Programs & Services


The Youth Entrepreneurship Academy (YEA) is a unique program for Hampton Roads youth developed by Visions of Truth Community Development Corporation (VOTCDC), a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization.

VOTCDC is passionate about providing non- traditional educational opportunities in interactive ways that engage and challenge youth, while reinforcing learning. The Youth Entrepreneurship Academy provides the positive programmatic tools needed to expose students to and guide them through the disciplines, values and business acumen needed to help put them on the path to success.  

The Youth Entrepreneurship Academy was developed to provide an educational experience to students throughout the City of Portsmouth, Virginia to increase the number of vulnerable young people succeeding in high school, postsecondary education and training, and the labor market; decrease disparities along key indicators for racial minorities, low income, foster and court involved youth.

Here's How the Youth Entrepreneurship Academy Works
The Youth Entrepreneurship Academy is a free program available to Portsmouth Public School District students in grades 7-12. The program offers coursework in math, English/language arts, science and social studies, all of which are carefully aligned with Virginia state standards to ensure that all students receive rigorous instruction that will result in academic achievement.

YEA's curriculum is based on a solid model developed by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) which has a proven track record of success in changing the attitudes and career aspirations of middle and high school students.

In addition to its core academic program, YEA offers entrepreneurship education utilizing curriculum developed by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), which has proven effective for more than 280,000 young people across the country. The unique features of YEA include:

  • Services available afterschool and during the day.
  • Strict code of conduct and discipline procedures
  • Emphasis on the importance of academic skills (reading, writing, research, math, and computer knowledge) through hands-on exercises such as writing a business plan, conducting market research, balancing books, and creating an inventory database.
  • Weekly academic assessments and frequent responsive adjustments to individual lesson plans
  • Presentations by local entrepreneurs and businesspeople from a variety of fields who will speak about how they got started.
  • Cooperative partnerships with area businesses that create job shadowing and externship opportunities for youth. In job shadowing, a youth follows an adult on the job for a day. In an externship youth spend a week working at a job site.
  • Coupled with a rigorous academic program, a strong disciplinary policy, and an entrepreneurial focus, YEA participants will complete the Youth Entrepreneurship Academy with a business/life plan and that will enable them to return to their communities and become positive and progressive citizens with entrepreneurial spirits or technical skills.

Youth Entrepreneurship Curriculum

  • Getting Ready for Entrepreneurship
  • Business Ideas for All Communities
  • Selling Your Idea
  • Start Up Cash
  • Open for Business
  • Types of Businesses
  • Bookkeeping: Breaking Even, Profit or Loss?
  • Know the Rules of the Game
  • Minding Your Business
  • The Business Plan

Job Readiness Curriculum

  • Your Job Search and Job Resources
  • Explore Job Applications and Create Yours
  • Resumes, Cover Letters, and References
  • Preparing for Job Interviews
  • Interview Success and Follow Up
  • Managing a Budget
  • Keeping and Succeeding in Your Job
  • On-the-job Etiquette
  • Success with Coworkers and Bosses


STRIVE is VOTCDC's flagship program. STRIVE is an acronym for Students Taking Responsibility In Valuing Education. 

STRIVE's mission is to "Maximize the well being of children and families in Hampton Roads through the development and coordination of a comprehensive continuum of family-focused programs and services."

STRIVE is an out-of-school suspension/prevention program designed to promote positive self-esteem and character traits, promote regular school attendance, and improve proficiency on state academic assessments as established by No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Services provided to STRIVE participants include: remediation in the core academic subjects of reading, history, science, language arts, and mathematics; individual and group pro-social life skills training; access to technology; opportunities for civic engagement; and field trips and enrichment opportunities.

STRIVE youth spend 1-10 days in the program, during regular school days and times (Monday through Friday, 7:20 a.m. until 2:45 p.m.), depending on the length of their suspension, before returning to their traditional school setting.

STRIVE, in partnership with Portsmouth Public Schools, provided services to more than 350 middle and high school students who were suspended from school.

Referral Process
Students who receive short-term suspensions (1 to 10 days) may be eligible to enroll in the STRIVE program. Enrollment packets must be completed by the parents or guardians.

Parents, guardians or school personnel are encouraged to call STRIVE's office at 757-484-8794 to arrange an orientation.

Parenting and Family Growth and Learning Programs
Through its Parents as Models (PAM) STRIVE seeks to engage parents in their child's academic achievements. The goal of the program is to work with parents to provide them with tools that will equip them to be better parents, and to engage parents in their children's lives in an effort to improve and positively impact their academic, social and mental state.

In an informal and non-threatening setting, parents work with counselors to discover and come to terms with strategies that will help them parent and guide their children to academic success. They work to identify barriers, develop individual reward and consequence strategies, and learn effective tools to help them encourage positive academic outcomes for their children.

Form Downloads


GRANDS is an acronym for Graciously Raising And Nurturing Daughters and Sons.

The number of grandparents raising grandchildren is growing for many reasons including drugs, incarceration, the economy, teenage pregnancy, military deployments, and premature death of parents due to illness or violence. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, since 1990 the number of children in grandparent-headed households has increased by 30 percent. Today more than 2.8 million grandparents in the United States are raising their grandchildren.

