By: Andrea Deckert

ROC the Future Alliance released its annual State of Our Children Report card this week and announced a new initiative, the Whole Child, to better identify and correct ineffective systems of support for parents, families and children prenatal to age eight.

This comes as the U.S. Census Bureau statistics show Rochester continues to have one of the highest poverty rates among children in the nation.

“We recognize that children grow and develop within supportive relationships and environments that strengthen their resilience, while acknowledging the detrimental role racism, inequities, violence and poverty may play in their everyday lives,” said Lorna Washington, ROC the Future Alliance Chair. “We are intentional about involving parents and families from the very beginning in decisions that will impact the well-being of themselves and their children.”

The Whole Child centers on culture, community and systems, family, and relationships instead of the individual to influence positive change and improve outcomes for children.

The ROC the Future Alliance developed the Whole Child Initiative after it identified parent engagement as a top goal in 2021.

The Whole Child Initiative will use $1.55 million in grants received from ESL Charitable Foundation, Konar Foundation, Sands Foundation and Wegmans Foundation to address the areas of need.

This year’s report card showed areas of slight improvement for city students (inclusive of charters and city school district) for third grade students meeting or exceeding standards of proficiency at levels three and four to 25 percent.

High school graduation rates for all students continue to increase, reaching 73 percent. Also, at the county level, mothers of all races accessing early prenatal care has increased to 69 percent.

Areas for improvement identified in the report include kindergarten readiness where only approximately 44 percent of children were considered school ready in 2021.

The report also showed a major gap in the racial diversity of teachers and the students they serve, with at least 75 percent of teachers identifying as white while 86 percent of the students identified as African American or Hispanic.

To view the complete report and to find out how community members can help combat racial equity, child poverty and poor academic outcomes, visit