Monthly Archives: September 2016

Piedmont Housing Alliance Leads Bus Tour to Early Childhood Education Centers


Alex Ikefuna, Charlottesville Neighborhood Development Services; Gail Esterman, ReadyKids; Ron Enders, PHA board member; Frank Grosch, PHA CEO; Ramona Chapman, PHA board member; Cathy Train, United Way; Sheri Hopper, PHA Advisory Committee member; Stephanie Massie, ReadyKids; Claudette Grant, PHA Community Organizer at Friendship Court; Myrtle Houchens, PHA Advisory Committee member; Erika Viccellio, United Way; Beth Kennan, PHA Project Manager; Sarah McLean, PHA Advisory Committee member; and Karen Reifenberger, PHA COO

On Tuesday, September 20, Piedmont Housing Alliance led a bus tour to explore exceptional early childhood education centers in both Norfolk and Richmond. The tour included Piedmont Housing staff, several board members, Friendship Court Advisory Committee members, and community representatives from the United Way, ReadyKids and the City of Charlottesville.

The group toured two schools: The New E3 School in Norfolk, and the Weinstein JCC in Richmond.   The schools were selected because they represent two ends of a spectrum in early childhood education philosophy. The New E3 School is based on a curriculum developed by the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning. The Weinstein JCC program is based around the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education.


The purpose of the trip is to gain information about early childhood centers that have successfully attracted a mixed income population, with an eye toward the creation of an early childhood center at Friendship Court, as an element of that community’s redevelopment, beginning in 2019.

While on the tour, participants were able to visit classrooms and play areas, talk with staff, learn about school philosophies and visions, as well as methods of operations. Key learnings from the operations help inform how multiple levels of income and tuition can be accommodated and attract a truly diverse population.

The team will compile their findings and continue the discussion with area early childhood education stakeholders, as plans for Friendship Court continue to evolve.








Youth Leadership Team at Friendship Court Visits City Hall

pha-youth-leadership-team-outside-of-city-hallThe new Youth Leadership Team at Friendship Court is quick to jump in and start learning. The eight-member team spent part of their day on Monday, September 26, downtown at Charlottesville City Hall.


The youth were given a tour of the building’s offices and the chambers where City Council meetings are held the first and third Mondays of each month at 7:00 p.m. The youth leaders sat in the City Councilors’ chairs, asked and answered questions, and imagined what it’s like to lead one of those meetings.


The group was joined by Claudette Grant, Community Organizer at Friendship Court as well as Toni Eubanks, Youth Leadership Program Coordinator at Friendship Court.

This was one of many opportunities these youth leaders will have to learn more about their community and develop additional leadership skills. They will continue to meet on a weekly basis as a team, a part of Piedmont Housing Alliance’s resident engagement process for the redevelopment of Friendship Court.

Youth Leadership Program at Friendship Court Gets Under Way

pha-youth-leadership-team-liz-ogbuOn Tuesday, September 13th, several teenagers met after school to celebrate their participation in the Youth Leadership Program at Friendship Court. Part of Piedmont Housing Alliance’s resident engagement process for the redevelopment of Friendship Court, the Youth Leadership Program equips resident youth leaders to provide input for the redevelopment, with particular focus on activity areas, green space, and programming. It is also a program through which the youth will gain valuable skills, experiences, and academic and professional networks that will create educational and career opportunities.


The kids welcomed to the meeting Liz Ogbu, architect and founder of Studio O, who has been the lead designer for the master plan process and has led several teen focus groups over the past six months. Liz talked with the teens about the latest design plan and the next steps for the redevelopment.  The kids also presented Liz with a cake as a thank you for all of her hard work and dedication to the planning process and the community’s future. Community Organizer Claudette Grant said, “Liz talked with the kids about what it’s like to work as an architect and left them excited to be a part of the redevelopment of their community.”pha-youth-leadership-team-cake-for-liz

The Youth Leadership Team will meet on a weekly basis for a period of two years.



Welcome to Toni Eubanks, Youth Leadership Program Coordinator at Friendship Court


Toni Eubanks is Piedmont Housing Alliance’s new Youth Leadership Program Coordinator at Friendship Court. Toni’s specific role will be working with Claudette Grant, Community Organizer, to help recruit for, plan, schedule and implement activities, including events, meeting and field trips for the Youth Leadership Program for the redevelopment of Friendship Court.  Toni has experience working with kids through her work at Sojourners Church where she has been the Nursery Director for almost 3 years.  Toni is currently working on getting her associate’s degree taking online classes at PVCC. Toni brings energy and experience to her role and says “I’m looking forward to pushing students towards an innovative and broader way of thinking.”

We are excited to welcome Toni to our team.

Light House Studio Holds 15th Annual Youth Film Festival Featuring Friendship Court Film


August 26th marked the day for Light House Studio’s 15th Annual Youth Film Festival.


Light House Studio hosted its 15th Annual Youth Film Festival at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville on August 26th. The event featured short films produced in collaboration with community partners, including Friendship Court.

The Friendship Court kids worked with Light House Studio to create Keep it REEL, a documentary about 3D printers.  Several of the young filmmakers attended the festival along with Piedmont Housing Alliance’s Friendship Court Activity Coordinator, Tory Twitty and Sheri Hopper, community outreach assistant.

Good news: Keep it REEL has been selected to be screened at the National Endowment for the Humanities’ History on the Silver Screen: Student Film Competition Screening Thursday, September 15th at 5:30pm at Vinegar Hill Theatre. The screening is open to the public and is on a first-come, first-served basis. Judges will choose the best documentary films, and the winner will receive a $500 prize, as well as VIP seating at a screening and Q&A of Freedom Riders at the September HumanTies Forum with award-winning director Stanley Nelson!

Way to go Friendship Court and Light House Studio!

LH NEH 2016 Laurels