Podium RVA

Educate. Empower. Transform.

aka Podium RVA   |   Richmond, VA   |


Podium’s mission is to provide under-served youth ages 10-19 with the skills to become confident and capable writers and communicators in school, career, and life. Programs increase youth self-esteem and strengthen the cooperative talents and skills they use in transition to college and the professional world. Programs are organized into 3 tiers: 1) Foundational Education, 2) Crafting Your Inner Communicator, and 3) Understanding Your Professional Self.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Vicki Yeroian

Main address

200 S 3rd St

Richmond, VA 23219 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

The Podium Foundation



NTEE code info

Secondary/High School (B25)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Other Art, Culture, Humanities Organizations/Services N.E.C. (A99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Participation in quality out-of-school-time programming is linked to positive effects on academic performance, interpersonal competency, educational attainment, behavior, and internal motivation to learn. Positive impacts of writing programs include increased communication improvement, voice development, and positive attitudes towards self-authored writing. The relationship between educational attainment and income levels disproportionately impacts Black, Latino, and immigrant families of Richmond. 95% of white people have attained a high school diploma, and 62% have achieved a bachelor’s degree or higher. 77% of Black people achieved a high school diploma, and 15% have a bachelor’s degree or higher. 52% of Latinos have a high school diploma, and 13% have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Also, only 4% of white families fell below the poverty line, compared with 30% of Black and 27% of Latino families. It is critical for Podium to work with youth who do not feel supported in schools.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The Teen Scene/Project Write Now!

The Teen Scene/Project Write Now, ages 10 -14, empowers middle school youth to discover the value of writing in the modern world and find their individual voices through fun, focused writing prompts and communication exercises. During weekly meetings, youth discuss ideas about identity, culture, and community while learning essential writing skills and exploring poetry, short stories, and theatrics.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

In the Power of the Pen/Creative Expression Collective, high school youth (ages 14-19) develop writing skills while instilling a genuine love of the written form. Youth expand their creative horizons through multiple writing and communication units, including poetry, college prep, and prose writing. Building confidence in the work produced, they participate in a share-and-critique time as well as publication of quarterly zines and the online journal.

Population(s) Served

Concluding the summer, the Teen Professional Conference is a multi-day program for Podium leaders across the region to meet, interact, and engage in mentorship and advanced writing workshops. Youth intensify practice in critical thinking and group dynamic skills needed across disciplines. Meeting with local entrepreneurs and career leaders, youth connect their own passion and skills within the professional world.

Population(s) Served

In the Writing Mentorship Project (WMP), upperclassmen and graduating seniors demonstrating leadership and/or have participated in shadowing middle school workshops are invited to apply for a six-week intensive internship over the summer. Alongside staff, high school interns develop of series of writing workshops to facilitate within Podium’s summer middle school programs.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Commending Resolution 2018

VA General Assembly

10-Year Service Proclamation 2018

Richmond City Council

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of children who have the ability to understand and comprehend communication

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Preteens, People of African descent, Low-income people, At-risk youth

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success


Number of children who have the ability to use language for expression and to communicate with others

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Preteens, Adolescents, People of African descent, At-risk youth, Low-income people

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Podium creates the opportunity for youth to connect with peer-mentors and adult writing mentors in a continuous, seven-year learning relationship, from middle school, to high school, and beyond. This is particularly important given that between 8th and 9th grade, teens have the highest risk of dropping out of school. Long-term outcomes for being a participant in Podium include improvements in academics and social behavior, healthy personal expression, and personal achievement. Programs serve a unique role in the community by:

1) Improving low reading and writing achievement: Podium prioritizes schools with reading and writing Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates averaging under 50% and high-need neighborhoods, determined by Richmond’s Neighborhoods in Bloom initiative. RPS has almost a 20% drop out rate and an on-time graduation rate of 75%, over ten points below the state average (VDOE, 2018). RPS English SOL proficiency rates average an 18-point deficit compared to the state, with a 53% overall SOL pass rate that decreases to 43% for economically disadvantaged youth.

2) Increasing access to youth programs combining writing, communication, and leadership: As the only free, regional program to combine writing, communication, and life skills, Podium bridges the achievement gap for under-served and minority youth. This is critical given that 40% of RPS students live below the poverty level, 75% are impacted by poverty (VDOE), and over 90% of RPS students are youth of color (RPS). Podium’s hands-on, collaborative approach, combined with high youth expectations, creates an ideal environment for creative development, regardless of where a child lives or their family’s ability to pay for enrichment opportunities.

3) Host safe, trauma-informed spaces for youth to engage in personal and professional development; grow self-confidence; and celebrate their achievements: Podium consistently scores top in the nation regarding safe and supportive environments. This is critical for youth to gain confidence in themselves and their peers. Writing is linked to improvements in wellness, particularly to clarify thoughts, process emotions, resolve problems, and reduce stress. Misperceptions of youth of color often involve racial and gender stereotypes, undermining their potential for success. It is critical for young people to access trauma-informed programs that foster self-esteem and personal expression (NWLC).

