A Brief History of 20/20 Vision for Schools since 2005

February 2005 Billy Graham Breakfast: The Coalition of Urban Youth Workers (“Coalition”) hosted 787 youth workers at a breakfast in February 2005 anticipating the 2005 Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade. One of the presenters asked how many in the audience were paid to do youth ministry.  The three-dozen mostly para-church hands that went up vividly captured the picture Jesus painted of a plentiful harvest (2 million children and youth in NYC / 5 million in NY Metro) and too few laborers.

Spring/Fall 2005 Coalition Gatherings. Coalition members began praying earnestly for a strategy to redefine “youth minister” to include any believer who maintains a meaningful relationship with any young person, especially those connected to schools such as students, parents, and teachers.

January 2006 Pastors Prayer Summit (“PPS”): The Coalition challenged nearly 300 Greater New York pastors and ministry leaders to consider what might happen if New York City’s 7,100 churches actually prayed for its public schools. “Dare we expect God to answer those prayers?” Even better, what if those churches became answers to prayers by serving the schools in meaningful ways?

2007-2009 Capacity Building. Inspired in part by the presentation he heard at the 2006 PPS, Rev. Dr. Raymond Rivera of Latino Pastoral Action Center invited the Coalition to partner with the federally funded LPAC Transforming Youth Capacity Building Project for three years to design and launch 20/20 Vision for Schools.

Summer 2007 Paint the Town. Also inspired by the PPS, Rev. Gary Frost, then executive director of the Metro NY Baptist Association, provided $100K to ten NYC churches to beautify city public schools as part of Paint the Town, as early prototypes for future 20/20 school adoptions.

January – August 2008 Organizing. The Coalition began promoting 20/20 Vision for Schools and training early adopters in anticipation of a September launch.

Summer 2008 Partnership. The Coalition and New York City Leadership Center established 20/20 Vision for Schools as a partnership between the two entities in an effort to model intergenerational leadership and collaboration.

September 18 Conversation. 20/20 Vision convened 120 multi-sector leaders with “An Urgent Appeal to Engage a Generation at Risk” on September 18, 2008. Executives from the business, government, religious, education, and social sectors gathered “to initiate an actionable plan and model to help New York City school-aged youth reach their highest potential.” Among the guests: Newark Mayor Cory Booker; former president of the Girl Scouts of America and founding chair of the Leader-to-Leader Institute Francis Hesselbein; Former Philadelphia Mayor and Amachi founder Dr. Wilson Goode; Service Master founder William Pollard; and former congressman and pastor of Allen Cathedral Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake. Organizations represented included: the United Federation of Teachers, Teach For America, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Cornell University, New York University, Deutsche Bank, M&T Bank, WMCA Radio/Salem Communications, Dow Corning Corp., Princeton Theological Seminary, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, American Express Business Travel, The West Paces Hotel Group, World Vision, Latino Pastoral Action Center, Pomeroy Capital Hedge Fund, and others.  The resulting Action Plan served as the roadmap for 20/20’s first two years.

September 20 Launch. 20/20 Vision hoped to launch with 71 churches and organizations committed to adopting one school within walking distance for meaningful advocacy and service.  Instead, after a launch event featuring Rick Warren and Dr. A.R. Bernard attended by 1,500 leaders, more than twice that number registered.

Fall 2008 Seed Funding. Lead gifts from M&T Bank and Salem Communications empowered 20/20 to hire a project manager to begin executing its Action Plan.

2008-2009 Academic Year. 20/20 introduced its four levels of training in collaboration with various training partners: Inspirational/Visionary (Level 1); Engagement How-to’s (Level 2); Best Practice Programs and Service Models (Level 3); Capacity Building (Level 4). By June 2009, more than 190 organizations had registered to adopt schools.

2008-2009 Visibility. Early national exposure through Urban Youth Workers Institute, Youth Specialties, and media reports catalyzed calls from Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and elsewhere to replicate 20/20 nationally.

September 2009 “Kickin’ It Old Skool.” 20/20 Vision collaborated with Latino Pastoral Action Center’s Transforming Youth Capacity Building Project to organize the first fully student-led student leadership conference in memory at Washington Irving High School.

January 2010 Executive Director Hiring. Executives from Salem Communications, American Express, and Turkey Hill provided funding that empowered 20/20 to hire its lead architect and visionary as its first executive director.  Jeremy Del Rio, Esq., had previously served 20/20 through the LPAC TY Project as a strategic planning, organizational development, marketing, and program design consultant since 2007.

May 2010 Prayer Initiative. Piloted “I Am My Schools” with 10 prayer walks in Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens for scalable replication citywide.

May 2010 Vision Sundays. Piloted 20/20 Vision Sunday service to create awareness of educational justice and mobilize volunteers.

June 2010 Reload 1.2.3. Nurtured a culture of student leadership at a regional youth leader training attended by 500 leaders by requiring 40 conference trainers and general session speakers to integrate “Plus-1” student protégés into their content delivery.

Fall 2010 Strategic Operational Planning.  Evaluated 20/20′s first two years as an awareness campaign. Recognized need to build internal capacity to support stakeholders and facilitate meaningful partnerships. Resolved to incorporate 20/20 in 2011 and designed a three-year Demonstration Project to substantiate outcomes and quantify results.

2011 Corporate Formation and Capacity Building. Secured pro bono legal counsel to facilitate corporation formation and tax exemption processes. Secured founding board. Developed long-term fund and board development strategies.