Dear ACT Colleagues and Partners,
After twenty-one years, Agenda for Children Tomorrow (ACT) is closing its doors. ACT opened as a public/private initiative in 1990 with a commitment to strengthening the voices of neighborhood residents and improving access and efficiency through a system of neighborhood-based services. We worked alongside government agencies as well as community service providers, residents and advocates. ACT has worked tirelessly to make a substantial difference in the way that New York City conceives of and provides assistance to families and children.
While ACT had deep roots inside city government, it has long benefitted from and depended on both private and public sources of funding. We are grateful for the longstanding support and commitment from both the public and private sectors.
In the spirit of ACT’s history, the Advisory Board plans to convene a final public forum early in the new year to discuss the future of neighborhood strategies for the accessibility and integration of services.
For now, we want to highlight some of ACT’s many proud successes. Our hope is that these accomplishments will continue to stimulate and spawn enthusiasm for successor efforts. Some of our more noteworthy accomplishments include:
- Neighborhood based data collection - ACT played a leading role in introducing the use of GIS (geographic information systems), focus groups and interdisciplinary needs assessments in order to inform locally based planning for human services. ACT promoted the assessment methods developed in Dartington, England and later adopted by the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS).
- Redeployment of city services and funding to communities - ACT helped ACS craft a strategy to redeploy $1 billion in nonprofit contracts to neighborhoods.
- Community Coalitions - Based on the success of the ACT Collaboratives in the early 1990’s, ACT inspired the Administration for Children’s Services to form neighborhood networks and, eventually, to develop 11 funded Community Coalitions.
- Economic Development - ACT Collaboratives brought millions of dollars to Mott Haven for job creation and helped start a credit union in Washington Heights.
- Citywide Convener - Through three mayoral administrations, ACT fostered honest dialogue, collaboration and integrated planning across sectors and communities in a safe place set apart from the conflicts and divisions of the day.
- IMPACT Family Resource Center - ACT’s IMPACT Family Resource Center in Bushwick developed what has often been referred to as a stellar model of parent outreach and engagement. We strived to move beyond parent involvement and reach the pinnacle of community-driven programming. IMPACT’s effectiveness was documented in an evaluation by Metis Associates.
- Technical Assistance - ACT provided high quality and hands-on technical assistance to coalitions and organizations across the city. One example is Bridge Builders in Highbridge, Bronx. ACT organized the formation of the original coalition and for seven years provided technical assistance that allowed it to flourish and eventually incorporate into a freestanding nonprofit that is reducing the rate of foster care placement and strengthening Highbridge families.
- Cultural Brokers - ACT managed the Immigration Demonstration Project launched by ACS in 2007. One component of that project - cultural brokers - has been incorporated into the work of ACS community coalitions. Representatives from immigrant constituencies attend child safety conferences and help prevent cultural misunderstandings that could lead to foster care placement.
- Service Integration - ACT’s case conferencing models have improved service integration at the neighborhood level. One City/One Community based in Bedford Stuyvesant from 2005 - 2008, was often acknowledged as an outstanding demonstration project of service integration involving 13 city agencies. ACT developed and operated One City/One Community under the leadership of city government leaders. An evaluation of the model completed by Brandeis University is well utilized by many partners.
- Early Child Care and Education - ACT promoted the adoption of Universal Pre-Kindergarten, provided support for informal childcare providers, and developed a model for Kindergarten transition.
- Mentoring and Professional Development - ACT consistently worked to engage college students, graduate students and human service professionals and supported their development. Hundreds of students and professionals came through ACT’s doors and moved on to make contributions in government, public service, academia and nonprofit organizations. ACT remains quite proud of its efforts to engage and advance the development of those with a commitment to service.
Our IMPACT center closed its storefront office in Bushwick on September 30, 2011. We are very pleased to announce that Grand Street Settlement has taken on some of IMPACT’s programs at its Bushwick child care center. IMPACT Parent Advocates are conducting family activities there on Thursday mornings. Former IMPACT staff members are in the process of training Grand Street staff in its approach to outreach, family engagement and parent leadership.
The administrations of Mayors Dinkins, Giuliani and Bloomberg for their support of ACT, even during difficult fiscal times;
Numerous city agencies, and in particular the Administration for Children Services, under the leadership of Commissioners Scoppetta, Bell and Mattingly for incorporating ACT’s vision, and for essential support of ACT’s operations and staff;
The New York Community Trust and the United Way of New York City - our founding funders;
The many funders over our 21-year history (too many to list here);
The private and public sector leaders who sat on ACT’s Executive Committee, Advisory Board and Oversight Committee;
The community partners in many beautiful and strong neighborhoods throughout New York City;
The Fund for the City of New York for its outstanding support of ACT as one of its projects;
ACT’s hardworking and dedicated staff;
ACT’s interns and volunteers who each continue the mission and spread the word;
Barbara Blum for her steadfast support of ACT in its early years;and
ACT Founding Leaders Eric Brettschneider and Anthea McLaughlin for their vision and perseverance.
The ACT Advisory Board