Governor Cuomo Announces Projects Funded Through Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative Launching in Syracuse

More Than $1.7 Million Provided Across 10 Organizations to Undertake Community-Based Projects

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced 10 organizations that will receive more than $1.7 million through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative to undertake community-based projects in the City of Syracuse. These projects are a direct result of 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.

"This initiative helps communities develop a pathway to guide low-income New Yorkers toward economic independence," Governor Cuomo said. "With this funding, Syracuse will join other regions in developing models that are effective at addressing poverty in some of the hardest hit areas of the state. I commend these efforts and look forward to seeing the programs deliver results."

"We are focused on lifting New Yorkers out of poverty and improving quality of life in every community across the state," Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. "With funding from the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, the United Way of Central New York will be able to invest in proven strategies to tackle poverty with job training programs, services for at-risk youth, and assistance with transportation and literacy. Syracuse residents will have a brighter future thanks to this strategic investment."

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, Troy, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown joined Rochester by developing task forces to oversee local efforts and administer state funding.

These task forces worked to identify high-need areas and develop recommendations for investments and other initiatives to reduce the number of individuals living in poverty. Now, the task forces are implementing the poverty reduction plans developed in the first phase to utilize the funding.

The United Way of Central New York Inc. is administering the funding in Syracuse on behalf of Greater Syracuse HOPE, due to its capacity to collaborate with a wide variety of entities on common goals and themes. The city-based nonprofit is contracting with community-based organizations to help low-income residents address education, employment, housing and health concerns that were previously identified by the taskforce.

These organizations include:

  • Coordinated Care Services, $325,000 - To fund a dropout prevention and peer mentorship program employing 11 family advocates that will provide support services to 150 at-risk middle school students and their families.

  • Street Addiction Institute, $205,000 - To create an after-school component for the 150 identified students participating in Coordinated Care Services' peer mentorship program that will address the challenges they face from neighborhood trauma. The organization will provide services that promote school attendance, academic performance, and parent supports through intensive non-traditional academic and behavioral interventions.

  • PEACE Inc., $75,000 - To incorporate 100 middle school students in a public awareness campaign that will help them improve job readiness skills, increase civic engagement and bolster financial literacy. The project also aims to help participants gain a greater sense of connection to the community.

  • Home HeadQuarters, Inc., $355,000 - To provide financial counseling to help low-income individuals create viable options for additional streams of revenue and build up existing assets. As part of the project, the company will subcontract with a local credit union to provide a financial counselor and Step-Up loans to assist individuals who participate in workforce training.

  • Syracuse Northeast Community Center, $100,000 - To help people who are ineligible to participate or have dropped out of traditional job training programs re-enter the workforce through volunteer opportunities with nonprofits that are within walking distance. Also, to provide financial counseling with a focus on budgeting and credit repair. Syracuse Northeast Community Center will partner with Northeast Hawley Development Association, Inc., and the ARISE Child & Family Service.

  • Good Life Youth Foundation, $100,000 - To teach financial literacy and healthy money management so families can build assets and achieve financial stability. Each enrolled family will receive a small line of credit at the beginning of the seven-month pilot that will be released to them once they complete the financial literacy module to either save or cover critical life expenses.

  • SUNY Educational Opportunity Center, $150,000 - To support adding two new community engagement specialists to provide individuals with a broad array of services, including aptitude and skill assessments, career planning, and job placement assistance.

  • Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility, $183,000 - To establish Community Connectors, people of influence within their respective neighborhoods who can guide other residents to resources that can help them navigate their way out of poverty. Community Connectors will engage their neighborhoods through one-on-one networking and public outreach to provide a more in-depth understanding of social assets, needs and opportunities.

  • Jubilee Homes of Syracuse, $139,000 - To purchase two vans to be used for a ride service for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and others who require employment-related transportation services including rides to work, grocery stores, pharmacies to pick up medication, and to scheduled primary health care appointments.

  • The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, $84,000 - To staff a full-time attorney to assist program participants with a variety of legal assistance, including creating small businesses, and removing barriers to employment caused by criminal records. The attorney will create drop-in legal clinics and recruit other volunteer lawyers or law students to assist in counseling clients.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, "While the recent data from the 2018 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey shows the poverty rate in Syracuse has declined from 32.4% to 30.5%, we still have a great deal of work to do. The new funding from the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative will help organizations throughout our city do the work to combat poverty, keeping Syracuse on an upward trajectory."

Greater Syracuse HOPE Executive Director Ocesa B. Keaton said, "We are excited about the opportunities afforded to us by OTDA and the Governor's Office. ESPRI funding has given us an opportunity to ground our agencies and government partners in collaborative and innovative strategies to address concentrated poverty. The strategies funded are a reflection of the needs expressed by Syracuse residents who are currently experiencing or have experienced poverty. Our partnerships are applying financial planning, social entrepreneurship, and trauma response wrap-around services to create pathways of opportunities for residents who are most in need."

Syracuse Common Council President and Syracuse HOPE Co-chairwoman Helen Hudson said, "I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for this wonderful opportunity to address the most critical needs in our community and for understanding that we cannot curtail poverty without a comprehensive plan. The ESPRI funding gives us the resources we need collaborate with agencies throughout the Syracuse area to give people living in poverty an opportunity to help their families and improve their lives."

United Way of Central New York President Nancy Kern Eaton said, "The projects that are being implemented thanks to Governor Cuomo's Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative are innovative new ways of addressing issues that were identified by people in our community as causes of factors in poverty. Working with children and their families, addressing trauma, support in workforce development and placement, transportation to work, helping people on the road to financial stability, and resolving legal issues all offer people the chance to move beyond economic instability and onto a pathway toward success. People in Syracuse have come together to offer real solutions and we are proud to partner in these efforts."

Read what other leaders across New York State are saying about Greater Syracuse H.O.P.E.

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 conducted listening sessions across the state in 2017 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 in various stages of developing and enacting their local recommendations and are expected to announce their individual poverty reduction plans in the coming months.