July at RYSE: Self Determination & RYSE Commons

One of the most vital ways we sustain ourselves is by building communities of resistance, places where we know we are not alone.
— bell hooks

Rooting Down to RYSE Up

RYSE exists because young people in Richmond dreamed it, demanded it, and rose to fulfill a vision for safe space and youth leadership in their community. In the ten years since RYSE first opened, our members and partners have stated the need and expectation for RYSE to grow, lay down deeper roots, and serve as hub for youth arts, leadership and community transformation.

Young people, RYSE staff and our partners feel the swell of displacement. Holding on to and finding housing is a daily crisis. The data echoes this experience: affordable rental housing stock is decreasing and rents are generally increasing across Richmond. We are vigilant to how push-out of youth and social justice organizations is part of the gentrification processes.

To this end, we are proud to announce that RYSE has purchased our property! We now own our current and neighboring land parcels, allowing us to more than double our programming space to fulfill our place-based vision for liberation and healing.

RYSE Commons: you can support the capital campaign and stay updated here. Check out the moment RYSE youth members got their first (virtual reality) look at the RYSE Commons they've envisioned.


Youth-Imagined and Community-Determined Design

The first to be involved in the visioning process for RYSE Commons were young people. Their ideas about why this space is needed for our community affirmed why we are undertaking such an ambitious project. 

Expanding RYSE means more offerings for youth. RYSE can do more and offer more unique supports that are tailored to youth needs.
— Luis Cubas, RYSE Commons Ambassador

To date, over 125 young people have participated in design charrettes and surveys, to imagine future space needs, design elements, and programming. From early design to breaking ground to furnishing each room, young people and the broader community will continue to be engaged in order to assure that RYSE Commons aligns with and reflects their priorities, needs, hopes and dreams.


From conversations with young people, RYSE Commons will include the following:

  • Expanding physical space in order to prioritize technology and STEAM program offerings

  • Increase presence as an artistic performance venue and its event production capacity

  • Increase space for self-love around racial/cultural identities

  • Increase spaces for trauma and healing support

Self-determination is rooted in place, led by those who know best what is needed in their lives. Let’s dream it into reality: RYSE Commons, a sanctuary in which the next generation can thrive.


On behalf of the RYSE Commons team,

Lana Tilley
Grants Manager & Storyteller

Dan Reilly
Innovations Director

Upcoming Events 


Lead with Love: A Multimedia Showcase
3 Sessions, August 3 - 4 at RYSE Center
Early Bird Tickets Available, Open to All Ages

Experience interactive storytelling through poetry, dance, audio, video and more. Explore rooms speaking to love, pain, and healing. Meet the artists and storytellers. 

Please be advised that some topics may include self-harm, depression, and community violence.

Night Out for Safety and Liberation
August 7 from 5 - 8 PM at RYSE Center
Free, Open to All Ages

Redefine safety beyond fear, punishment, policing, and incarceration. This free community event features art & performances, resources, family-friendly activities, food, and fun! Join the conversation on what creates safety — from quality jobs to racial justice, gender justice to youth empowerment, immigrant rights to affordable housing and beyond.

Youth Internship Opportunities


We're looking for young people (ages 13-21) interested in developing leadership and public speaking skills, and receiving academic and career goal setting support to join our Richmond Organizing Team (RYOT) or School Campaign Leaders (SCL). Youth interns will work 8-10 hours per week with RYSE and receive a $200 monthly stipend.

July at RYSE:

RYSE kicked off the summer with a Youth Leadership Retreat to ground young leaders in social justice, gender justice, organizing and movement building. Together, we built the consciousness, leadership, and healing through workshops on LGBTQ liberation, diverse leadership styles and strategies, breaking out of mental imprisonment, and a grounding in histories of artivism, dance, music, and chants as forms of resistance. A group of RYSErs also traveled to LA to recenter decolonization and healing at the Funders' Collaborative for Youth Organizing (FYCO) convening. Plus, check out photos from our summer vegan meal cooking classes, garden TLC, and more!