Ricky Ochilo

Resident Asset Developer for Low-Income Neighborhood Revitalization

Ricky Ochilo ’09 originally came to Warren Wilson from Kenya, and currently does Asset Development for Chelsea Neighborhood Developers in Massachusetts. Through community building activities, CND creates strong connections among neighbors, fosters a positive neighborhood identity and builds social capital linking residents and community institutions to foster a vibrant sense of community life. Ricky’s department offers free tax preparation and individual matching accounts to help families save for education, home ownership or starting a small business. CND states that it “seeks to engage residents in neighborhood planning to transform underutilized commercial sites and problematic residential neighborhoods into healthy neighborhoods.” “In addition, we provide financial literacy workshops on savings, budgeting, credit, taxes, predatory lending and basic money management, to name a few. In sum, my work involves revitalizing communities through providing necessary capital and investment opportunities to promote neighborhood stabilization,” explains Ricky, who is also researching law schools and plans to attend next fall.

At Warren Wilson Ricky studied History and Political Science, worked on the Echo crew (newspaper), and participated in service projects at Haw Creek Elementary, educating children on cultural differences and meaning, and mentoring kids at the Latino Learning Center. Ricky also worked in landscaping and restoration in different parts of Swannanoa, youth leadership and empowerment at the YWCA in Asheville, pecan farming at Koinonia Farms and building homes for the poor with Habitat for Humanity in Americus, Georgia. “Warren Wilson's service program and vocational education paradigm is beneficial because, while it requires students to participate in their communities, it instills a sense of diligence, responsibility, value and promotes working relationships,” explains Ricky. “With that purpose in mind, we can begin to re-evaluate how to best participate as active citizens in redefining or tackling environmental, social, political and economic injustices on a grander scale.”

Ricky and Robin Dhakal ‘10, another WWC graduate who is originally from Nepal, are trying to coordinate some micro-finance programs in their home countries through a project called Ikon. They are thinking of conducting a few research programs in these countries with the student volunteers from Warren Wilson this summer. Eventually, they would like to find some grants that would support their mission of funding entrepreneurs in Nepal and Kenya. “We hope to foster business ideas that promote a sense of economic vibrancy and environmental responsibility among people. More importantly, our developmental model is structured from inherent cultural values that align with every day rural lifestyle thereby enhancing suitable and fitting business, environmental and economic practices,” Ricky explains.