JAMESTOWN – More than $800,000 is headed into the coffers of seven Jamestown area agencies to help improve the lot of lower income and poverty-struck residents.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said seven projects are being funded through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. These projects are a direct result of ESPRI, the Governor’s $25 million initiative to help 16 communities develop locally driven strategies to reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.
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.
“The support Jamestown has received through the Governor’s downtown revitalization initiative, coupled with investments secured through our regional economic development council, have helped grow the economy and create new jobs for our residents. The Governor’s latest investment through ESPRI will not only help improve the quality of life for our residents, but it will ensure educational opportunities are available to continue to increase employment rates across this community,” Mayor Sam Teresi said.
State Sen, Cathy Young said ending the poverty cycle is crucial for the future of the area.
“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,” Young said.
Assemblyman Andrew Goodell said he looks forward to seeing what impact the initiative has.
“Through the ESPRI program, local community leaders were able to identify key program initiatives offered by several highly qualified local organizations that will help those in poverty increase graduation rates from high school, gain better employment skills, and break out of the cycle of poverty,” Goodell said. ” Governor Cuomo’s leadership and support of this initiative was key in providing the State funding necessary for these initiates, and we look forward to making a significant impact on the poverty rate in Jamestown.”
Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello said Jamestown has a major impact on the economic life of Chautauqua County.
“Jamestown has grown into a major economic driver, supporting the development and success of Chautauqua County. In order to continue growing, our residents deserve access to support services and opportunities that will help lift families out of poverty. I applaud the Governor for ensuring communities receive funding to expand programming that is working to improve the overall quality of life in Jamestown and beyond.”
The Governor’s Nonprofit Coordination Unit, along with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and the New York State Grants and Reform Team last year held listening sessions across the state to discuss updates with the Governor’s ESPRI program, answer questions, and connect local government with non-profit providers and business groups. The remaining ESPRI communities are all in various stages of developing and enacting their local recommendations and are expected to announce their individual poverty reduction plans in the coming months.
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.