OSWEGO – The Oswego County Legislature announced May 6 that the board of directors of the Richard S. Shineman Foundation has approved the funding of the County Legislature’s grant application, making them a one-third partner in a courageous effort to reverse worsening trends regarding health and poverty in Oswego County.
“The foundation board members were very intrigued by the county’s application,” said Karen Goetz, executive director. “Our mission is to use our financial resources to be a catalyst for change in the community, and we feel that this initiative has the potential to result in collaborative projects that will be truly transformative for Oswego County.”
The special task force, called the Community Health and Poverty Reduction Task Force, consists of four legislators, four representatives from the county’s school districts and a long list of advisors from across the spectrum of public, private and not-for-profit service providers in Oswego County.
The task force will serve as a steering committee to guide a comprehensive study of programs and services in Oswego County as well as a data analysis of trends regarding temporary assistance and other social services in the county. The study will be conducted by CZB, LLC, of Alexandria, Va., the same consulting group that conducted the “Comprehensive Neighborhoods Analysis” for the Oswego Renaissance Association in 2013.
Concurrent with its data collection activities, the task force is conducting focus group interviews with educators, guidance counselors, service professionals, law enforcement, the business community and the faith community throughout the county. The meetings began the last week of April.
“Our goal is to understand the challenges we face and to grow an ever-widening circle of groups and individuals invested in achieving measurable positive changes in Oswego County,” said Task Force Chairman Roy Reehil. “We understand that our efforts will have to be focused in every area that affects those at or near the poverty level, including efforts to improve the economy, literacy, and our ability to provide comprehensive assistance for individuals and families who want to reduce their dependence on public assistance. Having the school districts and the not-for-profit community as fully vested partners will allow us to engage a wider cross-section of the community which will help us maintain a sustained long-term effort.”
Some of the questions the task force will attempt to answer are: How do we grow the economy? How do we grow the middle-class? How do we improve job and housing opportunities for young professionals and families struggling to self-sustain? How do we improve educational outcomes for our children?
“We intend to offer concrete proposals that can change the direction of long-term negative trends,” Reehil explained. “It won’t be easy, but with a large enough network of individuals and groups who are invested in positive outcomes, we may discover that many of the resources we need to succeed are already here. We just need to coordinate, communicate and network more efficiently to create a snowball effect of accomplishments that will accumulate into measurable long-term successes and improve the financial viability and the quality of life here in Oswego County.”