Recently Edith White announced she would be leaving the job as President and CEO of the Urban League of Hampton Roads (ULHR) after 15 years of leading that community action agency.
But her retirement from the workforce was short-lived. White told the New Journal and Guide she has been selected as the new leader of the Hampton Roads Community Action Program (HRCAP) located on the peninsula.
HRCAP is 50-years-old and one of oldest community action agencies in the state. It was formerly known as the Office of Human Affairs (OHA). White said although HRCAP and ULHR work to provide anti-poverty, employment and educational support programs, HRCAP is larger. For the next month or so, White said she will be working to wrap of her work at UHLR and ready the organization for the next leader. She said the new President and CEO will be named after a national search by ULHR’s Board of Directors. “I have been focusing on closing out this chapter at the Urban League,” said White.
“I have worked with an outstanding board, partners and staff who work here because it is not just a job.” White said during her tenure she managed three important changes in the operations of the local Urban League. “First, I enhanced our regional presence by placing a satellite office on the Peninsula,” she said. “Second, I enlarged our partnership base and collaborations and established closer ties with local communities. Also, we got closer to the National Urban League operations and expanded our outreach to youth with our STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) program.”
“Back in the early 2000s, we had a video program centered around STEM,” said White. “So we were out there in early stages of it.” White is a native of Newport News. She was working with state government and non-profit agencies in Richmond before she returned to Hampton Roads to take command of ULHR. White said she has worked to make ULHR more visible via the local and state media. She said she has worked to enlarge and diversify the demographic mix of her customer and service base. She said while half of ULHR’s operating budget comes from the federal government, the agency gets no state funding. She has had to expand and diversify the funding sources of the agency, she said.
Despite the increase in the needs for the services of community action actions like ULHR and STOP, Inc, White said the amount of funding for such agencies has shrunk.
She said such agencies have to raise more “unrestrictive” funds which can be used by the agencies without as many policies restriction on its use. Many social action agencies, she said, are devising more creative means of raising money.
White said that leaders of community action agencies are well aware that despite their best efforts, poverty is still a pressing problem, especially in the nation’s urban centers.
“One of the reasons is that people who are living in the urban areas are not being prepared of the job market,” said White. “Also there is a rise the cost of four year education. So there is increased emphasis on vocational education.”
White said that Urban League is crafting a program to give the 18 to 24-year-olds training in high wage vocational careers, such as HVAC, as electricians or retail.
“These jobs do not have to be the end, she said, but they can be a beginning to get people into the job market.”