Poverty Initiative Task Force Requesting Proposals

There will be a special meeting for nonprofit agencies who want to help families living in poverty.

At 1 p.m. Thursday at the Carnahan Theater on the campus of Jamestown Community College, members of Jamestown’s Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative Task Force and officials from the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County will be hosting a special meeting on the request for proposals application for nonprofit agencies that want to apply to receive a portion of the $1 million the city of Jamestown received for the state program.

ESPRI was first introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo 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.

The Jamestown ESPRI task force consists 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.

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

Krista Camarata, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County director of community impact, said the request for proposals application was sent to around 30 local agencies. She said any 501c3 nonprofit agency is eligible to apply for ESPRI funding.

“Anyone who has new innovative ideas to work with city residents to help improve their life and move them on a path to move them out of poverty,” she said.

Camarata said the special meeting Thursday will be to answer questions from agency officials.

“Several agencies might have the same question so they can hear the answer all at the same time,” she said. “Many agencies will be attending and maybe this will be the start for them to collaborate with another agency.”

The United Way of Southern Chautauqua County will be using a similar process to allocating ESPRI funding that they use each year to fund community programs from their annual fundraising campaign, Camarata said.

“Typically we have a group of volunteers, in this case it will be task force members, we divide them into groups, depending on how many, and they deliberate on where funding will go. We don’t know how many applications we will receive and what the funding request will be. It will be an interesting process to say the least because there are a lot of unknowns,” she said.

Camarata said if an organization didn’t receive a ESPRI request for proposals application they can go to the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County’s website — uwayscc.org –or they can contact Camarata at kcamarata@uwayscc.org or by calling 483-1561, ext. 201.

According to a news release announcing the release of the request for proposals, ESPRI is an opportunity to develop community driven solutions to the challenges of a growing poverty rate. Through ESPRI, $1 million dollars has been allocated from the state for investment in transformational approaches to overcoming the challenges faced by those struggling to make ends meet. Projects funded under the request for proposals will seek to reduce the number of ALICE households in the city of Jamestown. ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed, which represents nearly 8,000 city households. By making strategic investments in innovative programs, the city of Jamestown’s ESPRI task force believes it will directly impact families who are continually challenged to meet their basic household expenses.

The ESPRI request for proposals application deadline is Oct. 6. There is no maximum number of awards or maximum amount per award. Applications will not be accepted for requests less than $10,000. ESPRI awards cannot replace funding for existing programs. All final project awards subject to state approval.

Applications will be reviewed by the city of Jamestown ESPRI Task Force. Applicants may be invited to meet with members of the task force for further evaluation of the request. A scorecard will be used to gather feedback and inform final funding awards. The priority is on investing in programmatic innovation that leverages partnerships to yield results that exceed the community’s current capacity.

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