News & Event
June 29, 2017
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and Rochester Area Community Foundation released State of Play, an independent assessment conducted by the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program that examines access, quality, and participation in youth sports in Livingston, Ontario, Monroe, Wayne, Seneca, and Yates counties.
“Research shows active children do better in life,” said Tom Farrey, executive director of Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program. “They’re healthier, more often go on to college, and as they move into adulthood are more likely to raise active kids. So how do we get more kids off the couch, without running them into the ground?”
Farrey said answering that question starts with a clear-eyed account of how well a community is currently serving kids through sports. “We hope this report — the first of its kind nationally — provides valuable insights that can help mobilize stakeholders.”
Among the 40-plus findings in the report:
“Our vision is to have a Greater Rochester community in which all children, regardless of ZIP code or ability, have the opportunity to be active through sports,” said David O. Egner, president and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “The State of Play report identifies the challenges we face as a region, but more importantly, it also shares the opportunities that all of us in the community — parents, educators, funders, and leaders — can pursue for improvement.”
In State of Play, sport refers to all forms of physical activity which, through organized or casual play, aim to express or improve physical fitness or well-being.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation commissioned the report and partnered with the Community Foundation to create and oversee a Youth Sports Task Force for the Rochester Region, comprised of more than three dozen representatives of youth sports, recreation programs, and local communities who provided insights, expertise and feedback throughout the eight-month research process.
“For the first time ever, we have a clear picture of what the state of youth sports looks like in our region,” said Jennifer Leonard, President and CEO, Rochester Area Community Foundation. “State of Play is a playbook that will drive community conversation and action around how we can collectively and effectively address youth sports for years to come.”
More than 1,000 local adults and youth informed the State of Play report through interviews, roundtables, focus groups and surveys. The Aspen Institute analyzed the region through its existing framework of eight strategies, or “plays,” designed to increase sport participation with urban, suburban, and rural youth.
The eight “plays” include:
While the State of Play report and an expanded local task force will help to inform grantmaking strategies for the Community Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the broader hope is that the region’s communities will begin to engage in this conversation and collectively rally around our youth. The two foundations are planning to host a series of community roundtables and discussions in the near future.
This fall, Rochester Area Community Foundation will announce grant opportunities for the new Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Fund for Youth Sports. The overarching goal will be to strengthen the quality, quantity, and accessibility of youth sports and recreation programs for children under age 18 in the region.
Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes’ State of Play is one of three regional youth sports and recreation studies commissioned by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, in partnership with community foundations in Greater Buffalo and Southeast Michigan. These are the Foundation’s primary regions for investment and were the home and adopted home of the Foundation’s namesake, the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., a Detroit area native and lifelong resident, and founder and long-time owner of the Buffalo Bills professional football team.
To receive updates and learn more about upcoming efforts to improve the local state of play, visit RCWJRF.org/StateofPlay.
Learn more about why youth sports and recreation are so important to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation efforts here, in Buffalo, and Southeast Michigan by watching this video.
May 10, 2017
The foundation created by the late Buffalo Bills founder Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. has awarded $5 million to Rochester Area Community Foundation to expand and improve opportunities for youth sports and recreation programs in the greater Rochester region.
This gift established the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Fund for Youth Sports, which will provide annual and ongoing grants to support current and new youth sports programs run by local communities or organizations and to make them more accessible to all youth. An additional gift of $250,000 was included to allow the Community Foundation to have a substantial first grant round later this year.
“We are honored to build on Mr. Wilson’s lifelong love of sports by helping our region’s young athletes and those participating in local recreation programs enjoy quality programs in their own communities and learn from knowledgeable, well-trained coaches and adult organizers,” says Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of the Community Foundation.
“By establishing this endowed fund at the Community Foundation, it allows us to permanently support very localized projects in the region for which a smaller grant can make all the difference,” says David Egner, president and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “In addition, while we continue to seek out opportunities to invest in broader youth sports and recreation programs, this fund will provide an opportunity to test out ideas and programs on a smaller, pilot level.”
A Youth Sports Task Force for the Rochester Region, comprised of more than three dozen representatives from organizations involved in youth play and sports in Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties, has been meeting since last summer. Its main purpose is to provide input on local priorities and needs related to youth sports and low-income youth participation in sports programs.
