Seven Programs to be Supported By More Than $800,000 in State Funding
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced seven projects being funded under the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in Jamestown. 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.
"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 Jamestown for their efforts to get to this point."
"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 Jamestown will provide increased economic opportunity for residents and help further our efforts to revitalize Chautauqua County and the entire Western New York region."
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.
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 seven programs approved for funding in Jamestown are:
- The Resource Center, $194,000 - The funding will be used to help low-income workers and 20 local employers, with the goal of improving employee retention, helping individuals transition out of poverty. Employers will receive training to help them effectively support the complex needs of their workers living in poverty. Workers will receive help with handling financial emergencies, affordable housing, child care and transportation, among other challenges.
- YWCA of Jamestown, $150,000 - The Parents as Teachers PLUS program expands an existing program for teenage mothers to include those who have dropped out of high school, helping them with parenting skills and identifying a pathway to financial stability. It will also include a mentoring component to provide further supportive services.
- Jamestown Community College, $140,000 - The funding will be used to provide educational and supportive services for low-income, single parents to help them obtain skills and credentials that lead to employment in higher-wage jobs.
- Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County, $126,000 - A support network will be established to help supplement human resources functions for designated employers with job openings, with the aim of improving employee retention. A peer specialist will be deployed to work with employers and employees to ensure a good match and help overcome barriers that emerge during the early weeks of employment.
- Community Helping Hands, $92,000 - The organization, which operates a thrift store, will hire low-income individuals, helping them gain work experience while building soft skills, emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Participants will also receive coaching and develop individual employment action plans, and will receive payment assistance for certification programs offered in the community to improve their chances of obtaining full-time employment.
- Jamestown Public Schools, $90,000 - To help address chronic absenteeism that often prevents on-time graduation from high school, this funding will support work-based learning to help students who struggle to succeed in a traditional classroom environment. Students will work at businesses that align with their interests, with an emphasis on encouraging entrepreneurial spirit.
- Chautauqua Adult Day Services, $45,000 - To help address the need for bilingual staff, and with the growing clientele of Spanish-speaking clients with limited English proficiency, Chautauqua Adult Day Services will provide 12 weeks of soft-skills training to bilingual job candidates. Participants will gain professional care-giving skills and greater English proficiency, with the opportunity to obtain Certified Nursing Assistant certification through a local employer.
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 Jamestown 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 Jamestown's local leadership and look forward to seeing the impact this effort will have on the lives of Jamestown families."
Senator Catharine Young said, "Ending the cycle of poverty that plagues many families and neighborhoods in Jamestown is crucial to building a strong future for our region and our young people. The ESPRI program funding announced today for Jamestown will move us towards that goal by connecting residents with job opportunities and focusing on the success of our youngest residents, both in and out of the classroom. I applaud the efforts of local leaders and thank Governor Cuomo for investing in the future of Chautauqua County."
Assembly Member Andy Goodell said, "Through the ESPRI program, local community leaders were able to identify key program initiatives offered by several highly qualified local organizations that will help those in poverty increase graduation rates from high school, gain better employment skills, and break out of the cycle of poverty. Governor Cuomo's leadership and support of this initiative was key in providing the State funding necessary for these initiates, and we look forward to making a significant impact on the poverty rate in Jamestown."
Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello said, "Jamestown has grown into a major economic driver, supporting the development and success of Chautauqua County. In order to continue growing, our residents deserve access to support services and opportunities that will help lift families out of poverty. I applaud the Governor for ensuring communities receive funding to expand programming that is working to improve the overall quality of life in Jamestown and beyond."
Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi said, "The support Jamestown has received through the Governor's downtown revitalization initiative, coupled with investments secured through our regional economic development council, have helped grow the economy and create new jobs for our residents. The Governor's latest investment through ESPRI will not only help improve the quality of life for our residents, but it will ensure educational opportunities are available to continue to increase employment rates across this community."
Amy Rohler, Executive Director of United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, which oversees the ESPRI Grant, said, "We are incredibly excited about these innovative and collaborative projects in Jamestown. The process of choosing these organizations was community-driven by multiple stakeholders with a very intentional and data-driven process."
Krista Camarata, the Director of Community Impact for United Way, said, "We will be collecting data and identifying common measures using a web-based collaboration software called 'Charity Tracker.' This allows us to share data and easily create a snapshot on our progress when it comes to workforce development."
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.