Photograph by Kim Lee Schmidt

UR Downtown marked its 10th anniversary in December by opening an exhibition that celebrates people across the RVA community.

The focus was fitting, said Alexandra Byrum, assistant director for communications and UR Downtown, Bonner Center for Civic Engagement. “We wanted to acknowledge the communities that have driven the goals and purpose of UR Downtown for the last 10 years,” she said. “All backgrounds, identities, and experiences are celebrated in this exhibition.”

When UR Downtown opened at 626 E. Broad St. in 2009, the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement’s then-director Amy Howard called the renovated banking space “a physical marker of the university’s commitment to community engagement.”

Ten years later, Howard, now an interim senior administrative officer at UR, says the facility has become “an actual model of the university’s values because ethical engagement, pursuit of knowledge, and student growth all come alive there, along with diversity and inclusion.”

These values can be seen in what happens there. The university sponsored almost 125 events at the facility in the 2018–19 fiscal year, including classes, department retreats, and law clinic meetings. Members of the community sponsored nearly 150 more, including public workshops and board meetings.

The clinic is also home to a popular café and a variety of educational programs focused on community engagement and public service. One is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which has secured more than $260,000 in tax refunds and $75,000 in earned income tax assistance credit for low-income tax filers. Most of the volunteers are UR law and accounting students.