“Many youth sports programs in our region are held together heroically on a shoestring budget and this new fund can help provide stability and enhance what is being offered,” says Hank Rubin, vice president for community programs at the Community Foundation, who convened the task force. “This all-local task force has been instrumental in helping us to better understand the youth sports and play landscape and establish a common understanding of what constitutes quality.”
For this effort, youth sports is being defined as formal sports teams that are part of out-of-school-time programs (before and after school, expanded learning, and summer enrichment); sports and recreation within local school districts; general recreational activities and facilities; and organized community programs that offer sports for youth up to age 18 as part of their overall offerings.
The Community Foundation and the Michigan-based Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation have partnered with the Aspen Institute to study existing youth sports opportunities in Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties and highlight where the gaps exist. The Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, based in Washington, D.C., tracks and reports on the state of youth sports nationally. The youth sports task force members provided valuable input to Aspen researchers on what is happening in our communities and in their youth sports programs.
Aspen’s study, to be released this summer, will help focus the Community Foundation’s grantmaking investments from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Fund for Youth Sports. The overarching goal is to strengthen the quality, quantity, and accessibility of youth sports programs in the region. Also, an expanded task force will assist Community Foundation staff to identify areas of focus and strategies for grantmaking in youth sports and recreation activities for children under age 18 in our region.
The Community Foundation expects to launch its youth sports grant opportunities in Fall 2017.
Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., a native of Detroit, considered Western New York his adopted hometown because of his passion for the Buffalo Bills football team, which he founded in 1959. The foundation established after Wilson’s death in March 2014 is concentrating its investments in Southeast Michigan and Western New York, which includes greater Rochester. The Wilson Foundation focuses its efforts on four key areas: children and youth; young adults and working class families; caregiving; and healthy communities. Funds for youth sports already were established in Buffalo and Southeast Michigan and grants have been awarded in those communities.
The youth sports fund is the second endowment established at the Community Foundation by the Wilson Foundation. In December 2015, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Fund for Smart Strategy was created with a $500,000 gift from the Wilson Foundation. This permanent fund provides ongoing grant support for expert research, evaluation, intelligence gathering, and assessment of best practices for community improvement.
The first grant from the Smart Strategy fund was used to research and write “Poverty and Self-Sufficiency in the Nine-County Greater Rochester Area,” a report released in September 2016. This report updated the 2013 poverty report compiled by the Community Foundation and ACT Rochester, which brought the depth and breadth of Rochester’s poverty to the forefront.
June 7, 2018
Rochester Area Community Foundation is awarding $329,000 in grants to 20 local youth sports and recreation programs from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Fund for Youth Sports.
The grants range from $5,500 to $25,000 and support projects that will have a direct impact on more than 6,500 youth in Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, and Wayne counties. Eighty-two proposals were received — 19 from outside Monroe County — and requested a combined total of more than $1.5 million.
“The amount of interest in this first grant round for youth sports was impressive,” says Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are honored to further Ralph Wilson’s love of sports by introducing new and improved opportunities to as many children as possible.”
These inaugural grants were made possible by the $5 million endowed fund established in 2016 by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation at the Community Foundation. Starting this year, the fund will provide annual and ongoing grants to support and strengthen the quality, quantity and accessibility of regional youth sports and recreation programs.
“This first round of grants will be a game-changer for programs that do great work with small budgets,” says Simeon Banister, interim vice president of community programs at the Community Foundation. “We expect to distribute more than $400,000 next year with hopes that more programs will be offered, more youth will be able to participate and that the benefits of training coaches will pay off.”
The 20 nonprofits receiving funding for youth sports-related programs and projects are:
AutismUp: A “Youth Sports Series” will provide 60 youth with autism and related disabilities a chance to learn the language, rules, and skills of a variety of sports (basketball, soccer, swimming) at their own pace and with individualized support. Coaches will be trained to support the unique learning and behavior needs of participants. $5,500
Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester, Inc: The “Weekend Free Play Zone” program on Saturdays will provide youth the chance to participate in alternative sports and activities to that are often times inaccessible due to fee-based restrictions. These activities will include dance instruction, golf lessons, bowling, fencing, tennis, and many others. The Genesee Street clubs also will allow non-members to access Saturday programming to encourage them to join. $24,850
Center for Disability Rights: Support for the Rochester Rookies, a wheelchair and ambulatory track and field sports program for disabled athletes (5 to 23 years old) that provides a customized approach focusing on each athlete's interests. $15,356
Coordinated Child Development Program, Inc.: A “Partnership for Play” program allows sharing of the CCDP school-age program in Canandaigua, Ontario County, and the Salvation Army school-age program less than a mile away. During 42 weeks of the school year, nine different sports will be offered at both locations to introduce sport sampling and free play to 68 children. $7,698
EquiCenter, Inc.: The “Horseplay” program will provide a non-traditional recreation program to 117 youth ages 5-14 years old at this Mendon ranch, combining life lessons and skills using interactive play and learning with horses. This approach combines equine-assisted learning with the exploration of nature, along with structured and free play. $24,500
Girl Scouts of Western NY Inc.: Offers 550 girls the chance to experience and participate in archery and a ropes course, with certified instructors, during their time at Camp Piperwood in Perinton. Also includes archery and ropes training for Girl Scout leaders to address a shortage of trained instructors. $25,000
HOPE Academy: Based out of the city of Rochester’s Flint Street Recreation Center, this program will provide at least 10 scholarships for athletes ages 8 to 16 from low-income households in the city to participate in Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball for 12 months, and cover the necessary expenses to participate. $9,910
Ibero-American Development Corporation: Providing play activities in the El Camino neighborhood, including six weeks of supervised play (three hours a day, five days each week) at Conkey Corner Park and pop-up play at several pre-identified streets and sites. A neighborhood survey will provide data on interests and utilization by area youth and families. $14,720
NYSARC, Inc. Wayne County Chapter: Based on the “Rec on the Move” model used by the City of Rochester’s Department of Recreation and Youth Services, the Free Activities and Sports Trailer Program (FAST) will be a trailer fully stocked with equipment to create an inclusive mobile sports and activities center to serve 2,400 high-needs youth, ages 7 to 15, across Wayne County. These recreation opportunities would include collaboration with 12 partner agencies. $25,000
Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.: Refurbish 530 football helmets to increase youth safety for the Rochester Rams from Rochester’s School 33. Also includes coaching football certification costs and transportation for youth to games. $25,000
ROC E6, Inc.: In partnership with the Rochester Knighthawks and several other lacrosse groups, this community youth sports program will provide 200 youth ages 6-18 in the city of Rochester with the opportunity to play lacrosse through four different sessions throughout the year, while also providing mentoring and educational tools. $8,975
Rochester Area Fencing Foundation, Inc.: This program, in collaboration with the Rochester Fencing Club, will provide 24 weeks of after-school fencing instruction to 40 students from Canandaigua Academy and Middle School during the 2018-19 school year. Also includes purchase of equipment and substantial discount for entry to two tournaments. $25,000
ROCovery Fitness Inc.: Provides addiction recovery support through development of a youth fitness program for 25 to 50 youth, ages 13 to 21 in collaboration with Villa of Hope. The activities will include hikes, bike riding, group running, basketball, soccer, baseball, and yoga. $15,040
St. John Bosco Schools: Enhance the athletic program in this East Rochester-based Catholic school so that students can participate in Section Five sports and adults can receive coaching, First Aid, CPR, and injury prevention training. The project also includes the purchase of sports equipment and materials needed for competitive play. $14,749
St. John Fisher College: Introduce a “Teaching to Initiate Play” pilot program to empower youth to develop skills for engaging in independent play and for organizing team play with peers through the college’s summer basketball camp and in fifth- and sixth-grade physical education classes in the Gates Chili Central School district. About 830 youth will participate. Scholarships will be provided for youth from low-income households to participate in the college’s summer program, including support for transportation. $21,650
St. Paul’s Lutheran School: Encourage sport sampling with opportunities for free play for 100 to 140 youth ages 4-14 in North Greece, Hilton and Hamlin areas in partnership with the local town recreation departments. $20,000
Seneca Falls Development Corporation: The “Team Active8 Youth Program” will provide a series of non-traditional sports, games and activities for up to 80 youth in third through fifth grades in Seneca Falls, Seneca County, over an eight-week span in Fall 2018 and again in Spring 2019. Activities will be overseen by the recreation and community center staff. $5,840
Seneca Sailing Academy, Inc.: Supports 13 scholarships for youth sailing lessons on Seneca Lake, including transportation and lunch. Plan also includes launching a community outreach campaign to promote these opportunities. $6,524
South East Area Coalition: Work with Rochester neighborhood groups to paint playful sidewalks around two parks, which will act as a natural way to lead area youth to play spaces. At the park will be a toy library with balls, bases, Frisbees, jump ropes, and other toys for youth and families to engage in play together. $8,690
Village of Phelps: Supports building a safe and innovative playground for 1,375 youth, ages 2 to 13, to experience free play by replacing the deteriorating and outdated playground equipment on the grounds of the community center and library. $25,000
The second round of youth sports grants will be announce by the Community Foundation in early October.
September 20, 2018
The late owner and founder of the Buffalo Bills wanted his foundation’s investments in the communities he loved to have immediate, substantial, and measurable impact.
The first round of grants from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Fund for Youth Sports at the Community Foundation accomplished that. In June 2018, a total of $329,000 was distributed to 20 youth sports and recreation programs that expected to reach more than 6,500 youth in Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, and Wayne counties within the next year.
The programs and projects that received grants addressed needs outlined in the 2017 report “State of Play: Greater Rochester & The Finger Lakes,” which examined access, quality, and participation in local sports and recreation programs.
“We tossed around ideas on how we could interest young people to play more individually or with a peer group for an hour a day,” said Bob Ward, athletic director at St. John Fisher College, which received a $21,650 youth sports grant with three key components:
Ward explained that youngsters choosing teams need to think beyond picking their friends. For a pick-up game, it’s important to make sure to consider shooting and ball-handling ability, specific positions (someone taller as the center), and what other skills a player can contribute to the team being assembled.
Educational research supports Ward’s efforts, which also link to New York State physical education goals as well as social-emotional learning through independent, collaborative play, said Susie Hildenbrand, Fisher’s associate dean of education. “It’s a perfect match.”
The camp participants “now have a focused, routine way to learn how to practice a skill. And maybe if they can meet up with others, they can say ‘Let’s play,’ and they know how to do that,” said Hildenbrand, who collaborated with Ward on the teacher curriculum.
“We talk a lot about leveling the playing field. Exposing our students to something like this is a game-changer,” said Kimberle Ward, superintendent of Gates Chili schools, who also happens to be Bob Ward’s wife. She explained that a growing number of the district’s students are not getting opportunities to play outside. The camp “gives them the confidence to initiate play with others.”
Hildenbrand sees additional benefits that could carry over to academics in the classroom. When learning to practice on their own and at their own pace, “they’re internalizing this idea of ‘if I want to get better at something or learn something, I can take the initiative to do something first.’ ”
Once this concept is introduced to the Gates Chili physical education teachers, Bob Ward expects it will result in many positive ripple effects.
“The win-win in all of this is, if youth begin down this road of having fun and developing a skill and doing it consistently … this leads to the cycle of fun, skill competence, and fitness we are looking for,” said Ward.
See a full list of our 2018 youth sport grantees.
Photo above: Six of the 19 Gates Chili Central School District students who were invited to participate in summer basketball camps at St. John Fisher College, thanks to a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Fund for Youth Sports (photo by Erich Camping).
In August 2017, the Community Foundation and ACT Rochester expanded their reporting on racial inequities with a report called “Hard Facts: Race and Ethnicity in the Nine-County Greater Rochester Area.”
The regional report showed wide and persistent gaps in educational and economic outcomes among residents of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, affecting individuals and families throughout their lives and for generations to come. Even more shocking was the more severe disparity in our region compared to New York State and the country.
Community leaders thanked ACT Rochester for sharing this compelling data. Requests came in to talk with groups about the findings. Community workshops attracted hundreds interested in learning more. Discussion of the disparities was featured during the celebration of Frederick Douglass’ 200th birthday in 2018.
Then something unexpected happened: ACT Rochester Senior Director Ann Johnson got a request to speak to the sixth-grade class at Genesee Community Charter School. Then a fourth-grade teacher in the Rush-Henrietta Central School District called to say his students wanted to talk about the report’s findings.
“These young students gave me hope,” said Johnson. “They care. They wanted to know why people of color are treated differently than whites and what we can do to change things. They ask tough questions and they are not afraid to be bold.”
In the fourth-grade classroom of Shane Wiegand at Sherman Elementary School, students peppered Johnson with questions, all starting with the phrase “I wonder:”
Before discussing “Hard Facts,” the students had studied redlining in Rochester and segregation through the stories of Ruby Bridges and Martin Luther King, Jr. They also watched The Children’s March and clips from July ’64, the story of Rochester’s riots.
One day, Khaliat Bishi, who is Nigerian-American, and Simra Hamad, who is Pakistani, both commented that they have never had a teacher who looked like them. Together with Bailey O’Connor, who is white, these three spent many lunch periods gathering data on their school and the Rush-Henrietta Central School District.
They referenced U.S. Census data and WXXI reports on the racial makeup of teachers in Monroe County, along with ACT Rochester data on poverty. They identified just one African American teacher in their school and fewer than a dozen teachers of color throughout the very diverse district. The three girls assembled a PowerPoint presentation and met with their school principal and the district’s two assistant superintendents to share their findings.
“I was very impressed,” said Nerlande Anselme, assistant superintendent for student and family services, who is from Haiti. “They had a thesis, did their research, and in their presentation asked, ‘Do you see this as a problem in Rush-Henrietta?’ I said ‘Yes.’ ”
At the urging of its school board, this suburban Monroe County district is making diversity a priority. Wiegand is a member of a new 40-member Diversity Steering Committee that includes teachers, administrators, students, parents, community representatives, and leaders that is gathering ideas and discussing strategies for recruitment and ways to be more inclusive. The district recently hired its first African American superintendent.
Hoping to Make Our Community Better
Genesee Community Charter School teacher Chris Dolgos read “Hard Facts” and believed it should be incorporated into the sixth-grade curriculum because it’s important for his students who are our community’s future citizens “to discover what it does take to make change happen.” It also dovetailed nicely with the yearlong theme of “Bridges and Barriers.”
The 30 sixth-graders’ initial reaction to the report was, “This is not okay. Why are adults letting this happen?” Their research went deep into issues related to affordable housing, poverty, and racism, and they explored ways for Rochester to be more inclusive. They asked great questions: “Why does our community look like it does? Why are some parts shiny and flashy and others are boarded up?”
“ACT Rochester shares information and provides the ‘what’ and ‘why,’ but people have to figure out the ‘how,’ ” Dolgos told his students.
With aspects of “Hard Facts” data on their minds, the students divided into four groups that visited either Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Oakland, or Detroit. Students met with city leaders and community groups to learn about that city’s problems and how they were being addressed. They also looked for ideas to bring back home. Students presented their findings to parents and the school community and created a “Whose Renaissance Is It?” Adobe Spark page, which outlines their research into Rochester’s past and their hopes for its future.
The sixth graders also wanted to show their support for Rochester. With a grant from Expeditionary Learning Education’s Better World Project — and help from local artist Shawn Dunwoody — they painted inspirational murals in each quadrant of the city. At School 12, they invited their family members and several dozen students from other Rochester schools to help with ambitious murals that cover sidewalks and several walls.
Paul Schramm, whose 12-year-old son was in the class, thought the conversations and research into race, poverty, and inequities were well timed. “These kids are very much aware of what keeps things separate today, and it’s never too early to discuss it.”
Top photo above: Sherman Elementary School students Bailey O’Connor, Khaliat Bishi, and Simra Hamad, with fourth-grade teacher Shane Wiegand (photo by Caleb Parker).
Second photo: After completing murals in each quadrant of Rochester, sixth-graders from Genesee Community Charter School and their mural advisor Shawn Dunwoody returned to each location to sign their names. Here they are at Passaro’s Deli on Clifford Avenue (photo by Erich Camping).
May 1, 2013
In an effort to better understand the racial and ethnic disparities in our community, the African American Giving Initiative of Rochester Area Community Foundation commissioned a book to provide that overview.
The State of Black Rochester 2013: Education + Employment = Equity, a 140-paperback, is a compilation of essays from prominent community leaders and experts and includes current data compiled by ACT Rochester. Proceeds from sales of the book will be used for the Giving Initiative’s future grants in our community.
“It is extremely helpful to know where we have been and what continuing challenges we face as the Giving Initiative and the entire community decide what to support in order to make the greatest impact,” says Dana K. Miller, vice president for advancement at the Community Foundation, who wrote the preface and a summary chapter for the book.
