Today, a coalition of New York City’s civic leaders announced the launch of “NYC Speaks.”
“NYC Speaks,” is a seven-month citywide public engagement and people-driven government transformation initiative that will seek to make good on the promise of democracy via direct engagement between everyday New Yorkers, to inform the priorities and policies of new Mayor Eric Adams and his incoming administration when they arrive in City Hall in January 2022.
NYC Speaks will engage New Yorkers from every corner of the city through a sustained, months-long effort to gather ideas, concerns and other input through both a citywide survey and large-scale community discussions, followed by a series of planning workshops designed to convert those ideas into tangible government actions. NYC Speaks will use the information gathered through this process, invite collaboration with the new administration, and create a blueprint for the future of the city, complete with concrete priorities, policies and budget items.
NYC Speaks begins today by inviting community organizations across the city to partner with the initiative and will culminate with the adoption of the FY 2023 City budget in June 2022. The ultimate goal of NYC Speaks is to develop a new system of meaningful, continuous civic engagement for New York City that energizes residents, makes them part of the decision-making process and brings government closer to the people.
“The launch of NYC Speaks is an exciting moment for civic participation in our great city, and I am proud to be a part of it,” said Dr. Shango Blake, Co-Executive Director of NYC Speaks. “This initiative will help turn conventional top-down City government policy-making on its head by working to put community voices, which are often considered only on Election Day, at the heart of the priorities of this next administration. We invite all New Yorkers to participate in this grand vision for civic engagement and look forward to working with Mayor Elect Adams and his administration to develop a strong, community-minded vision for the future of New York City.”
“I’m excited to elevate the voices of community leaders and organizers across New York City so their priorities shape the future of our city, especially as we emerge from a pandemic that deepened inequality,” said Jose Serrano-McClain, Co-Executive Director of NYC Speaks, Principal at HR&A Advisors. “NYC Speaks is an invitation to everyone in this city that believes we can do big things when we rally around shared priorities. This program has been designed with best practices for public engagement partnerships from across the country to ensure NYC Speaks is data-driven, equity-affirming, and action-oriented.”
“Robin Hood has always sought to ground our strategy in the voices and perspectives of New Yorkers themselves – and we are excited that Mayor-elect Adams has welcomed the NYC Speaks initiative,” said Richard R. Buery, Jr., CEO of Robin Hood. “As we build back from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that the City rebuild a new New York that is resilient, equitable, and sustainable. The new administration’s budget and policy priorities must address our neighbors’ immediate needs while tackling long-standing inequities that have left too many New Yorkers behind for too long. We are honored to partner with Goodnation and so many others on this initiative and help create a direct link between New Yorkers and their city government.”
“The more New Yorkers are involved and engaged with their city government the better the outcomes we will see on the issues that face our city,” said Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, Senior Pastor of the Center Of Hope International and Co-founder of Urban Upbound. “The NYC Speaks initiative will reach out to everyday New Yorkers, including communities of faith, to solicit their input on the future of the city we share, and develop collaborative solutions and programs that can be implemented in partnership with city government. Through this initiative we hope to create a culture of co-governance between the incoming administration and an active, engaged citizenry, especially among those communities that have traditionally felt left out of the process.”
“I am thrilled to add my voice to spread the word about NYC Speaks. I invite organizations throughout the city to participate in this initiative,” said Thomas Yu, Co-Executive Director, Asian Americans For Equality (AAFE). “Guided by our experiences as Asian Americans and commitment to civil rights, we believe this initiative is an opportunity to invite New Yorkers from all walks of life to transform how government leaders set priorities in partnership with communities. On our city’s pressing community development issues, this is precisely the moment for thoughtful, collaborative planning that brings a diverse set of communities and institutions to the table.”
“We are thrilled about the opportunity to participate in NYC Speaks and encourage others who serve New Yorkers with special needs, including in our borough of Staten Island, to participate in this much needed civic engagement initiative,” said Reverend Dr. Terry Troia, President and Chief Executive Officer, Project Hospitality. “This initiative will spark a lasting culture change in the way that city government engages with the neediest members of our communities and those who serve them. We are committed to working alongside the diverse set of communities that will be involved, including other faith-based organizations that show up every day to care for the most vulnerable and marginalized people in our city.”
“Parents are among the most important voices in our city, and as we seek to reopen our schools and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic it is critical that we are involved in that process,” said Karmia Aubry, President of the District 29 PTA Presidents’ Council, which represents the Parent Associations at public schools in Southeast Queens. “Our schools are the lifeblood of this city and the first interaction with our government for so many New Yorkers, and I encourage our school communities to take part in this important initiative.”
“Fathers, particularly black and brown men, are so often left out of the conversation about city services, and it is time for that to change,” said Derek Phillips, Founder and Executive Director of the Real Dads Network. “The NYC Speaks initiative is an opportunity for us to provide direct feedback to the incoming mayoral administration on a wide variety of issues that our fathers deal with everyday, such as education, criminal justice, economic development and others. It is essential that we take advantage of this opportunity.”
Community leaders across the city are joining NYC Speaks, representing organizations such as the Vera Institute of Justice, United Way of New York City, My Brother’s Keeper, Asian Americans for Equality, Project Hospitality, Real Dads Network, South Asian Bar Association of New York, African American Women in Cinema, and UMOJA Network for Young Men, among others.
New Yorkers are invited to visit nycspeaks.org to sign up for updates, learn about how they can get involved, be notified of upcoming events and more. Visitors to the website can also fill out a volunteer form where they can express their interest in a specific issue—education & youth development, economy & workforce, health and wellbeing, public safety and more—and be notified of opportunities to participate in community conversations on those particular topics.
New Yorkers are also encouraged to interact with the initiative on social media on Twitter at @nycspeaks2022, on Instagram at @nycspeaks2022, on Facebook at @nycspeaks2022 and on Linkedin at @nycspeaks.
NYC Speaks is an independent initiative funded by the Goodnation Foundation, an IRC 501(c)(3) organization, and managed by HR&A Advisors, a mission-driven, employee-owned urban planning and economic development consulting firm based in NYC. NYC Speaks will partner with a robust network of civic and community-based organizations to co-lead this process.
The initiative is also convening philanthropic institutions such as the Ford Foundation, Robin Hood Foundation, Galaxy Gives, Trinity Church Wall Street Philanthropies, FWD.us, and the New York Women’s Foundation.
For more information about NYC Speaks and to participate in upcoming events visit nycspeaks.org.