Three Programs to Begin With Nearly $1 Million in State Funding Investment Complements Finger Lakes Forward, the Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced three projects that will be funded under the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in Rochester. These projects are a direct result of ESPRI, the Governor's $25 million initiative to help 16 communities develop locally-driven strategies to reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity for all New Yorkers. Today's investment complements Finger Lakes Forward, the region's comprehensive strategy to revitalize communities and grow the economy.
"Through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, we are empowering communities to connect people with opportunities that help move them on a path out of poverty toward economic independence," Governor Cuomo said. "I look forward to these programs delivering results and commend Rochester for their efforts to get to this point."
Shortly after the Governor announced the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in 2016, Albany, Binghamton, the Bronx, Buffalo, Elmira, Hempstead, Jamestown, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Oneonta, Oswego, Syracuse, Troy, Utica and Watertown joined Rochester by developing local task forces to oversee local efforts and administer state funding. The state modeled the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative on New York's successful Rochester Anti-Poverty Task Force, part of a broad coalition of state and local government, business and nonprofit representatives working together to redesign and coordinate efforts to address extreme poverty in the Rochester area.
Initially, these task forces worked to identify high-need areas and develop recommendations for investments and other changes to reduce the number of individuals living in poverty. Now, the task forces are beginning to implement the poverty reduction plans developed in the first phase, utilizing the ESPRI funding.
The three poverty reduction programs approved for funding for Rochester are:
- Young Adult Manufacturing Training Employment Program (YAMTEP), $750,000 - The funding will be used to help adults acquire the skills to maintain a living wage job in the manufacturing industry. The program will teach basic work habits and social skills required to work in manufacturing. While training and employing up to 200 people, this pilot project will also serve as a model for other employers to emulate in their respective fields.
- Rochester Rehabilitation, $75,000, and Action for a Better Community, $75,000 - A virtual "map" will be created, showing how individuals progress through agencies delivering services, finding opportunities for greater efficiency, ways agencies can work together and areas where individuals may need more support.
- St. Joseph's Neighborhood Center, $76,000 - The funding will be used to expand the organization's Structural Racism Initiative, with a goal of training 200 individuals from 29 organizations. The program helps local agencies and businesses better understand the issue and develop effective ways to combat it within their own organizations.
"As part of our Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, we're providing funding to communities across the state to address the critical issue of poverty that continues to impact the lives of so many New Yorkers," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "We want to ensure that people who are living in poverty are given the opportunities and resources they need to help lead a more stable life. This investment in poverty reduction programs in Rochester will provide increased economic opportunity for residents and complements the Finger Lakes Forward initiative to revitalize the region."
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, "The barriers to overcoming poverty are unique to each community and these locally-generated approaches are designed to address each community's needs. Through ESPRI, Governor Cuomo has developed a model that empowers local leaders to address the root causes of poverty in the most effective way."
New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Governor Cuomo recognizes that for communities to thrive, we must deliver resources to help less fortunate residents. The ESPRI gives a helping hand to those suffering at the hands of poverty, which in turn strengthens community bonds, gives residents a sense of pride and fosters real growth both in and beyond each locality. These are great programs that will help deliver an equal economic playing field so that we can all prosper."
Interagency Coordinator of Non-profit Organizations Fran Barrett said, "ESPRI continues Governor Cuomo's successful efforts to tackle the root causes of poverty and income inequality. Through ESPRI, Governor Cuomo has empowered low income New Yorkers to design strategies for removing the barriers they face to achieving economic and social mobility. This is an exciting moment as the citizens of Rochester are working together for tangible results. The unique system-changing projects launched today are a great example of the work being done across the state in all 16 ESPRI localities. We applaud the work of Rochester's local leadership and look forward to seeing the impact this effort will have on the lives of Rochester families.
Senator Funke said, "Strengthening our community through education and job-readiness is a long-term solution to helping individuals and families escape poverty. We have companies that want to be here, and I continually hear from employers that they need more trained employees. Hopefully, these efforts will help create that connection."
Senator Mike Ranzenhofer said, "I am pleased that nearly $1 million in state funding is on its way to Rochester as part of the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. Investing in these community programs will help to create new job opportunities for residents and reduce poverty in Rochester."
Senator Joseph Robach said, "Through state investment in these programs in Rochester, we are continuing to focus on ways to decrease poverty and increase opportunity in our community. It is critically important that all government leaders be united in these efforts. I will continue to support these important programs, and many others in our community, to work to lift those in our community out of poverty."
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said," Through continued partnership and collaboration, the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative is supporting the development and implementation of community-driven plans that are confronting head-on the specific challenges facing families and individuals living in poverty. I am grateful to Governor Cuomo for delivering funds that will enable these efforts to continue serving and uplifting those in our community who are most in need."
Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, "Through the ESPRI program, communities like Rochester are empowered to combat poverty by identifying specific needs and creating programs, by engaging with community members and those directly impacted by poverty. As Chair of the Commission on Skills Development and Career Education, I am pleased a portion of these funds will result in living wage job opportunities for individuals participating in the YAMTEP manufacturing skills training program. Workforce development is a key component to ending the cycle of poverty. I want to thank Governor Cuomo and my colleagues in the Legislature for supporting these efforts and delivering these critically needed funds."
Assemblymember David Gannt said, "Poverty is one of the most critical issues facing our community today, and The Rochester Anti-Poverty Task Force has worked tirelessly to address the needs of the citizens of Rochester. I'm proud to partner with my colleagues in government to provide this funding to produce life-altering results and address poverty in our neighborhoods."
Mayor Lovely Warren said, "I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative for making an investment in our efforts to lift residents out of poverty by creating more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities. YAMTEP, ABC, Rochester Rehabilitation Center and St. Joseph's Neighborhood Center have improved the lives of so many in our community, and with this investment these organizations will have the capacity to reach many more."
Dr. Leonard Brock, Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative Executive Director, said, "The approved state contract will allow RMAPI to continue with its ongoing efforts to create systemic change that addresses the root causes of poverty. In the coming year, these efforts will bring higher earnings and increased participation in the labor force, increased effectiveness of benefits, increased accessibility of basic needs, increased funding alignment around the community's common poverty-reduction agenda and decision-making among key stakeholders that is community and data-informed. Since the effort was established by Governor Cuomo in 2015, RMAPI has led efforts to create incremental improvements at each point a person in poverty touches systems. This effort has brought together more than 50 partners across all sectors committed to changing their policies and practices to align with anti-poverty goals. The community-led effort has also sought the input of more than 1,000 people, with a focus on those affected by poverty."
The Governor's Nonprofit Coordination Unit, along with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and the New York State Grants and Reform Team last year held listening sessions across the state to discuss updates with the Governor's ESPRI program, answer questions, and connect local government with non-profit providers and business groups. The remaining ESPRI-communities are all in various stages of developing and enacting their local recommendations and are expected to announce their individual poverty reduction plans in the coming months.