Our Work & Results > Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative > It Takes a Community: The RMAPI Blog

It Takes a Community: The RMAPI Blog

Stop by this page often to see what's new with the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.

August 2016

Mayor Warren announces new program for rochester entrepreneurs

This week, Mayor Warren announced the launch of Kiva Rochester, a new program that will help entrepreneurs in the city grow their businesses and create jobs. Kiva is the world's largest nonprofit crowdfunded platform that helps business owners access capital, and now, with a local Kiva office and matching funds from the City, more entrepreneurs will be able to take advantage of the innovative model. Kiva loans are fee-free and have a zero percent interest rate and can be for as little as $25 or as much as $10,000. The model allows citizens in Rochester to support local businesses by lending to Kiva entrepreneurs. The initiative will particularly help underserved and low-income entrepreneurs, who lack access to traditional business loans. This will support RMAPI's Adult Mentoring area of implementation by providing more opportunities for jobs and RMAPI's Community Building guiding principle by helping to rebuild struggling neighborhoods with new businesses. 

Trauma and early childhood speaker series

Hillside Family of Agencies is hosting a new speaker series for community members and members of the health, human services and education fields. Side Conversations: A Speaker Series presented by Hillside will feature a panel of national and local experts on "A Child's World: Trauma Informed Models" on September 27 from 9-11 a.m. with speakers from Cornell University, Mt. Hope Family Center, Villa of Hope and Hillside Family of Agencies. Registration information will be available on www.hillside.com by September 7.  

Town Hall meeting

Last week, RMAPI held its first suburban Town Hall meeting at the Eastside YMCA in Penfield. Dr. Leonard Brock, RMAPI Director, gave an overview about the initiative and highlighted the Guiding Principles.
See photos and media coverage from the event below:


  • Democrat & Chronicle: Poverty initiative takes message to 'burbs. Read it here.
  • WXXI: Anti-Poverty Initiative sets its sights on the suburbs. Read it here.
  • News 8: Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative holds town hall meeting. See it here.
  • Minority Reporter: Anti-Poverty Initiative to hold public meeting in Penfield. Read it here.
  • Rochester Business Journal: Anti-Poverty Initiative reaches suburban allies. Read it here.  

July 2016

Community engagement specialist

We are thrilled to announce that Tori Toliver-Powers has been promoted to Community Engagement Specialist. She will now be more involved in the community help communicate and implement anti-poverty initiatives. You will see Tori out and about at meetings, presentations, various events and leading community input sessions such as interviews and focus group discussions. We will be providing support for the resident-driven Community Advisory Council. Congratulations Tori! 

State medicaid director lays out a vision that looks beyond health care

The future of Medicaid in New York State is to have the insurance program, which now covers more than half of the state's children and a third of all New Yorkers, move beyond health care and pay for improvements in education, criminal justice and other sectors that affect the lives of low-income residents, according to one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top health officials. This would support RMAPI's work with Early Childhood Supports and Systems Redesign to help local families overcome poverty.   

Faith leaders walk

This week we held the first RMAPI Faith Leaders Walk and engaged dozens of local people in RMAPI's work including the signing of the principles' pledge. For more info about the pledge and to sign it click here. Check out photos from the Faith Leaders Walk below.



Community advisory council

The Community Advisory Council (CAC) is a group of neighborhood residents involved in the decision-making, priority-setting and advocacy of neighborhood-based decisions that impact residents' social and economic wellbeing. Members of the Council will help strengthen neighborhood leadership, ensure the two-way exchange of information and offer input and advisement to the community groups and initiatives including (but not limited to): Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, ROC the Future, Connected Communities, Health Professionals Opportunity Grant Project, etc. Click here for more information about RMAPI's Community Advisory Council or here to apply to become a member.  

JUNE 2016

Rochester one of five state and local governments selected for j-pal innovation initiative

J-PAL North America, a research center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced that five state and local governments have been selected to participate in the J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative. This initiative will help the City of Rochester generate new and widely applicable lessons about which social programs work, which work best, and why and will ultimately support RMAPI's Community Building work. Rochester was chosen for demonstrating strong interest from our local leaders in using rigorous evidence to increase government effectiveness and improve outcomes for residents. Read more here.

poverty impact statement

As part of the work of the RMAPI Policy team, the FLREDC has instituted a poverty impact statement that would be applied to every application seeking state funding. This is a valuable tool and an important step in raising awareness and driving action on how we all have a role to play in bringing down the rate of poverty in our community.

restore new york funding to support community redevelopment projects across the state

Governor Cuomo recently launched Round 4 of the Restore New York Communiities Initiative - a $50 million program that will provide municipalities with funding to support efforts to revitalize and stabilize urban areas and neighborhoods across the state. This program provides local governments with financial assistance in order to encourage economic development and revitalization of urban centers and neighborhoods throughout the state. If local cities and towns receive funding from this initiative it would support the community building outlines in RMAPI's recommendations and guiding principles. Read more here.  

