Last week, City Administrator Marc Nelson and Councilmember Yvonne Flowers were part of a local contingent representing the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet at a national conference hosted by the EdRedesign Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Mass.
As the Summer Retreat for Harvard’s By All Means initiative, the conference brought together Children’s Cabinet teams from a select group of communities nationwide, including Oakland, Calif; Louisville, Ky; and Providence, R.I.
Poughkeepsie is one of only 9 communities nationwide that have been accepted into the Harvard initiative, which provides support to mayors, superintendents and community leaders building Children’s Cabinets.
Speakers at the conference included national leaders and practitioners from organizations such as StriveTogether; Results for America; Harlem Children’s Zone; and the Children’s Funding Project — as well as prominent Harvard faculty including Professors Paul Reville (former Secretary of Education for Massachusetts) and Cornell William Brooks (former President and CEO of the NAACP).
“We learned a tremendous amount. The national organizations and our peer communities highlighted proven, evidence-based programs that we’re eager to explore further for Poughkeepsie,” said City Administrator Nelson. “There is clearly a national movement growing around Children’s Cabinets and, as a member of this select group at Harvard, we have an incredible opportunity to benefit from a wealth of resources, connections and supports.”
“It is inspiring and validating to see what communities such as Oakland and Providence who are many more years into this work have been able to accomplish. Clearly, the cross-sector approach of Children’s Cabinets works, and we’re excited to continue building our Cabinet with the support of Harvard and other national partners such as Harlem Children’s Zone,” said Councilmember Flowers.
The Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet is chaired by Mayor Rob Rolison and Poughkeepsie City School Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser and — as a coordinating body — brings together decision makers, leaders and community representatives to improve the lives of youth and families in the city. The Cabinet was formed in early 2020 in recognition of the fact that children spend 80 percent of their time out of the classroom and in the broader community.
Also attending the conference last week on behalf of the Cabinet were Kris Giangreco (Director of Special Projects, Poughkeepsie City School District); Andrea Reynolds (President & CEO, Dyson Foundation); Karmen Smallwood (Assistant Commissioner for Youth Services, Dutchess County); and James Watson (Co-Founder, Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet).
In addition to the support it receives from Harvard, the Children’s Cabinet recently formalized a partnership with the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) to help further its work. A team from HCZ’s William Julius Wilson Institute will be working closely with Cabinet staff, local leaders and community stakeholders to help build a cradle-to-career pipeline of programs, supports and services for children, youth and families in Poughkeepsie.