Stationery updated 2.11.8
The Fund for Social Change is a public foundation founded by David Tobis in 2002 to use philanthropy to increase the influence and improve the well-being of disempowered people in New York City, including poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, and young people.

 

  • 1991: Child Welfare Fund (CWF) founded by an anonymous donor in collaboration with David Tobis at Hunter College. For the chronology of the Child Welfare Fund go to the Child Welfare Fund page of this website.
  • 2001: FAR Fund founded by an anonymous donor in collaboration with David Tobis.
  • 2002: CWF and the Open Society Institute create the Partnership for Family Supports and Justice (PFSJ), which becomes a collaboration between ten foundations and the Administration for Children’s Services, designed to create a community network of services to prevent foster care placements in Highbridge, the Bronx (the Bridge Builders program).
  • 2002: The Child Welfare Fund, the FAR Fund, and the Partnership for Family Supports and Justice are joined administratively under the Fund for Social Change.
  • 2002: Voices of Youth, with the help of the Fund for Social Change, sends a delegation to Stockholm, Sweden to present its model for youth advocacy at an international conference on alternatives to residential institutions.
  • 2002: Sista II Sista with Downtown Community Television, Inc. produces You Have the Right to Break the Silence , a video documenting harassment and violence, including police violence, against young women of color.
  • 2002: The Justice for Youth Coalition’s, No More Youth Jails Campaign, successfully stops New York City from spending $64 million on building 200 youth jail beds in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
  • 2002: The FAR Fund joins the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing, connecting with a group of national, regional and local foundations, and youth organizing practitioners dedicated to advancing youth organizing as a strategy for youth development and social change.
  • 2003: The FAR Fund helps launch a model program at PS 32 in Brooklyn for children with autism who are high functioning. The FAR Fund enables a parent input and support component to be included. The program is designed by NYU’s Institute for Education and Social Policy in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education.
  • 2003: The first FAR Fund Fellow, Michael Carley, launches the Global Regional Asperger’s Syndrome Partnership, providing much needed support groups for people with high functioning autism.
  • 2003: After a year of organizing parents, students and community members, Girls for Gender Equity successfully prevents the Department of Education from weakening Title IX of the Education Amendment, which states ” No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid.”
  • 2003: Philomena Timmons of CWOP is named to the ACS advisory board. She is the first parent with a child in the system to serve on the board.
  • 2004: The Child Welfare Fund and the FAR Fund convene a forum of advocates and consumers from child welfare and developmental disabilities fields to learn from and support each other.
  • 2004: The FAR Fund and the Fund for Social Change create the Campaign for Real Lives, consisting of advocates, self-advocates, parents, providers and academics to make the reality of the developmental disabilities system catch up to its rhetoric.
  • 2004: Gina Cheron , the second FAR Fund Fellow launches a legal unit within Dwa Fanm, providing legal services to Haitian domestic violence survivors and their families in Brooklyn.
  • 2004: Sista II Sista, El Puente and other Brooklyn-based community organizations, in Bushwick successfully pressure their local police precinct to hire a female officer for their Domestic Violence Task Force.
  • 2004: The Fund for Social Change, in collaboration with the Academy for Educational Development, the Community Resource Exchange, the Empire State Coalition of Youth, the Hunter College Center on AIDS, Drugs and Community Health, the New York AIDS Coalition and the Partnership for After School Education convene a “future search” entitled “Creating an HIV-Free Future for NYC’s Youth,” bringing various stakeholders together to strategize on solutions.
  • 2004: CWF awards first grant to New Yorkers for Children, the non-profit wing of ACS. The grant is used to hire child welfare parents and youth as advocates to increase access to services for families in 11 communities throughout the city.
  • 2004: The Administration for Children’s Services joins the The Partnership for Family Supports and Justice as a member of the donors’ collaborative in Highbridge.
  • 2004: Child Welfare Fund and David Tobis are honored by CWOP for their work on behalf of families with children in the child welfare system.
  • 2004: Trude Lash, an eminent activist for the rights and well-being of children, dies. The Fund for Social Changes creates the Trude Lash Fellowship Program in collaboration with family, colleagues and friends of Trude Lash.
