UTICA, N.Y. - Two locally-grown ideas are on the receiving end of $1.5 million state dollars to fight poverty.
Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI). The program funds anti-poverty projects in 16 of the state's poorest cities.
United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica, The Community Foundation and other nonprofits spent the past year holding focus groups, work groups and one-on-one interviews to cultivate five projects. The community was consulted on multiple topics, including transportation, housing and education.
Thursday night, the five final projects were voted on by people who live and work in Utica. The two projects with the most votes will be funded with the $1.5 million dollars from the state.
"Keep including the voice of the people," Robin Robinson, the Administrator of Initiatives and Grants for the United Way said. "They're the ones that know what resources are lacking. They're the ones that we have to listen to."
The top-voted project was a 24-hour child care center.
"If you're working at an entry-level position, child care is a huge part of your income and a huge impact on your take-home pay," Susan Woods, vice president of the Neighborhood Investment Association said.
The second most popular idea is the 'Work Smarter Utica Job Corps.' The project will provide mentoring services to help 18-24-year-olds acquire job skills and find employment.
Next, the United Way will put together a Request for Proposal in January. Local faith-based organizations, government organizations and nonprofits will apply for the chance to manage the projects.