Poverty Task Force Focuses On One Goal

One prioritized goal will be the focus for the task force in charge of curtailing poverty in Jamestown.

The Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative task force is close to finalizing its goal, which they haven’t done yet, but might do when they meet later this month. Tory Irgang, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County executive director, said the task force will be focusing on one priority to be the catalyst to helping those living in poverty in the city. The task force is scheduled to meet Wednesday, Aug. 23, in the Fireplace Room at the James Prendergast Library, located at 509 Cherry St., to finalize its goal.

“At our last meeting, we reformulated things to have one ultimate, measurable goal,” Irgang said. “Instead of having three or five priorities, it looks like we’re just going to have one goal.”

Irgang said at the next meeting the task force will also work to finalize the request for proposals that will be sent to local organizations who will be applying for funding to assist the task force with accomplishing its goal. As part of the 2016-17 state budget, the city received $1 million in state funding for the poverty reduction initiative. Irgang said the task force will have roughly $850,000 to award to local agencies who will be selected following the request for proposal process.

“Then the proposals that come in from the agencies will suggest different strategies and tactics,” Irgang said. “They will apply to run programs through various applications and multiple projects will be funded to achieve the same ultimate goal.”

Irgang things the RFP, once it is approved by the task force, will be sent to local agencies by the end of August.

The local ESPRI task force, which was created by the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, who is the administrator of Jamestown’s Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative program, has been meeting since November to develop a plan for solutions to help those living in poverty in Jamestown.

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.

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 the poverty reduction program.

“I think we are feeling really good about the process the agencies went through and how we gathered community input,” Irgang said. “We are ready to put all that together and build the RFP and see how we can put these dollars into the community.”

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