Our Work

RPOP is heavily guided by the voices of Russell residents and community members. We believe that relationship building plays a huge role in our ability to hold space for shared-learning, leadership and decision making. Since 2018, RPOP has hosted numerous large, small, in-person and virtual events, canvassed the Russell neighborhood and conducted neighborhood "pop-ups" with RPOP resources and swag.

Canvassing & Pop Ups
Catch the RPOP team popping in and popping up with residents and business throughout the Russell neighborhood.
Community Dinners
Monthly dinners bring Russell resident and community members together to learn about RPOP's updates and connect with their neighbors
Our Home: Russell Homecoming Weekend
RPOP's annual weekend celebration of Russell's residents, history and future. Each year we partner with community organizations and Black owned businesses to curate a family friendly weekend full of community building, parties, entertainment, food, shopping, art  and more!
POP Convening
In Spring 2018, partners Cities United, Louisville Metro Government and the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust partnered to host a preview event for local and national funders and thought leaders to test the concept of RPOP. This event was key to RPOP securing its seed funding. 

In Spring 2023, RPOP hosted its second convening for  local and national funders and thought leaders to learn about RPOP's work and how far we’ve come since we launched in 2018
Small Business Breakfast Series
A monthly meeting for Small businesses to learn about entrepreneurship and gain resources.

RPOP collaborates with Russell residents and community partners to create programming around our wealth building pathways.

RPOP Ambassador Program
This program invites Russell residents to work with RPOP staff at various community engagement events and support other outreach activities such as canvassing. Resident Ambassadors are compensated for their time.
Resident Leadership Programs
RPOP is currently hosting the Russell Futures Learning Lab, focused on Housing and Community Land Trusts. This four-month program invites residents to learn more about RPOP’s housing strategy, including the creation of a community land trust, and to share decision-making about which properties RPOP will acquire from the Louisville Metro Land Bank Authority and how they may be used to support wealth building in Russell.
Russell Small Business Accelerator Program
The RPOP Small Business Accelerator is designed to foster the creation of new, resident-owned businesses AND partner with existing Black-owned businesses and Black entrepreneurs to enhance business strengthening and growth. The Accelerator offers Black business owners in Russell and Louisville’s West End the opportunity to solidify their business operations and increase resilience while building a network of business owners, learning from Black professionals about key aspects of running a business, and receiving a friends-and-family-style investment in their business.
Childcare Business Accelerator Program
This business accelerator is focused on existing, center-based early childcare education and development facilities in Russell and is a partnership between RPOP, Play Cousins Collective and the Metro United Way's Ready for K Alliance. Participating centers receive staff training hours, participate in community building and culture keeping activities, and gain access to free professional services to strengthen their business operations. Additionally, each center will receive a friends-and-family-style investment in their business upon program completion.
Home Repair Program
This program is for Russell homeowners who are 55+ or who experience a disability and are in need of home repairs. This program is offered in partnership with the New Directions Repair Affair.

RPOP is currently developing housing and commercial property in the Russell neighborhood.

RPOP & REBOUND - Housing
RPOP and REBOUND, Inc., an affordable housing developer that got its start through the Louisville Urban League, have partnered to build homes in the Russell neighborhood for families who are interested in moving from renting to owning or for families who want to return to Russell. These homes include single-family homes, owner-occupied duplexes where the owner of the duplex can generate wealth, and townhomes.
30th & Madison
A five-acre, former warehouse and cigar manufacturing site at 30th and Madison Street currently owned by Louisville Metro Government has been dedicated to RPOP and the Russell community. The site is currently vacant after five warehouse and manufacturing buildings were demolished after a large fire in June 2020. The site will be planned and developed in partnership with Russell residents for a variety of commercial and residential uses, and will offer multiple pathways for resident ownership.

One of RPOP's biggest priorities is to amplify the voices of Russell residents. Art and storytelling are part of the storytelling that preserves residents' memories, keeps the culture of Russell centered, and celebrates Russell's collective history.

The Russell Storytelling Project (RSP)
The RSP included ten storytellers - four advisors and six artists and writers - who were selected to amplify the stories of Russell residents through various artistic mediums. Beginning in July 2022, RPOP staff and RSP storytellers met weekly for six weeks to engage in community building, shared learning, and reimagining. The team created a community agreement and learned together during art-centered workshops created and led by the four RSP advisors. Following these workshops, the six RSP artists and writers were each paired with five Russell residents and charged with conducting interviews and collecting resident stories that informed the creation of mixed media art and storytelling that celebrates Russell and its residents. RPOP hosted a public exhibit of these pieces in Russell and plans to put them on permanent display at 30th and Madison Street. Learn more.
Resident Narratives
In 2021 we documented the stories of 3 Russell Residents.

Click to Listen

Betty Baye'
Markham French
Chandra Blake
Take This! Photo Voice Exhibit
The Take This! Photovoice Exhibit is meant to complement YaLift!, a guaranteed income pilot in partnership with Metro United Way.
Keep Going Scholarship

RPOP believes in supporting young Black students as they grow their intellectual wealth.

The Keep Going Scholarship Fund was established by Cities United and the Youth Resistance Collective, with grant support from the Public Welfare Foundation, to honor the life of Travis Nagdy, a 21 year-old social justice leader in Louisville who lost his life in late 2020. The Scholarship is administered by RPOP and is housed at the Community Foundation of Louisville.

