Next Step to Success — St. Vincent DePaul House


Barry Robinson Trust and James Barry-Robinson Institute


Norfolk, Virginia


8.9 acres
83,000 square feet building area

Completion Date

Estimated 2026


The site of Norfolk’s abandoned DePaul Hospital soon will brim with youthful energy as the new home of the James Barry-Robinson Institute’s Next Step for Success (NSTS) program, which encourages young people ages 13 to 18 to develop character strengths and self-expectations to achieve their full potential.

Currently, NSTS serves 70 youths at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, adjacent to the DePaul site, but it has outgrown the location. The opportunity to acquire the hospital property seemed providential. Founded in 1856 during a Yellow Fever epidemic, the hospital was known for the highest rate of charity health care in the region. It was Virginia’s oldest Catholic hospital property, most recently owned by Bon Secours and Mercy Health. The vision for the new youth campus will continue St. Vincent de Paul’s ministry of hope.

The new home for NSTS will be called the St. Vincent de Paul House. It is not a residential program, but rather an after-school and summer experiential learning program; students are transported home after the evening meal. The plan, an 8.9-acre campus, envisions three to four “Learning Houses” of 10,000 square feet each with classrooms on two stories, and an Art House (Media Center, art and music rooms). There will be a gymnasium, an auditorium/cafeteria, amphitheater, sports field, administration building with a small chapel and a meeting room. The historic DePaul Hospital Chapel will remain. Learning Houses will feature porches overlooking the courtyard green and gardens where the teens will learn to grow, harvest, and cook healthy food.  

The traditional campus design approach borrows cues from the historic St. Vincent DePaul house, with the Main House, Art House, and Gymnasium/Auditorium facing Newport Ave. The buildings are set back from the street, preserving all the mature trees, and providing a park-like setting for the neighborhood. Each learning house, set in a garden, is designed to feel like home and provide comfort and inspiration. The NSTS program offers intentional programming to teach teens strategies to maximize their chances for success. Life skills, resilience, grit, growth mindset, learned optimism, self-control, teamwork, problem-solving and responsible decision-making are central to the program.

The Barry Robinson Trust, founded by Norfolk businessman Frederick J. Robinson 90 years ago, continues its Catholic heritage and mission through several other programs: the James Barry-Robinson Institute, providing residential treatment to military-connected youth; foster care services for Hampton Roads children and teens; an outpatient program for teens and young adults facing substance abuse challenges, and St. Patrick Catholic School, established in 2005 with a mission of cultivating future generations of courageous and compassionate student leaders. NSTS is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization.