The city of Richmond is changing. Over the past decade, an influx of young, white professionals and families has fueled population growth. And increases in the residential population of white families have very slowly translated into increases in the enrollment of white students in Richmond Public Schools (RPS). These shifts come on the heels of decades of intentional division of and disinvestment in majority black urban communities, offering renewed opportunities for neighborhood and school integration, along with a stronger tax base and increases in school funding. But changing demographics also bring challenges. Both the opportunities and challenges have been on full display during the school rezoning process in RPS. This research brief offers important context and content to inform policy decisions that leverage our city’s growing diversity for increased equity and inclusion. In the sections that follow, we share the robust body of research on the benefits of diverse schools, the current state of integration and relevant historical background influencing the need for action, comparable contemporary experiences, common voluntary integration methods--including best and promising practices and lessons learned--and policy and implementation recommendations informed by this information.

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Published by the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, University of Richmond; School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Virginia Housing Alliance.

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