Harvard recognizes county initiatives as bright ideas

Two Chesterfield County initiatives, Compliance Checks: A Community Approach and Build-a-House, were among those recognized this week as Bright Ideas by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Compliance Checks: A Community Approach was initiated by Substance Abuse Free Environment, Inc, or SAFE, a local nonprofit coalition working in partnership with the county. Between 2007 and 2012, SAFE increased compliance checks, recognized clerks and stores that complied, and built community partnerships with retail outlets, which resulted in a 75 percent decrease in sales of alcohol to minors from off-premise alcohol outlets.

With the support of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, the Chesterfield County Department of Mental Health Support Services and Chesterfield County Public Schools have worked in partnership with Chesterfield Alternatives Inc. to build homes for intellectually disabled adults through the Build-a-House initiative.

Since its inception in 2008, two Build-a-House homes have been constructed by 600 technical center students, providing them with valuable work experience and resulting in significant savings for the county. Many local companies, including Appomattox Title Company Inc., Cabinet Crafters of Virginia, River’s Edge Development Corp., Vaymac Inc. and Woodfin, have supported the initiative by donating materials, offering discounts or volunteering personnel to assist students.

“On behalf of the county, we are so pleased to receive this recognition from Harvard University,” said Sarah Snead, deputy county administrator for Human Services. “Residents, nonprofit organizations, businesses and other community entities are embracing opportunities that provide innovative services through collaboration and partnerships.

Exceptional programs such as Build-A-House and Compliance Checks have the potential to significantly improve the health and quality of life for our residents.”

For more information about the Build-a-House program, please contact the program director, Robert Kent, residential construction coordinator, Chesterfield County Public Schools, at 804-5361999 or Robert_Kent@ccpsnet.net.

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