Grandparents raising grandchildren and relatives raising children other than their own face many psychological, physical, economic and education issues as they take on the role of parenting. Some of the reasons grandparents are raising their grandchildren are to:

  • Provide a home-like experience for the children;
  • Prevent children from being placed in foster care;
  • Care for children whose parents are incarcerated or have some life-threatening illness;
  • Reduce children's contact with substance-abusing or physically abusive parents;
  • Reduce financial and emotional overloads of their own children or help in transitional situations (i.e., divorce, military, college, etc.); or
  • Stem family crises, including physical, psychological, and sexual abuse or neglect of children.

GRANDS provides support and information to grandparents raising their grandchildren, and works to identify and address the many issues and obstacles they face.

The mission of GRANDS is to offer support and provide resources, education and information to grandparents raising their grandchildren and relatives raising children other than their own.

Financial Literacy

Financial stability is critical to achieving VOTCDC's vision of a community where the opportunity to build better lives is always within reach. Many Hampton Roads individuals and families are barely getting by, with little or no ability to save for college, purchase a home, or prepare for retirement. VOTCDC's agenda includes initiatives to educate families, enabling them to achieve greater financial stability. Through established partnerships VOTCDC is uniquely positioned to bring together individuals and key stakeholders from government, business, faith groups, and nonprofits to close the growing gap between those who are prospering, and those who are not.

Nationwide, people have shown a need for information and counsel on issues related to finances. For example:

  • Twenty percent of families earning less than $50,000 a year spend nearly half of their income on debt payments.
  • Conservative estimates put the number of households who do not use banks at 10 percent of the U.S. population. This problem is even greater among low-income families, seniors, immigrants, minorities and young people.
  • Approximately 57 percent of all divorces in America are due to financial stress.
  • In 2000, the average American household with at least one credit card carried a balance of nearly $8,000.

Services and Resources
VOTCDC offers a number of workshops and seminars, from writing effective resumes to assist the unemployed and underemployed with job hunts, to increasing credit scores to help residents get out of debt, become debt-free or purchase a home.

Included in its financial literacy program, are the following programs:

  • Homeownership counseling prepares individuals for what is often the largest single investment in a lifetime.
  • Education aimed at recognizing and avoiding abusive lending practices can protect individuals at risk of obtaining inappropriate and expensive loan products.
  • Job Readiness Workshops assist individuals with employment research, composing resumes and cover letters. In addition sessions offer skill assessments, information on how to engage in networking and preparation techniques for interviews and interviewing practices.

Other Services

Years ago little attention was focused on low-income homeownership. Today homeownership among under-served groups, including low-income households and minorities, has risen significantly. Many in these groups have benefited from more flexible underwriting standards and greater access to credit. However, there is still a racial/ethnic gap and the homeownership rates of minority and low-income households remain well below the national average.

With holistic empowerment as its focus, Vision of Truth Community Development Corporation's Homeownership Program seeks to help close the home ownership gap. VOTCDC's Homeownership Program was birthed using a house on Arden Street to support the ability of a family to own a home after two years of saving rent for a down-payment.

The goal of the home ownership program is to help families become secure, debt-free and to move from becoming renters to homeownership. Families who are accepted into the program must pay rent on time, attend two to three workshops on debt reduction, financial management and community service. When the family follows all these guidelines, and are ready to purchase a home, they receive all their rent money, plus interest, back to use as a down payment on their home.

For more information about the Homeownership Program, please call Margaret DePena at (757)967-9664 or email

After School and Parenting Programs
VOTCDc's after school program is designed to improve students' academic success and engagement in the learning process. The program provides academic and remedial instruction for students in the areas of English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Foreign Languages. Students gain specific knowledge and skills to help them meet the required Standards of Learning (SOL) for the State of Virginia. Sessions are conducted once a week for students in grades 6-12.

Parents As Models (PAM) is a parenting program founded by VOTCDC to help and engage parents in their children's academic success. Research supports the notion that parental participation in the educational process can significantly predict student performance, social adjustment and positively impact learning. U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (IES) research suggests that parents will participate in events that "feature some interaction with students' teachers and provide information on "parenting and school-related issues."

PAM supports, enhances and includes activities that strengthen this link between student academic achievement, positive behavior, and parental involvement.

For more information about Parents As Models, please call Margaret DePena at (757)967-9664 or email

Workforce Development
Vision of Truth Community Development Corporation's workforce development initiatives correlate to the City of Portsmouth's Destination 2025 initiative to build the skills of the local workforce. VOTCDC will accomplish through its existing partnership with the City of Portsmouth public school system and by identifying and establishing other key partnerships with educational institutions, businesses and community agencies and residents.

VOTCDC provides resources for business development through school-to-work initiatives in conjunction and collaboration with area industries, colleges and technical schools. Hampton Roads is the home of Norfolk Naval Base, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Norshipco, Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock, and Norfolk Southern. To that end, there is a potential link to shipbuilding programs at area colleges. On a broader scale, project sponsors are exploring a partnership to establish a business incubator with vocational and technical training, led by a consortium of local colleges and technical schools.

For more information about VOTCDC's workforce development initiatives, please call Margaret DePena at (757) 967-9664 or email



Help Desk
(757) 967-9664


PO Box 6219
Portsmouth, VA 23703-3327

Mailing Address

PO Box 6219
Portsmouth, VA 23703-3327