Empire State Poverty Reduction

Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative Taskforce for the City of Jamestown

New York State selected the City of Jamestown as one of sixteen communities to participate in the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI). This initiative is an exciting opportunity to develop community driven solutions to the challenges of a growing poverty rate. The City of Jamestown selected United Way of Southern Chautauqua County (UWSCC) as the non-profit lead to coordinate the effort and serve as co-convener of the Taskforce.
Through ESPRI, $1 million dollars has been invested by NYS in the City of Jamestown. These dollars must be used to get a better understanding of the challenges facing those struggling to make ends meet, and then implement transformational approaches to overcoming those challenges. All decision-making for how the dollars will be invested is at the discretion of the City of Jamestown ESPRI Taskforce. Their focus is on investing in programmatic innovation that leverages partnerships to yield results that exceed the community’s current capacity.


Projects chosen for funding:

Chautauqua Adult Day Care

Enhanced Latino Job Training & Employment Project

Awareded: $45,168

Chautauqua Adult Day Services (CADS) is a social model adult care that provides services for frail older adults at two locations in Jamestown. They have a growing census of Latino clients who have limited English proficiency. As a result, they have a need for bilingual staff and are positioned to provide job training and skill development for bilingual candidates seeking employment. CADS will provide a job training program for individuals who are enrolled in the Work Experience Program through the Chautauqua County Dept of Health & Human Services. Individuals with an interest in pursuing a health care career ladder who are bilingual (English/Spanish) will be placed by Chautauqua Works for work experience. The candidates will participate in a 12-week curriculum to gain professional care giving skills and greater English proficiency. Upon successful completion of the program, the candidates will be eligible for CNA certification through a local employer, Heritage Ministries. Candidates will receive trainee pay during the period and are guaranteed employment by Heritage Ministries at the conclusion of the work experience and CNA certification. After completing probationary period, employees will then be eligible for additional training and education reimbursement to pursue LPN and RN programs locally.

Community Helping Hands

Cultivating GRIT: Soft Skills & Ed

Awareded: $92,415.00

Community Helping Hands (CHH) provides low-cost clothing, furniture, and household goods to those in need by operating a thrift store that is staffed primarily by individuals enrolled in the Work Experience Program (WEP) through the Chautauqua County Dept of Health & Human Services. In partnership with ESPRI, CHH will assist 50 heads of households with retaining full-time employment using a multi-pronged approach that leverages their existing success of helping WEP participants attain paid employment. CHH will engage adults in work experience by hiring a full time and bilingual Work Success Coordinator while simultaneously enrolling them in “Grit to Great,” a 9-week workshop focused on building soft skills, emotional intelligence and self-awareness using the Enneagram personality tool and coaching model. Strategic incentives will help participants remain engaged as they build the socio-intellectual capital to problem solve employment success barrier and develop individualized action plans. They will also provide funds to pay for certification programs offered in the community (e.g., medical coding, welding, forklift certification, etc). CHH will work closely with partners co-located at the Gateway Center – Mental Health Association, Jamestown Community Learning Council and BOCES.

Jamestown Community College

Educating Single Parents to Sustainable Employment

Awarded: $140,250.00

Jamestown Community College (JCC) is a comprehensive, regional, open access, student-centered institution that embraces academic excellence and meets the community’s learning needs in diverse ways. In partnership with ESPRI, JCC will provide educational and supportive services for 50 lower income, single parents to help them obtain skills and credentials that lead to employment in higher wage jobs. Participants will be engaged using a comprehensive case management approach to address barriers and will benefit from a peer-to-peer mentoring component that empowers and transforms. The model deploys an Achievement Coach and a Career Coach to assist students at key intervals along their educational pathway. These individuals will provide the necessary touchpoints to help retain these students who struggle to complete higher education despite multiple attempts and a variety of standard supports. JCC will provide small amounts of assistance to overcome emergency financial hardship that are able to be remedied with a one-time infusion of funding. JCC will work in partnership with the WNY Women’s Foundation to replicate its successful MOMs program at Niagara County Community College.

Jamestown Public Schools


Awarded: $90,130.00

Jamestown Public Schools has identified that challenges with on-time graduation are rooted in chronic absenteeism at Jamestown High School (JHS). Chronic absenteeism is higher among students who struggle to succeed in the traditional classroom environment. In partnership with ESPRI, JHS will add work based learning to its innovative “academies design” to engage students in unique experiences in the community. JHS will partner with Chautauqua Works to utilize its summer youth employment model to recruit community placements for work experience, identify lower income students for internships and utilize USDOL’s My Next Step to survey interest and skills for accurate placement. A partnership with the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation will build connections to local businesses in downtown Jamestown that are within walking distance of JHS for students with limited transportation. Efforts will focus on connecting students with placements that align with their interests and encourage entrepreneurial spirit.

