Poverty Reduction Task Force Focuses On Priorities

The task force given the duty of trying to curtail poverty in Jamestown is narrowing down its focus.

On Wednesday, Jamestown’s Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative task force held a four-hour meeting which focused on selecting priorities for how to possibly fight poverty in the city. The meeting was led by Kate Ebersole, health care facilitator, who assisted the task force members in selecting potential priorities.

The task force used the community needs assessment, local services inventory and community improvement project ideas to select potential priorities. The community needs assessment was created by the Rochester-based consulting firm Center for Governmental Research. The community needs assessment was presented last month by Peter Nabozny, CGR associate. The community needs assessment included demographic data that included information about the city’s poverty and employment levels.

In March, Ebersole led a group of community officials from community organizations in creating the local services inventory. During the March meeting, Ebersole asked health care and community professionals to list their agency, the services they provide and the populations they serve.

The community improvement project ideas were created by 18 local agencies who participated in five community improvement workshop. Each workshop was interactive, with each agency sharing ideas and possible theories of change for poverty focused initiatives.

Following the selection of three possible priorities by the ESPRI task force, the group then demonstrated how they would select a primary aim and secondary drivers in order to achieve measurable results for each priority. This type of information will be used in the request for proposal process, which is when the ESPRI task force will ask community service providers to submit an application to possible receive ESPRI funding.

As part of the 2016-17 state budget, the city will received $1 million in state funding for the poverty reduction initiative. Tory Irgang, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County executive director, said they will have roughly $850,000 to award to local agencies who will be selected by the task force following the request for proposal process.

“We did a lot of work today and the group will be coming back to confirm the three priorities,” Irgang said.

The next meeting for ESPRI task force has not been scheduled yet, but will most likely happen after the Fourth of July holiday. Irgang said she doesn’t want to put a timeline on when the funding will be awarded to community agencies, but will most likely happen this fall.

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.