Frankford Consulting - Helping organizations help young people build bridges to successful lives

Evelyn FrankfordThroughout her career, Evelyn Frankford’s passion has been to help youth and young adults, especially those that tend to be marginalized or excluded, find their way into satisfying and productive adult lives.

She does this by helping the public and community institutions responsible for mental health, education, child welfare, and workforce preparation better organize their initiatives to help youth navigate normative but complex developmental transitions.

Of late, she has used her knowledge of state government in New York, Massachusetts, and elsewhere to pursue sustainability strategies that build on assets and strengths - both personal and systems - and that help stakeholders connect to the contemporary policy environment.

In the beginning…
After Evelyn got her Master's in Social Work at New York University in community organizing and public policy, she started out working in settlement houses in New York City's Lower East Side. These neighborhood-based multi-service centers, committed to positive action at the intersection of public systems (government, community groups, health and human services) to improve the communities and lives of people in need, powerfully influenced her entire career. She developed programs to help girls get skills in living, stay in school, and imagine their productive futures and she helped community groups learn how to negotiate with New York City government to keep their health care services and elderly programs.

Then, for many years…
She worked for an independent public policy analysis and advocacy organization in Albany, New York, where she eventually became Deputy Director. She collaborated with partners inside and outside government to devise children's mental health programs that ranged from mental health promotion in schools to early intervention in the community to better organizing of treatment in the community via “Systems of Care”.

Evelyn developed early iterations of Community Schools, garnered funding for community-based child welfare services, and developed legislation that produced a new State Office of Children and Family Services in 1997. As well, she led a coalition of 25 groups that produced “Reinvestment” legislation (1993) to move state funding from psychiatric hospitals to community care.

Along the way, she learned how state government works - the legislative process, regulations, budgets, inter-agency collaboration - and especially how to create partnerships of outside organizations and coalitions (policy researchers, advocates, providers, family groups) with inside policy leaders (in the legislature and the executive branches) to achieve policy goals and get solid sustainable programs.

She used that knowledge in Colorado, where she served as legislative representative of a good-government organization and then, on her return east, as a consultant to many New York State settlement houses and mental health agencies.

Most recently…
Evelyn has summarized years of experience in systems work by focusing on sustainability of evidence-based interventions to promote youth mental health in schools and communities, interventions that too often start and stop in pilot projects. In association with the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (, she has helped to create a web-based tool: Partner, Build, Grow: An Action Guide for Sustaining Child Development and Prevention Approaches.

Evelyn’s commitment to universal approaches for all youth has shaped her approach to policy and program development for Transition Age Youth and Young Adults (Emerging Adults), people ages 16-25 who have experienced public systems because of their mental health challenges. For the Massachusetts and Washington DC Departments of Mental Health, her approach has emphasized strengths and assets via education and employment supports. She has conducted focus groups with such youth, who emphasize their desire for education and adequate income in order to live productively.

As a Visiting Fellow at the University of Massachusetts-Boston Center for Social Policy, Evelyn carried out a variety of projects on adult basic education and comprehensive school-based asset-oriented mental health interventions.

Evelyn uses her skills in providing technical assistance in association with national centers funded by private foundations and the federal government, state government, and schools and community health and mental health partners. She has expanded her expertise into many child and youth development content areas.

In her volunteer life, Evelyn pursues this passion for helping marginalized youth with the Paris-based Fourth World Movement, for which she has translated, from French to English, her friend Geneviève Defraigne Tardieu’s book on the Movement’s approach to adult education as a strategy for engaging people with lived experience of poverty to build political courage to overcome it. (