Mental Health Association

Employer/Employee Resource Network

Awarded: $126,136.00

Chautauqua County Mental Health Association (MHA) is a peer recovery support center that helps individuals overcome the effects of mental illness and addiction. MHA has success using a holistic approach to recovery that reintroduces individuals to education, job training and employment. In partnership with ESPRI, MHA will establish and Employer & Employee Resource Network. MHA will identify employers with job openings and the need to supplement internal human resource function. They will work with the Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers’ Association to gain introduction to employers. MHA will then deploy a Peer Specialist to work with the employers and employees to ensure a good match and to overcome barriers that emerge during the early weeks of employment. MHA will utilize LAW NY to address any legal barriers to successfully retaining employment, including those related to housing, custody and clearing any criminal matters that prevent employment.

The Resource Center

Employment Facilitation

Awarded: $193,932.00

The Resource Center (TRC) is the NYSARC affiliate for Chautauqua County. They have over 30 years of experience in employment services for individuals with developmental disabilities. Since 2004, TRC has utilized an evidence-based “staff assistance” program internally to increase employee retention measured at 90 days. In partnership with ESPRI, TRC will assist 20 employers and 150 employees in ALICE households to improve employment retention. They will use the Bridges out of Poverty and Working Bridges programs to build an employer collaborative dedicated to improving workplace productivity, retention, advancement, financial stability and well-being. Intervention will revolve around ten primary factors identified as the common barriers: personal financial emergencies, affordable housing, navigating the benefits cliff, child care, transportation, health insurance, education, legal concerns, behavioral health, and work benefits.


Parents As Teachers PLUS

Awarded: $150,000.00

The YWCA of Jamestown is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women. They administer the Teenage Education And Motherhood (TEAM) program for pregnant/parenting teens and their babies from the Jamestown area. This program supports teenage parents to complete high school while gaining parenting skills in the learning nursery located onsite. In partnership with ESPRI, the YWCA will partner with Jamestown Community Learning Council’s evidence-based Parents As Teachers program to include additional linkages to transition graduating moms to higher education or employment. PAT PLUS will also engage teenage mothers who have dropped out of high school to ensure parenting education and a pathway to financial stability. The YWCA will utilize the Women2Women adult mentoring program to leverage personal relationships to help young women achieve their goals. As teen mothers transition out of the TEAM program, they will be matched with a community volunteer to support her on her pathway to success. Strategic investments in childcare or transportation may assist participants in overcoming barriers that would otherwise halt their progress toward employment or education.

Final Jamestown Poverty Needs Assesment 

CGR was engaged by the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County and the City of Jamestown to gather data and stakeholder perspectives to inform a needs assessment about the state of poverty in the City of Jamestown. The needs assessment will be used to create a work plan aimed at reducing the prevalence and impact of poverty. The City is one of 16 in the state receiving funding under the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI), which aims to identify and support locally developed antipoverty efforts.

Aim and Driver 

Chautauqua County ALICE Data


Task Force Members:

Mayor Sam Teresi

Assemblyman Andy Goodell

Lori Cornell

Christine Schuyler

Jon Anderson

Tim Mains

Cory Duckworth

Shannon Bessette

David Conklin

Charlie Hodges

Father Luke Fodor

Pastor Amy Rohler

Pastor Leecroft Clark

Heather Turner

Bruce Dudgeon

Jana Anderson-O'Camb

Katie Geise

David Wilkinson

Vince DeJoy

Christina Breen

Harry Snellings

Ann Abdella

Liz Jones

Linda Swanson

Catherine Way

ESPRI News Articles:

New York State Community Action Association - Policy Alert

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

Jamestown Poverty Reduction Initiative Task Force holds first meeting

ESPRI Task Force Hears About Chautauqua Striders Mentoring Program

Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative to Create Subcommittee

CGR Associate Presents Community Information

Poverty Reduction Workshops Wrap Up; Projects to be Prioritized




Task Force Meeting Minutes:

November 10, 2016

December 13, 2016

January 11, 2017

February 15, 2017

Task Force Work Session: March 22, 2017

Kate Ebersole, CPCC facilitated an action-oriented session designed to engage those in direct provision of service to residents living in poverty. Attendees spent time working in small groups to identify services and potential gaps. The final product will be integrated into the ESPRI Community Needs Assessment, which will serve as the foundation for the Initiative’s investment of approximately $1 million in transformational local programming.