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Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity Launches New Cross-Agency Innovations to Improve Services for New Yorkers

June 21, 2019

New YorkThe Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity) today announced the new projects that are launching in response to a “Call for Collaborative Innovations” it issued to all New York City government agencies. In September 2018, NYC Opportunity released the Call seeking proposals for how targeted funding could help agencies work together to improve outcomes for vulnerable residents. Recognizing that the challenges faced by City residents are often complex and multi-faceted, cutting across the responsibilities of individual agencies and organizations, the Call invited applicants to propose specific ways to improve resident outcomes through new collaborations.

Five new Collaborative Innovation initiatives will strengthen partnerships across New York City human services agencies to address poverty-related challenges more holistically. The initiatives seek to increase school attendance for students in temporary housing, expand adult education services for individuals departing jail and prison, improve physical spaces and staff training in domestic violence shelters, better align services for families and children, and enhance case management for street homeless clients. In addition to the five new projects, NYC Opportunity is also facilitating a multi-agency design process to produce more integrated and comprehensive support for job-seeking young adults and others with barriers to employment to start on a career pathway.

“We recognize that too often, people must navigate multiple offices and different programs to access what they need,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of NYC Opportunity. “This initiative asked City agencies to propose how they might be more effective for residents by working together, and they produced a set of meaningful, concrete actions that recognize the multifaceted nature of poverty-related challenges.”

The five Collaborative Innovation initiatives, which will launch in New York City Fiscal Year 2020 with a planned three-year investment totaling over $2 million annually from NYC Opportunity, include:

  • Improving Attendance for Students in Temporary Housing aims to improve school attendance rates for students residing in 25 homeless shelters across the city. The project will support enhanced inter-agency data coordination through a new data portal, better align joint professional development to strengthen coordinated case management between Department of Education and Department of Homeless Services staff, and strengthen coordination to improve transportation for students experiencing homelessness.
    Partner Agencies: Department of Education (DOE), Department of Homeless Services (DHS)

  • Environments Promoting Wellness and Resilience (EmPWR) will transform 15 domestic violence shelters over three years. The initiative will engage survivors and staff to enhance environments in the shelters, promoting wellness and supporting the social-emotional needs of survivors and their children. The initiative includes design enhancements to the built environment of the shelter as well as complementary training to support staff capacity to provide trauma-informed care.
    Partner Agencies: Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), Human Resources Administration (HRA), Administration for Children's Services (ACS)

  • Towards a Continuum of Citywide Support will work to maximize the City’s investments in family support services and ensure families can access the appropriate services at the right time. The Administration for Children's Services and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will partner with families, service providers, and key stakeholders to understand how families connect with and experience support services and develop strategies to refine referral pathways, improve families’ access to services, and promote positive child outcomes.
    Partner Agencies: Administration for Children's Services (ACS), Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)

  • Pathways to College and Careers is a collaboration between the CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice Prisoner Reentry Institute and the SUNY Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center that aims to improve education and workforce outcomes for adults leaving the Rikers Island Jail complex and New York State correctional facilities. The initiative will connect participants to high school equivalency preparation and testing, college access services and career training, as well as Individualized advisement, peer mentoring, and other educational and employment supports.
    Partner Agencies: City University of New York (CUNY); State University of New York (SUNY)

  • Integrated Case Management for Street Homeless Clients will enhance the ability of the Department of Homeless Services’s HOME-STAT to seamlessly track and manage cases and databases for New Yorkers experiencing unsheltered homelessness by expanding the StreetSmart system across facilities dedicated to serving unsheltered homeless individuals, such as Drop-In Centers (DICs) and Safe Havens. Full implementation of StreetSmart for case management purposes will give the agency and its not-for-profit social service and outreach provider partners more integrated and seamless access to data that can be used to improve tracking, engagement and coordination of services for clients throughout the rehousing process.
    Partner Agency: Department of Homeless Services (DHS)

“Through our strong partnership with DHS, we’re providing stability in schools and shelters to families facing unique challenges,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Thanks to the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, we’re increasing our data-sharing capabilities to further improve coordination between shelters and schools, and ensure we’re supporting students from the moment they wake up through the end of their day.”

