(Alan Mucatel, executive director, Leake & Watts, and Board of Trustees chairman G. Crossan Seybolt Jr., receive the Excellence Award of the New York Community Trust. Photo courtesy of Leake & Watts)
Leake & Watts, a nonprofit serving troubled youth in Yonkers that had been censured for bad practices in the past, has won one of three Excellence Awards by the New York Community Trust.
It was one of three Westchester-based nonprofits given a gold prize in an awards program, now in its eighth year, that recognizes outstanding management practices in nonprofits headquartered in New York City, Long Island and Westchester.
In all, three organizations won an award, including Row New York and Graham Windham. The three organizations were chosen from a pool of 77 applicants, a 25 percent increase from 2013, according to information provided by Leake & Watts.
Leake and Watts received $30,000 and scholarships for Columbia Business School Executive Education Programs in Social Enterprise.
“Winning this award is a tremendous honor and is an affirmation that we are achieving our mission and successfully supporting children and families. It is a wonderful recognition for so many that have believed in our work and our agency and who have worked so hard to affect positive changes to benefit the community,” said Alan Mucatel, Executive Director. “This award encourages all of us here at Leake & Watts to continue forward in advancing our work on behalf of children and families and provides an opportunity for those that don’t know about Leake & Watts to get more involved.”
“We’re thrilled to present these three incredible organizations with this year’s Award,” said Michael Clark, President of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York, which manages the Awards program along with The Trust and Philanthropy New York. “These exemplary nonprofits have really invested enormous resources and time into honing their management practices, which translate to results that fulfill their missions.”
The awards program is designed to encourage nonprofits to improve their management practices in eight areas: results; governance; financial management; human resources; diversity and responsiveness; information technology; communications; and fundraising. Applicants were given feedback from a selection committee to help improve organizational performance.
Five years ago, Leake & Watts was operating with a multi-million dollar deficit and 80 percent of its programs in an Administration of Children’s Services corrective action. Today, it operates with a surplus, has had clean audits for the past two years and is cited for its excellent program practices and outcomes. Its administrators credits the turnaround to new management and financial practices, better hiring practices, better collaboration among the board of directors, executive director, and staff; and developing an agency-wide culture focused on results.
“There is no doubt that the quality of our programs and services are strong and continuously improving,” Mucatel said. “We see that children and families are better off through specific outcomes measures such as keeping 96 percent of families that come to us in crisis stable and together, improving high school graduation rates by 30 percent for low-income children in our Parent Child Home Program, improving math and reading scores for children at Woodfield Cottage by 10 percent after one month in our program, helping 25 percent of children in our Head Start programs move onto gifted kindergarte, and helping 40 percent of our preschool special education students move on to kindergarten in need of less or no intensive services.”
“Five years ago, new agency leadership took a hard look at harsh criticism the agency was receiving from many stakeholders – funders, regulators, colleagues, community members – and recognized it could build on Leake & Watts’ legacy of service to improve its work and have a significant, positive impact across a number of communities,” he said. “With many people pulling together and supporting the effort, changes were made in operations, administration, staffing and services that have propelled Leake & Watts to the point in which it is now delivering high quality services supported by carefully constructed management systems that ensure consistency and sustainability.”