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12th Proposal of Governor Cuomo's 2016 Agenda: Combatting Poverty & Reducing Rampant Inequality Across Upstate New York

$25M Anti-Poverty Program Will Promote Public-Private Partnerships to Increase Economic Mobility for All New Yorkers

January 10, 2016 – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the twelfth signature proposal of his 2016 agenda: combatting poverty and reducing rampant inequality through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. The $25 million program will bring together state and local government, non-profit and business groups to design and implement coordinated solutions to increase social mobility in ten communities across upstate New York.

The proposal is the latest in the governor’s anti-poverty agenda, a sweeping plan to restore economic promise and expand opportunity for all New Yorkers. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul made the announcement this morning at True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo.

“Every New Yorker deserves a shot at the American Dream – and this smart investment does just that,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is a complex problem, but through strong partnerships we will expand economic opportunity – from Troy to Elmira – and put all New Yorkers on a path to succeed. I look forward to working with these communities to break down barriers and create meaningful change for millions of hard-working families across the state.”

“With the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, Governor Cuomo is bringing a proven model of addressing poverty to areas around the state that need it most, “Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. “Together, we are empowering communities to identify regional needs and will help fund comprehensive solutions that address them to make a meaningful difference.”

Despite a growing economy and historic fiscal progress over the past five years, pockets of concentrated poverty remain. More than three million New Yorkers currently live in poverty, of which nearly one million are children. In these pockets, issues like inadequate housing, high unemployment, underperforming schools, poor health and neighborhood crime fuse together to create an increasingly complicated problem, requiring equally interconnected solutions.

The state modeled the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative on New York’s successful Rochester Anti-Poverty Task Force, part of a broad coalition of state and local government, business and nonprofit representatives working together to redesign and coordinate efforts to address extreme poverty in the Rochester area.

New York will now replicate this model in ten upstate cities with the highest poverty rates in the state. Under the program, New York will provide $500,000 in planning and implementation grants, along with access to a $20 million grant pool to match private sector and foundation funding. The cities selected for the program were chosen based on concentration of poverty within the municipality. They include:

  • Syracuse
  • Binghamton
  • Oneonta
  • Buffalo
  • Utica
  • Elmira
  • Jamestown
  • Oswego
  • Troy
  • Albany

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the state will make targeted investments in capital projects to improve the quality, efficiency and reach of services that address poverty, including job training, public safety, and health and nutrition programs. Additionally, New York State agencies will provide support to affected communities to help bolster the availability of services.

Overall, the ESPRI program will:

  • Identify specific, measurable objectives to improve residents’ well-being and quality of life;
  • Better align public and private resources with community-based interventions that are successful in improving outcomes for residents;
  • Develop strategies that match promising practices to the unique challenges of each particular community; and
  • Build partnerships among public and private, municipal and nonprofit organizations to provide a continuum of solutions.

The cities selected for the program will soon launch planning processes, complete with a needs assessment and evaluation of existing plans, priorities and strategic objectives. The state will provide access to a dedicated team of state agency officials who will partner with the community to provide data, review various program models that address the community’s priority needs, help develop proposals or applications for state funding based on needs and opportunities, and structure framework to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.

ESPRI will focus on using existing resources more effectively and purposely to end poverty, strengthen relationships between the business, public and nonprofit sectors in each community, and ensure greater coordination between state and local government to expand economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.

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