  • 2005: At the Child Welfare Watch Forum on redesigning the foster care system, ACS Commissioner John Mattingly says, “The Child Welfare Watch reports, I think, are the most thoughtful, balanced and detailed analysis of a particular set of issues in child welfare, that I have ever seen anywhere.”
  • 2005: Developmental Disabilities Watch is founded by the FAR Fund and the Campaign for Real Lives, creating an independent journalistic voice to report on the system and drive changes in policy. The DD Watch is modeled on the Child Welfare Watch .
  • 2005: The Fund for Social Change with the Independence Community Foundation, the Spin Gold Foundation, and the New York City Department of Education, creates a donors’ collaborative both to identify the special education needs of preschool children and to provide services to meet those needs. The State Department of Education, the Administration for Children’s Services, the Human Resources Administration and the New York City Mayor’s Office soon join the collaborative.
  • 2005: The New York City Department of Education agrees to replicate the PS 32 model program for high functioning children on the autistic spectrum.
  • 2005: Diana Mc Court, the third FAR Fund Fellow launches One Person at a Time, to secure sustainable, self-directed housing for individuals with developmental disabilities, including those on the autistic spectrum..
  • 2005: The FAR Fund provides its fourth Fellowship, to Lawrence James, who launches the Rallying, Educating and Building Effective Leadership (R.E.B.E.L.) program to teach people of color basic organizing, self-determination, and leadership skills.
  • 2006: The Trude Lash Fellowship Program, administered by the Fund for Social Change, awards fellowships to Kallen Tsikasas and Regine Romain
  • 2006: The FAR Fund provides its fifth Fellowship to Jonathan Cooper to create a program to reduce bullying of school children on the autistic spectrum.
  • 2006: Nixmary Brown is killed by her step-father. The number of foster care placements increases by 53% from fewer than 4,800 in 2005 to more than 7,200 in 2006.
  • 2006: Fostering Connection, an agency that provides psychotherapy to children in foster care “for as long as it takes” honors David Tobis as the first recipient of its Silver Nest Award.
  • 2006: David Tobis addresses UNICEF’s senior policy staff at Maastricht University about strategies to create community services as an alternative to residential institutions for children.
  • 2006: UNICEF invites David Tobis to Tajikistan to advise on ways to convert its pilot projects for child protection into a national program.
  • 2007: Fifteen foundations and the Administration for Children’s Services are members of the Bridge Builders collaborative in Highbridge, the Bronx. The evaluation by Chapin Hall reports “…what we are hearing and seeing is a type of synergy, a breakthrough in thinking and action that has changed the way collaborative members work and the way that they think about their work.”
  • 2007: The Administration for Children’s Services selects Bridge Builders to receive public funding as part of the Community Partnership Initiative.
  • 2007: The FAR Fund selects the Fund for Social Change to administer the OMRDD/FAR Fund Collaborative to promote more individualized lives for people on the autistic spectrum. Ten agencies and the FAR Fund are part of the collaboration. The administration of the FAR Fund relocates.
  • 2007: Bridge Builders expands the role of the Store Front with trained parents from the community and social work supervision. Over 1000 families are served in 2007.
  • 2007: The Administration for Children’s Services convenes a forum for Lessons Learned from its three Community Partnership Initiatives. Bridge Builders is hailed as the “model to emulate.
  • 2008: With groundwork laid by Bridge Builders, Judge Clark Richardson creates a Designated Part in Bronx Family Court for families from Highbridge. It is the first geographically based court in New York City.
  • 2008: The Fund for Social Change creates the Parent Advocates Initiative to promote the hiring of parent advocates by foster care agencies. The collaborative includes the Administration for Children’s Services, the New York State Office of Family and Children’s Services, the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies, CWOP and six foundations.
  • 2008: Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) asks the FSC to evaluate its court-based information and referral program. LIFT incorporates the recommendations of the evaluation.
  • 2008: David Tobis travels to Tajikistan as part of a team from the University of Maastricht to conduct a cost-benefit analysis comparing a new system of child protection with the country’s current child welfare system which relies on large residential institutions.
  • 2008: David Tobis, through the FSC, works as an advisor to the GHR Foundation and travels to Ukraine and Azerbaijan to assess two NGOs that will receive grants from the foundation as part of its Children in Families Initiative.
