07.20.15

SCHUMER: LOCAL MENTORSHIP PROGRAM THAT PAIRS GRANDPARENT MENTORS WITH 1ST& 2ND GRADERS WOULD BE HARMED IF FEDERAL GRANT FUNDING IS CUT; SCHUMER URGES FEDS TO PROTECT PROGRAM NEEDED TO SUPPLEMENT SCHOOLS’ STAFF & RESOURCES TO HELP FOCUS ON EACH CHILD’S INDIVIDUAL NEEDS

House Appropriation Bill Drastically Cuts Into Corporation For National And Community Service (CNCS) Budget By Over 40%, Jeopardizing Syracuse’s Successful Mentoring Program Which Makes A Lasting Difference In The Lives Of Children 

Schumer Says CNCS Funding Is Essential For Syracuse School District; Teachers Depend On Grandparent Mentorship Program To Help Meet Classroom Needs 

Schumer: Grandparent Mentorship Program Is An A+ For Syracuse Schools  

 

Standing at Van Duyn Elementary School, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a major push to protect federal funding that provides support to a local program critical to helping children in the Syracuse Central School District. Schumer explained the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill currently awaiting debate in the House of Representatives would slash funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) by over 40 percent. The CNCS operates thousands of community-building initiatives around the state and nation, including AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. The Senior Corps chapter in the City of Syracuse in particular has over 700 participants and receives over $1.1 million in federal funding to support its programs. As a part of Senior Corps in Syracuse, the school district, in conjunction with PEACE, Inc., supports a Foster Grandparent program, in which mentors are partnered with 1st and 2nd graders to focus on each child’s individual needs and supplement classroom efforts through this mentoring. Schumer said if federal funding is cut, worthwhile local programs like the Foster Grandparent program in Syracuse would be jeopardized. Therefore, Schumer said he will oppose and fight any such cut that puts these types of local mentoring programs at risk.

“Cutting federal support for programs like the Foster Grandparent program in Syracuse, which helps supplement our teachers’ efforts in the classroom, is akin to putting these school districts and children in detention for doing nothing wrong. Our teachers and school administrators have the incredibly important task of educating our children and providing them with the knowledge they need to be successful – but this proposal would punish hundreds of Central New York students and teachers, as well as the senior citizens who want to volunteer out of the goodness of their hearts, for absolutely no reason,” said Schumer. “The federal government can make no better investment than in the education and development of our children, so I am dead set against any proposal that slashes this funding and will fight tooth and nail to preserve it.”

Schumer explained that both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have passed spending bills to fund the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which is a federal agency that helps improve the lives of Americans through service programs like AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund, the Volunteer Generation Fund and more. However, the House funding bill would devastate CNCS programs like these by cutting the agency’s overall funding by approximately 42 percent. This could in turn impact programs across the country and New York State, including ones like the Senior Corps program in Syracuse. In fact, Schumer said that while House appropriators have included funding for Senior Corps programs, its proposed 75 percent cut to the agency’s administrative budget would essentially eliminate CNCS’ ability to operate the program, leaving locals to support the program entirely on their own.

The Foster Grandparent program consists of 237 of Senior Corps Syracuse’s more than 700 participants, and serves 30 locations throughout the area. According to Onondaga County, the program is allotted a total of $743,126 from the overall $1,173,339 in federal funding Senior Corps in Syracuse receives to support its programs. Schumer added that this is not the only program that is at risk at risk locally. The Onondaga County Chapter of AmeriCorps, as well as other Senior Corps programs, like Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the Senior Companion program are also in jeopardy if these cuts were to take place. According to CNCS, since 1994, more than 1,800 Onondaga County residents have served more than 2.9 million hours and have qualified for Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards totaling more than $6,400,000.

Schumer was joined by Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras; Beth O’Hara Director of Senior Services at PEACE, Inc.; Jenn Gambino, Supervisor of Volunteers at PEACE, Inc; Jessica Vasquez, State Director for CNCS; and senior volunteers, children and parents.

“The Foster Grandparent Program is a great example of how the school district leverages the talent and expertise in our community to support the efforts of our teachers in the classroom,” said Dr. Sharon Contreras, Superintendent of the Syracuse City School District. “This unique program not only provides value to the thousands of students who are loved and nurtured by the foster grandparents each and every day, but also provides a stipend, breakfast and lunch to elderly members of our community who live below the poverty line.  I applaud Senator Schumer’s efforts to bring that message to Washington.”

“The feedback we receive – from parents, students and volunteers – about this program has been overwhelmingly positive. It is something we are very proud of,” said Beth O’Hara, Director of the Foster Grandparent Program for PEACE, Inc. “At a time when our volunteer network is growing, I thank Senator Schumer for his efforts to ensure congressional support does not disappear.”

“Day in and day out, AmeriCorps members, Senior Corps volunteers, and Social Innovation Fund programs are making a difference in Syracuse, other communities in the Empire State, and at nearly 60,000 locations across our country,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “The proposed cuts could deny tens of thousands of citizens the opportunity to serve in AmeriCorps and make administering Senior Corps nearly impossible. We are working with Sen. Schumer and other congressional leaders to ensure that our agency’s funding reflects the President’s budget proposal, which enables more citizens and organizations to get involved in addressing our nation’s most pressing challenges. We also want to have the resources necessary to continue working with local leaders in Syracuse to develop innovative ways to improve students’ performance through the Senior Corps Foster Grandparent Program.”

According to CNCS, the following service locations benefit from the Foster Grandparent program in the Syracuse area and could be at risk: Liverpool - Long Branch Elementary School in Liverpool, Rockwell Head Start in Nedrow, CNY Developmental Services Office in North Syracuse, Smith Road Elementary School in North Syracuse, Atonement Lutheran Child Care Center in Syracuse, Bellevue Elementary School in Syracuse, Delaware Academy Elementary School in Syracuse, Dr. King Elementary School in Syracuse, Dr. Weeks Elementary School in Syracuse, Early Head Start at Merrick in Syracuse, Early Head Start at Sumner in Syracuse, Early Head Start at UUMC in Syracuse, Elmcrest Children s Center’s Special Pre-School in Syracuse, Elmcrest Childrens Center’s Family Support Center in Syracuse, Franklin Elementary School in Syracuse, Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Facility in Syracuse, Huntington Elementary School in Syracuse, HW Smith Elementary School in Syracuse, James Street Head Start in Syracuse, LeMoyne Elementary School in Syracuse, Liverpool Head Start in Syracuse, McKinley Brighton Elementary School in Syracuse, Meachem Elementary School in Syracuse, Merrick Head Start in Syracuse, Roberts Elementary School in Syracuse, Salvation Army Day Care Services in Syracuse, Seymour Dual Language Academy in Syracuse, Sumner Head Start in Syracuse, Van Duyn Elementary School in Syracuse and Webster Elementary School in Syracuse.

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