REA-D Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, addresses the fundamental needs of displaced workers, women, children, veterans, and individuals in re-entry programs. Our mission is to enhance household revenue through Resources, Education, Assistance, and Diversions. As the inaugural woman-owned, Black-owned nonprofit with a focus on empowering individuals, particularly women, both within and beyond the construction industry, we champion diversity, inclusivity, and empowerment. Our diverse programs, collaborative initiatives, and steadfast support aim to lead the way toward a construction industry that celebrates inclusivity, fostering a future where individuals flourish and opportunities abound.
REA-D Foundation will spearhead a future where empowerment knows no bounds, particularly for women, within and beyond the construction industry. Our vision is a society marked by diversity, inclusivity, and opportunities, achieved through resourceful initiatives that elevate individuals, increase household revenue, and open doors to a thriving future.
On May 14, 2021, the inaugural group of flaggers received training at the meeting room of Donahoe & Associates in Virginia Beach under the guidance of Diamond Gorman, the founder of the REA-D Foundation. This marked the commencement of an initiative by REA-D Employment Agency LLC to provide employment opportunities to individuals seeking work. The training session aimed to equip them for their initial assignment in Pungo Ferry. Notably, the employment process was streamlined and cost-free, catering to a diverse range of demographics. Upon successful completion of the 4-hour training, participants were set to begin their roles at a starting rate of $14.00 per hour.
On May 20, 2021, Diamond Gorman led a diverse team of eight flaggers in providing vital traffic control for the Pungo Ferry Bridge repair project. Awarded by the Virginia Department of Transportation and the City of Virginia Beach to Southern Road & Bridge LLC, the crew included veterans, re-entry individuals, single mothers, and recent graduates. Diamond's commitment extended beyond working hours, offering nightly support with food and transportation to sustain the team's dedication to the project.
On December 9, 2021, the REA-D Loft, formerly Venue 713, opened its doors to REA-D Employment Agency employees for bi-weekly trainings, meetings, and events at discounted rates. This ideal location not only catered to the needs of our employees but also provided a convenient space for their families to host small private gatherings. The REA-D Loft further extended its support to non-profit organizations aligned with community empowerment in black communities. Additionally, it served as the venue for Tuesday morning on-call flagger trainings for the Hampton Roads community. All individuals were invited to join, either to seek employment or apply for REA-D University's Advanced Flagger Course. The strategic positioning in Norfolk made it a central hub to effectively serve the broader Hampton Roads community.
From January to June 2022, our collaboration with the Workforce Council of Hampton Roads led to our recognition as an ITA Eligible Training Provider for Virginia. Launching the inaugural two-week Advanced Flagger Course through REA-D University, we successfully trained over 16 individuals in Hampton Roads. To motivate achievement, we introduced a $150.00 reward for those who completed the training and secured employment through REA-D Employment Agency.
In July of 2022, REA-D Employment Agency relocated to Cromwell Drive in the Norfolk IL district from its former Virginia Beach office. The new space, initially outdated, is undergoing extensive renovations funded by earnings from the agency and capital from VCC. The transformed property on Cromwell Drive will feature a modern training center, onsite daycare, parking lot, playground, and a storage unit for flagger equipment, contributing to the revitalization of the area and helping grow the community.
On September 22, 2022, Diamond Gorman made history as the first black woman in Norfolk, VA, to secure unanimous approval for a zoning amendment. This amendment allows for the establishment of REA-D Kidz Learning & Development Center, a funded daycare center supporting individuals associated with REA-D initiatives in the construction/trade industry. The amendment permits day care centers in the I-L and I-G districts and introduces performance criteria for centers under 20,000 sqft.
On December 20, 2022, the VCC CDFI in Virginia sanctioned a renovation loan to transform a dilapidated building into an office and daycare center for REA-D employees. Diamond exclusively enlisted Black businesses for the project, partnering with Tier 1 Construction, Carlon Darden, and Seagull Enterprises to bring the transformation to fruition.
Throughout the four Saturdays in March 2023, Diamond led the organization of a mentorship program called R.E.A.-D Academy at Y.H. Thomas in Hampton. This initiative aimed to empower seven young girls by providing skills and mentorship from influential women in the Hampton Roads area, preparing them for an upcoming beauty pageant where they would vie for a crown and a $1000.00 prize. The program included dancing coaches, stage presence coaching, speech practice, breakfast and lunch, headshots, a photoshoot, and opportunities for the girls to bond.
On April 2, 2023, Diamond hosted the inaugural Miss R.E.A.-D. Beauty Pageant of Hampton Roads at the Fox Hill Neighborhood Center. The event brought together over 65 people to witness seven contestants compete for the coveted title of Miss R.E.A.-D. 2023. Judged by esteemed community entrepreneurs, including Blair Durham from Black BRAND and Vickayla Pope of the Mini Millionaire Moguls, the pageant was skillfully hosted by Brian Owens. The winner received a $1000 cash prize, and all contestants were honored with a plethora of gifts. This event marked a historic moment as the first pageant of its kind in Hampton Roads history.
In July of 2023, Diamond joined the Leadership Team for the B-Force Accelerator Program, collaborating with five other Black business consultants. Together, they work alongside Brian Owens, the Program Manager of Black BRAND, to accelerate the growth of Black entrepreneurs' businesses and bridge the wealth gap. The team meets every Wednesday to enhance the program and create a positive, sustainable impact in the Hampton Roads Area. Diamond actively contributes by not only providing workshops, making guest appearances, and offering coaching free of charge but also extending mentorship to the other contracted consultants, reinforcing her commitment to supporting and uplifting her community.
On September 16, 2023, Diamond made the strategic decision to divide the initiatives of REA-D Employment Agency, strengthening the funding model and enabling the full coordination of impactful programs specifically tailored for the construction industry in Hampton Roads. This led to the official establishment of the REA-D Foundation as an organization with the State Corporation Commission (SCC), attaining official 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. This intentional move is geared towards nurturing program growth and enhancing its influence within the community.
REA-D Foundation is committed to shaping its narrative and leaving a lasting impact on the second chance community in Hampton Roads. Through community awareness, job creation, events, and economic empowerment programs, the foundation strives to make a positive difference. With a specific focus on infrastructure, trades, and promoting inclusivity in construction, dedicated to creating opportunities and driving meaningful change within the community.
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