Supports After School Programming, Mental Health and Counseling Services, Job Training Initiatives and Violence Prevention
Multi-Pronged Investments Follow Enforcement Actions and Community Engagement
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced more than $2.3 million in funding to support after-school programs, as well as mental health and counseling services, job training initiatives, and other community-based programs for at-risk youth in Central New York. The investment for these programs will serve to continue ongoing efforts, including improved law enforcement operations and community engagement announced earlier this month, to put an end to the recent scourge of violence among young people in the City of Syracuse.
“Following the rash of violence the City of Syracuse has faced in recent weeks, we’re committed to providing every resource necessary to bring safety, security, and peace of mind to this community,” Governor Cuomo said. “This multi-pronged initiative will help address the root causes of this violence and provide greater opportunities to children and young adults, while also helping to increase public safety.”
“We’re investing in programs and services in the City of Syracuse to combat gun violence and enhance quality of life for residents,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “This initiative with input from members of the community, local law enforcement and elected officials will expand mental health services and job training programs in the area. This funding will further help to reduce poverty and violence in Syracuse and provide new opportunities for youth and families.”
Following a rash of violence within the City of Syracuse in recent weeks, Governor Cuomo announced that the state would be increasing State Police patrols and operations, as well as expanded intelligence sharing and coordination with local law enforcement and other state agencies. This announcement also included a plan for the state to engage with community leaders, clergy, law enforcement, and elected officials to identify longer-term solutions to prevent future violence and address socio-economic factors that often lead to these senseless acts. Today’s announcement is the next step to further these efforts as part of a multi-pronged investment in the City of Syracuse.
New York State is providing additional funding to be distributed to support the following initiatives:
- Invest $800,000 in After-School and Evening Programming
First announced in January as part of the Governor’s 2018 State of the State, and building off of the previous year’s $35 million investment, the 2018- 2019 Enacted Budget provided an additional $10 million in funding to the Empire State After School Program. This additional funding will allow districts to receive five-year grants of $1,600 per student. With $800,000 awarded to the Syracuse City School District, an additional 500 after-school slots for existing programs will be made available. In order to qualify for the award, the district has adopted quality indicators assessing environment, staff-to-student interaction, and student outcomes.
The funding will be awarded to Danforth Middle School, Lincoln Middle School, Grant Middle School, Westside Blodgett Academy, Catholic Charities, and Contact Community Services to create new opportunities and bolster existing programs to better serve the needs of the region’s children and young adults.
- Invest $1 Million to Bolster Youth Job Training and Build Employment Opportunities in Syracuse
Through the Department of Labor, New York is issuing a $1 million request for proposals to help connect young men and women to job training, apprenticeships, and career opportunities. The funding will be available to local organizations that focus on work readiness training and employment for youth in the highest areas of need. The funding will directly support career exploration and access, supportive services, and retention resources, such as mentorship and peer advocacy.
- Invest $300,000 in Work-Based Learning Programming for At-Risk Youth
New York State will invest at least $300,000 in work-based learning programming, partnering with community-based organizations that will assist more than 30 at-risk individuals with skill development, job training, and job placement services for up to two years. Programs eligible to receive this funding must utilize a holistic approach that develops both soft and hard skills relevant to the current job market, including oral and written communication and punctuality, as well as vocational training. Youths involved in these programs will receive on-site job training and apprenticeship opportunities, as well as new educational, community service, leadership, and civic engagement experiences, and counseling services.
- Dedicate $150,000 to Embed Social Workers in Street Outreach Program
The SNUG street outreach program administered by the Division of Criminal Justice Services is a key resource in the fight to disrupt the cycle of gang and gun violence. The Syracuse program – which is supported by a total of nearly $500,000 in state funding, including $140,000 added this year – employs violence interrupters who have ties to the community and can respond when violent crimes occur. These specially-trained workers also identify and resolve conflicts before they lead to more violence and retaliation. To provide additional support, New York is investing an additional $150,000 to embed 2 new social workers within the current SNUG street outreach program operated by the Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility. These trained professionals will also be available to serve as a critical support to program staff and key linkage to the formal health care systems.
- Deploy $75,000 for School-Based Social Media Dispute Resolution and Cyber Bullying Prevention
The state is providing $75,000 to the Syracuse City School District to help students resolve disputes that arise on social media. These funds will be used to improve the school learning environment, combat cyber bullying, and prevent conflicts from escalating into violence. There is a real and present need to provide students, particularly those who may be the victims of harassment, with the guidance and tools to mediate disputes on the digital domain and promote a positive learning climate in the classroom.
- Provide $25,000 for School-Based Coordination of Mental Health and Counseling Services
Mental health and counseling services are critical for children who witness or experience violence, often suffering from trauma in the wake of these events. By increasing access to these services, children have greater opportunity to overcome this, allowing them to better focus and thrive during the school day. The meet the needs of these students, the Syracuse City School District will receive $25,000 for Grant Middle School to support community school mental health grants and the coordination of mental health services and counseling for the 2018-19 school year.
- Expand Career Fairs to Combat Unemployment
The Department of Labor will host specialized career fairs for Syracuse and Central New York to connect people with vocational training, job skills, and career opportunities to succeed. The Department of Labor developed a nationally-recognized strategy to connect businesses and skilled workers through specialized Career Fairs. As many as 225 businesses and over 2,000 job seekers have attended these events. In addition, outreach through email blasts, social media, and robo-calls helps to connect skilled workers to emerging opportunities.
Mayor Ben Walsh stated, “From day one, Governor Cuomo has pledged to support the City of Syracuse in confronting gun violence afflicting some of our community’s youngest residents. In partnership with the state, we have taken several steps, including increased police patrols, to attempt to stop the violence before it starts. In that same vein, this funding to support the city’s after-school, job training, and mental health programs will further assist the city to prevent at-risk youth from ever turning to violence, and I thank the Governor for his continued support.”
Syracuse Common Council President Helen Hudson said, “These actions will combat the uptick in violence in Syracuse, while creating opportunities for our vulnerable young adults to learn and thrive. By making these long-term investments in our community, we are investing in the future generation of Syracuse residents and establishing a safer community for our children. I applaud Governor Cuomo for recognizing the needs of the Syracuse community and for working to help make our city a place with opportunity for every child, resident and family.”
Syracuse City School District Superintendent Jaime Alicea was optimistic about what can be done with the new funding saying, “This additional funding from New York State will go a long way in ensuring that Syracuse City School District students continue to remain supported and engaged as they learn in safe and positive school environments. After school programming is utilized by many of our families as a way to ensure that their children receive additional instruction and enrichment in a safe place. This funding will allow our existing after school programs to continue and will also open the experience to even more students in our schools. We are also appreciative of the increased investment that will enable us to provide training on cyberbullying, as well as to provide additional mental health support at Grant Middle School. We recognize the importance of ensuring that our students are supported not just academically, but also socially and emotionally. Our Student Support Services team and community partners actively work to support our students, and this State funding will provide us with additional resources to continue this important work.”