Voices of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY)

aka VOCAL-NY   |   Brooklyn, NY   |  www.vocal-ny.org

Mission

Voices of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY) is a statewide grassroots membership organization that builds power among low-income people affected by HIV/AIDS, the drug war, mass incarceration, and homelessness in order to create healthy and just communities. We accomplish this through community organizing, leadership development, advocacy, direct services, participatory research, and direct action.

Ruling year info

2002

Principal Officer

Mrs. Alyssa Aguilera

Co Principal Officer

Mr. Jeremy Saunders

Main address

80A Fourth Ave

Brooklyn, NY 11217 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

NYC AIDS Housing Network

EIN

13-4094385

NTEE code info

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (L01)

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

Disabled Persons' Rights (R23)

IRS filing requirement

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

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2019, 2018 and 2017.
Register now

Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

This profile needs more info.

If it is your nonprofit, add a problem overview.

Login and update

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?

Direct Services

We are a New York State-licensed syringe services program that provides comprehensive harm reduction services through our brick-and-mortar location in Brooklyn, street outreach, and peer exchange. We offer sterile equipment for people who use drugs to reduce rates of infectious disease and prevent infections. We also provide fentanyl testing strips, as well as hygiene supplies. We accept used syringes at our storefront and on outreach. We also offer personal hazardous waste containers to make sure syringes are disposed of safely. VOCAL-NY also offers free hepatitis C testing and treatment, wound care, and access to medication for opioid use disorder.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Substance abusers
People with HIV/AIDS

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY) is a statewide grassroots membership organization that builds power among low-income people affected by HIV/AIDS, the drug war, mass incarceration, and homelessness in order to create healthy and just communities. We accomplish this through community organizing, leadership development, advocacy, direct services, participatory research and direct action.

VOCAL-NY is building a movement of low-income people dedicated to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the drug war, mass incarceration, and homelessness. We fight for systemic change rooted in justice, compassion, and love. We approach this work with a firm belief in reducing harm and ending stigma, and the knowledge that the issues impacting our communities are driven by institutional oppression, not personal failings. Our campaigns have saved or improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers across the state.

Our goals are: to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the drug war, mass incarceration, and homelessness among low-income New Yorkers; to provide comprehensive, quality health care services to people who use drugs in Brooklyn; and to build power among low-income New Yorkers directly impacted by HIV/AIDS, the drug war, mass incarceration, and homelessness.

Our model of movement building draws inspiration from three traditions: (1) traditional community-based organizing, (2) direct-action AIDS activism, and (3) Black-led social movements for racial justice. Above all, we work with the knowledge that abolishing systemic poverty and injustice will only be done by building the leadership and power of the most marginalized among us.

VOCAL-NY is a New York State-licensed syringe services program that provides services at a brick-and-mortar location in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, as well as through peer and mobile exchange in neighborhoods across Brooklyn, including Brownsville, Coney Island, East New York, Red Hook, and Sunset Park. VOCAL-NY began providing syringe services in 2010.

VOCAL-NY provides an array of services for people experiencing homelessness and people who use drugs. We provide comprehensive harm reduction services through our brick-and-mortar SSP and our mobile, peer-based exchange, both of which provide participants with sterile supplies for drug use, including injecting, smoking, and snorting supplies; overdose prevention education and supplies, such as Naloxone; fentanyl test strips; and hygiene kits. Participants are also able to turn in used syringes for proper disposal.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Low-income New Yorkers who are directly impacted by HIV/AIDS, drug use, mass incarceration, and homelessness.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    SMS text surveys, Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    VOCAL-NY consistently challenges structural racism and other forms of oppression in our work. Our Harm Reduction Services staff are required to attend bias and cultural humility training with regards to race, gender and sexuality, and other cultures as a part of their onboarding. We operate as a horizontal organization, with a strong belief in decentralizing power. As we move into our new space and are able to safely host participants on site, we will be resuming our Participant Advisory Committee meetings as well, which provide opportunities for participants to share feedback on VOCAL-NY’s services. Half of our Harm Reduction Services staff are former VOCAL participants who completed our job training program, and now work at and influence our practices at nearly every level of the team.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    VOCAL-NY is rigorously democratic, believing that the programs we deliver and campaigns we launch should be determined by the people we serve. We strongly believe in building power within the communities directly impacted by our core issues. Not only do we seek feedback from the people we serve, but we actively engage them in determining the future of our organization and the campaigns we run. This holds the organization accountable to our members and leaders and ensures that everything we do is rooted in the needs and wants of people directly impacted by our issues.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Voices of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY)
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.

Operations

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

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Voices of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY)

Board of directors
as of 07/15/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Hiawatha Collins

Harm Reduction Coalition

Reginald Brown

VOCAL-NY Positive Leaders Union

Nathylin Adesegun

VOCAL-NY Homeless Union

Pedro Benitez

VOCAL-NY Rochester Chapter

Linda Beal

VOCAL-NY Albany Chapter

Wanda Hernandez

Harlem United

Marilyn Reyes

VOCAL-NY Users Union

Jovada Senhouse

VOCAL-NY Civil Rights Union

Wayne Starks

Retired

Jeremy Saunders

Ex-officio

Alyssa Aguilera

Ex-officio

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? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • 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? Yes
  • 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? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/15/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/15/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.