anti-poverty task initative

Be honest: When you think of a family in poverty, or a single mother in poverty, is it easy to think that you've made some good decisions in your life, and if people in poverty made better decisions, they would be where you are?

This hour, we explore how we understand -- or misunderstand -- poverty, and what we can do about it. Susan Dreyfus is the president and CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. She's from Milwaukee, but she'll be in Rochester in the coming weeks to discuss how social sector organizations can address poverty. We preview that discussion and ask her how she views Rochester's efforts to combat poverty. Our guests:

If you own a car, think about how easy it is to get in, drive yourself to work, and park near your building each day. It’s something you may take for granted. Yet, for thousands of people living in poverty in the Rochester area, it’s an unattainable goal. 68,000 people in the City of Rochester live below the poverty line, and 26 percent of households in Rochester do not own a car. Those residents often rely on the bus system, spending sometimes more than an hour commuting to their jobs. The inaccessibility of affordable and reliable transportation limits the economic mobility of people living in poverty, further perpetuating the cycle.

Reconnect Rochester is exploring the connection between poverty and transportation, and the group will share its findings at its upcoming Rochester Street Films event on Wednesday. We preview that presentation and discuss possible solutions with our guests:

  • Dr. Leonard Brock, director of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative
  • Maggie Brooks, vice president of strategic initiatives for RTS, and co-chair of the transportation work group for the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative
  • Bill McDonald, program officer for the United Way of Greater Rochester, and co-chair of the transportation work group for the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative
  • Peter Nabozny, early childhood policy director for the Children’s Agenda, and board member at Reconnect Rochester

We've seen poverty reports in recent years that extensively show Rochester lagging far behind other cities its size across the country. A new report called "Hard Facts" indicates African American and Latino residents in the Rochester region fare much worse than their white counterparts on a number of issues: health; education; wages; and home ownership.

Ed Doherty is the author of the report. He joins us in studio for the hour.

The Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI) was launched in early 2015 with the goal of reducing the percentage of people in poverty by 50 percent by 2030. Critics are calling for faster results and more transparency. Is that fair? RMAPI officials say the public misunderstands a number of subjects related to the initiative. We discuss what RMAPI is, what it is not, and its progress to date.  Our guests:

  • Leonard Brock, director of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative
  • Marvin McMickle, president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and member of RMAPI’s Steering Committee
  • Daan Braveman, president of Nazareth College and member of RMAPI’s Steering Committee

Super Bowl Champion and Rochester native Roland Williams says he’s seen the effects poverty, gangs, drugs, and violence can have on teens living in poverty, and he’s made it his mission to set local students on a path to success. That’s why he founded the Champion Academy, which offers “extreme mentoring” to students in middle and high school.

We get an inside look at how the Academy works from leaders and participants, and we hear Williams’ vision for its future. Our guests:

  • Roland Williams, former NFL player and founder of the Champion Academy
  • Anthony Bogar, member of the Champion Academy
  • Titiana Bogar, Anthony’s mother
  • Veronica Wilson, community partnerships manager for the Champion Academy

In an interview last month, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson made some comments about poverty that have led to intense backlash. Carson called poverty “a state of mind,” saying some people are poor because they have the wrong attitude. But that wasn’t all. He continued to say that efforts to help people in need may backfire if those people don’t have the right outlook on life.

His comments ignited debate about grit theory and what people in poverty truly need. Our guests discuss the facts, the misconceptions, and local efforts to reduce poverty. In studio:

You've probably heard the term "settlement house," but do you know what it really means? Three Rochester settlement houses have teamed up to create a foundation, aimed at making their work stronger and more effective. They are central in the fight against poverty, but that's only the start.

Baden Street Settlement, Charles Settlement House, and Community Place of Rochester are working together, and our guests explain how they're trying to improve the city. In studio:

Compared to cities its size, Rochester has the second highest rate of overall poverty. The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI)  has set a goal to reduce poverty in our region by 50% in the next 15 years. Is that realistic? Some critics of the Anti-Poverty Initiative say the effort has been a lot of talk, with little action, but RMAPI leaders say understanding our region’s poverty problem and developing effective strategies to alleviate it take time.

Catholic Family Center is a key partner in the initiative, and it’s set to launch adult mentoring pilot programs aimed at helping people in our community become financially secure and independent. This is all happening during Catholic Family Center’s centennial. We talk about the new pilot programs, and we hear from people whose lives have been transformed thanks to Catholic Family Center's services. Our guests:

  • Erica King, clinical supervisor at the Community Resource Services department at Catholic Family Center
  • Ron Rizzo, director of Family Prosperity Programs at Catholic Family Center
  • Jackie Wallace, Son House resident at Catholic Family Center, and student at MCC
  • Yomary Malave, participant in Catholic Family Center’s Lafayette House program, and student at MCC

The team leading the effort to move the needle on poverty in Rochester is analyzing the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Updated figures based on a survey from the five year period between 2011 and 2015 show an increase in extreme poverty in the city of Rochester, at 17 percent. Overall poverty was down slightly from 33.8 to 33.5 percent.

A brand new report on poverty is out, and it shows almost no improvement in our region. To be fair, the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative is a 15-year plan. No one said things would flip in a year or two. But what can we learn from the newest numbers? Our guests will sort it out. In studio:

  • Ann Johnson, ACT Rochester senior director
  • Ed Doherty, author of the original poverty report
  • Henry Fitts, City of Rochester Innovation Team