Mary Cariola receives $2 million through county ARPA funding

[anvplayer video=”5157961″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. A non-profit in Rochester has been awarded a $2 million grant over the course of four years.

The Mary Cariola Center received the grant from Monroe County through the American Rescue Plan Act. The Cariola Center works with students with intellectual developmental disabilities. The Mary Cariola Center serves students from 13 counties and over 50 school districts and they own six group homes.

Karen Zandi, the center’s president and CEO, says this grant will primarily help with their community outreach, education and creating programs to reach and recruit people who may be thinking about getting into the field of working with students with developmental disabilities.

“It’s a difficult job and people, really, first hand have to kind of test their heart and soul,” Zandi said. “You’ve seen a few of our kids in the hallway. They will demand your attention, they will demand your energy, but there’s a whole balance of patience and skill. We say if you have stronger skill, it really requires less patience.”

She says this $2 million grant came at a great time because workforce development is extremely important, especially in Monroe County. She says it’s an initiative they started several years ago to turn teacher’s aides into teacher’s assistants and eventually teachers of their own.

“We need more grown-ups to serve the children, so that’s our focus,” Zandi said. “Historically we always said, ‘It’s all about the kids, it’s all about the kids,’ and several years ago we said, ‘If we don’t make it about the grown-ups who serve the kids, we’re just going to have a shortage in our workforce.’”

Zandi says they will start to implement the grant funding plan starting March 1. However, they have already started their budget process.