Open Letter to RVA Leaders

Dear Fellow RVA Leader,

As you know, Richmond is a unique community where people from all walks of life are genuinely proud to call themselves Richmonders. People are moving to our humble community from all over the country, large businesses are choosing to locate manufacturing facilities and company headquarters here, and the Richmond region is also quickly becoming a location for data centers and distribution centers. Investors have taken note and are buying up properties and developers are competing for lucrative opportunities that are happening all over the region.

It’s an exciting time for our community – a time to be proud of. We have so much to offer as a community, it’s no wonder we’re getting attention and attracting new RVA residents and businesses. But as proud as all of us can be, we all also know deep down that this picture of success is just one part of the picture. There are still systemic gaps that must be filled if we’re to honestly celebrate Richmond as an outlier amongst the list of smaller urban communities seeing a boom.

Having graduated from the Leadership Metro Richmond Quest Class of 2020 and having spent that year immersed in food desert and food equity research, it became very clear very quickly that those on the bottom rungs of society have insurmountable barriers to climbing the ladder we’re all so familiar with.

If we are going to celebrate this community for the strength we know we can foster and the strength we should be proud of, we must join together in restoring the health of our community. As mentors from Shalom Farms, Fit4Kids, The Market at 25th, and members of the very community I am referring to have shared with me, good health is about so much more than having good physical well-being.

Good health cannot truly be achieved without stable housing,  financial resilience, convenient and affordable transportation, access to quality preventative healthcare, access to fresh, healthy, and culturally appropriate foods, health awareness, and so many other foundational components of a stable life.

America’s Healthiest City is a community project that is being spearheaded by my digital marketing firm, Xponent21. It is a community call-to-action, an ideas and inspiration board, a digital hub for community members to identify companies and organizations that are taking action, and a 10-year mission statement to achieve the goal of being the Healthiest City in America by every measure by 2033. We’re currently assessing metrics from the World Health Organization, talking to experts, and working to define what these measures should be with more input. 

We’re seeking your organization’s support as an Ambassador to this program because you are a clear leader and we aim to show that our entire community is truly committed to this effort. Only if we act together can we achieve our collective goals.

So, the ask is simple. Signal your public support for America’s Healthiest City and commit to passing key organizational decision-making through The Filter. The Filter simply asks, “how will this decision make our community healthier?” The resultant outcome will be up to your leadership team, but we hope that this filter will steer decisions away from paths that may have negative consequences for the overall health of our community. With conviction, decisions will lead to outcomes that have a positive social impact as well as a positive business impact.

As we bring this project to life over the coming weeks and months, we will be creating media and will invite partners to participate in the benefit of alignment to the cause, earned media opportunities, and paid collaborations. 

Our initial effort will be to provide a free t-shirt to the initial individual signers of this mission as a way to get the message into the community quickly. We are currently seeking partners who wish to help fund the purchase and shipping of these t-shirts in exchange for their brand presence on each shirt. Please reach out to me if this opportunity interests you.

Together we can evolve this idea into real community action. Your own ideas and inspiration are welcome as you pursue your corporate social responsibility goals, work to make the community healthier, and achieve success in the pursuit of your own mission. We’re aiming for a soft launch in September 2022, so your early support is appreciated. 


Will Melton
Chief Executive Officer


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