RFK Community Alliance

Every Child Deserves a Childhood

aka RFK Children's Action Corps   |   Lancaster, MA   |  www.rfkcommunity.org


RFK Community Alliance provides high-quality care and support to people and families facing complicated challenges. As a multi-service agency, we offer a wide range of programs serving a variety of needs across all ages from infants to seniors. Our mission is to promote meaningful and sustained well-being for children, youth, and adults facing educational, developmental, mental health, and other challenges.

Ruling year info


President & Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Michael Ames PhD

Main address

971 Main Street

Lancaster, MA 01523 USA

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NTEE code info

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Specialized Education Institutions/Schools for Visually or Hearing Impaired, Learning Disabled (B28)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Lancaster Residential Campus & Lancaster School

Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps' Lancaster Residential Treatment Campus provides long- and short-term treatment, emergency assessment, respite care, and special education services for boys and girls ranging in age from 11-18. Youth who have suffered from abuse and neglect, domestic violence, mental health/behavioral and cognitive challenges are treated through counseling, recreational support, life skills, relationship-building and other therapeutic interventions helping them live to their fullest potential. Services at Lancaster include:
* Residential Services: Offers individualized treatment planning with a focus on trauma informed care. Co-ed state of the art residence.
* STARR: Short-term assessment program for 15 adolescent boys and girls. STARR staff complete comprehensive assessments and collaborate with DCF and DMH to develop treatment recommendations.
* Group Home: Provides a safe and nurturing environment while working in partnership with local schools and DCF for youth ages 11-18.
* Educational Assessments: On-site, ages 6-18, Approved Special Education School.
* Experiential Education: Trained staff engage youth in direct experience learning opportunities including: NYPUM (National Youth Project Using Minibikes), ropes course, canoeing, hiking, and museum and historical site visits, with a focused reflection to increase knowledge and develop skills.
* Intervention Services: Full range of mental health and crisis intervention services for adolescents and families including: diagnostic assessments, psychological evaluation, medication evaluation/treatment, on-call emergency services, substance abuse evaluation/treatment and individual, group and family therapy.
Don Watson Academy: The Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps' Watson Academy is a state approved special education residential and day school that serves students 6-18 years of age with social emotional disabilities.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
Children and youth

Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps' Detention Diversion Advocacy Program (DDAP) is a voluntary intervention alternative to court-ordered detention, providing young people with community-based support and supervision. DDAP strives to reduce the disproportionate number of minority youth arraigned through the court system, offering an opportunity to reverse their path to juvenile crime and helping them live to their fullest potential. We presently have programs in the Dorchester, Springfield, Holyoke and Chelsea juvenile courts. Services in DDAP include:
* Intervention: DDAP is a highly successful program that has been researched and replicated in multiple states with a proven track record of keeping youth in their community, in their school and out of detention, helping to maintain and create new positive peer connections.
* One-on-One Support: Youth Advocates provide intensive support to youth including: accompanying youth to scheduled court dates, school visits, employment assistance, and enrichment and recreational activities.
* Wrap Around Services: Family support groups and community connections ensure a strength-based plan is developed and implemented on an individual basis.
*Social, Recreational and Enrichment Opportunities: DDAP regularly offers youth the chance to attend performances, sports events, and participate in visits to museums, recreational areas, and the like.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
Ethnic and racial groups

Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps' RFK Academy is a 12-month special education day school for young people ages 10 to 21 who face a variety of emotional, behavioral and educational challenges. The program provides academic, vocational, transitional, recreational, clinical and community-based educational services in a therapeutic and communal environment. Many participants in RFK Academy have significant problems with anger, peer relationships, substance abuse, academic performance and self accountability. The program effectively combines a strong educational curriculum with unique service offererings designed to facilitate self responsibility, intellectual growth and improved behavior. RFK Academy accepts referrals from the youth's home school district throughout western Massachusetts.Services include:Academics: State approved academic courses, preparation/facilitation for MCAS, adventure based.Transition Services, Clinical Services, Vibrant Music Program, Drivers Education, Experiential Education.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

