In December 2021, the Mayor’s Office launched NYC Speaks – a six-month, citywide public engagement and community-driven government transformation initiative – in partnership with Hester Street (HST) and a variety of philanthropic and civic institutions. Within the first one hundred days of Mayor Eric Adam’s administration, the project set out to collect feedback from residents and NYC government employees on their most pressing needs in order to inform the office’s priorities and policies.

HST designed campaign materials for the initiative, and helped engage and survey over 65,000 New Yorkers for their input across ten issue areas, including health & well-being, arts & culture, housing and neighborhoods, economy & workforce, racial equity, and more. Our team created a toolkit available in ten languages to guide “community conversations” with residents and trained community-based organizations (CBOs) to lead their own engagement with constituents. Designed to emulate intimate, dinner table-style gatherings, these discussions provided New Yorkers the opportunity to voice their concerns and their priorities for the city-administered budget and the city government’s community recovery strategy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. HST hosted ten of our own conversations at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) facilities throughout the city; collectively, CBO partners hosted over 150 “community conversations” with residents.

All of this feedback culminated in the NYC Speaks action plan, which comprises five “north stars” – goals for what New York City will accomplish. The Mayor’s Office committed to housing for all, mental health resources in schools, neighborhood hubs, green career pathways, and building community trust through engagement. Read the full NYC Speaks Action Plan here