Travis was beloved by the community. His optimism and motivational activism, highlighted in his signature motto "Keep Going!" was vital to the social justice uprisings in Louisville and across the country in 2020. This scholarship recognizes his fight for justice and the continued pursuit of justice by Louisville youth. Specifically, this Fund is designed to provide scholarship assistance in the form of grants to help defray college or university expenses of black students from West Louisville, Kentucky.
Apply Now
RPOP’s past programming, like all its activities, focused on resident engagement, community building and shared learning. 

Community Based Organization (CBO) Learning Circle
This program is focused on strengthening CBOs in and around the Russell neighborhood through collective learning and network building.
Advancing Cities
AdvancingCities Louisville, a project funded by JPMorgan Chase’s national Advancing Cities Program, was a $3 million, initiative to scale entry-level tech talent from historically underrepresented populations and geographies while creating a more connected community of wraparound service providers who support individuals seeking to gain tech skills and build careers. RPOP partnered with the Metro United Way of Greater Louisville and a number of other community organizations in this work.
Summer Learning Series
This program explored new concepts of community ownership and wealth building, including community land trusts, cooperatives and guaranteed income/universal basic income, in a shared learning environment that included RPOP team members, Russell residents and local and national individuals and organizations with expertise in each of the topic areas. These conversations helped shape RPOP's strategies and decision-making related to its future organizational form, ownership models and the YALift! Program. Summer Learning Series programs took place virtually and in person in Summer 2021 and 2022. 
RPOP hosted an annual Juneteenth event in 2020, 2021 and 2022. These celebrations focused on the history of Juneteenth and  offered family-friendly activities such as arts and crafts, music, children’s programming, a vendor fair, food and more. In 2023, RPOP supported partner MELANnaire Marketplace’s Juneteenth event. 
Neighbor Circle
This program was focused on strengthening connections between Russell residents, promoting resources and education for homeowners, homebuyers and renters, and sharing information about topics of interest to attendees.
2020 Russell for Russell Resident Coalition (R4R)
R4R included 26 Black Russell residents ranging in age from 22 yrs to 72 yrs. Together, the group co-created strategies that support Black wealth building and lead to investment without displacement of residents or businesses. The work of the group led to the development and co-authoring of the Russell Partnership Pledge.
2021-2023 Russell Workgroups
Over two years, 40 Russell residents participated in workgroups focused on defining RPOP’s future organizational form and the development of the property at 30th and Madison Street. Workgroups engaged in shared learning about community ownership options, made decisions about RPOP’s incorporation, traveled to visit model organizations in Boston, Baltimore, Seattle/Tacoma, Cincinnati, and Lexington, Kentucky, and participated in tenant development and site design activities. Workgroups made decisions using RPOP’s Partnership Pledge as a guiding document.
Young Leaders Academy
RPOP worked with the Coalition Supporting Young Adults to create and facilitate an interactive 9-week program designed to help young leaders cultivate personal leadership skills, gain a better understanding of what community means, and grow their advocacy skills to make impactful change in their communities.
YaLift! Guaranteed Income Pilot
YALift! offered 150 young adults, ages 18 to 24, in Louisville's Russell, California and Smoketown neighborhoods an opportunity to receive $500 per month for a year to demonstrate the many benefits of providing a basic income for all individuals. Modeled on programs in Stockton, California, and Jackson, Mississippi, YALift! funding came with no restrictions, giving recipients full control over spending it to meet their own unique needs. This program was a partnership between RPOP, the Metro United Way, Louisville Metro Government, Mayors for Guaranteed Income and numerous community partners who were essential in bringing a level of trust and community voice to the design of the pilot.

RPOP believes in learning alongside residents as we grow our collective knowledge, and has developed resources to promote opportunities to help us explore grow together.

Political Conversations
RPOP hosted a series of virtual learning sessions featuring local elected officials discussing a range of issues and policies identified as significant to the Russell community. These events gave Russell residents a chance to engage directly with individuals representing them, to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the political system.
Virtual Library
As part of the support offered to participants in the  Russell for Russell Resident Coalition and RPOP’s Workgroups, RPOP created a shared virtual library with resources related to RPOP's wealth building pathways, our national models, and more. This living resource will continue to grow as RPOP engages in ongoing shared learning with Russell residents.
For the People Next Door Book (Download)
Containing art, photography, poetry and more, this book reflects the process, participants and products created during the Russell Storytelling Project. 
Ujamaa Workbook (Download)
The Ujamaa Workbook was co-written by RPOP team members and Play Cousins Collective to engage Black children and families in activities focused on generational wealth. Readers can go on a journey with main character, Harmony, as she learns about community building, cooperative economics, saving money, Black inventors, gardening and more from her village.

RPOP creates space for residents to have a significant voice in shaping their community and directly invests in place-based efforts such as housing, business development and community assets. Through our Partnership Pledge and our role as an accountability partner, we have united the voices of hundreds of residents and shifted the language and awareness of many community organizations working in Russell and the broader community on the importance of centering resident voice and leadership. We have influenced the strategic direction and plans of major institutions including our fiscal sponsor and city government.

Over the past five years the dual impacts of COVID and state violence have greatly impacted our work and the community. We became more vocal advocates for justice, equity and the prioritization of resident voices. We developed a robust online presence and the ability to manage complex long-running intergenerational programs in  virtual and in-person spaces. We have cared for our community by providing safe and joyful events, protected time and resources for self-care, and a sense of belonging and family.

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