Podium’s model of intervention is to Educate. Empower. Transform. This focuses on empowering youth through active learning in planning, choice, and reflection. Creative and technical writing supports youth in professional, academic, and emotional growth. High school programs build transferable life skills for employment and higher education. Programs follow 6th – 12th grade English SOLs, VA College and Career Readiness standards in Reading, Writing, and Communication, Northwest Education's 6+ Writing Trait Rubrics, Allen County Schools’ Writer Self-Perception Scale, the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality Assessment, and CAPPD trauma-informed care standards – Calm. Attuned. Present. Predictable. Don’t Escalate.

Programs meet for two hours once a week, or one hour twice a week, depending on the age of youth participants and community partners’ capacity. All programs conclude with a showcase and/or publication of youth writing. Youth leadership and voice are essential in program design. Annually, Podium serves over 400 youth and provides over 400 hours of service in the following program tiers:

Tier 1: Foundational Education: programs reinforce and build upon lessons learned during the school day for under-resourced communities and schools while identifying writing as a positive coping tool for personal expression. Programs include: The Teen Scene (ages 10 – 14), The Power of the Pen (ages 14 – 19), and Family Communication for English Language Learners (ages 10+).

Tier 2: Crafting Your Inner Communicator: programs spark creative interests of youth while instilling a genuine love of the written form. Programs follow advanced expectations surrounding critical thinking and academic writing skills. The Creative Expression Collective is for youth ages 14 – 19, and programs for youth ages 10 -14 include: Project Write Now!, The Weekly Word, and The STEAM Machine.

Tier 3: Developing Your Professional Self: programs connect youth across the region and communities to work collaboratively with diverse professionals on career exploration, project management, college preparation, and leadership. Programs for teens ages 14-19 include Podium’s annual 3-day Teen Professional Conference, summer learning internship in the Writing Mentorship Project, or the Collegiate and Professional Prep Course.

There is a collaborative process between the board, executive leadership, program staff, and the youth and families Podium serves regarding financial planning and decision-making. Staff actively participate in financial decision-making, including cost-benefit analysis, direct services ROI, and valuation of in-kind volunteer hours. The organization has developed earned revenue streams by offering a summer conference and has a continued commitment to securing in-kind contributions and services as part of its overall strategy. Podium’s Development Committee reviewed a financial self-assessment as part of its board development capacity building plan. The committee created an improvement plan that began in January 2019 and included hiring a PTE Development Director. Podium’s Development Director is currently working with the co-founder of the organization to pursue the starting an endowment for the organization and has identified four major donors to initiate this effort in 2020. Finally, by listening to the needs of Podium youth and their families, the organization can identify grant and foundational funding that aligns with those needs and Podium’s mission and community vision. All methods work to maintain and strengthen Podium’s financial stability and capacity.

• 2008: Creation of Podium after-school writing programs at 4 comprehensive high schools and annual, literary journal
• 2009: Expansion into all 8 comprehensive high schools in RPS
• 2011: Podium begins serving over 100 youth annually
• 2011/2012: Richmond School Board and City Council recognition
• 2013: Creation of additional youth publication: quarterly ‘zines
• 2014: Pilot of Podium after-school writing programs at RPS middle schools
• 2015: Expansion of middle school programs into multiple Richmond City and Henrico County public schools and several community centers
• 2015: Creation of youth summer programs: middle school weekly workshops, high school summer internship, and high school professional development and leadership conference
• 2016: Podium begins serving over 200 youth annually
• 2017: Creation of STEM-literacy and family writing initiatives; Podium begins serving over 300 youth annually; leadership conference registration opens for all regional teen writers
• 2018: Richmond City Council recognition and State General Assembly commending resolution for 10 years of service and dedication to Richmond City youth; Podium begins serving over 500 youth annually
• 2019: Partnership with the Mayor’s Youth Academy to pay high school summer interns for their work and service; creation of collegiate and professional crash course high school program; creation of English language learning programs for youth and families
• 2019: revised all program curriculum and training/orientation for staff and volunteers to include a trauma-informed, community building approach.

What's next for 2020 and beyond:
• 2020: piloting English language learning programs
• 2020: piloting high school preparedness programs for 8th grade students
• 2020: piloting financial literacy and collegiate preparation programs for high school youth

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time


Podium RVA

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Podium RVA

Board of directors
as of 01/23/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Armani Hall

HCL Tech

Term: 2023 - 2024

Armani Hall

HCL Tech

Kerry Swarr

BloomEd Group LLC

Saa'dia Douglas

Prosperity Financial Services

Paula Harris

Impact Makers

Dre'mon Miller

Richmond Public Schools

Benjamin Shute


Lorraine Blackwell

VA Board for People with Disabilities

Kim Eley

KWE Publishing

Trevor Bragdon

7 Figure Fundraising

Gwyneth Hagan

Design to Learn Consulting

Shirtiera Lynch-Johnson

Richmond Public Schools

Aaron Brenner

Tiger Pistol

Brittany Flippen

Henrico Education Foundation

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/23/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Multi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic (2+ races/ethnicities)
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/25/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.