Knocking on Doors to Remind Parents That Every Minute Matters


Chronic absence has a direct impact on students’ ability to succeed in school.  Just being absent for 2 days of school each month, adds up to an entire month missed by the end of the school year. Chronic absenteeism is a major challenge, but the Rochester City School District is taking major steps to improve school attendance for the 2016-17 school year, including: Continue reading

Start Strong Back to School Rally


More than 2,000 parents and students attended the “Start Strong” event hosted by the Rochester City School District and WDKX at Frontier Field. Parents and students received valuable information during the community resource fair which included vendors from Red Cross, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, Rochester Regional Health System, IBERO, Center for Disability Rights and Urban League of Rochester, NY. More than 1,700 book bags were distributed to students to help start the school year off strong.

ROC the Future Conveners’ Retreat

Conveners Nancy Forgue (Dept. of Human Services) and Ida Perez (Ibero) identify priority areas for 2017.

Conveners Nancy Forgue (Dept. of Human Services) and Ida Perez (Ibero) identify priority areas for 2017.

On Friday, August 12th ROC the Future held its annual Conveners’ Retreat at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center.  Convener’s heard “creative reports” from the Collaborative Action Networks (CANs) and Convener Committees, and approved Governance resolutions to add 3 new Convener member organizations, and adjustments to the By-Laws. Continue reading

GRASA accepted to the Every Hour Counts Coalition

GRASA logo

Every Hour Counts, a coalition of 10 citywide organizations that increase access to quality learning opportunities, has launched a new National Learning Community comprised of expanded-learning system-builders from 13 additional cities and regions from around the country. The Every Hour Counts National Learning Community offers organizations the opportunity to share their own approaches with peers in other cities, improve their practices, receive coaching from field experts and experienced system-builders, and design solutions to shared challenges facing the field.

Jessica Donner, the executive director of Every Hour Counts said “We’re delighted to welcome 13 new cities and counties into our learning community. For the past 10 years, Every Hour Counts has cross-fertilized innovations in cities around the country and informed federal policy by learning from on-the- ground practitioners. This expansion will expand our circle of cities around the country from 10 to 23 who are learning from each other, advancing the field, and informing the design of new expanded-learning systems around the country.”

The Greater Rochester After-School Alliance, also known as GRASA, chairs ROC the Future’s Expanded Learning Opportunities CAN, whose focus is increasing the quality and quantity of out of school time learning opportunities.

Additional cities to join the Every Hour Counts National Learning Community include Dallas, TX – Dallas Afterschool, Denver, CO – Denver Afterschool Alliance, Detroit, MI – The Skillman Foundation, Fresno, CA – California Teaching Fellows Foundation, and Newark, NJ – Newark Thrives!, among others.

Rochester receives Pacesetters Award


This year, 38 communities across the nation have been recognized as Pacesetters for “leading by example” to solve one or more of the challenges that can undermine early literacy – school readiness, school attendance, and summer learning. Rochester received recognition for its work in school attendance and summer learning.

“Pacesetter Honors are among the highest awards presented by the Campaign,” said Ralph Smith, CGLR managing director. “We are very proud of these communities and the organizations and individuals behind them for joining forces and working tirelessly to uplift children and families. They remind us that we are seeing great progress and real results all across the country.”

The awards were presented by Yolie Flores from the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, during a site visit to Rochester, on Friday, July 29, 2016, at the Children’s Institute.  Yolie was joined by her colleague, Ann Rosewater via conference call, as well Leslie Gabay-Swanson, from the National Association of Summer Learning.  They met with ROC the Future Conveners, Greater Rochester Summer Learning Association representatives, and Parent Engagement CAN members, and also visited two summer learning sites.  It was a wonderful opportunity for sharing what we are doing locally to support student achievement, and to learn what other communities are doing.

The Campaign is a collaborative effort of foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation, who work to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship.

What Does Alignment Look Like Exactly?

As part of the City of Rochester’s 2016-17 Proposed Budget, the City’s budget office incorporated the ROC the Future framework into its “Children and Families Funding” section of the 2016-17 City budget document.

Because a student’s early experiences and physical and social/emotional health impact academic achievement, many City-funded programs contribute to RCSD students’ school success. Expenditures on items such as safe play spaces, access to nutritious food, R-Center programming after school, etc. can play a critical role in supporting a child as s/he moves toward high school graduation and a successful transition to college or career. ROC the Future’s four overarching goals for Rochester’s children that provide the framework for the budget analysis are:

  1. Every Child is School Ready – For children to grow into successful adults, they need a supportive and healthy early environment.
  2. Every Child is Supported – Investments in improving out-of-school-time program quality, expanding capacity, and evaluating outcomes ensures youth receive an appropriate balance of social-emotional, academic, and health and wellness supports to succeed in school and in life.
  3. Every Child is Successful – In order to promote student success, educators, families, service providers, and the community must focus on each student gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the 21st century.
  4. Every Child is College and Career Ready – Students, families, and teachers must have access to college and career information and support, and financial barriers must be addressed.

Research shows that collective action initiatives such as ROC the Future are successful when there is a common community agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mobilization of community resources targeted at achieving specific shared goals. As a key leader in ROC the Future, the City continues to lead by example, by adopting our framework and committing to supporting children…cradle to career.

Community Engagement in Action: Clergy on Patrol


ROC the Future joined Clergy on Patrol on June 20th for its summer kick off at Pentecostal Holiness Church. Spiritual leaders, police officers and community members walked along North Clinton Avenue to meet with residents and business owners to make strides in making neighborhoods safer and more vibrant by strengthening the bond between community and the Rochester Police Department.

The next Clergy on Patrol is: Monday, July 18th from 5 to 7 p.m. Westside Church of Christ 469 Lyell Avenue.
RSVP with Tracey D. Miller Assistant to the Mayor at

Welcome Our New Communications Specialist

J. Lewis photo

The Children’s Agenda is pleased to welcome Jessica Lewis as the ROC the Future (RTF) Communications Specialist. Jessica is an accomplished professional with expertise in public relations, communications, and community engagement. She will lead RTF’s communications initiatives by developing and executing comprehensive, integrated communications for funders, conveners, networks, community based organizations, and parents. Continue reading