For decades, Children’s Aid and Phipps Neighborhoods have supported the success of children and families in the South Bronx community. While proud of the impact we have made in the lives of individual children and families, we — like so many others — were frustrated that we were not achieving the large-scale social impact required to revitalize this once vibrant community. With a shared understanding that all community stakeholders need to collaborate in a deeper way to bring about transformational change, we partnered in 2014 to launch South Bronx Rising Together.
Our work was inspired early on by a vision that emerged from a series of conversations with students, families, service providers, community leaders, elected officials, and other stakeholders: we envision the South Bronx as a vibrant community of infinite opportunity, where people aspire to live, work, and raise families.
This is a bold vision for any community to strive for, but even more so for the South Bronx – a place that has been the canonical image of urban blight and inequity since the 1960s and which has endured decades of neglect and injustice. On nearly every measure of well-being and social capital, the Bronx has lagged behind other counties across New York State.
Bronx Community District 3 (CD3) is our geographic focus. CD3 is situated within the congressional district identified by the 2010 Census as the poorest in the country. Youth face seemingly insurmountable odds from an early age, as more than 83% are born into poverty. As they transition to school, adolescence, and early adulthood, the outcomes only worsen for too many of them. Four in five third-graders read below grade level, nearly 40% of K-12 students are chronically absent, only one in five students who complete high school are ready for college and career, and fewer than one in 10 adults have earned a four-year college degree.
Yet, despite these vast and diverse challenges, the South Bronx has a rich history with a robust group of community partners providing critical support and services to engaged community members that are committed to its success. There is a tremendous amount of existing capacity in the region to be connected and leveraged in support of children and youth.