April 2020 E-News

It’s All About the Students (Or Should Be)

The Children’s Agenda is here to make sure the needs of children are at the center of our public discourse.  Whomever our elected and appointed leaders in Rochester are, they have to put the needs of children first. Recent news stories about the now-exiting Superintendent of the Rochester City Schools District (RCSD) have diverted attention from a very serious and damaging school budget. The ones suffering the most from the RCSD budget cuts and the constant churn in superintendents are not the elected leaders or administrators; it’s the students. 

No school district should be forced to choose between essential services for students and balancing its budget. These cuts will have deep negative impacts on children’s academic and social-emotional development for a generation. The structural inequities that put Rochester in this position cannot be solved by any super-Superintendent, let alone local leaders. The community must unite around what children truly deserve, and seek to change the policies at the state and national level that keep Rochester from every truly succeeding. The Children’s Agenda will fight for long-term solutions, which starts with adequate state funding for public education though Foundation Aid.

Meanwhile, The Children’s Agenda will continue to put forth solutions that make the best of a terrible situation, particularly for our most vulnerable children. Right now, our local public discussion should be about which budget cuts will do the least harm to the children RCSD serves and ensure that budgetary decisions are made equitably. 

Click here to contact the RCSD Board and let your voice be heard.  Your voice is important.  We are already seeing indicators that changes to the proposed budget are happening.  The latest presentation to the public indicated that the Pre-K center at School #57 will not be opened, 216 pre-k slots are being returned to the CBO's who have done the work in the past, and money is being used to restore parent engagement positions.  Additionally, 12 social workers are being added back to the budget and 8 positions are being added back to Special Education.  These are big wins in a time of extreme difficulty.

Read Our RCSD Budget Report

Links to Related Stories

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$10,000 Matching Gift Highlights #GivingTuesdayNow on 5-5-2020

The way in which our community is responding to the COVID-19 crisis is inspiring: brave frontline workers, generous giving, volunteers mobilizing... Businesses, nonprofits, and individuals -- we all play our parts. 

While the spaces in which we do our work may have changed, The Children’s Agenda’s work itself has not. Our advocacy never stops, our research on smart choices continues, and our work for a bold future where systems work for kids has only begun.

On May 5, 2020, The Children’s Agenda is participating in #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of unity and giving.

As you know, the critical needs for our community’s most vulnerable children and families hasn’t stopped in this unprecedented time. What we do to give children and families a voice, especially now, when inequities and system imbalances have been even further exposed, is going to be even more important.

That's why we need your help!

We ask you to please do whatever you can to support The Children’s Agenda. Not only do we need your support, we need your help to spread the word. Please start a fundraiser and tell your friends and family why you believe in our work and encourage them to support us too! Attracting 50 donors to our cause during #GivingTuesdayNow will give us the confidence we need to plan our advocacy activities for the rest of the year.

To inspire and give us a head start for #GivingTuesdayNow, incoming TCA Board Chair, Bill Destler and his wife, Rebecca Johnson, are offering The Children's Agenda a $10,000 matching gift.  Please use our links to spread the work, create a peer to peer fundraiser, and/or make a gift!  

Thank you!


Save the Date

May 5, 2020

#GivingTuesdayNow logo

ROC the Future Report Shines Light on Digitial Divide in Rochester

The digital divide in Rochester has been exacerbated by the current pandemic.

The report shows the digital divide has disproportionate impact on Rochester’s Black/African America community, followed by the Hispanic/Latino communities.

It is thanks to the Rochester Black Agenda Group that this issue began surfacing during the current pandemic.

The report was written to inform immediate responses to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. The response should also accelerate long-term systemic changes to bridge the digital divide in a substantial and sustainable ways. Inside, the report describes:

  • Digital infrastructure in Rochester
  • Computer and mobile device ownership
  • Internet subscriptions
  • COVID impact on education
  • Parent views on education during the pandemic
  • Student views on education during the pandemic

Finally, some initial ideas for opportunities to bridge the digital divide are suggested. Click here to read the report.

Reflections from the recent Stand Against Racism

by Larry Marx, CEO, The Children’s Agenda

The YWCA’s Stand Against Racism was last week, an event The Children’s Agenda has participated in since it began.  As a white man, I’ve struggled with how to make this event meaningful — not because I doubt its importance, but because of its staggering importance.  Any branded buttons, articles, educational events, or days devoted “against” it seem to fail to rise to any consequence.  There’s a Grand Canyon of difference between using phrases like “woke” for self-congratulatory advertising or for applause from the already-converted (like so many social media posts) — versus taking action in the world to root out something as insidious and all-permeating as racism.

My 16 year-old daughter recently introduced me to a great song... (Read More)


Child Care In Wake of COVID-19 Crisis Focus of New Poll

The Children’s Agenda is pleased to help lead Raising NY, a diverse statewide coalition of parent, early childhood, education, civil rights, business, and health organizations. This coalition is dedicated to increasing the number of children birth to age three who are on track for school readiness. This coalition recently commissioned a poll of families in New York State with children birth to age 3 to assess how their lives have changed since the onset of COVID-19. The findings from the poll, released today, should be alarming to anyone concerned about the well-being of young children in our community.

  • Parents of infants and toddlers across New York State are experiencing extraordinary financial insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic, with one in three (34%) indicating that they are skipping or reducing meals and one in ten (11%) saying they are skipping or reducing meals for their children.
  • Unemployment and loss ... Read More . . .

TCA Releases Analysis of New York State Budget

New York State’s FY21 Enacted Budget was approved in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, with a truncated negotiation process and votes taken in the state Senate and Assembly under social distancing protocols. Going into January, a large Medicaid deficit appeared to be the biggest challenge facing New York’s fiscal situation. By March, steep drops in tax revenue due to large losses in the stock market and unprecedented unemployment became even bigger threats.

The enacted budget includes a provision that has never been invoked before, allowing the Governor to adjust the budget at three points during the fiscal year – April 30, June 30, and December 31 – if revenue varies more than 1% ($1 billion) from the estimates built into the budget passed April 2, 2020.  The budget was balanced with $11 billion in borrowing and an infusion of federal Coronavirus relief funds.



Maintaining Normal and Positive Family Routines During COVID-19

UR Medicine Golisano Children's Hospital Video Features ROC the Future Staff

The UR Medicine Golisano Children's Hospital has been doing a series of videos during the COVID-19 crisis.  Everything from Helping Teens During Quarantine to Protecting Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

On Friday, April 17th, Tanishia Johnson and Jessica Lewis from ROC the Future were interviewed to discuss Maintaining Normal and Positive Family Routines.  Recognizing that parents are dealing a lot of stress during the pandemic, Tanishia and Jessica discuss how parents can manage "doing it all", engaging in self-care, managing routines, and staying positive.



James and Lorraine Ahearn  - Toyin Anderson - Christopher Bell - Martha Bush - Andrea Calabrese - Joe and Elisa Calabrese - Dianne Cooney Miner - Ganie DeHart  - William Destler and Rebecca Johnson - Meredith Dragon - Vincent Esposito - Gloria Forgione - Peter Gerbic - Barbara Green - David Hoffman - Catharine Kurz - M&T Charitable Foundation - Steve Planamenta and Kelly McCarthy - Dorothy Roach - Hank Rubin - Kristine Snyder - Sarah Stage - Ken and Mrs. Mollie Traub