Thriving Community conversations, the Poverty Speaks…Lynchburg is Listening community event, and the Lynchburg Poverty Challenge.

Steering Committee Liaison: Lindsey Lockewood (lindsey.cawood@vdh.virginia.gov)


The Faith Taskforce is committed to educating faith communities about poverty and partnering with them to implement ways to reduce poverty and build community. The taskforce has developed a mentoring program for inmate re-entry and for Getting Ahead participants, hosted numerous education forums, held poverty simulations, and are networking with faith communities to connect their resources with those in need. 

On August 1, 2019 the Faith taskforce hosted two community dinners--one at Fairview community center and the other at College Hill community center. Approximately 125 people attended. On September 11, 2019 the task force hosted their triannual speaker series with Department of Human Services Director, Tamara Rosser, and Career Works Workforce Coordinator, Keith Cook, speaking about their programs. Approximately 25 people attended.

The Faith taskforce will be partnering with Fairview Community Center piloting a program that focuses on strengthening families in the Fairview community. The Faith taskforce meets the first Wednesday of every month at 2 PM in the Carriage House behind St Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Facilitators: Shawne Farmer (ioashawne@ntelos.net) and Keith Anderson (hilifavrd@icloud.com)
Steering Committee Liaison: Shawne Farmer (ioashawne@ntelos.net)


The Education taskforce has now combined its work with the newly formed City Council commissioned Education Taskforce. This group has met in September and October, 2019 focusing on developing a collective impact model for after school programs that partner with the school district. They have also agreed to become a pilot site through the Center for Education and Leadership at University of Lynchburg for a relationship survey developed by The Search Institute. The survey is designed to assess relationships between youth and teachers and youth workers.  They meet the third Tuesdays at Extra Staffing Solutions (645 Oakley Avenue) at 6 PM.

Steering Committee Liaison: Owen Cardwell (cardwell_oc@lynchburg.edu)

Food Taskforce 

The Food taskforce is applying for a grant to purchase 100 transit carts for participants regularly accessing food at agencies to help transport more groceries home without having to pay for transportation.  The recipients of the carts will be participating in an initial survey and a follow up survey to measure results.  If you are interested in connecting with the Food taskforce, please contact Ruth Talian at bridgestoprogress@outlook.com.

Facilitators: Eileen Emerson (eemerson@brafb.org
Steering Committee Liaison: Ruth Talian (bridgestoprogress@outlook.com)


The Housing Taskforce’s goal was to determine the actual state of housing in Lynchburg and provide the momentum to eliminate housing insecurity. The Housing Collaborative was awarded a Community Impact Grant from the Virginia Housing Development Authority of $20,000 to fund a study that included the number of housing insecure households and housing insecurity by race and ethnicity, income, and by household type, the supply versus the demand for homes that low-income renters can afford, the levels of rent assistance, the opportunities for home ownership for families of low income, and housing quality. The results of these studies can be accessed here.

In November, 2019, the Central VA Collaborative and The Collaborative for a Livable Lynchburg discussed the following recommendations to present to council:

  • Adopt a well-articulated vision clarifying how housing is a holistic community issue that impacts, and is impacted by, income concerns, strength of families, and the sustainability of the community.
  • Expand the housing collaborative to include representatives from lending institutions, private developers, and anchor institutions.
  • Create a Housing Trust Fund to assist with the reservation and development of housing options in the community.
  • Identify and analyze existing affordable housing options and determine if they should be slated for preservation.
  • Identify areas with missing standard infrastructure and develop a plan to install it over time.
  • Develop and implement precise evaluation tools to determine specific housing needs, particularly considering preventing and reducing poverty clusters.
  • Develop a communication plan for attainable housing to improve the use of our existing tools and incentives.
  • Enlist the help of developers, builders, and design professionals to remove barriers for attainable housing products that support homeownership.
  • Enhance existing wrap-around support programs, providing both financial and personal/life support to stem high eviction rates and assist potential homeowners.

Lyn-CAG has 40 Homebuyers in the First Time Home Buyers Club which is a year long process to get individuals into housing. Also have created a rental housing counseling program. Partnerships with Lighthouse and other agencies to provide Housing Counseling is in the works. Only agency in the region who is Certified HUD Housing Counseling.