“EmPWR will enrich the environments of domestic violence shelters to promote mental health and wellbeing. The program will empower and engage survivors and shelter staff to redesign physical spaces in the shelter while training staff to provide care that recognizes the impact of trauma. This is another way the Health Department is investing in environmental enhancements to support the wellbeing of New Yorkers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot

“All families need support to raise healthy, happy children. The collaborative effort between ACS, DOHMH and HRA aims to create efficient and effective tools that ultimately promote positive child outcomes. Through this work, we hope vulnerable New Yorkers have greater access to social-emotional supports and family-centered referral pathways. Thank you to the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity for investing in initiatives that will provide families with the resources they need to succeed,” said Administration for Children's Services Commissioner David A. Hansell.

“Education is transformational, especially for people building new lives for themselves after incarceration,” said Ann Jacobs, Executive Director of the CUNY John Jay College Prisoner Reentry Institute. “It creates hope and opportunity, increases income, improves health, and provides many benefits to the students’ children and families. Working in partnership with the Manhattan Education Opportunity Center, the Prisoner Reentry Institute now has a way to create a pathway to college for adult learners who have not yet earned their high school diploma and who aspire for more in their lives and for their families.”

“Thanks to partnerships across City Agencies that bring together a wide range of experts, data, and technology, this Administration continues to find innovative solutions to the challenges facing our City,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Through our collaboration with the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, we’re developing tools that will take our use of technology further, streamlining sharing of information so that we can most effectively support New Yorkers in need—from keeping families with children experiencing homelessness connected to key educational supports that provide invaluable stability to providing continued assistance to those working hard to get back on their feet from the streets. We look forward to continued teamwork on behalf of our City’s most vulnerable residents.”

In addition, the Department of Probation, Department of Youth & Community Development Office of Workforce Connect, HRA Office of Career Services, HRA Office of Child Support Services, and NYC Unity Project will take part in a one-year collaborative design process to develop new service navigation strategies. NYC Opportunity and partners will work together to develop cross-cutting, cross-agency solutions that support low-income youth and adults with barriers to employment to access education, workforce development and support services in a streamlined and easy to navigate way.

The Call for Collaborative Innovation was issued to all City government agencies and affiliated institutions, including CUNY. The winning proposals were selected based on a multi-stage review process. Each Collaborative Innovation initiative will receive ongoing support for implementation and monitoring, and possible formal evaluation, from the NYC Opportunity Programs & Evaluation team.

The Collaborative Innovation initiatives are informed by recommendations from the City’s Nonprofit Resiliency Committee. Launched in 2016 by Mayor de Blasio and chaired by Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio, the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee works to strengthen the City’s partnerships with nonprofit service providers. NYC Opportunity leads the committee’s “Collaborative Program Design” Workgroup in partnership with Children’s Aid, a leading New York City multi-service nonprofit child welfare organization.

About the Mayor's Office for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity)
NYC Opportunity uses evidence and innovation to reduce poverty and increase equity. It advances research, data and design in the City’s program and policy development, service delivery, and budget decisions. Its work includes analyzing existing anti-poverty approaches, developing new interventions, facilitating the sharing of data across City agencies, and rigorously assessing the impact of key initiatives. NYC Opportunity manages a discrete fund and works collaboratively with City agencies to design, test and oversee new programs and digital products. It also produces research and analysis of poverty and social conditions, including its influential annual Poverty Measure, which provides a more accurate and comprehensive picture of poverty in New York City than the federal rate. Part of the Mayor’s Office of Operations, NYC Opportunity is active in supporting the de Blasio administration’s priority to make equity a core governing principle across all agencies.

Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity