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Area nonprofits push for more human-services funding in state budget

By Eric Reinhardt


SYRACUSE, N.Y. — More than three dozen human-services nonprofit organizations want Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature to provide more funding for their sector in the state budget.

The nonprofits shared their concern in a rally held Wednesday at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse.

The state-budget proposal acknowledges the importance of human services, but “provided little in the way of strengthening the human-services organizations and the sector,” Loretta Zolkowski, executive director of the Human Services Leadership Council of Central New York, said in her remarks during the event.

The Human Services Leadership Council is a 65-member organization representing human-services nonprofits in Central New York.

“So, today, we the people of the human-services sector of Central New York, in a strong, unified voice, call upon Gov. Cuomo and our state legislators to support the platform of the Restore Opportunity Now campaign, which reflects expressed needs of the sector and is supported by over 340 human-services agencies across New York State,” said Zolkowski.

She is also member of the advisory committee of the Restore Opportunity Now campaign that also includes the nonprofit organizations involved in Wednesday’s event.

The campaign seeks to address issues such as fully-funded contracts; competitive salaries and benefits for nonprofits to recruit and retain “high quality” staff; and program funding that “meets the growing needs of New Yorkers.”

The advocacy campaign cited a recent report and statistics illustrating that half of Syracuse’s children live in poverty and the region suffers from one of the highest rates of extreme poverty concentrated among communities of color in the country, according to a news release the nonprofits issued.

Spending in the human-services sector in New York has decreased by an average of 1.3 percent per year since 2011, the group said.

The nonprofits describe human services as the “state’s first line of defense in combating pressing issues” such as poverty, but rising costs coupled with “ever present needs and lack of investment have undermined the health of the sector, which is now at a breaking point.”


Statewide, local support

The nonprofits attending Wednesday’s rally included AccessCNY; ACR Health; ARISE; American Cancer Society; American Heart Association; Catholic Charities; Center for Community Alternatives; Child Care Solutions; Children’s Consortium; Circare; Contact Community Services; CNY Fair Housing; Dunbar Association; Exodus3 Ministries; Food Bank of Central New York; Hillside Family of Agencies; Home Headquarters; Huntington Family Centers; Interfaith Works; It’s About Childhood and Family; Learning Disabilities Association of CNY; Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County; Literacy CNY; Meals on Wheels of Syracuse; Mercy Works; Onondaga Community Living; OnPoint for College; Partners in Learning; Peace, Inc; Planned Parenthood of Central & Western New York; Prevention Network; Rescue Mission Alliance; Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE); Salvation Army; Spanish Action League; Syracuse Community Connections; Syracuse Northeast Community Center; Vera House; Visions for Change; Westcott Community Center; and YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County.


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