Facilitator: Vacant
Steering Committee Liaison: Joan Phelps (joan.phelps@unitedwaycv.org)


Our goals are to find how the various legal systems contribute to the high rate of poverty in Lynchburg and to find ways to mitigate the harm. Current projects include:
● Welcome Back Packs - A durable backpack or purse filled with personal essential items for people just released from incarceration. Currently available at Lynchburg Daily Bread and Salvation Army and more locations to follow.
● First Steps Reentry Guide - Simple brochure that helps people know where to turn for food, cell phones, taxi rides, etc. immediately upon reentry.
● Facebook page - Facebook.com/B2PLegal for finding information about B2PL meetings, suggested reading, and items of legal interest.
● Research on areas of concern and recommendations for actions, particularly with regard to high rates of incarceration.
○ School-to prison pipeline
○ Juvenile justice
○ Cash Bail system
○ Reentry into community
○ Incarceration of seriously mentally ill
○ Costs associated with legal representation, court fees, probationary costs,etc
○ Reentry clinic (tentative)
We collaborate with other Bridges to Progress Task Forces where our goals overlap. Meetings are every other Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 by Zoom during COVID-19 pandemic.
PLEASE JOIN US! We are a group of concerned people trying to make a change. Contact us. We would love to talk with you about this crucial work.

Facilitator: Jane Henderson (henderson.sarahjane@gmail.com), Josh Quintero (josh.quintero@lynchburgva.gov)
Steering Committee Liaison: Kimberly Dyke-Harsley (kdykeharsley@gmail.com)

Health/Mental Health

The Health/Mental Health Taskforce’s goal is to improve both awareness and access to health and mental health resources.  The Health/Mental Health taskforce reports that as of October 7, 2019, Lynchburg has had 4,327 people sign up for Medicaid.  Seventy-five plus people attended the Trauma & Resilience Basics Course in September. One hundred people are registered for the Trauma-Sensitive Schools Expert Workshop the last week of October.  In November, 25 professionals from across the region will qualify as trauma trainers and can spread training across the community (including to sectors beyond education). Many expressed interest following the September training to meet regularly across the region to continue learning from each other and growing skills.  Several members of the taskforce have been participating in several coalitions that are working in our community such as CVAR, Suicide Prevention, and a Community Meeting at CANS.  Horizon now has a medical doctor working in the admissions department and the same day access process is going well.  Horizon continues to provide MH First Aid for adults and Youth.

Facilitator: Vacant
Steering Committee Liaison: Vacant


The Transportation Taskforce is currently working on a cooperative city transportation app called Move UP. The software for this application is still being developed. The taskforce was awarded $5,000.  The taskforce is also working with representation from, GLTC, LACIL (Lynchburg Area Center for Independent Living), CVACL (Central Virginia Alliance for Community Living), Beacon of Hope, Ways to Work/HumanKind, Ride Solutions, Central Virginia PDC (Planning District Commission), and Parkview Community Missions.  During their meetings they have discussed what gaps in transportation needs that these organization see from individuals they work with.  Through this discussion, they have identified gaps. The taskforce is planning to submit a grant through the city to assist with bridging that gap in transportation needs.

Facilitators: Brian Booth (bbooth@gltconline.com)
Steering Committee Liaison: Joan Foster (jfitzfoster@gmail.com)


The Workforce liaison, Keith Cook, reports that Lynchburg’s current unemployment rate is at 3.2%.  Employers are consistently looking for individuals who don’t necessarily have all of the technical skills but the soft skills required to be successful in any job.  There are still over 500 jobs listed in the Virginia Workforce Connection site.  They are working hard and will soon be able to offer a regional work readiness program called Career Essentials for individuals looking to better develop the employability skills that local employers are looking for.  Please visit the Virginia Career Works Center at 3125 Odd Fellows Road.  People needing more individualized services can go to our website, vcwcentralregion.com, and view the online orientation and complete the short initial assessment form.

Facilitator and Steering Committee Liaison: Keith Cook (keith.cook@vcwcentral.com)

History of the Taskforces

The ten Bridges to Progress Taskforces are the result of the merging of the 9 Poverty to Progress groups with the 10 Bridges of Central Virginia’s subcommittees. Both initiatives had groups focusing on Education, Housing, Legal (Courts/Law Enforcement), Workforce (Business), and Health/Mental Health.These comprise five of the ten Bridges to Progress taskforces. The Poverty to Progress Initiative had three groups not represented in BOCV, Childcare (now called Child Development), Food Disparity, and Transportation which are now B2P taskforces. The BOCV initiative had a Faith Based subcommittee that was not represented in P2P which became the ninth B2P taskforce.The tenth taskforce is the result of joining P2P’s Poverty 101 and BOCV’s Community, Government, and Getting Ahead Graduates to form Bridges to Progress’s Community taskforce.The common goal of bringing awareness and education about poverty is the reason these groups merged well together.