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  • Bob Knight

Rising Ground Announces 'Gould' Merger

Jose Jarra, Board Chair, Rising Ground, at the New York Stock Exchange during 'Rising Ground Day.'

Two of New York’s leading human service organizations announced that they are integrating operations. Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families will become a subsidiary of Rising Ground, a 187-year-old organization that currently operates in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Westchester. Henceforth, both organizations will operate under one uniform set of policies and practices under a single mission, guided by the same values, expectations, and vision, as they expand services to more New Yorkers facing adversity.

The consolidation will strengthen and broaden the supports both organizations provide to a total of 25,000 children, adults, and families throughout the five boroughs and Westchester. With a combined workforce of 1,800 employees, the resulting larger, stronger, and more diversified organization will spur new and innovative ways to deliver services, ultimately redirecting millions of dollars in savings toward improved and additional programs.

Combined expertise will lead to new services

According to Alan Mucatel, CEO of Rising Ground, “This begins a new day for two organizations long dedicated to helping New York’s children, adults, and families to move forward and upward in their lives. Our new strategic partnership will benefit the individuals and families we support by giving them access to a broader range of health, mental health, developmental, family empowerment, and supportive services. We also expect to use our combined expertise to develop new services in response to community needs.”

Under the new partnership, Rising Ground, which, since 2009, has nearly doubled in size and has a $100 million operating budget and staff of 1,400, will continue to provide a full range of services—47 programs in all—for adults, children, and families, including special education, early childhood programs, foster care and adoption programs, early childhood and special education, mental health, services for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and juvenile justice services, among other areas of support.

With the integration, Rising Ground will expand its presence in the areas of child welfare, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and care management. Brooklyn-based Edwin Gould, which today has a $30 million operating budget and 400 employees, will continue to operate foster care preventive services programs. Other programs will migrate to Rising Ground and include foster care services; supports to individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities; and Edwin Gould’s STEPS to End Family Violence.

STEPS is among New York City’s more renowned, comprehensive programs to support victims of intimate partner violence. Through work in all five boroughs, Rikers Island, and educational programs in 17 public schools, STEPS reaches over 5,000 New Yorkers every year.As intimate partner violence often impacts the families and children supported by Rising Ground across its varied programs, the expertise of the STEPS staff and the program’s services will be readily available to assist.

The case for integration

Edwin Gould’s programs will benefit from Rising Ground’s proven expertise in management, which was recognized when the organization received the prestigious Gold Nonprofit Excellence Award. Rising Ground will assume all administrative functions for the two organizations, which include back office work, information technology, fundraising, grant writing, and board oversight, resulting in significant savings for both organizations in insurance, health care, and other administrative costs.

Mucatel noted that two foundations and one foundation-supported fund have shown their support for this move by awarding a total of $375,000 to Rising Ground to operationalize the integration:

  • A $250,000 grant from the Booth Ferris Foundationwill support the development of a Rising Ground Centralized Access and Referral Department. With this unique centralized in-take system, an individual or family that enters a single program can be assessed for other needs and receive coordinated support from the organization’s many other services.

  • The New York Merger, Acquisition, and Collaboration Fund(NYMAC), which encourages and supports mergers and collaborations between nonprofits serving New York City, awarded Rising Ground an $80,000 grant to help cover the administrative costs of the integration. NYMAC expects that the integration of the two organizations will significantly reduce combined overhead and improve program effectiveness.

  • With a $45,000 grant from the Redlich Horwitz Foundation, Rising Ground has brought in experts to identify best practices in both the Rising Ground and Edwin Gould foster care programs, and to develop a plan to create a combined program that is more effective than either one alone.

Access to “The widest range of assistance”

“Through the integration of the two organizations and shared resources, we will bolster data-driven and outcome-oriented programming while ensuring that those we support have access to the widest range of assistance, and our staff to the best training, technology, and resources,” said Sharron Madden, the newly named Executive Director of Edwin Gould. “We’re all very excited and have worked long and hard to make this partnership a reality.”

Mucatel added: “We couldn’t be more pleased to be working with the dedicated professionals at Edwin Gould. We believe that through affiliation of these two organizations we are advancing our work and creating a stronger, more sustainable long-term structure that gives us the depth, expertise, and adaptability that will benefit the people and communities we support. This is a winning strategy.”

About Rising Ground

Rising Ground, which recently changed its name from Leake & Watts to more accurately reflect its full scope of services, is a leading nonprofit human services organization, currently operating 47 programs at 25 different sites throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Westchester, and employing a workforce of 1,400 people. Daily, it provides children, adults, and families with the resources and skills needed to rise above adversity and positively direct their lives. It has won the prestigious Nonprofit Excellence Award.

Rising Ground delivers dedicated support to facilitate safe environments for children and help families thrive through its family stabilization, family foster care and adoption programs; innovative educational programs that advance learning from early childhood through high school; caring services for children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities; result-focused programs that help youth involved in the juvenile justice system change the trajectory of their lives; and pro-active community health initiatives that foster physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Founded as an orphanage in 1831, Rising Ground has been at the forefront of evolving community needs and has become a leader in utilizing result-driven, evidence-based practices. Today, the organization’s work is a positive force in the lives of more than 12,000 individuals. For more information, visit

About Edwin Gould

Founded in 1939 to serve orphaned children, Edwin Gould provides foster care, family support and stabilization services, intellectual/developmental disabilities services, and intimate partner violence support services to 12,000 individuals annually. For more information, visit

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