(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) After seven years, the executive director of local nonprofit Arlington Thrive, Andrew Schneider, is stepping down.
“After much reflection and discernment, I have decided to step down as Executive Director of Arlington Thrive to pursue other opportunities,” Schneider announced in an email Wednesday evening. “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you to deliver Arlington Thrive’s mission over the past seven years.”
Arlington Thrive provides direct, emergency financial assistance to eligible residents to pay for unexpected medical expenses, rent and utility payments, “and other crippling expenses,” according to the website. Originally a faith-based nonprofit addressing community needs, the nearly 50-year-old organization rebranded in 2013 as Arlington Thrive to “embrace our vision of progress, which includes all Arlingtonians regardless of creed.”
When the pandemic hit, requests jumped seven times over requests made in 2019, and the nonprofit worked with Arlington County and many other nonprofits to ensure people weren’t evicted and had food on the table. Schneider said Thrive served thousands of families during the pandemic and managed more than $10 million in eviction prevention assistance.
Beyond pandemic-era assistance, under Schneider’s leadership, the organization transitioned went from being a volunteer effort to a nearly all-virtual, “technology-forward operation,” and launched two initiatives, one focused on child care and another on bringing together local clergy of all creeds, community leaders and nonprofit staff to address community needs, per his email. In addition, the nonprofit has worked with local nonprofit Arlington Community Foundation, elected officials and the Arlington County Department of Human Services to improve the safety net for vulnerable residents.
Reflecting on his tenure, he told ARLnow in a statement that everything he set out to do as has been accomplished.
“Now seemed like the right time for me to step back,” he said. “We have a terrific team and committed board in place, with systems that were battle-tested through the pandemic and are now ready for whatever may come next. When I considered my personal situation, with two children approaching high school graduation, my long-term career goals, and the fact that leading Thrive has been an all-consuming and exhausting task, especially since March 2020, I realized it was time to move on.”
Despite all those efforts, he says two fundamental issues hold Arlington back.
“First, many low-income families, despite the safety net’s best efforts, struggle to remain in Arlington,” he said. “Costs for housing and childcare are very high, and access to affordable housing is limited, dwindling, and difficult to obtain. Secondly, there are remaining structural issues related to inequity and injustice which we are working to address. We are fortunate to have a strong network of nonprofits and faith-based organizations in Arlington who are committed to working together to ensure that Arlington remains a diverse community where all neighbors can thrive.”
But Schneider says he has confidence in the interim CEO, Susan Cunningham, as well as Thrive’s Board and its strategic framework to move the organization forward and select a new leader. Cunningham recently served as the interim CEO of affordable housing nonprofit AHC, Inc., steering the ship after Walter Webdale retired amid reports of poor conditions and maintenance at its Serrano Apartments complex on Columbia Pike.
“Susan brings extensive experience leading nonprofits and community organizations,” the outgoing executive director said in his email. “She is already working closely with us to ensure a smooth transition.”
His former organization sent well wishes on social media.
After seven years guiding Arlington Thrive, Andrew Schneider is stepping down as ED this month. Andrew has been a driving force in the success of Thrive. We are grateful for Andrew's commitment and dedication, and we wish him all the best. pic.twitter.com/aHXtQNrlgV
— Arlington Thrive (@ArlingtonThrive) January 11, 2023
During the pandemic, Arlington Thrive saw an uptick in donations as well as applications from locals who needed emergency assistance, per a 2020-21 audit available on the ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. At the time, auditors recommended Arlington Thrive improve how employees submit timesheets, as well as how they document and evaluate the financial needs of clients. Thrive concurred and made several changes, such as upgrading its database for case management and hiring a quality assurance specialist.
In the current budget, Arlington County set aside $25,000 to go toward the salary of the nonprofit’s child care coordinator, who is working to help nearly two dozen clients find child care. Over the last two fiscal years, the county paid nearly $40,000 to the nonprofit for a case management pilot aimed at helping families at risk of homelessness.
Schneider told ARLnow this kind of work “building a pathway to stability” is as important as emergency financial assistance.
“Our efforts in childcare… are amongst our top priorities, as is our collaborative work with the entire safety net. It is still too challenging for families to obtain the help they need, even though it is available in our community,” Schneider said. “Our childcare navigator has had great success connecting families with affordable and available childcare, and we hope to expand that capacity in the coming months.”
This story has been updated to include further comments from Andrew Schneider, Arlington Thrive’s outgoing executive director.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
A former ABC News producer whose Columbia Pike apartment was raided by the FBI last year has been sentenced. James Gordon Meek, 53, pleaded guilty in July to transportation and…
Metrorail service was suspended on the Blue and Yellow lines today after a train derailed.
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At Generation Hope, we’re dedicated to supporting teen parents in college as they work toward earning their degrees. We are in need of caring child care volunteers for upcoming events on Saturday, October 21st (in Washington, DC), and Saturday, November 4th (in Arlington, VA). Join our growing volunteer community and support us at an event this fall!
At all of our events, we provide free onsite child care for the children of the teen parents we serve, creating a nurturing environment for the kiddos while their parents learn valuable life skills and build community.
If you enjoy working with children and are looking to make an immediate impact in your community, please visit https://www.generationhope.org/volunteer to learn more.
Join us for Arlington’s biggest civil rights & social justice event of the year. The banquet is back in person at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University.
Our keynote speaker this year is Symone Sanders from MSNBC and former Chief of Staff for Vice-President Kamala Harris.
The Master of Ceremonies is Joshua Cole, former state delegate, NAACP President, and local pastor.
Tickets/seating are limited. Purchase your ticket today! Sponsorship opportunities available.
Cody Chance and Dick Nathan of Long & Foster are hosting an online workshop on the topic of “down-sizing” Wednesday, October 4 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Every great endeavor begins with a great plan. This workshop will give you the tools