Beck Institute Achievements

2016 – Present

A new Best Practices Manual - the Restorative Communities Guide, based on Beck’s evaluation of over 65 program cycles, was developed. The guide includes detailed descriptions of the program core and support for all aspects of program implementation. Additionally, a fidelity study examining how program components are implemented was conducted. Successful replication depends on consistent provision of the program model. This report was the central focus of the May, 2016 Learning Collaborative, where 10 programs took on the task of developing implications from the study’s findings.

This year also saw the launch of additional new programs and the continued nurturing of existing programs:

  • Rye Presbyterian Church began its inaugural Coming Home Program, as part of the Restorative Community program in January 2016, providing support for men and women returning from prison.
  • The First Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn, in partnership with Housing+Solutions, launched the pilot Phoenix Rising program for formerly homeless women in transition.


This year saw the introduction of the Sanctuary Institute’s S.E.L.F. Model, infusing our programs with four central concepts for helping participants cope with and recover from trauma: Safety, Emotions, Loss, and Future. Other milestones this year include:

  • The completion of a Sustainability Study highlighted the importance of the role of communication, collaboration with the broader community, and ongoing program evaluation.
  • Reformed Church of Bronxville/Family Services of Westchester: A new collaboration began between RCB and FSW for this year’s Coming Home program, to support women recently released from the county jail. With a grant from the Westchester Community Foundation, formerly incarcerated mothers were able to experience much-needed community and support.
  • The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie started its first Coming Home program for individuals returning from prison.
  • A six-month post-program reunion, with 91 former participants reporting, revealed that 30% had attained a job, 31% has reached an educational goal, 24% had reached a housing goal, and an amazing 98% had remained substance free.


Capacity development for the Life Skills Empowerment Programs (LSEP), a precursor to Restorative Communities Program, begins a new chapter for program replication, building the evidence for these community programs. Thanks to a very generous grant from an anonymous donor, 18 LSEP program cycles were supported and evaluated through 2014. Capacity building significantly increased replication and the quality of programming.

  • Learning Collaboratives became an important resource for all programs. Hosted four times a year, these collaboratives focused on trauma-informed practices to support program participants struggling with adverse life experiences and post-traumatic stress that made it difficult to function in the community.
  • Coordinators Meetings became a monthly support for developing leadership for all Life Skills programs.
  • First Presbyterian Church launched a unique collaboration in Ossining, NY for post-incarcerated individuals that included the Westchester Ethical Society.
  • Reformed Church of Bronxville: The LEAP program was developed to support community leadership in the Nodine Hill neighborhood in Yonkers.
  • Metro Baptist Church Rauschenbusch Ministry added a domestic violence group, in addition to their HomeComing veterans’ program.
  • West End Presbyterian Church became the permanent home of the PANIM Program.
  • The First Congregational United Church of Christ in Poughkeepsie, NY, became home for a vital new program serving the needs of domestic violence survivors.
  • Our Daily Bread, by Dale Lindquist, Beck's first documentary film screened at The College of New Rochelle, the Columbia School of Social Work, and Union Theological Seminary. The documentary was also screened at three international film festivals and received the Merit Award from the Best Short Films Competition.


  • Dr. Dale Lindquist presented his film, Our Daily Bread: Feeding the Hungry in New York City. This 45-minute documentary premiered at Fordham’s Lincoln Center Campus and profiled three emergency food programs in New York City, all organized and run by churches and their affiliates.
  • The first Mentoring Handbook was developed by Mercedes Riley and Anita Lightburn, for mentors in the Life Skills Programs, supported by the Reformed Church of Bronxville and Fordham GSS Research Fund. Mentoring is an essential component of the Life Skills Empowerment Programs. Beck provided this resource to congregations with these programs and began providing mentor trainings.
  • Program manuals were developed for post incarcerated and domestic violence populations. Adapting the original Life Skills Empowerment Program model, they advanced responsive program fidelity and new program development. This was supported by Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service Research Fund.
  • The number of GSS MSW and Ph.D. students grew to a record high, providing internships for case management and program support for all of the programs, as well as supporting the ongoing program evaluations.
  • A Seminal Event: The Restorative Justice Consultation was held in November at Fordham. The Beck Institute collaborated with Union Theological Seminary and an advisory group from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and leadership from Riverside Church led by Reverend Dr. Donald Shriver and Peggy Shriver. Monsignor Quinn, Vice President of Mission and Ministry at Fordham, welcomed over 65 invited guests for the full day event. A panel of national and international restorative justice experts challenged U.S. justice practices, based on their experience of restorative justice. The daylong consultation resulted in new directions for justice reform. A report from the day is available.


