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Breaking the cycle

Dear Editor;
Although the United States is one of the top 10 richest countries in the world, poverty is a critical issue in many U.S. cities.

The City of Rochester, the place we call home, is among those ranked with high poverty levels in the United States—the second-highest poverty rate of cities similar in size, to be exact. The city’s poverty rate is on the rise, and the number of children in poverty in the city has recently increased to 50 percent, an alarming statistic.

When Peter Edelman’s keynote, at the “Rochester’s Crisis of Poverty” event addressed investing in our children as an integral piece of the strategy to end poverty, it struck a chord with me.

Working in the community with many families affected by this complex issue, those of us in the human services field see firsthand the impact this vicious cycle has on our local economy and, in my particular line of work at Villa of Hope, our local youth specifically.

Despite the common misconceptions about the poor and the homeless, many people are trying their hardest to break the cycle, to create a stable life for their families and a brighter future for their children. We see many honest, hardworking citizens who are simply trying to get traction enough to get themselves ahead of the problem and back on the path to financial stability. As many of us know, the poverty cycle often repeats itself and has proven difficult to break. Investing in our youth is a critical ingredient in breaking this troublesome cycle—one that will create a positive future for the City of Rochester.

The good news, as Edelman stated, is that our local community has many strong programs in place to combat this epidemic, including the newly created Rochester Anti-Poverty Task Force, but we have much further to climb. Rochester is known for having an extremely philanthropic, resource-rich populace, yet we maintain a large gap between the rich and the poor.

We are in need of a greater concentration of resources in supportive and educational youth programs, better outcomes to prove these programs effective, and a universal community investment in making poverty a problem of the past. The youth of today are the future of our community, and if we don’t address and mitigate this pressing issue in the present, our future will look increasingly uncertain.

Anne Eichas
Vice president of community programs
Villa of Hope

3/3/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

One comment

  1. The lack of education results in poverty, period. Let me repeat, no education, no profession, no career, which results in poverty. The fact is that the RCSD cannot connect with our urban youth. They keep spending, thinking and hoping that the current boring educational presentation, which lulls the students to absenteeism, to drop out and in the end, sentences them to a life of poverty and all the misery associated with it. This is NOT a complex issue. The root cause is education and the lack of it. We are indeed investing in our youth with education and in some cases more money than the $20,000.00 per student, as in East High getting another $10,000,000.00 to carry out another experiment, which is to last seven years.
    I have begged, through letters, to change the educational delivery system. Provide relevant education with an opportunity for post high school success. It is that post high school opportunity for success that will eventually eliminate poverty. The current experts (and I won’t name them), those in a leadership position to educate, are failing our urban youth miserably. Time for a change in leadership, they have had more than enough time to apply some ingenuity, some out of the box thinking and ideas. They have, to date, spent millions and have had no impact, zero, none on the graduation rate and,…..yes poverty.

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