State Funding To Aid Seven Projects In City

More than $800,000 in state funding under the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative will help seven projects in Jamestown, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday. The projects are part of the governor’s $25 million initiative to assist 16 community develop “locally-driven strategies to reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity.”

“Through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, we are empowering communities to connect people with opportunities that help move them on a path out of poverty toward economic independence,” Cuomo said. “I look forward to these programs delivering results and commend Jamestown for their efforts to get to this point.”

Other communities receiving ESPRI funding include: Albany, Binghamton, the Bronx, Buffalo, Elmira, Hempstead, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Oneonta, Oswego, Syracuse, Troy, Utica, Watertown and Rochester.

Each community developed a task force to oversee local efforts and administer state funding. Initially, these task forces worked to identify high-need areas and develop recommendations for investments and other changes to reduce the number of individuals living in poverty. Now, the task forces are beginning to implement the poverty reduction plans developed in the first phase, utilizing the ESPRI funding.

Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello said Jamestown has grown into a economic driver supporting the development for the rest of the county. “In order to continue growing, our residents deserve access to support services and opportunities that will help lift families out of poverty,” he said.

The seven programs approved for funding in Jamestown are:

¯ The Resource Center, $194,000 — The funding will be used to help low-income workers and 20 local employers, with the goal of improving employee retention, helping individuals transition out of poverty. Employers will receive training to help them effectively support the complex needs of their workers living in poverty. Workers will receive help with handling financial emergencies, affordable housing, child care and transportation, among other challenges.

¯ YWCA of Jamestown, $150,000 — The Parents as Teachers PLUS program expands an existing program for teenage mothers to include those who have dropped out of high school, helping them with parenting skills and identifying a pathway to financial stability. It will also include a mentoring component to provide further supportive services.

¯ Jamestown Community College, $140,000 — The funding will be used to provide educational and supportive services for low-income, single parents to help them obtain skills and credentials that lead to employment in higher-wage jobs.

¯ Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County, $126,000 — A support network will be established to help supplement human resources functions for designated employers with job openings, with the aim of improving employee retention. A peer specialist will be deployed to work with employers and employees to ensure a good match and help overcome barriers that emerge during the early weeks of employment.

¯ Community Helping Hands, $92,000 — The organization, which operates a thrift store, will hire low-income individuals, helping them gain work experience while building soft skills, emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Participants will also receive coaching and develop individual employment action plans, and will receive payment assistance for certification programs offered in the community to improve their chances of obtaining full-time employment.

¯ Jamestown Public Schools, $90,000 — To help address chronic absenteeism that often prevents on-time graduation from high school, this funding will support work-based learning to help students who struggle to succeed in a traditional classroom environment. Students will work at businesses that align with their interests, with an emphasis on encouraging entrepreneurial spirit.

¯ Chautauqua Adult Day Services, $45,000 — To help address the need for bilingual staff, and with the growing clientele of Spanish-speaking clients with limited English proficiency, Chautauqua Adult Day Services will provide 12 weeks of soft-skills training to bilingual job candidates. Participants will gain professional care-giving skills and greater English proficiency, with the opportunity to obtain Certified Nursing Assistant certification through a local employer.

“Ending the cycle of poverty that plagues many families and neighborhoods in Jamestown is crucial to building a strong future for our region and our young people,” state Sen. Cathy Young said. “The ESPRI program funding announced today for Jamestown will move us towards that goal by connecting residents with job opportunities and focusing on the success of our youngest residents, both in and out of the classroom. I applaud the efforts of local leaders and thank Governor Cuomo for investing in the future of Chautauqua County.”

Assemblyman Andy Good, R-Jamestown, said the initiative helped local leaders identify key programs that will help those in poverty increase graduation rates, gain better employment skills and “break out of the cycle of poverty.”

“We look forward to making a significant impact on the poverty rate in Jamestown,” he said.