A few weeks ago, we hosted our 7th Annual State of Our Children event, and release of our 2019 Annual Report Card, with several hundred partners and community leaders, focused on improving outcomes for Rochester’s children. See event photos here.  It was a really wonderful occasion for many reasons, but one that I really feel particularly good about is our celebration of parents and their leadership in our community.  In case you haven’t noticed, parents are stepping in and are engaging in community work more than ever, and in such profound ways.  That’s why it was such an honor to celebrate the parents who have made their presence known and felt as community members of the ‘village’.  Lisa Alexander, Nahmese Bacot, Yohanna Gonzales and Catherine Wilson are doing the work in the community, in schools, and in our agencies.  Well done, ladies, and thank you so much for being powerful examples to honor and follow!

In addition to honoring the work of our parents, we recognized Dr. Dirk Hightower for his decades of service supporting early childhood development and education, as this year’s Jacquie Cady Award honoree.  Dirk has been a tireless advocate and thought leader in this arena for decades, and has made significant contributions to this work.  The Greater Rochester Summer Learning Association rounded out our recognitions as our inaugural organizational awardee, for their incredible service to Rochester by providing comprehensive summer learning experiences for more than 1,400 children each summer.

I’m also really grateful to Tafona Ervin of Graduate Tacoma, for coming all the way across the country from our StriveTogether partner organization in Tacoma Washington, to share the story of their incredible journey from being the “drop out factory” district in 2010 with a graduation rate of 55%, to 89% in 2019.  Their story is one of collective work, motivation and persistence, and is inspiring for us all.

We rounded out the event with engaging workshops which summarized our work, and also offered opportunities to participants to learn about our efforts as well as to provide input for the work ahead.  By all accounts, this was the best State of Our Children event yet.

I cannot thank our staff, our coworkers at The Children’s Agenda, our Conveners and partners for your continued commitment on behalf of Rochester’s children and families.

In Service,

Jackie Campbell

ROC the Future Alliance Director