While teaching in the inner city after college, UnBoundRVA co-founders Sarah Mullens and Richard Luck saw an incredible amount of talent going underutilized. They noticed that individuals weren’t pursuing the college track or other avenues for a number of reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with ability or work ethic. After their stint with Teach for America was over, Richard and Sarah set out on a mission to develop a process that would help encourage and create successful entrepreneurs, utilizing the untapped talents individuals already possessed. After months of researching, studying, and combining entrepreneurial programs and micro financing models from around the world, they developed UnBoundRVA.
In April 2014, the pilot class began workshops with 12 individuals. From there, the team selected the first five entrepreneurs to launch their own small businesses. UnBoundRVA has now completed two classes and launched eight small businesses. In addition, the group has a strong volunteer group, amazing community partners, and a staff of four full-time employees working towards the mission of UnBoundRVA.
Today, we are a non-profit focusing on empowering individuals from low-income backgrounds through the opportunity to own their own business and transform their lives. We’ve now grown and evolved to bring 20 hopeful entrepreneurs together for the goal of launching five new businesses each year.
Sarah is passionate about the work of UnBoundRVA and the entrepreneurs we support. Her experience most recently was a Senior Vice President at Village Bank for commercial banking and before that as the Director of the SBA’s Women Business Center and as a board member and team member at Virginia Community Capital. She led the work to establish it as a B corporation and learned powerful lessons at that CDFI about combining philanthropic, government, corporate and banking funds and best practices to solve problems in our communities. It is that philosophy that she brings to the work of UnBoundRVA. Sarah currently serves as a mentor for the City of Richmond’s Department of Minority Business Enterprise and as an appointee on the Virginia Building Authority Board. Sarah believes we must not rest until we create pathways to entrepreneurship to enable citizens to break through poverty and to thrive creating a positive impact on their families and their health and our communities. She knows UnBoundRVA plays a critical role in that work in our region.
For Megan, the entire UnBoundRVA community serves as a source of daily inspiration. UnBound constantly challenges Megan to grow and to learn, but also to make a positive impact each and every day. The entrepreneurs have shown her what tenacity and determination can accomplish when combined with the power of a genuine support network. Megan’s background includes a degree in Leadership Studies and Business Administration from the University of Richmond. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she has grown to love Richmond just as much, as she likes to take advantage of all the activities the city has to offer, especially the craft brewery scene!
Fun fact: Megan learned to fly a plane in high school!
This native Richmonder has a degree in Anthropology, worked in childcare, and recently volunteered at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources helping to catalog artifacts. Lauren will tell you that working with UnBoundRVA has really opened her eyes to how much a small business can make a difference for not just the owner, but for the entire community. She loves meeting new people through her position at UnBound, building relationships with the UnBound participants, and getting to expand her network. Growing up in Richmond, she loves the sense of community the town has, and loves running into people she knows at various places and events.
Fun fact: Lauren has two sweet, spoiled female pit bulls that go by the names of Klaus (aka “Lil Guwop”), and Mira.
Humbled by the opportunity to use the power of entrepreneurship to change the narrative for residents of low-income neighborhoods, Melody considers UnBoundRVA, the home for her career. Inspired by the perseverance and fortitude demonstrated by the program participants, she wakes up daily filled with gratitude to spend her days pouring into people for a cause greater than self, one in which re-energizes and revitalizes neighborhoods through the usage of its greatest resources, the residents themselves. Melody’s background is in business development and marketing, where she has consulted for small businesses for over 12 years. A graduate of Morgan State University, in her spare time, Melody enjoys attending festivals, traveling and hanging out with her daughter, Nia Abiose.
Fun fact: Melody has called 5 states home over a course of 12yrs.