Seven Programs to Begin with More Than $1.4 Million in State Funding
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced seven projects are being funded under the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in Buffalo. 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.
"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 commend Buffalo for their efforts to bring meaningful change to their community and I look forward to these programs delivering results."
"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, who made today's announcement. "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 Buffalo will provide increased economic opportunity for residents in Western New York."
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 United Way of Buffalo & Erie County and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the lead convening organizations administering ESPRI funding in Buffalo, are rolling out a Talent Pipeline Management continuum to help reduce financial hardship.
The United Way is implementing THRIVE Buffalo with the help of contracted community-based organizations and incorporating area employers to help low-income city residents access workforce development programs, financial education, and supportive services aimed at helping them become employed and achieving long-term financial stability.
The seven programs approved for funding in support of THRIVE Buffalo are:
Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Development Consortium, $701,725 - Working with the Buffalo Employment and Training Center, key stakeholders will be engaged to create a workforce development pipeline to prepare and connect program participants with high-quality, family-sustaining employment opportunities in key growth industries. This effort also involves aligning resources to support long-term program sustainability.
Northland Workforce Training Center, $397,597 - Key stakeholders will be engaged to create a workforce development pipeline, with a specific focus on training in advanced manufacturing and related industries. The program also aligns resources to support long-term program sustainability.
Buffalo Niagara Partnership, $199,696 - To serve as the lead partner in convening and organizing employers and to connect THRIVE Buffalo participants to opportunities to improve their skills and compete for jobs with local employers in high-demand industries.
Center for Governmental Research, $75,000 - An evaluation plan will be designed that establishes THRIVE Buffalo's intended outcomes and ensures the program's performance is measured, as well as help shape future program modeling.
Jackson Parker Communication, $60,000 - Marketing and public relations services will be provided that promote awareness of THRIVE Buffalo to ensure the initiative is attracting interested and qualified participants.
211-WNY and Buffalo 311, $24,000 - Call center staff will be trained to identify candidates for THRIVE Buffalo and refer them to the appropriate program provider based on each individual's needs.
Community Connections of New York, $11,500 - Supportive services will be provided based on individual needs to overcome barriers to employment, including transportation, child care, financial literacy and certification or licensing.
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Mike Hein said, "Governor Cuomo recognizes that the causes of poverty are many and cannot be solved by one entity alone. ESPRI provides a model that empowers communities to address unique local needs while helping to foster increased economic mobility for all New Yorkers."
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 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 Buffalo 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 Buffalo's local leadership and look forward to seeing the impact this effort will have on the lives of Buffalo families."
Senator Tim Kennedy said, "These grants will directly target poverty here in Western New York. This holistic approach, focusing on employment, transportation, training, child care and more will go a long way towards addressing the causes of poverty here in Western New York. I am deeply appreciative of the hard work that has been put into the THRIVE Buffalo program by our lead conveners, the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. Their leadership in developing this approach to improve the lives of the working poor in Western New York has been invaluable and I am thrilled to see the next stage in this process begin."
Senator Chris Jacobs said, "I am very pleased that $1.4 million in Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative funds are going to support innovative workforce development and job training programs in the City of Buffalo. So many companies and employers that I have met with have told me that finding qualified employees with the right skill sets is their greatest challenge. The programs funded through this initiative will help address those needs while preparing people for employment opportunities that will provide their families with greater financial stability and security."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "I would like to congratulate all of our ESPRI staff and taskforce partners. We've been collaborating and building capacity for quite some time to be able to hit the ground running for Phase 2 implementation. The seven programs under Thrive Buffalo administered by the United Way and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo will ensure residents have access to additional job training, financial education, and wrap around services to help them on the road to financial independence. Thanks to $1.7 million from the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, we can continue our efforts to raise all boats with the economic tide."
Assemblymember Sean Ryan said, "The funding for these projects will be vital in helping people looking to enter the workforce get the training they need and allow them to become financially independent. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued investment in Western New York and look forward to seeing our community continue to grow as a result of these programs."
Assemblymember Pat Burke said, "I'm happy to see these critical funds coming to our region to implement the THRIVE Buffalo program, and I want to thank the Governor for recognizing the potential of our communities. These resources will help countless individuals develop the skills necessary to become a part of our growing workforce."
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "In Erie County we are developing a workforce that is ready to meet the needs of today's economy, and we are ensuring that residents who are looking to upgrade their employee skill sets have the ability to do so. This funding from NYS will energize the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative and give more potential employees the opportunity to pursue good-paying jobs and security for themselves and their families."
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "I thank Governor Cuomo for working with me to fight poverty in the City of Buffalo. This funding will continue to improve access to training so all residents can acquire the skills they need to improve their quality of life."
United Way of Buffalo and Erie County President & CEO Michael Weiner said, "The United Way of Buffalo and Erie County is very pleased to be launching THRIVE Buffalo; a collaborative community initiative designed to create a Talent Pipeline Management continuum in support of unemployed and underemployed City of Buffalo residents. More families are facing financial hardship than even the federal poverty line suggests and improving access to higher-paying jobs and upskilling opportunities will better support these families and position them for greater financial stability. We want to thank Governor Cuomo for his continued support of our community."
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 program, answer questions, and connect local government with non-profit providers and business groups. The remaining 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.