ESPRI Executive Session — Meeting Notes

November 29, 2016
Schenectady, NY


ESPRI Background
The Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI) is modeled after the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Task Force, which is adding the State's power behind a broad coalition of local government, business and nonprofit representatives as they coordinate efforts to address extreme poverty in the Rochester area. ESPRI replicates this model around the state by providing planning and implementation grants to 16 localities. ESPRI grants create a unique opportunity to test creative, targeted approaches to persistent challenges and to align existing resources more effectively to alleviate poverty, strengthen relationships between the business, public and nonprofit sectors in each community, and ensure coordination between state and local efforts to fight poverty. The ESPRI approach of empowering local and regional organizations is also present in Governor Cuomo's model for the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs).


Selected Localities
Sixteen localities with the highest poverty rate in New York: Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, the Bronx, Elmira, Hempstead, Jamestown, Newburgh, Niagara, Falls, Oneonta, Oswego, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Troy, Watertown


Suggested Strategies

  • Reach out to accountability partners outside your own community for guidance. The Utica Anti-Poverty Initiative pointed out that its lead organization has worked with Liverpool, England and Tennessee to share ideas and information about efforts in other locations, and to receive advice and suggestions."
  • Spend time listening, conduct one-on-one interviews, door-to-door initiatives, and think creatively on how to listen.
  • Focus groups are not the only effective tool in obtaining information from a community. Going into a community is an even better option. The United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area mentioned its door-to-door poverty questionnaire and described how it provides substantive information.
  • Make the ESPRI project your organization's priority. The initial work plan can be generic but make listening and engaging the community a top priority.
  • When selecting a focus area for your ESPRI project, make sure it is measurable and achievable. Focus on broad-based community processes, listening and building upon what the state is already doing.
  • Make the connections between poverty and incarceration, as well as between poverty and mental health.