Anti-Poverty Initiative: Questions About Funding, Timeline

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A new anti-poverty initative now has an executive director. But the program has an unclear timeline and funding stream.

Dr. Leonard Brock, who has had several nonprofit jobs working with youth, will lead the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative. The program is being run through United Way.

The selection of Dr.  Brock pleased Mayor Lovely Warren, who had threatened to pull support from the initiative. Warren wanted to make sure people with experience dealing with poverty were involved.

"I look forward to getting started and learning about the effort and apply my live, work and educational experiences to drive outcomes," said Dr. Brock.

The iniative was created with a $500,000 grant from the governor's office. Rochester has a 35 pecrent poverty rate. More than half of children live in poverty.

Dr. Brock's salary will take a big chunk of that grant. He will earn $95,000 a year.

When News 8 asked if his salary means this is a multi-year effort, United Way CEO Fran Weisberg said, "I hope not!"

Weisberg said there would be other staff.

"There will be a deputy. There will be an admin. There will be some other kind of research, some consumer input. There's many parts of this," Weisberg said.

News 8 asked if that takes up the rest of the $500,000 budget.

"Exactly," Weisberg said.

But Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle suggested the initiative could be around for a while.

"It's my expectation that I will continue to seek funding over the next several years, if necessary," Morelle said.

Dr. Brock will oversee six task forces, made up of 150 people in all. The groups are expected to have a draft document of concrete suggestions for lifting people out of poverty by the end of June.

"We're not just saying okay today let's fix poverty in Monroe County. We've been working on this for a long, long time," said County Executive Maggie Brooks. "But the problem is the things that we're doing are not necessarily moving the needle."

"We try to help people move out of poverty and as soon as they start, we snatch the rug out from under them and take away their services," said Warren.

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