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In the News

“Trenton Kids Count” Community Conversations and Action

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

The Trenton Kids Count 2023 report highlighting the health and well-being of children and their families in Trenton, NJ has been bringing together community organizations for further conversations and collaborations on how to help children and families thrive. See below for more details on these “Community Conversations.”

Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) led the compilation of this report, with support from The Burke Foundation, Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF), and the Smith Family Foundation, as well as from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, which launched the “Kids Count” national effort years ago.

The Smith Family Foundation hosted the kick-off release of the report and the first of the “Community Conversations.” Leaders from the Smith Family Foundation, ACNJ, Burke Foundation, PACF, and many other organizations have enthusiastically engaged in action-oriented discussions about how to collaborate to help children and families flourish. Lambent Data’s Co-founder and CEO Kirsten Hund Blair has been glad to engage with these and many other committed community participants in the kick-off event releasing the report and the subsequent “Community Conversations.”

“Community Conversations” on Education and on Health and Human Services have occurred. The next “Community Conversations” will be April 19th (on Juvenile Justice and Crime) and May 17 (Housing and Economics). To register prior to these events, please scroll down on this page which also includes the full downloadable Trenton Kids Count 2023 report.

The kick-off event, which drew over 160 people, featured remarks from Charles Venti (ACNJ Board Chair) and Atiya Weiss (Burke Foundation Executive Director), before Alena Siddiqui (ACNJ Kids Count Coordinator) presented highlights from the report. Mary Coogan (ACNJ President and CEO) then gave further remarks.

Jeff Vega (PACF President & CEO) offered reflections and introduced a luminary panel. The panelists engaging in a lively and action-oriented discussion included Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (NJ Assemblywoman), Dr. Rachael Evans (Henry J. Austin Health Center Chief Medical Officer), Denise Kreiss (Trenton Public Schools Parent Coordinator), and Eleanor Horne (PACF Trustee Emeritus), who served as moderator. Art from Trenton children was featured in displays behind the panelists’ table. The four panelists then welcomed Q&A from audience participants.

After the panel Q&A, Ms. Weiss introduced Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, who noted the importance of the report and continued community collaborations. Then Tyrell Smith (Board Treasurer of the Smith Family Foundation) introduced Katherine Nunnally (Executive Director and CEO of the Smith Family Foundation), who closed the formal portion of the event with inspiring remarks. Participants then continued engaging in informal discussions throughout the large room.

The subsequent “Community Conversations” events have focused on various topics in “deep dives.” Some of the meeting time highlights the data and key programs – and most of the time is devoted to active “roundtable discussions” among all participants, with “guiding questions” for all participants to discuss and to which to write responses. Participants also continue to engage with one another after the events, including planning for next steps in ongoing and new programs.

Some photos from the kick-off event and subsequent events (the Education program at the Smith Family Foundation and the Health and Human Services program at Mercer County Community College in Trenton) are included here. At the launch event, in addition to numerous photos of the speakers, Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson is also pictured with Ms. Blair.

At the Education Community Conversation, Ed Greene of Ed Greene Strategies and Ms. Blair are pictured; he is an early education expert and they have engaged on various topics over the years, having first met at a Head Start Innovation conference.

For more details, including quotes from area leaders, please visit the Launch News Release and Launch Event Photos on the Advocates for Children of NJ website, which also includes tabs for the Launch Event Recording and Launch Slides highlighting the report.


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