Pathways to prosperity report

The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative and the City of Rochester are working together to address poverty within three city neighborhoods, the Pathways to Prosperity District. The Office of Innovation designed and implemented a door-to-door survey in partnership with the Flower City AmeriCorps to build on previous RMAPI surveys. This will help us better understand residents' needs and concerns regarding neighborhood services and employment barriers. More than 400 people were interviewed, and the results were published in the Pathways to Prosperity Report.

Respondents identify mental and behavioral health as a major barrier to employment. All subsets of the sample want more counseling services available in their neighborhood. One key recommendation that rose from the survey was for the City to improve its understanding of the landscape of mental health and addiction services in Rochester. That would include the City working with the Monroe County Department of Human Services, particularly with the Office of Mental Health, to investigate the effectiveness of existing services, identify capacity issues, and ultimately expand and enhance services in as part of a coordinated effort. The City plans to coordinate with FLPPS to get mental/behavioral services in the pilot area because as of right now, services are not being offered in that area.

Rochester named one of 50 invest health cities

Rochester has been selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative. Invest Health is aimed at transforming how leaders from mid-size American cities work together to help low-income communities thrive, with specific attention to community features that drive health such as access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise, and quality jobs.

"Forming this partnership and being awarded the Invest Health grant demonstrates the positive impact we can have for our community when we work together," said Fran Weisberg, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Rochester. "The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative is honored to be a part of this initiative and will continue to collaborate to reduce poverty by building and supporting our community."  

Learn more about Invest Health here, read about Rochester receiving the grant here and see the Rochester Invest Health team here.

$4 million in critical funds announced for rochester rehabilitation in monroe county

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $4 million in federal funds for Rochester Rehabilitation Center. This funding was allocated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), through its Strengthening Working Families Initiative. Schumer and Gillibrand said this program will help low- to middle- skilled parents access the affordable, quality child care they need to earn an education, participate in job-training programs and ultimately compete for better-paying jobs in emerging industries.

FLREDC Pathways to Prosperity announcement

Recently the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council announced the members of its Pathway to Prosperity team. As you'll remember, the Pathway to Prosperity is one of the three key enablers that will facilitate growth and help us implement our work in adult mentoring as a part of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Click here for a full list of team members and stay tuned for more progress from the Pathway to Poverty.  

Rochester selected for health initiative

Last month it was announced that Rochester has been selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative. Invest Health is aimed at transforming how leaders from mid-size American cities work together to help low-income communities thrive, with specific attention to community features that drive health such as access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise, and quality jobs.
Rochester was selected from more than 180 teams from 170 communities that applied to the initiative. Cities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000 were asked to form five-member teams including representatives from the public sector, community development, and an anchor institution, preferably academic or health-related. Rochester's team comprises representatives from local government, health, community development, social services, and a local funder. The team will work together to develop shared strategies and coordinated investments that address health disparities in city neighborhoods.

MAY 2016

RMAPI Guiding principles report

We announced that we are accepting applications for the first phase of our work to reduce poverty. As you'll remember from our Progress Report, we identified adult mentoring as one of three key areas of focus to address the needs of people living in poverty and help them break the cycle of poverty. After extensive research, community engagement and resident involvement, we're excited to start implementing strategies to help people living in poverty.

We are looking for a local not-for-profit to serve as a lead agency for a two-year pilot of our adult mentoring program. The pilot will work to reduce poverty for 300 families living in the EMMA, Beechwood and Marketview Heights neighborhoods and will be focused on breaking down barriers to employment. There will be an emphasis on attaining employment, but just as important, maintaining employment to achieve self-sufficiency.

 United Way is seeking statements of qualifications from agencies by June 23 as a first step in the process. A partner will be chosen by RMAPI in early July and we expect to launch programming in September. If you or your organization are interested in submitting an application please visit www.uwrochester.org/RMAPIRFQ. We hope you will share this with anyone you think should apply.

APRIL 2016

RMAPI Guiding principles report

Thank you to all the Resource Team members for your work on developing the RMAPI Guiding Principles: Mobilizing our Community to Achieve Self-Sufficiency. These principles serve as a guide for community decision-making and form the building blocks of change. To achieve our goal of moving people out of poverty and into self-sufficiency, our entire community should embrace these principles in order to address structural racism and racial inequity, understand and work to address trauma and begin to strengthen our communities.

