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Programs to reduce poverty get $1M in state funding

Three Rochester-area poverty-reduction programs will receive nearly $1 million in state funding through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI).

“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,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release Monday. “I look forward to these programs delivering results and commend Rochester for (its) efforts to get to this point.”

The three poverty-reduction programs approved for funding in Rochester include:

  • Young Adult Manufacturing Training Employment Program—$750,000 to 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. The pilot will train and employ up to 200 people, while also serving as a model for other employers to emulate in their fields.
  • Rochester Rehabilitation and Action for a Better Community—$75,000 each to create a virtual map showing how individuals progress through agencies delivering services, finding opportunities for greater efficiency, ways agencies can collaborate and areas where individuals may need more support.
  • St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center—$76,000 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.

“Strengthening our community through education and job-readiness is a long-term solution to helping individuals and families escape poverty,” said Sen. Rich Funke, R-Fairport. “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.”

The governor’s office announced ESPRI in 2016 and 16 communities statewide formed local task forces to oversee efforts and administer state funding. The state modeled ESPRI after the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, part of a broad coalition of state and local government, businesses and nonprofit representatives working together to redesign and coordinate efforts to address extreme poverty here, officials 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,” Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle said. “I am grateful to Gov. Cuomo for delivering funds that will enable these efforts to continue serving and uplifting those in our community who are most in need.”

The fund approval will allow RMAPI to continue its efforts to create systemic change that addresses the root causes of poverty, RMAPI Executive Director Leonard Brock said.

“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 driving,” Brock said.

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