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HEARTS Initiative

Goal: The HEARTS (Healthy Environments And Relationships That Support) Initiative will prevent and address childhood trauma in the New York State Capital Region and surrounding counties - Warren, Washington, Columbia, and Saratoga. The HEARTS initiative is an innovative model to replicate nationally, as well as internationally, to make children's lives healthier and happier.

Purpose: HEARTS are healthy environments and relationships that support people who have experienced trauma. HEARTS also prevent the trauma and consequences of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Our partner agencies have each developed programs to mitigate the effects of ACEs and have joined the HEARTS Initiative cross-sector coalition for a powerful ACE Response impact in the community.

How We Developed

ACE Think Tank and Action Team meetings, launched at the University at Albany in 2009, stimulated ACE information-sharing and networking among agency leaders and community members. While ACE awareness spread, strong relationships forged and evolved over time.

In October 2011, with seed funding from the Charles R. Wood Foundation, St. Anne Institute became the lead agency of this partnership with the support, technical assistance, and in-kind services of Prevent Child Abuse New York and the UAlbany School of Social Welfare. The HEARTS Initiative is extending current programs and reaching out to include other community organizations.

Our Approach

Restorative Integral Support (RIS) is a flexible model that facilitates the integration of a variety of programs carrying out prevention and intervention activities within the context of intentionally developed HEARTS. 

Agency leaders across service sectors support one another to implement key elements of ACE-informed care in their own agencies while working together to build capacity with policymakers to make HEARTS a community-wide movement. The HEARTS initiative works together to improve practices and outcomes in human service delivery as well as in families and communities.

How We Help

The HEARTS Initiative aims to help prevent and address ACE consequences in the following ways:

  • Improve program and community responses to prevent ACE consequences
  • Support the development of healthy families
  • Empower youth
  • Reduce substance abuse, homelessness, and crime
  • Support "ACE-informed" delivery of mental health and other treatment services
  • Strengthen communities

The following action steps will lead to these powerful impacts:

  • Encourage healthcare, childcare, and educational professionals to ask about ACEs.
  • Support the creation of ACE-informed services that build HEARTS to foster healthy development across the lifespan.
  • Support workforce development to help service providers address ACEs and build HEARTS.
  • Facilitate community gatherings in neighborhoods by electing current or former service users to serve as ACE and resilience knowledge brokers with those neighborhoods.
  • Offer presentations to raise awareness of ACEs and engage agency directors and community members in the development and evaluation of HEARTS.
  • Inform policymakers about the consequences of childhood trauma to support ACE-informed HEARTS programming.
  • Implement Service Outcomes Action Research (SOAR) to comprehensively evaluate the impact of programs that incorporate services and interventions within the context of HEARTS.
  • Highlight program impacts on the ACE Response website to share information about preventing and overcoming childhood trauma.

The HEARTS Initiative has received a grant from the Health Federation of Philadelphia to strengthen community resilience-building efforts for ACE Response through its participation in the Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) national learning community. As a MARC community member, HEARTS has an opportunity to share successes with 13 other MARC networks from around the United States and accelerate momentum in building a healthier and more resilient world for children to grow up in.


This 2014 proclamation from the New York State Senate recognizes the HEARTS Initiative's community development work for ACE Response.

HEARTS has reached as far as England where the collaborative has been acknowledged as an exemplar of community ACE Response, both locally and nationally, as articulated in this letter of support.