Education and Youth

While the Mayor does not have direct control over schools and educational attainment, the City of Rochester can be a supportive, forceful and responsible partner with the Rochester City School District.  It is in all of our best interests to have the RCSD succeed in improving educational outcomes for our students. Under a Sheppard administration, we will be ready to take on this critical challenge.


Where We Are:

Rochester now ranks first in childhood poverty among cities its size nationally, and first in extreme poverty (Rochester Area Community Foundation, 2016). The Rochester City School District’s graduation rate is only 47%: our urban population is under-educated, with children enrolled in an under-resourced school system persistently “in need of improvement” (NYS Department of Education), whose schools are located in areas plagued by high crime and entrenched poverty.

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Our Path Forward:

We will change the way we approach education in the City of Rochester through a student and family first agenda built on a foundation of unity, transparency and inclusion.


Youth And Family Support Centers

Youth and families must feel supported in our City. In order to achieve this, we will provide services that are more accessible and in our neighborhoods. As Mayor, I will bring the Student & Family Support Center model to our Recreation Centers:

  • A working partnership supported by City Hall staff and community agencies. We will dedicate a staff coordinator and ask community partners to coordinate their programs and recruit participants there.
  • Families will find information on college, jobs, and city resources. These sites will include information, resources and networking, and provide access to educational and employment opportunities.
  • These Centers will also be tasked with developing engaging workshops to help expose individuals to important skills and development.

Rochester Goes 2 College

To deliver on the promise of a brighter and more prosperous future for our citizens, as Mayor, I will start the Rochester Goes 2 College initiative.  Building on the model from Philadelphia, PA, we will encourage and assist all Rochesterians who are interested to enroll in some form of higher education.

  • The Youth and Family Support Centers will offer college and financial aid counseling and life skills training for citizens provided by Rochester Area Colleges (RAC). We will ask existing federal college prep programs such as Upward Bound (UB), Educational Talent Search (ETS), Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) and others to share expertise and college preparation curriculum to help enroll more individuals into their programs and assist them in navigating the college going process.
  • We will ask for commitments from RAC staff and programs to make the City of Rochester an increased area of focus in their recruitment and outreach efforts and create a college-going culture.

Rochester Goes 2 Work

Not all of our students will want to take the college path.  Those that don’t should be supported in finding a good job that pays a living wage.  As Mayor, I will start the complementary initiative, Rochester Goes 2 Work, a partnership between City Hall, employers, contractors, labor unions and the Rochester City School District to help develop educational initiatives focused on increasing the employability of City residents and assisting them in finding a job. 

  • Career Pathways to the Building and Construction Trades: The building trades (bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and pipefitters, masons etc.) provide an avenue for individuals to a meaningful career while earning a living wage. These trades jobs are the backbone of our community, providing quality service and craftsmanship, while providing opportunities for our citizens. We will work with the RCSD and the Rochester Building and Construction Trades to develop a Pre-Apprenticeship Program, which will allow Rochester students the chance to get connected with the trades, take part in training, and receive the support and guidance they need throughout the process to be successful.
  • Building Business and Financial Literacy: Whether searching for employment, buying and/or maintaining a home, or building finances, people cannot be successful without business, housing and financial literacy. Our citizens must be introduced to and cultivate important skills through exposure and training.  Our Family and Youth Support Centers will offer training programs to include:
  • Financial Literacy for Personal Finance and Small Businesses
  • Home Maintenance and Economics
  • Business Etiquette and Career Advancement

Expand Teen Empowerment Into The NE and NW Quadrants

Teen Empowerment is a proven model of youth leadership development and employment that has made a real difference in the lives of young people in Rochester’s Southwest Quadrant.  We will work with TE leadership to expand into the Northeast and Northwest Quadrants, so that young people across the City have real opportunities to change their lives and improve their neighborhoods at the same time.

Support Strong RCSD Programs

I want to support what works. Despite the challenges in the RCSD, there are models and practices within the District that provide students with excellent educational opportunities and pathways to graduation.  We will work to replicate and expand the following programs:

P-Tech and Optics Program:  Information technology training must have a central focus in the RCSD to prepare students for work in Rochester’s photonics and optics companies.

  • Teaching and Learning Institute:  The Teaching and Learning Institute (TLI) at East High School is a four-year magnet program designed to attract students who are interested in careers in education and leadership. Its aim is to diversify the district’s faculty by adding proactive leadership from our community. With a ~90% graduation rate, TLI accomplishes this goal by preparing students for success in college, giving them work experience in high school, and offering students a rigorous curriculum relevant to their lives.
  • Career Pathways to Public Safety Program:  This program is a great way to expose RCSD students to the City’s public safety community and serves the dual purpose of providing a pipeline of diverse and local students to our police, fire, EMS and emergency communications workforces.
  • School of the Arts:  It’s critical that the RCSD offers a variety of educational experiences. With an important focus on the arts, SOTA boasts a 80% graduation rate that it achieves through rigorous, interesting and engaging curriculum that motivates students to stay in school and graduate on time.
  • Pre-K and Early Education:  I will be a strong advocate with the RCSD and other community partners to press New York State for additional funding to expand early education, to include: Universal Pre-K for all three year-olds; child care subsidies for working families; and more screening for young children to identify developmental delays and get them help.

Regional Magnet Schools

We know that one of the most challenging issues facing the RCSD is the fact that so many of its students are growing up in extreme poverty.  Studies have shown that children have better educational outcomes if they are learning in economically diverse classrooms.

Great Schools 4 All, a local consortium of educational experts and community leaders, recently completed a survey that showed that an overwhelming number of Monroe County parents want their children’s schools to be more diverse. 

Regional magnet schools can provide an opportunity for children from different economic and social backgrounds to learn together. Magnet schools are public schools that can draw from both the City and towns by offering unique and specialized programming.  I would like to see the first regional magnet school on the Eastman Business Park campus in Northwest Rochester, offering a high-tech STEM curriculum and a direct entry into internships and employment at EBP.

Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.
— Nelson Mandela

Together We Can

While the Mayor does not have direct control over schools and educational attainment, the City of Rochester can be a supportive, forceful and responsible partner with the Rochester City School District.  It is in all of our best interests to have the RCSD succeed in improving educational outcomes for our students. Under my administration, we will be ready to take on this critical challenge.

If you care about our youth like I do, add your name to support my education and youth plan.

Spread The Word

It takes passion, energy, ideas and healthy dialogue to make change; and I know that many of you are aching for change.

I promise that I will deliver that change – but I cannot do it without your help. If you like what I have to say and what I stand for, please help me right now by sharing my plan for education and youth.