The Annie E. Casey Foundation: Helping vulnerable kids & families succeed

Community Change

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2001 National Honors Program Honorees

San Antonio, Texas - Founded 27 years ago, AVANCE embodies the belief of its founder and executive director, Gloria Rodriquez that "parenting makes the difference," especially for kids growing up in the poor neighborhoods of San Antonio and across Texas. To support parents in making the difference, AVANCE offers parenting classes, literacy, GED and college courses plus career counseling and job training. By hiring program participants for some 80 percent of its staff, AVANCE bolsters the neighborhood economy and gives residents powerful role models.


Babyland Family Services Inc.
Newark, N.J. - Babyland opened in 1969 in the wake of the devastating racial unrest of 1967. Mary Smith, the founder and executive director, set out to attract jobs to Newark, but then realized urban mothers needed infant day care before they could work. Over time, Babyland has followed this same common sense approach, expanding its infant day care center to encompass parenting classes, adult education, job training and community support in eight low-income areas of Newark and South Orange.


Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe
El Paso, Texas - More than three decades ago, a group of mothers frustrated by the lack of health care available in the barrios founded their own clinic. Today, Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe (The Faith Family Health Center) is a neighborhood anchor, offering low-cost health care to 17,000 people a year. Through advocacy and community organizing, La Fe also challenges the environmental, economic and social conditions that undermine family success in El Paso's poorest neighborhoods.


Family Services Research Center
Charleston, S.C. - "This program changed our lives," says Gail Pinder. Pinder found a lifeline at the Family Services Research Center, developers of the Multisystemic Therapy (MST) approach to help parents succeed with highly troubled youth. An intense four-month regimen keeps youngsters at home while it involves families, friends, schools and communities and teaches coping skills. MST is known for its rigorously documented success along with its cost-savings and has been adopted by programs around the country.


Freeport West
Minneapolis, Minn. - Founded in 1970 by a group of activist youth as a shelter for runaway teenagers, Freeport West is now a multi-faceted, community-based organization. Through programs such as the Community Living Room - an informal gathering place where neighbors come together to solve problems - Freeport West builds bridges between formal and informal systems of support.


Highbridge Community Life Center
New York, N.Y. - In the South Bronx, Highbridge Community Life Center aims to help residents become self-sufficient by building a range of neighborhood resources simultaneously, including housing, healthy youth development, job readiness and employment. With support from HCLC, residents wield the power of a community acting together. "One voice you can't hear, but give me 500 voices, and you will hear us," says Yolanda Romero, a resident who got involved to make the neighborhood a better place for families.


Rheedlen Centers For Children And Families
New York, N.Y. - Block by block, the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families fight to help families succeed, with the neighborhoods of Central Harlem supporting them, so their children can thrive. "We have to work with whole communities so they can support children, not be the barriers that children must overcome," said Geoffrey Canada, Rheedlen's founder. Rheedlen offers a family support center, parenting classes, health care services and access to computer training. Rheedlen also worked with the city-wide Beacons program to turn the Countee Cullen School into a recreation, social service and community center during non-school hours.


Durham, N.C. - More than two decades ago, Martin Eakes and Bonnie Wright realized that laid-off textile workers needed capital even more than sound advice to create stable futures. Eakes and Wright started Self-Help, which became one of the nation's leading community development financial institutions. Acting on the belief that owning tangible assets is one of the most effective ways to help low-income families develop family economic security, Self-Help has provided more than $700 million in loans to low-income and minority borrowers for homes, businesses and community facilities.