Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative


The death earlier this year of Daniel Prude after he was pinned to the ground by police on Jefferson Avenue in Rochester has brought an outcry from many local organizations who say steps need to be taken now to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.

Police were originally called to look for Prude by his brother, because Daniel was having a mental health crisis. Prude suffocated while being restrained by police in March, and he died a week later. The death was ruled a homicide.

The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative has released its first results of a survey looking at what the area's most vulnerable populations are concerned about when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Representatives from the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative say the project’s adult mentoring programs are showing signs of success. The Democrat and Chronicle reports that one of the programs showed an average increase in employment of 110 percent, and that the average earned household income increase by 118 percent.

Program leaders say the mentoring model is helping families find their way out of poverty. This hour, we sit down with one of the mentoring pairs who share their story. We also hear about the program’s broader impact and the lessons project directors have learned. In studio:

Noelle Evans / WXXI News

The Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, (RMAPI) is out with its policy agenda for this year, calling for actions that organization hopes can help address the root causes of poverty.

They include a call to state government to do more to help working families, by helping them find ways to pay for childcare, and providing better transportation choices.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said it’s important to realize that a lot of people living hand-to-mouth are already working multiple jobs.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

“We asked questions that no one else was asking,” Common Ground Health CEO Wade Norwood said of a report his organization released Monday.

“Folks were honest with us in a way we did not expect,” he said.

The results of the survey provide the strongest evidence yet of a link between poverty and poor health outcomes in the Finger Lakes, Norwood said.

It’s been four years since Need to Know reported on a first of its kind initiative that launched in Rochester with much political fanfare. The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI), backed by the Governor’s office, pledged to reduce poverty by 50% in 15 years. WXXI’s Veronica Volk recently dug into the initiative to find out if the goals initially made are being kept and to learn what’s changed since that major announcement in 2015. We discuss her recent reporting on this edition of Need to Know.

Since its inception, the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative has been plagued by misconceptions of what it does and what it's responsible for in the fight against poverty.

Currently, an adult mentorship program tied to RMAPI serves as a model for how they hope to change the service delivery process.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

When the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative was announced, it promised to involve members of the community in the process toward reducing poverty.

But that led to misconceptions about the initiative's mission. 

A few years ago, Isabelle Bartter was invited to join a working group with RMAPI.

From the beginning, one of the main goals of RMAPI was to include people living in poverty who could speak personally about barriers to economic independence in Rochester. Bartter grew up poor, and is an activist.

Denise Young / WXXI

In January 2015, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of a new initiative that vowed to reduce poverty by 50 percent in 15 years, but four years later, the mission and the function of the initiative is still widely misunderstood.