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Meriden Children First Strategic Planning RFP

Friday, July 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Melissa Touma
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Meriden Children First
Strategic Planning

Meriden Children First is a small nonprofit based in Meriden, Connecticut, which provides services relating to improving lives and outcomes of children in the community. The organization combines advocacy, outreach to families in our Meriden Family Zone, and parent trainings and workshops to accomplish its goals and tackle issues prioritized by the board each year. It is the mission of Meriden Children First to improve educational, social, and health outcomes of young children in Meriden.

Stimulating parent leadership is a central approach to this work. We evaluate all our programs utilizing Results Based Accountability (RBA) where we are most concerned if the participants we serve are “better off” because of our services.

Meriden Children First has a long history of providing outreach services to the most hard-to-reach families in the community. Based on the nationally recognized Harlem Children Zone, Meriden Children First established the Meriden Family Zone, which is one-square mile area in the downtown section of the city. The problems here are profound. Compared to the city as a whole, a family residing in this Family Zone is twice as likely to be living in poverty, three times more likely to be unemployed, twice as likely to be the victim of a crime, more likely to rent instead of owning their home, and likely to be suffering from indicators stemming from poverty such as poor mental health, asthma, and disconnected from nearby available resources.

In order to serve this population, Meriden Children First employs two part-time, bi-lingual Outreach Workers to meet families where they are, and most importantly, to connect them with needed services. In addition to meeting families in their apartments and homes, the Outreach Workers engage the families in monthly meetings. The focus of these meetings is to “raise the educational bar” for their children. Last year, in an effort to demonstrate to Family Zone families that their children can be successful in college, Meriden Children First sponsored a field trip to the University of St. Joseph. This trip enabled families to picture their child at a college, and tore down the notion that their children could not be successful in a college or university.

Meriden Children First also conducts, in collaboration with the Meriden Public Schools, a Summer Discovery Program at John Barry School. The Summer Discovery Program targets Meriden elementary school-aged children in order to provide them with a fun literacy and activity-based experience. The goal is to serve 100 students each summer. This program enables students who would not be able to afford a camp or other meaningful camp experience the opportunity to learn and have fun. We know, based on data collected from our Summer Discovery experience, that the students served by these summer learning programs do not experience summer learning loss compared to students who do not have this experience. In essence, the students continue to gain in terms of their reading aptitude compared to a similar group of children from the same demographic area.

The city of Meriden has been designated as a Choice Neighborhood, which is a federal initiative that focuses on three aspects: People, Housing and Neighborhood. Meriden Children First is responsible for the People Section of this exciting program. The Choice Neighborhood Initiative is transforming downtown Meriden. From flood control, to a new train station, to new development throughout downtown, the City of Meriden and its partners are actively engaged in numerous efforts designed to transform downtown.
As the lead organization in the People Section of the plan, Meriden Children First is constantly looking for ways to address the many issues facing our residents. Meriden Children First was responsible for conducting a comprehensive needs assessment for Meriden residents to identify the issues that most concerned residents, the “story” behind those issues, and then developing strategies and actions to address those issues. The People section contains a number of highlighted parts: Education, Youth, Employment, and Health. Paul Vivian, Director of Meriden Children First was the point person on the Education part. He worked very closely with school administrators, school personnel, community-based organizations to address the educational challenges facing the school district, an along with the committee, crafted strategies and actions to address those challenges.

Through the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Meriden Children First serves as the Lead Community Partner for the Meriden Public Schools. Meriden Children First is responsible for engaging and training parent leaders using an enhanced People Empowering People (PEP) curriculum that includes Race and Equity Training and Public Speaking Training.

Meriden Children First also serves as the fiscal agent and one of the lead partners on the 2Gen Initiative, a nationally-recognized program that provides training and educational services for parents while providing the needed services to support this training effort and confront any obstacles that might prevent these parents from being successful in their training or education program.

Strategic Planning Objectives
The process will result in the following immediate and long term outcomes for Meriden Children First:

1. A clear vision, mission and value statements for the organization;
2. An engaged Board of Directors who are committed and are involved in every facet of the work of the organization;
3. Stronger relationships with partners and stakeholders developed through their input to and participation in the planning process;
4. A clear plan for organizational structure that best strengthens and grows the work;
5. A clear strategic plan that offers a clear framework and goals for the organization’s next 3 years that addresses direction in the areas of Program, Governance, Finance and Fundraising, Marketing and Communications and Operations;
6. A stronger Meriden community derived from fresh organizational direction and a focus on quantifiable outcomes for the community; and
7. Increased support from a broader spectrum of donors, moving away from reliance upon one core funder.

Measures of Success and Anticipated Outcomes

• There will be a clear, agreed-upon vision, mission and value statements for Meriden Children First. Documentation of meetings and discussions that demonstrates that Meriden Children First staff and key stakeholders were included- and valued- in the decision-making process.
• A more informed and engaged governing body and staff resulting from the opportunity to meaningfully participate in developing Meriden Children First’s future.
• The strategic planning process will be completed on a reasonable and agreed upon time schedule, projected over 3-4 months time.

Process and Budget Summary
• Plan and facilitate individual assessment meetings with staff;
• Plan and facilitate a minimum of 2 retreats for Meriden Children First Board Members;
• Plan and facilitate individual meetings with community stakeholders;
• Plan and facilitate individual meetings of parents who utilize Meriden Children First services and programs; and
• Provide a detailed, written report with specific strategies to follow.

We anticipate the Strategic Planning Consultant will spend 10 full days in Meriden.

Please provide a detailed timeline and budget for each specific task and submit your proposal to:

Paul Vivian
Meriden Children First
165 Miller Street
Meriden, CT 06450

For further information, please call Paul Vivian at (203) 630-3566 or email at:

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