Monroe County to fund 40 community programs with $144M in Federal relief money

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced the community organizations and vendors who will receive a share of the county’s $144 million federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation.

40 initiatives will be funded with the hope that they bring positive change in the high-priority areas the county designated: workforce development and economic recovery; public health and wellness; public safety; and infrastructure along with sustainability.

“By actively participating in multiple outreach sessions held over the course of a year, the residents of Monroe County told us how to prioritize these vital ARPA funds with thoughtful, deliberate investments that will inspire transformative change in our community,” Bello says.   

ARPA was signed into law in March of 2021 and allocated $1.9 trillion in federal emergency relief and recovery funds, of which $350 billion was designated to support state, local, territorial and Tribal governments.  Monroe County got $144,080,127 in local fiscal recovery funds.

Bello says the county tried to choose programs that would impact the greatest number of people with a focus on diversity and inclusion. “At the end of the day these programs had to prove… how will you change the life for the people at the other end of the program,” he said.

The Healthy Baby Network isn’t planning to just change lives with the $2.2 grant it is set to receive, it may actually save some by expanding a doula program to prevent black maternal and infant mortality. “Doulas, when there is cultural parity, provide a protective layer of support for women and for families,” says executive director Sherita Bullock. “The doula comes to actually right-set some of those things to provide families education and information about some of the things that can go wrong and what they look like and then to provide them the guidance and the information to advocate for themselves.” 

Part of the Healthy Baby Network’s allocation will also go toward a mentoring program for fathers, particularly those who’ve previously been incarcerated. “We begin to think about the impact of men who are fathers who are also involved in violent situations on what that impact looks like generationally on their children and on their ability to parent,” Bullock explains.

Another agency getting a grant is Lifespan.  It plans to use its $800,000 award to expand a program that arranges transportation to medical facilities, pharmacy deliveries, and schedules preventative screenings and vaccinations for older adults.  Lifespan will also expand a program that focuses on the most vulnerable seniors. “Lifespan will send an LPN, a nurse with older adults to doctors’ appointments so we can reinforce medical instructions and we also make sure that the medication that the physicians prescribe, make sure that those medications are reconciled,” explains CEO Ann Marie Cook.

Monroe Community College got $5.5 million to expand a program it has to transition entry-level health care workers into nurses.  “About 85% of our students that we have here in our CNA (certified nursing assistant) programs are single moms who are the breadwinners for their families and they can’t themselves afford to take time off to take a full-time LPN program,” explains Marcy Lynch, the Director of Health Care Programs at MCC’s downtown campus.  That’s why MCC plans to use the funding to expand clinical bridge programs that promote a smoother transition.  The programs are free for CNAs and other medical workers who qualify and offer flexible schedules and other resources to help support participants. “Students have goals and when they achieve those goals they get gift cards and so they’re able to earn additional funds, the other thing that we have added is stipends so when individuals have completed for instance…the LPN program is a long program and they’re cutting back on work regardless of the support that’s being provided so, at each quarter they get a stipend for their successful completion,” explains Lynch. 

If students need other help along the way, be it childcare, housing, or even food, there are supports in place to get it to them. “We do food cards for lunches as well as Walmart or Wegman’s cards to help them out with groceries,” Lynch says. “One of my students has five children and she’s doing the program so some of those kind of things. helping them out to not have to take the time to go get groceries and working with our food pantry on campus.” Whatever it takes to get people where they want to be which in turn gets more nurses into our health care facilities. 

The full list of agencies that are to be awarded ARPF grants can be found below.