  • 2008: The Administration for Children’s Services asks the Fund for Social Change to collaborate on creating the START Program in the Bronx. The FSC will hire five family mentors to work with families in which a child is born with a positive toxicology. The program is funded by Casey Family Programs via New Yorkers for Children.
  • 2009: Chapin Hall’s evaluation of Bridge Builders concludes “The data suggest that in the fourth year of the Project, Highbridge begins to stand out from the comparison sites in several ways. Highbridge experienced an unadjusted decline in the number and rate of maltreatment reports and in the indication of those reports that was ahead of what was seen in the other sites. When averaging across the pre-project years and across the Project years, Highbridge also saw the higher rates of children exiting care to family among all the sites”.
  • 2009: The FSC, in cooperation the Schott Foundation, the Booth Ferris Foundation, and the Ira W. DeCamp Foundation, organizes a forum at NYRAG: “Working with Government: Four Donor Collaboratives.
  • 2009: After 18 years of collaboration, the Child Welfare Fund reconsiders its focus. The FSC no long administers the Child Welfare Fund.
  • 2009: New York City Administration for Children’s Services launches the START Program with assistance from the Fund for Social Change which hires five parent advocates to work out of the Bronx Field Office of ACS.
  • 2009: Maestral International is launched by Philip Goldman and David Tobis in collaboration with a team of leading global experts to promote the development of sustainable family or family-like environments for vulnerable children.

    Toothbrushes

    An orphanage in Romania.
    Photo by David Tobis

  • 2009: Maestral International, working with the Fund for Social Change, is selected by UNICEF to develop a toolkit to map and assess child welfare systems throughout the world. David Tobis participates in the teams that pilot test the toolkit in Kenya, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Kyrgyzstan.
  • 2009: The Fund for Social Change, on behalf of the Parent Advocate Initiative, suggests a change in New York State Social Service Regulations that would allow foster care agencies to receive credit for Parent Advocate contacts with families. The change is endorsed by ACS, COFCCA, OCFS and the advocacy community. The revised regulation is approved by OCFS and goes into effect in August 2010.
  • 2009: The Fund for Social Change undertakes an initiative led by John Courtney to both increase the placement of children in foster homes in their community of origin and to improve the availability and quality of foster homes in general. The project is undertaken with the support of the 4th Generation Klingenstein Foundation and the Warner Fund, in collaboration with the Administration for Children’s Services.
  • 2009: The Fund for Social Changes initiates a collaboration led by Anita Gundanna, with Columbia University School of Social Work’s Center for Social Policy and Practice in the Workplace, to strengthen foster care agencies’ ability to train and find employment for youth leaving foster care.
  • 2009: The Parent Advocates Initiative provides grants to six foster care agencies to hire parent advocates to work with families with children in foster care. The Parent Advocates are trained by the Child Welfare Organizing Project.
  • 2010: The sixth evaluation of Bridge Builders by Chapin Hall reports increasing evidence of the efficacy of Bridge Builders. The evaluation concludes:  “In particular, over the past three years, the relative [child maltreatment] rate in Highbridge has been below the average of the comparison sites.” In addition, “As in the case of maltreatment reports, the average within year relative rates for the past three years show that placement is now less common in Highbridge…”
  • 2010: In spite of the continued success of Bridge Builders the financial crisis in New York City causes ACS to reduce its planned financial support to community partnerships, including Bridge Builders, reducing planned support from $300,000 to $150,000, causing financial difficulties for the project. Many other child welfare programs also experience significant cuts.
  • 2010: Bridge Builders diversifies its funding, receiving financial support from the NYS Office of Family and Children’s Services on a kinship care project with Children’s Village.
  • 2010: The first meeting of the Interim Board of Directors of Bridge Builders takes place in February. The Interim Board, elected by the membership, is the governing body of Bridge Builders. The Board consists of members of the community, local service providers, and technical experts, including representatives from the Fund for Social Change. Bridge Builders files for NY State incorporation and federal tax exemption as a not-for-profit organization.
