Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative To Create Subcommittee

The Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative program local community task force will be forming a subcommittee to assist them with their goal.

On Wednesday, the task force held their fourth meeting since being formed in November. The task force was created by the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, who is the administrator of Jamestown’s Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative program.

The Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative program, also known as ESPRI, was first introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s during his State of the State address last year. Jamestown was one of 16 cities in the state selected to participate in ESPRI. As part of the 2016-17 state budget, the city will receive $1 million in funding for the poverty reduction initiative.

Since November, the task force has met once a month to work toward developing a plan to find new solutions to help those living in poverty. The task force consist of representatives from city, county and state government; local school district and educational organizations; nonprofit and faith-based community organizations; local businesses who employee local people; workforce service entities; economic development organizations; public safety officials; and health services providers.

Tory Irgang, United Way executive director who heads the ESPRI task force, said one of the next steps for the community group is to create a subcommittee. Irgang said the subcommittee will provide insight and advise the task force on poverty issues. She circulated a nomination form for the subcommittee to task force members. Also, she said the nomination form has also been forwarded to the 25 local organizations the United Way assists. She added the committee, hopefully, will be created for the longterm to continue helping the Jamestown community even after the ESPRI funding has been used. Irgang said she would like to form the subcommittee by the end of March.

Irgang also spoke about hiring the Center for Governmental Research, which is a nonprofit headquarters in Rochester that provides data support, as a consultant. She said the Center for Governmental Research will form focus groups to ask questions to local residents about poverty issues.

By forming the subcommittee and hiring a consultant, Irgang said their work will help the task force to reach their goal of setting priorities by May. The task force is slated to design an implementation plan that needs to be submitted to the state in May. From there, the group will have roughly a year to spend the state funding on the poverty initiative plan. In June 2018, a final report is scheduled to be submitted to state officials.

Irgang said the task force will create their implementation plan by continuing to talk to community leaders and by using local data. She said by September, if everything goes to plan, local ESPRI programming could start to possibly curtail poverty in the community.

The next meeting for the local task force is scheduled for Wednesday, March 22, at the UPMC Chautauqua WCA auditorium. Irgang said local service providers will be invited to discuss what they do in the community. She also said they are planning a public meeting to be held when the weather is better, possibly in April.

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