More than 90 people from local groups and organizations learned more about how they can help battle poverty in Syracuse. They attended a meeting Monday, responding to a call from Greater Syracuse HOPE for partners in its initiative to tackle poverty problems in the city.
"It really rejuvenated my spirit and hope, no pun intended as to the community and their care and concern for what’s going on," said Ocesa Keaton, executive director of Greater Syracuse HOPE.
The organization has state funding through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative to partner with groups that are already working on the issue AND find new and innovative ideas. Rita Paniagua is a co-chair of HOPE. She says they hope to improve on what those groups are already doing.
"One of the problems that we as HOPE are trying to address is that there are many well-intended programs, especially from County and city that were implemented too long ago and the world has changed around these programs but these programs continue to be the same."
Paniagua says they want to update and improve those programs. It’s a pretty short timeline: Syracuse HOPE is only funded through 2019. But Keaton says they want to take on the problem from a wide perspective so that solutions have the greatest impact.
"I think the biggest challenge for Greater Syracuse HOPE is really getting people to think in a systems way and not just programs," she said. "If you can stop a policy from having those unintended consequences because you have a diversity of voices in the room then you won’t have to undo any harm so you are getting it right the first time.
Keaton says they hope to "move the needle" on poverty in Syracuse by the middle of next year. She says she hopes to prove the success of their work so funding from the state can continue. Greater Syracuse HOPE is accepting proposals from the community until January 4. More information on the program is at www.greatersyracusehope.org.