Report provides roadmap for anti-poverty initiative

ROCHESTER — A recently released report provided a roadmap for the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative’s goal to reduce poverty in Rochester by 50 percent over the next 15 years.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren released the IBM Smart Cities Challenge’s neighborhood-based, data-driven recommendations last month. The challenge provided Rochester with $500,000 worth of services to explore ways to connect the community’s resources with individuals and families trying to navigate their way out of poverty, according to officials from the anti-poverty initiative.

The report found that one of the Rochester community’s challenges is that even though its social programs provide a wide array of services, they are highly fragmented, which causes overlaps and gaps in service delivery.

"Physical separation of agencies and organizations, along with a lack of common systems or tools, contribute significantly to this fragmentation," the report stated. "There is a lack of follow-through to ensure that services have been provided and outcomes achieved. It is not uncommon for people to get lost in the system."

The community’s programs and services also tend to be reactive instead of proactive, the report noted.

IBM officials recommend a more holistic approach to better assist an individual or family in need. Rochester agencies also need to consider the unrealized potential in the communities they serve to create a system of social support through healing, engagement and development activities that explore collaboration and the creation of broader networks, according to the report.

"Common objectives, systems and processes among agencies will empower them to support individuals navigating the system," the report stated.

Accessing data that already exist also will provide insight that may drive better decisions and preventive actions to help reduce poverty. The report also suggested developing an urban village, which is a neighborhood that attracts people from different demographic groups and provides a range of services and business offerings.

The IBM team initially presented its recommendations to anti-poverty initiative leaders in October. The report will be reviewed by the initiative task force and the mayor’s office of Innovation, according to the mayor’s office.

To read the report, visit www.cityofrochester.gov/innovation.

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