The book, modeled on the National Urban League’s State of Black America, includes essays written on the following topics:
The book opens with a foreword by Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. A chapter on the implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act for minorities, written by Kathleen Rand Reed of Washington, D.C. and an associate editor of Rochester’s About … Time Magazine, also was included.
In the books’ summary chapter, Miller writes that “the challenges preventing people from taking advantage of opportunities can be described in four words: availability, access, awareness, and ability. ... Our mission should be maintaining or increasing the availability and access to opportunities while also finding ways to significantly improve awareness and ability.”
The hope of the Giving Initiative is that the community will use information in The State of Black Rochester 2013 to guide decisions on budgets, spending, philanthropy and development opportunities, Miller says.
Publication of this book was made possible by a $10,000 grant from Rural/Metro Corporation and a $6,000 grant from the Community Foundation.
The African American Giving Initiative, formed in 2011, provides an opportunity for people in the community to combine financial resources and have a say in how the available grant money should be distributed. A group of nearly two dozen people aligned with the Initiative’s mission — to make a positive change in problem areas experienced most strongly within the African American community — have been regularly meeting to discuss ongoing issues, recruitment of new members and plans for the book. Membership levels start at $1,000 a year.
Jim and Carolyne Blount, publishers of About … Time Magazine, assisted with editing, page design and publishing. The book was printed locally by Panther Graphics.
The State of Black Rochester 2013 is available at Mood Makers Books in Village Gate, The Library Store at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, Writers & Books, and Baobab Cultural Center for $19.95. Print and e-book versions also can be ordered through Amazon.com.
January 8, 2015
An analysis of recently released U.S. Census data for a five-year period shows that the City of Rochester's poverty has gotten worse.
The report, released by Rochester Area Community Foundation and ACT Rochester, compares Rochester to 17 other principal cities in similarly sized metro areas. Benchmarking Rochester's Poverty: A 2015 Update and Deeper Analysis of Poverty in the City of Rochester by Edward J. Doherty finds that:
In December 2013, the Community Foundation and ACT Rochester released Poverty and the Concentration of Poverty in the Nine-County Greater Rochester Area, which was primarily based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey over the five-year period from 2007-11.
Since that time, the Census Bureau has released one-year survey data estimates for 2012 and 2013 that also signaled poverty increases. The newest five-year survey, which covers 2009-13, is based on a larger sample and considered more reliable and precise. The Census Bureau released the data in December 2014 and it provided the basis for this update and comparison with benchmark cities.
"The first poverty report and its startling statistics were a wake-up call for our entire region to better understand the depth of poverty that exists in every city, town, and village," says Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of Rochester Area Community Foundation. "Benchmarking Rochester's Poverty provides an opportunity to update key data from that report and take a deeper look at the realities of poverty in the City of Rochester."
The Census Bureau data estimates that 66,312 poor people live in the City of Rochester, with more than 95,000 spread across suburban Monroe and the surrounding eight counties.
In an effort to put Rochester's poverty into context, report author and researcher Doherty developed a list of 18 principal cities in similar-sized metro areas (within plus or minus 200,000 of the Rochester population). Included in the benchmark group are Buffalo, Hartford, Conn., Richmond, Va., Birmingham, Ala., Tulsa, Okla., Louisville, Ky., and Honolulu.
In 28 charts at the back of the 20-page report, the benchmark cities are ranked based on their rates of overall poverty and extreme poverty, as well as poverty rates for children, adults, seniors, and female-headed families. The charts also compare poverty data based on gender and race, educational attainment, disability, employment, age, and family size and income.
"Several of the report's child-related poverty statistics are the most troubling," says Doherty, who retired in 2014 as the Community Foundation's vice president of community programs.
"Developing a deeper understanding of poverty includes knowing the statistics, but also going beyond the data to seek out poor people's perspectives that would provide a better grasp of the complex causes and effects of poverty," says Ann Johnson, director of ACT Rochester.
Johnson also believes that gaining insight into what it is like to be poor is essential to making our community more understanding of the issue and related problems. Eighty community leaders and interested residents participated January 7 in an intensive poverty simulation hosted by ACT Rochester and led by Rhonda O'Connor, director of Onondaga County's anti-poverty initiative called "Choosing To Thrive."
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