RFK Children's Action Corps offers adoption services through Bright Futures Adoption Center, a licensed, nonprofit, domestic adoption agency with 2 programs:The Infant Adoption Program places infants born in the US with loving families. The Adoption and Permanency Program finds "forever families" for children of all ages in the MA foster care system. Services include:Options counselingPre-adoptive parent educationMassachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting trainingHome studiesMatching, adoption and transition planningPost-placement supervisionLegal finalizationInterstate Compact on the Placement of Children Post-adoption support serviceIn 2014, RFK Children's Action Corps acquired the Adoption Community of New England. ACONE educates, supports, and advocates on behalf of all members of the adoption triad, assisting through all stages of their adoption-related experience by means of seminars, workshops, support groups, policy statements, legislative advocacy, and other measures

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers
Children and youth

Led by RFK Children's Action Corps, the RFK National Resource Center provides consultation, technical assistance, and training to serve local, state, and national leaders, practitioners and youth-serving agencies to improve system performance and outcomes for youth involved with the juvenile justice system. The RFK National Resource Center focuses primarily on youth with prior or current involvement in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, known as dual status youth, the review and improvement of juvenile probation systems, and the use of a model framework to address the state and national laws and policies governing the exchange and sharing of data, information, and records for youth and families. Work has taken place in the following states and territories: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, with more interested in engaging with us.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people
At-risk youth

This program provides young women between the ages of 13 – 18 with the educational, life skills, therapeutic, recreational and support services needed to improve their behavior and ultimately return home and into their communities. These young women have often made poor choices, developed negative behaviors and/or experienced a range of trauma as the result of abuse and neglect.

Population(s) Served
Young women
Adolescent girls

The Kennedy School serves youth detained for crimes ranging from drug possession to assault. They learn accountability by participating in daily school, individual and group counseling, and structured activities designed to promote responsibility and self-reliance.

Population(s) Served
Young men
Adolescent boys

(COASA) program supports children of alcoholism and substance abuse by advocating for them in community forums and developing appropriate supportive educational groups for them throughout Boston. COASA facilitates school and community-based prevention/intervention services, adapting them to the particular needs of the children served.

Research suggests that 15 percent of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol abuse and/or substance abuse in the family, and children who experience alcoholism and substance abuse in their lives often suffer from a wide variety of problems, including poor self-esteem and problems with relationships.

COASA works within Boston neighborhoods with existing drug coalitions and with the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR). The program offers resources to the children regardless of whether the parents are in treatment.

Specific services include:

Individual, family and group counseling
Support groups
Advocacy in the community

Population(s) Served

Legacy Mentoring serves Hampden County children and youth at risk of, or already affected by, commercial sexual exploitation. We work closely with the Hampden County Coalition to Identify and Prevent the Sexual Exploitation of Children (The Coalition), through which community partnerships have developed to create a multidisciplinary team (MDT) specifically for trafficked and exploited children and youth.

Our trained mentors have lived experience and understand the circumstances which may lead to commercial sexual exploitation as well as the supports needed to help affected children and youth. They develop and support meaningful relationships; provide mentoring services to youth identified as CSEC, or at imminent risk for CSEC; actively engage youth identified as CSEC in changing the paradigm of their individual narratives, from passive and vulnerable victims to empowered and courageous survivors with the ability to change their own lives; and increase community awareness and outreach to enhance community identification and support of commercially sexually exploited children and youth.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Spirit of Home 2008

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares

Non Profit Partner of the Year with Mintz Levin 2010

Boston Business Journal

Affiliations & memberships

Child Welfare League - Accredited Member 2011

Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers 2011

Children’s League of Massachusetts 2014

Massachusetts Association of 766-Approved Private Schools 2014


RFK Community Alliance

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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RFK Community Alliance

Board of directors
as of 07/25/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Catherine Brady


Term: 2018 - 2020

Keith Carroll

Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC

Michael Connolly

Rubin and Rudman LLC

Stephen Peck

Brown & Brown of Massachusetts

Marc Jones

US Securities & Exchange Commission

Cindy Schlessinger

Epsilon Associates

Joseph Kennedy

U.S. House of Representatives

Stephan Morikawa

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Michael Watson

The Port Authority of NY & NJ

Lyman Legters

Casey Family Programs

John Boyle

Cushman & Wakefield

Kim Thornton

Boston, IVF, The Waltham Center

Samuel Bottum

Snap-On Incorporated

Linda Williams

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

James Geraghty

Morgan Stanley PWM

Paul LaCava

Quinsigamond Community College

The Honorable Leslie Harris


Matt Kennedy

Kennedy Merchant Partners

Helyn Oatis


Amy Crate

Community Volunteer

Penny Outlaw


Christopher Bailey

Mutual of America

Emma Carpenter


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No