Five projects have been chosen to receive funding from a pot of $200,000 made available by the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.
More than 2,600 community members voted on nearly 300 projects to determine which would receive RMAPI’s first participatory budget. Five projects were chosen.
• Feed People, Not Landfills: Flower City Pickers Food Recovery—$30,000 to recover and distribute safe, nutritious, but formerly landfill-bound food to a network of more than 45 food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens and local farms at no cost to the receiving agencies;
• Tiny House Project—$50,000 to provide very low-income individuals, particularly veterans, with affordable permanent housing. The funding will build a prototype house to advance the creation of a Tiny House community in Rochester;
• House of Mercy Emergency Housing Fund—$50,000 to provide immediate funding to prevent homelessness or keep people in housing and improve the coordination of funds. The award also will fund the creation and management of a tracking system to follow clients’ progress and improve allocation efficiencies;
• Growing Out of Poverty—$31,650 to train, deploy and employ School Without Walls community service students to support community gardening, greening and farm projects across the City of Rochester; and
• The Hangout Spot, a program of Marvelous Mind Academy—$50,000 to rectify all barriers to parents entering and staying in the workforce with an innovative childcare solution operable during B and C shifts. The Hangout Spot will be set up as a worker-owned co-op and funding will allow the program to appropriately remodel a space.
RMAPI launched the participatory budgeting initiative last summer as it looked for community input on ideas to help reduce poverty and improve neighborhoods in Monroe County. Participatory budgeting is a democratic process that allows community members to vote on the projects they would like to see realized.
The process aims to build collective power, increase civic participation and foster the growth of trusting relationships throughout the communities most affected by poverty. Through the process, members of the public submitted 290 ideas for projects, while a team of 20 volunteer budget delegates researched and developed the submitted ideas into formal project proposals. More than 70 volunteers helped facilitate the idea collection, research and voting process.
“The success of the participatory budgeting Rochester process is a testament to the importance of community engagement in any effort addressing poverty,” RMAPI Executive Director Leonard Brock said. “This process helped our community—especially groups that are traditionally marginalized—come together and speak in a collective voice about what they find most important. The success of this process ensures that funding to address poverty reflects the priorities of Rochester’s residents.”