Schenectady County

Sch’dy Foundation to give $5M

To help city youths become productive citizens, the Schenectady Foundation on Monday announced it wi

To help city youths become productive citizens, the Schenectady Foundation on Monday announced it will donate at least $5.5 million during the next seven years to local agencies as part of a program to strengthen the city’s families.

The foundation will award grants to organizations that are focused on healthy births, preschool education, success in high school and helping Schenectady youths enter college or skill training.

Foundation Administrator Robert Carreau said, “When we intervene early, intervene often and intervene effectively, we can have a significant impact on children — starting from the very early ages — on how successful they are.” He spoke at the foundation’s second Leadership Summit at Proctors.

Investing in children and families can save taxpayers in the long run with reduced criminal justice and incarceration costs, he said. The foundation is looking to help coordinate efforts among agencies. It is starting the program offering modest grants of $5,000 to $10,000 to multiple organizations that want to work together.

In 2009, the foundation will seek proposals for the first formal round of grants. Agencies that receive grants would have to report annually. The foundation will aid and monitor intervention services.

Carreau said the foundation wants to seek private funding and grant sources to stretch the $5.5 million to as much as $17 million to $20 million. He acknowledged that it is an ambitious goal.

Representatives from city organizations agreed on the need for organizations working together.

Michael Saccocio, executive director of City Mission, said sometimes social agencies create confusion for people because agencies may have different methods of doing things.

“They’re just figuring out the agency rather than building toward a change in life,” he said.

The goal is to get people to move from survival to genuine success within the community and within their own lives.

“There’s going to be a better chance of this happening if the services are interacting and enhancing each other,” he said.

Schenectady City School District Superintendent Eric Ely said he would like to see some type of family welcome center, where parents could enroll their children, and staff would be able to link these people with any city or county services they need.

“As a school district, we can be a conduit that this goes through because we reach all the families,” he said.

Laura Combs, program manager for Capital Region BOCES, cited a 10-session course BOCES offers on parenting skills as needing expansion.

She said a mother and her boyfriend were trying to deal with a 7-year-old, 4-year-old and another baby on the way. She believes that family will require more help.

“This won’t be the end of their needs.”

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