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Nearly $16 million for poverty reduction in Rochester

Staff Writer |
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced nearly $16 million to support three Rochester-based projects aimed at reducing poverty in the Finger Lakes region.

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Thos are 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.

Monroe Community College's Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center at Eastman Business Park – or FWD Center – will take a multi-faceted approach to creating a 21st century workforce by matching workers with high technology jobs in energy, biomaterials, functional films and photonics offered by companies at the Park.

The FWD Center’s curriculum will include applied training in fields such as mechatronics, precision tooling, hydraulics, computer applications and will offer enhanced training in entrepreneurial skills, teaching students effective communication, teamwork and critical thinking.

Over the next five years, it is expected to train more than 2,300 workers and add $90 million in economic benefits to the region in the form of worker salaries and increased supply chain value.

The first phase of the facility's development will be funded through $6 million in SUNY 2020 Awards, with the remaining phases being supported by $5.4 million in Upstate Revitalization Initiative grants through Empire State Development.

Additionally the project will leverage the recently awarded $6 million grant through the federal America's Promise Initiative, and a private investment of $320,000 from JPMorgan Chase, to support student tuition and fees for qualified students and programs. More information is available here.

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.

The Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection currently pairs about 700 Rochester-area high school students with mentoring services and part-time jobs each year.

The program will receive $3 million dollars through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, which will be matched with another $3 million in private funding.

The funds will be used to expand the program by a total of 500 students per year over the next two years on the east side of Rochester.

The Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection helps students enjoy lifelong success through a matrix of supportive services including individualized academic support, college preparation, and life and career skills development.

These services are facilitated by professional Youth Advocates who partner with the student, their family and teachers to help each participant unlock their true potential. More information is available here.

The private funding being used to match the Upstate Revitalization Initiative funding for the Mentors for Success and Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection projects, as well as support other potential anti-poverty projects in the future, will be streamlined through a new Prosperity Fund.

The Prosperity Fund will be administered by the United Way of Greater Rochester and was begun with considerable contributions from the Wegmans Family Foundation and the Sands Family Foundation.

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