Advancing what works takes focus.

Our community has many programs and organizations to help children—one by one, or year by year. But few efforts actually help change the system for all children, particularly our most vulnerable, over the long run. That’s where we come in.

The Children’s Agenda was founded in 2004 after a multi-year planning process initiated by the Rochester Area Community Foundation to address three things missing for children and youth in Monroe County:


  1. Advocacy for policy and funding changes that get to the root of problems, independent of and impartial towards any particular service, program, or provider.
  2. Evidence-based expertise and understanding of what’s effective and proven to work, and commitment to championing that.
  3. Focus on the entire cradle-to-career continuum, spanning issues and ages for a whole-child approach that includes an integrated system of support and care.

In answering this call, The Children’s Agenda speaks out about what needs to change while also acting as an “invisible glue” behind the scenes, serving on committees related to children’s issues and aligning community groups and leaders around a common vision: lasting progress for children and youth.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter reflected in her message of appreciation:

“It was not until The Children’s Agenda was formed that one particular organization took action on what is needed most and what works best for our children.”

In honor of our tenth anniversary, County Executive Maggie Brooks officially proclaimed Thursday, November 20, 2014 to be “The Children’s Agenda Day” in Monroe County.

Our Mission

The Children’s Agenda improves the health, education, and success of our community’s children and youth, especially the most vulnerable, through advocacy for evidence-based solutions and policy change at the local, state, and federal levels.

Our Vision

All children in our community thrive in body, mind, and spirit through young adulthood so they become healthy, productive citizens. The intended results of our vision include the following:


  • Our children are born healthy into families that provide them with safe and nurturing environments.
  • Our children are prepared to learn and attend quality schools.
  • Our children are prepared to be successful adults, responsible citizens, and productive, happy members of our community.

The Children’s Agenda improves the lives of children, youth, and families in Monroe County through:


  • Budget analyses: We share annual, detailed analyses of proposed city, county, and state budgets on children and youth.
  • Reports on local children’s outcome indicators: We give periodic progress reports on the health, education, and well-being of children, working together with ACT Rochester, ROC the Future, and the Center for Governmental Research.
  • Support for evidence-based solutions and systemic, transformational policy change: We ensure that programs with proven results—like Nurse Family Partnership and Coping Power—are adopted locally, and we champion “Big Ideas for Little Kids,” including implementation of social impact bonds and Youth Master Plans.
  • Advocacy on local, state, and federal public policy and funding decisions: We mobilize our 3,400-person online grassroots Advocacy Network, meet regularly with area elected officials and their staff, and organize leaders in the faith, business, and health care communities as advocates for children.
  • Collaborative partnerships: We provide lead staff for ROC the Future and the new Rochester’s Leadership Council for Healthy Weight chaired by Mayor Warren. We co-chair the statewide Winning Beginning committee on early childcare and help lead the Early Childhood Development Initiative, Greater Rochester After-School Alliance, and others.
  • Interfaith advocacy: We lead The Children’s Agenda Interfaith Collaborative, including 33 leading area denominations and more than 93 congregations that participate in the annual Children’s Sabbath.

In her proclamation honoring our tenth anniversary, Mayor Warren recognized The Children’s Agenda’s service “to move Rochester and our entire community in a cohesive, collaborative path toward ‘lifting all boats’—with a unified community rally cry of ‘Every child our child: precious with bright futures.’”