Special Projects and Education Intitiatives

About Special Projects and Education Initiatives 

The Office of Special Projects and Education Initiatives oversees the development and implementation of projects as requested by the Mayor. Special Projects  is responsible for defining, planning, coordinating, implementing and evaluating the administration's initiatives. The office works with the City School District, as well as other governmental and social agencies to ensure that City government is apart of many programs that are instrumental to the success our children and citizens. 

Contact Information

Office of Special Projects and Education Initiatives
City Hall, Room 201-A
30 Church Street
Rochester, NY 14614
Phone: (585) 428-7192

Sandra J. Simon, Director
Email: Sandra.Simon@cityofrochester.gov  

Special Projects and Education Initiatives

3-to-3 Initiative

The 3-to-3 Initiative was developed based on recommendations from the Mayor's Early Learning Council, which Mayor Warren convened when she took office in 2014. The goal of the initiative is to give every 3-year-old in the city of Rochester the opportunity to develop the academic and social skills necessary to succeed in school and in life, as well as focusing on getting all third graders not just reading, but reading at grade level, by the end of third grade.

Books Before Birth and Books at Birth

In partnership with the Healthy Baby Network and MVP, Books Before Birth and Books at Birth encourages new parents to read to their children with a simple message - it's never too early to start reading to your children. Through these programs, new parents receive books and bookmarks at prenatal and postnatal visitsLearn More

GROW Rochester

Active in the School Readiness Network, Children’s Institute is at the forefront of developing GROW, a comprehensive initiative that integrates screenings for 3-year-olds to identify needs in hearing, vision, dental health, language and speech, cognitive, and social-emotional development. Major funders for GROW include the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, Rochester’s Child (an initiative of the Rochester Area Community Foundation), as well as the City of Rochester and United Way of Greater Rochester. Learn More

Mayor's Summer Stars Summer Learning Challenge

In an effort to bridge the gap of learning loss over the Summer months, Mayor Warren developed her Summer Stars Summer Learning Challenge. The Mayor’s Summer Stars – Summer Learning Challenge gives parents and children an opportunity to participate in community wide events that help keep them interested in expanding their education and pursuing their passions. The Rochester Public Libraries offer an entire summer schedule of events including the Libraries Rock! activity log, a Puppet Theater, African drumming and reading books to dogs. The R-Centers have a wide variety of activities and programs in science, technology, sports, creative arts and Summer Learning Labs. With Drop Everything and Read, kids are challenged to “stop, prop and read” a total of 10 books of their choice throughout the summer. Learn More


In partnership with Roc the Future, the Children's Institute, the Farash Foundation, the Healthy Baby Network and the Rochester Public Library, ReadyRosie is an early education tool that is designed to help schools and communities improve parent engagement by using videos and mobile technology to equip parents with the tools wherever they are. Learn More

FAFSA Fest  

FAFSA Fest is an annual series of events in that will bring local volunteers to locations around the city to help students and families complete their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms in a computer lab, answer to financial aid questions and provide individual counseling to understanding college costs. Food and refreshments will be provided. Volunteers include financial aid counselors from local colleges, accountants and attorneys. Learn More

 My Brother's Keeper Initiative

The MBK community challenge encourages local leaders and their respective communities to come together to develop and implement a coherent “cradle-to-college-and-career strategy” for improving the life outcomes of all young people. It promotes using existing evidence-based and data-driven strategies to develop a long-term and sustainable strategic action plan. It calls on leaders to identify and partner with all community stakeholders in order to assess the local needs and existing assets, determine collective priorities, and set common goals for improvement. Learn More>>

Pillars of Hope

Pillars of Hope are local African-American and Hispanic professionals who volunteer to visit city schools, share their experiences and provide positive support to the students.

A Pillars Team “adopts” an elementary or middle school and implements activities for the purpose of:
• Instilling and increasing the love of learning.
• Sharing their personal journeys in pursuit of their own education.
• Sharing strategies to overcome challenges.
• Imparting knowledge regarding their various career options.
• Supporting the school’s teachers and administration.

Pillars of Hope reconnect our communities' role models with our community's children by sharing a simple message of hope: “We’ve done it, and so can you". Learn More>>

Reach Higher
In 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a new initiative in an effort to inspire young people across the United States to take charge of their future by pursuing opportunities past high school. Whether a professional training program, a community college or a four-year college or university suits you, Reach Higher aims to ensure that all young people understand what they need to complete their education through exposing them to college and career opportunities.

On College Signing Day, Mayor Lovely Warren celebrates our city’s college-bound high school seniors by participating in the #ReachHigher social media campaign. Learn More>>