Approximately one year ago, The Children’s Aid Society and Phipps Neighborhoods joined forces to develop a cradle-through-college-and-career pathway initiative for the South Bronx. With a $300,000 planning grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the project employed an emerging model of multi-sector collaboration, known as collective impact, to promote student success in a community where 65 percent of children are born into poor families and just 7 percent of adults are college graduates.
On Friday, February 28, the newly named South Bronx Rising Together initiative, met its first goals. Leaders from the education, civic and nonprofit sectors convened at the Collective Impact Design Institute at Hostos Community College, in the heart of the South Bronx, to work on a set of objectives that included developing a common set of well-being and academic indicators of a college bound trajectory; how to support and partner with neighborhood schools; how to utilize data to identify student and community needs and monitor progress and how to connect them to community services and opportunities that reduce barriers to learning.
“It was important to have many key stakeholders there to help shape and guide this work. We received a tremendous amount of feedback – both affirming and critical – from the very energized and engaged group,” said Abe Fernández, Director of Collective Impact at Children’s Aid. “There is still much thinking and planning to do, of course, but we have what appears to be a strong foundation of support and a community of folks who are ready to work together to change the odds for kids in the South Bronx.”
Collective impact—a strategy based on the premise that no single organization can affect large-scale, lasting social change alone—has already been applied successfully in areas such as Cincinnati through the Strive Together Partnership, which has seen an increase in Kindergarten readiness, high school graduation rates and college enrollment. South Bronx Rising Together will work to leverage its resources and mobilize any and all different sectors in the Bronx to help achieve the same kind of large-scale change.
As multi-service organizations with a trusted presence in the borough, Children’s Aid and Phipps Neighborhoods currently enjoy strong partnerships with principals, as well as robust staffing within full-service community schools, community centers, health centers and housing developments. Together, the agencies help meet some of the most critical needs of the community, including after-school and summer programs; parent engagement programs; licensed health, dental and mental health services; Head Start and Early Head Start; work programs for disconnected youth; preventive services; work readiness programs; financial literacy programs; foster care; and domestic violence treatment. As a “backbone” to the collective impact strategy, the two agencies will continue to develop the infrastructure needed to bring stakeholders together to develop and respond to a common agenda in the South Bronx.