A more ambitious study of the Life Skills Empowerment Program, supported by the Lois and Samuel Silberman Fund, The New York Community Trust, was undertaken to further evaluate the evidence for this model and to establish its replicability. This research was in collaboration with the following congregations/agencies:

  • All Angels Church NYC; ComALERT, Brooklyn D.A.’s office; Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of NYC; Xavier Mission NYC; the Reformed Church of Bronxville; The Riverside Church and Metro-Baptist Church. The programs hosted by these congregations and agencies provided homeless individuals, domestic violence survivors, and those returning from incarceration and military service, a bridge from isolation and alienation, to functioning and “belonging” in the larger community.
  • MSW student interns began supporting the LSEP programs as case managers, and Ph.D. candidates became a valuable part of the program evaluation team. Through 2012, the Beck team supported and evaluated twelve program cycles of eight partner congregations.


Research on the Life Skills Empowerment Program begins. Laying the foundation for the Restorative Community Collaborative (RCC), the Beck Institute, supported by the Fahs Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation, conducted an evaluation of mentoring/life skills/socialization programs for homeless individuals. This program was originally developed by Catholic Charities of New York, and the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing. Catholic Charities continues to provide this program.

  • Through 2013, programs in the evaluation included: Education Outreach Program at Catholic Charities, L-STEP Program at Xavier Mission, Coming Home at the ComALERT Program (Brooklyn DA’s Office) for those in reentry; and Metro Baptist Living Well Life Skills Empowerment Program, for survivors of domestic violence.
  • A report of this study is posted on the website, completed in 2013, authors Anita Lightburn and Amanda Sisselman. Developing an Evidenced Base Program for the Post-Incarcerated and the Homeless.”


Dr. Lindquist gave the keynote address at the 43rd annual conference of the New York State Social Work Education Association: “Poverty, the Faith Community and the University: A Creative Collaboration”. This presentation focused on the work of the Beck Institute in collaborating with the faith community in serving the economically disadvantaged. A preliminary edit of Dr. Lindquist’s documentary on faith-based emergency food programs was shown.


The Institute, in collaboration with the GSS Alumni Association, held an all-day conference “The State of the Urban Family: An Introduction to Faith-Based Interventions and Resources”.

  • In collaboration with the Office of Mission and Ministry, the Institute also presented a symposium “Poverty and the Common Good: New Ways of Understanding Collective Responsibility”. The symposium focused on key concepts in Catholic moral theology concerning poverty from the perspectives of business, law, social service and theology.


  • A symposium: “Feed the Solution: Ending Hunger Through Civic Participation, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment” brought home the opportunities for expanding this important work.
  • Collaboration occurred with Covenant House to study young homeless mothers during their transition time in the Covenant House program.
  • Dr. Lightburn and Dr. Lindquist, offered a new GSS graduate-level course that focused on capacity building for the poor through the work of faith-based communities.


Celebrating the Faith Community’s Best Practices” brought together inspiring examples of the faith communities’ support for marginalized men and women, presented at the Lincoln Center Campus. Distinguished keynote speakers brought critical perspectives and possibilities to the gathered conference attendees. New collaborations were developed to explore support for expanding successful faith community work.