  • 2010: ACS withdraws its awards of foster care, preventive service and other contracts. The proposed contracts are withdrawn because of mistakes ACS made in grading agencies and as a result of a law suit against filed by Little Flower Children’s Services against ACS for its decision to not re-contract with that large child welfare agency. The mistakes and the lawsuit embarrass ACS, demoralize its staff and further weakens its focus on reform.
  • 2010: The Oak Foundation, based in Geneva, Switzerland, asks the Fund for Social Change to develop a strategy paper to create an international donors’ collaborative to reduce the reliance on residential care for children, primarily in Eastern Europe and Africa.  In April the Fund for Social Change and Maestral International present the strategy paper to the Board of Directors of the Oak Foundation which allocates $3 million to create a donors’ collaborative that would implement the recommendations in the strategy paper.
  • 2010: The Oak Foundation, the Fund for Social Change and Maestral International meet with other foundations at Foundation Week in Brussels, Belgium, gaining support for the donors’ collaborative.
  • 2010: UNICEF/Ukraine asks Maestral International working with the Fund for Social Change, to conduct a review of its five year Country Program and to present recommendations for its next five year program (2012-2016).  The assessment is submitted to UNICEF in August.
  • 2010: UNICEF/Headquarters decides to roll out the Maestral toolkit in the East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR). Maestral, working with the Fund for Social Change will train representatives from seven ESAR countries to use the toolkit.
  • 2010: The Child Welfare Organizing Project, supported by the Parent Advocates Initiative, trains seven Parent Advocates who begin working in foster care agencies. The evaluation by Chapin Hall/University of Chicago concludes “All parties agree there is a clear connection between what the PAs [parent advocates] offer to parents and what parents need to be successful in moving their [child welfare] case forward…The PAs and [agency supervisory] staff found the classroom work to lay an important foundation of knowledge.
  • 2010: The Parent Advocate Initiative supports the Child Welfare Organizing Project to establish the Parent Advocates Network. A group of 30 parents meet, create by-laws and begin to work together to support Parent Advocates, to advocate on their behalf, and to expand the use of Parent Advocates in the child welfare system.
  • 2010: Max Chmura becomes the Acting Commission of the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. As one of his first acts, he changes the agency’s name to the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities. He asks to meet with 15 representatives of the OMRDD/FAR Fund Collaboration to learn how to infuse the values and accomplishments of the collaboration into the new OPWDD.
  • 2011: The Administration for Children’s Services, using New Yorkers for Children as an intermediary, contracts with the Fund for Social Change to hire parent advocates to be part of the ACS START program. Parents with child welfare experience are hired by the FSC to work in the Bronx ACS Field Office, assisting mothers who are drug or alcohol involved and have young children.
  • 2011: The Parent Advocates Initiative Forum is organized by the FSC at the New School University on March 16. The meeting is attended by 200 leaders of the city’s child welfare system, including commissioners, foster care agency executives, caseworkers and parents. At the meeting, Commissioner Mattingly says, “Everywhere you look in this city where we are doing our best work…where the best is happening, you find parent advocates around.”
  • 2011: Commissioner Mattingly attends the Child Welfare Organizing Project’s 14th graduating class of Parent Leaders.
  • 2011: Commissioner Mattingly resigns after severing as commissioner for 7 years, the longest serving child welfare commissioner in the city’s history.
  • 2011: Ronald Richter is appointed Commissioner of ACS
  • 2012: Bridge Builders continues to operate but its budget is reduced from loss of foundation support after many years. Children’s Village establishes a management agreement with Bridge Builders to provide administrative and fundraising support while preserving the parent and community service model.
  • 2012: Advocates and parents meet with Commissioner Richter to encourage his Strategic Plan to be more pro-family and pro-parent, including the recommendation to include parent advocates at all child safety conferences.
  • 2012: Commissioner Richter responds to the requests of the parents and advocates and issues an RFP for parents or other members of the community to be present at every Child Safety Conference when the decision is made whether to place a child in foster care.
  • 2012: The Fund for Social Change closes its doors as David Tobis moves to Oakland California.
  • 2013: From Pariahs to Partners: How Parents and Their Allies Changed New York City’s Child Welfare System, written by David Tobis, is published by Oxford University Press. Publishers Weekly calls it “a useful and engaging introduction to the subject…a potentially important book.”