Connected Communities

Breaking the cycle of poverty in EMMA & Beechwood

Connected Communities had a busy summer!

We've been working with community members and partners to provide great new opportunities for residents of Beechwood and EMMA. From Participatory Budgeting to the official opening of Warfield Square, there's plenty to celebrate around here! Check out the news items below to learn more about how Connected Communities is working hard for our neighborhoods.


Yours in Service,

Jenna Lawson, Community Liaison/AmeriCorps VISTA

All About Warfield Square!

Warfield Square is finally open! The new housing development in the EMMA neighborhood from Home Leasing is up and running with 21 units already moved in. The current target is for all 72 units to be occupied by November 1st. The complex provides one-, two, and three-bedroom apartments and townhomes to qualifying residents. This system is built with support of government programs to provide beautiful, high-quality homes to qualifying applicants. Located right on East Main Street, the community is close to the RTS bus line and great Rochester attactions. Warfield Square has also partnered with Hillside Family of Agencies to ensure that 16 of its units will be offered to individuals with developmental disabilities for supportive housing.


To learn more about Warfield Square, click here!

Warfield Square Café

The East Main Café is now open to the public! Check out its custom menu and friendly staff today. Its summer hours are 7am-1:30pm Monday through Friday. Beginning mid-September, the hours will be 7am-4:30pm Monday through Friday and 9am-1:30PM on Saturdays.


The café is made possible by Hillside Family of Agencies. Their diverse menu is sure to have something for everyone, serving delicious food and drinks from paninis to their Beechwood Beef Burrito. Check out the full menu here and be sure to stop by soon!

Connected Communities Does Our Homework

Connected Communities is dedicated to creating a high-quality, cradle-to-college pathway for neighborhood children to ensure community revitalization in Beechwood and EMMA. Our goal is to ensure that every child in Beechwood and EMMA has the opportunity to attend school in their own community.
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Why Neighborhood Schools?

Neighborhood schools are a huge priority for Connected Communities. This is a neighborhood-based student enrollment strategy that guarantees students who live in a defined neighborhood the right to attend that school if they so choose. This strategy does not impact parents' rights to choose their children's schools under the Managed Choice Policy. Neighborhood schools are a resource, not a limitation. To learn more about why we believe in neighborhood schools, click here!

August Board of Education Meeting

On August 23rd, Connected Communities spoke up for Beechwood and EMMA with seven community speakers and a presentation from Executive Director LaShunda Leslie-Smith. "We know plenty of families that want their children to be able to go to school in their neighborhoods, but they've been blocked at every turn," said Beechwood resident Sandra Faison during the public comment section. LaShunda also explained the need for a support services coordinator to make sure children have equal access to resources that could be the difference between succeeding and struggling for neighborhood kids. Through this presentation, Connected Communities opened communication with the Board of Education so that our neighborhood kids are guaranteed more opportunities to be successful.


To read more about the Board of Education meeting, click here.

To watch LaShunda's entire presentation to the Board of Education, click here.

To watch our community speakers' full remarks to the board, click here.

Community Corner: Andrea McLean

Andrea came to Rochester by way of Jamaica and New York City before settling in to Beechwood last summer. Despite early success finding contacts like Erica Schiller of 441 Ministries and Jason Taylor of East High School, Andrea struggled to establish her family in Rochester. Her oldest son was ready to start his first year of high school, but Andrea couldn't get him placed anywhere despite her early preference for East High School, which was right in her neighborhood. "My son Noah had graduated middle school, came here [to Rochester], and wasn't placed in any high school for at least three weeks last year." She remembers going to Rochester City School District multiple times and calling them nearly every day trying to get her son placed. She was very worried, thinking "He's missing out. Why can't he get into school?" Eventually, both of her school-age children were placed at other schools in the district. After Andrea became more familiar with the system and built important contacts, she was able to secure Noah a spot at East High School for this coming school year.

Andrea credits becoming a Parent Ambassador with Connected Communities as a major positive force in her Rochester experience. "It's good because I've been able to learn a lot more about the community. I've been able to get insights on navigating the whole school system." Being a Parent Ambassador has helped Andrea feel that she had the ability to directly help her kids while accessing the resources and knowledge of Connected Communities. "I'm hoping maybe I'll be one of those people who will be connecting and helping people the same way I was helped," she said. "When you are able to share in a supportive and safe environment, I do know that lives can change, so that keeps me motivated."


For an extended version of this interview, click here.

Community Job Opportunities are Back!

Connected Communities is happy to bring you an updated list of job opportunities from all around Rochester on our website. Click this link to check for for regularly updated postings about employers from the University of Rochester to PathStone.