We hope you will review, assess and take time to understand these principles, and endorse them by signing this pledge to indicate that you will put them into practice. Then spread the word to get others involved.

Town hall meeting

Click here to check out media coverage from the Town Hall.

You're invited to the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI) upcoming community Town Hall meeting.


Tuesday, April 26

 6:00-8:00 p.m.



R-Center (Adams' Street Recreation Center)

85 Adams St. 

Free parking and handicap accessible.


The Town Hall is free and open to the public. At the Town Hall we'll share an update on our recently released Guiding Principles and information about implementation plans for our pilot neighborhoods. As always, we appreciate your insight, feedback and participation in the discussion.


If you have any questions or would like more information please call (585) 242-6482.


At this roundtable on April 19, Dr. Leonard Brock gave a brief overview of the principles and there will be an open discussion at each table to get thoughts and suggestions about moving forward. Click here to see the presentation from the event.




ibm smarter cities challenge

Rochester received the IBM report that details 13 recommendations and a roadmap to support the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative at United Way's goal of reducing levels of povery within Rochester by 50 percent over the next 15 years. The recommendations call for neighborhood-based, data-driven strategies and highilghted an urgent need for the city to transform its approach across processes, people and tools. Check out the full report and recent media coverage.


Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative at United Way resource team co-chairs Shaun Nelms and George Moses (community building resource team), James Norman and Marvin McMickle (structural racism resource team) and Trilby de Jung and Christiana Otuwa (trauma resource team) wrote three guest essays for the D&C



Please take some time to read our 2015 year in review by clicking here.

the rochester 10

CITY Newspaper featured Dr. Leonard Brock in their year-end "The Rochester 10" list. This list highlights Rochesterians doing great things behind the scenes. Read it here.


Town Hall: Thursday, December 3

The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI) is pleased to inform you of our upcoming community Town Hall meeting.


Thursday, December 3

 6:00-8:00 p.m.


The Community Place of Greater Rochester

 145 Parsells Ave.

 Rochester, NY 14609

Street parking is available.


The Town Hall is free and open to the public. It will provide the Initiative with the opportunity to update you on our work and to gain insights and perspective from members of our community as we enter the next steps of the Initiative.

If you have any questions or would like more information please call (585) 242-6482.


As we move into the next phase of our work here at RMAPI at the United Way, please take another read at our Progress Report and read more about what we are talking about when it comes to a person centered, no wrong door approach to a coordinated system of social supports.



IBM Smarter cities challenge

The IBM Smarter Cities Team has finished its work in Rochester and announced its recommendations for reducing poverty yesterday. The recommendations were consistent with the recently released report from the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative at United Way with the most critical being that government and non-profits need to work more closely together to reduce poverty. Find coverage from the announcement below:

  • Democrat & Chronicle: IBM Rochester has to rethink poverty. Read the story here.
  • Rochester Business Journal: IBM Smarter Cities Team completes work in Rochester. Read the story here.
  • WXXI: IBM Poverty Team Makes its Recommendations. Read the story here.
  • The Daily Record: IBM team presents recommendations. Find it here.
  • WHEC: IBM team completes research work in Rochester on poverty. Find it here.
  • News 8: I.B.M. Smarter Cities Team Makes Recommendations to Fight Poverty. Read it here.


Our partnership with the FLREDC (Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council) around the Upstate Revitalization Initiative is a key part of the work of RMAPI. Earlier this month in Albany, the FLREDC presented their case for the $500 million grant.


Check out an editorial from the D&C about RMAPI and the FLREDC here.

See the RMAPI video unveiled at the FLREDC presentation here.

RMAPI Roadmap for Change

A key part of the RMAPI Roadmap for change is: Coordinated and Integrated System of Social Supports

Throughout the workgroup process ourline in our Progress Report, the need for a system design to resolve many of the barriers and challenges impacting people in poverty became increasingly evident. Under the current system, individuals and families are often on a “poverty treadmill” (i.e., the “benefit cliff,” where a small increase in salary can cause a steep decline or loss of benefits.) The solution is the creation of an integrated, coordinated system of social supports that integrates sectors — human services, education, and health care — to eliminate the barriers that prevent individuals and families impacted by poverty, especially those living in multi-generational poverty, from achieving self-sufficiency.

IBM Smarter Cities Challenge  

The IBM team of executives arrived in Rochester in October as part of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge to help the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative. Find coverage of their arrival below.

Democrat and Chronicle: IBM to work on Rochester poverty. Read it here.

WHEC: IBM to help Rochester fight poverty. Read it here.

News 8: IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. Read it here.

WXXI: Team From IBM To Develop Plan To Fight Poverty In Rochester. Read it here.