“Programmatic Interventions help people beat the odds while Systemic Interventions seek to change the odds.”

-Karen Pittman

Despite social distancing guidelines still in place and many members of our community struggling to overcome medical and economic hardships, hope has begun to ripple through Rochester. Food banks have received hundreds of thousands in donations, local medical professionals have bravely traveled to coronavirus hotspots to provide aid, and news outlets have asked proud parents to send in pictures/ messages to celebrate their Class of 2020 graduates. Witnessing this community-wide altruism has been remarkable and makes us proud to be able to continue to serve.  We at ROC the Future are continually asking ourselves an additional question: is there more we could be doing?

If a child is hungry, we can make a positive impact by providing a meal.  But that does nothing to alter the system that created a hungry child in the first place.  At ROC the Future, we’re refining our focus to look at and change the systems creating the instability, especially those exacerbated by the pandemic that are producing continued, inequitable academic outcomes, including: the extended loss of learning for students, the digital divide, and social and emotional supports.  This crisis creates an opportune time and imperative to raise the community alarm to address the inadequacies of the system. ALL children deserve an emotional safety net that nurtures their social education. ALL children require access to the internet and a device for distance learning. ALL children deserve resources to foster continuous learning – especially when that learning is happening in the home.

These, and other systemic concerns were expressed by more than 40 Convener representatives at our April 24 meeting, and two things were made clear:  1) addressing inequity, and structural racism in particular, is imperative; and 2) this is not work that can be done in silos – we must do this together.  Together, with convener organizations, parents and family members, providers, public officials, faith community – everybody!  Improving outcomes for children, supporting families, addressing racism and inequity – these are big ideas, that will take our entire community to lift.  And we believe that we can, with everybody together, move forward to change systems and create a better path for our children: cradle to career.


For the Children!

Jackie Campbell

Director, ROC the Future