Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced nearly $16 million to support three Rochester-based projects aimed at reducing poverty in the Finger Lakes region — Monroe Community College’s new Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center at Eastman Business Park, the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative’s new “Mentors for Success” pilot program, and the long-standing Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection program.
These projects are the first three to receive funding through in the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council’s “One Community Plan,” which identifies priority projects that develop cradle-to-career workforce readiness initiatives. Poverty reduction is a core goal of the Finger Lakes Forward strategic plan, which supports multiple “Pathways to Prosperity” for all.
“Poverty is one of the most complex and pervasive challenges of our time, and successful solutions must start at the local level and empower communities with the resources and tools they need,” Governor Cuomo said. “These investments will help tear down the barriers that have trapped so many honest, hard-working New Yorkers in a cycle of poverty and create new pathways to help these families find prosperity.”
The two-year Mentors for Success pilot program was created by the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative to address its top initial priority of expanding adult mentoring services to those who want to achieve economic self-sufficiency, but currently find themselves below the poverty level. The program will be funded by $1.5 million in Upstate Revitalization Initiative funding, which will be matched by an additional $1.5 million in private funding.
The program will partner professional mentors with participants to identify their socio-economic needs and set goals and action plans. Staff members will also work closely with neighborhood associations, schools and agencies to recommend candidates to take part within each major Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative neighborhood. Participants earn cash incentives for reporting monthly progress and achieving the goals they set such as raising children’s grades, improving their credit score, increasing their education/job skills or building their savings. The Catholic Family Center will work in partnership with Action for a Better Community and the Community Place of Greater Rochester to work with an initial 300 families in the EMMA, Beechwood and Marketview Heights neighborhoods on the eastside of Rochester.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said, “Governor Cuomo has been and continues to be a champion for Upstate New York’s families. This funding will help Mentors for Success, the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection and the new Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center will provide new educational opportunities and help our citizens access in-demand jobs, uplifting our neighborhoods and community as a whole. Thanks to recent investment in Upstate New York, we are starting to see true and meaningful change, and for that I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for seeing the potential that cities like Rochester bring to improve the entire state’s economy.”
Catholic Family Center President and CEO Marlene Bessette said, “We need to prove what works in Rochester during this pilot so that we can make the case for scaling what will work throughout the region. The pilot is starting with mentoring models that have proven successful in other cities but will be adapted to local needs and community feedback. The other critical aspect of our approach is tightly integrated, cross-agency collaboration; first with our implementation partners, Action for a Better Community, Community Place of Greater Rochester and the Mayor’s Office of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives and then with a much broader set of providers, educators and employers. To be successful, we need to be on the forefront of collective impact.”