History of the Project
The Community Health and Poverty Reduction Task Force
was organized in March 2015, in response to worsening trends regarding health
behaviors, high unemployment and poverty in Oswego County. It was
renamed to the Oswego County Anti-Poverty Task Force in June 2016, to
simplify the name.
Beginning in early 2014, informal discussions between
legislators and school district leaders turned into a request for
proposal to study the causes of poverty and to seek solutions. In December of 2014, the Legislature
unanimously approved a resolution to engage
CZB, LLC of Alexandria, VA,
in a contract to provide an evaluation of human services
programs and to co-develop new approaches to reverse
those negative trends.
CZB's, local experience
during the highly successful "Comprehensive Neighborhoods Analysis"
project for the Oswego Renaissance Association
helped them win the contract award.
By March, 2015, all of the school districts in the County
became partners in the project and
S. Shineman Foundation provided a one third grant in support of the
Legislature Chairman, Kevin
Gardner, appointed four legislators (two from each party) and four school district
representatives to a Task Force to steer the project.
The goal was brief, "to improve health and reduce
poverty in the County." Rather than be overwhelmed by the scope of that mandate, the Task
Force focused on the idea that change was necessary and that wider
attention to the problems could only make things better.
They began by seeking a wide range of professionals and experts to become
advisors and sought out existing successes and
Between March and September, 2015, CZB staff and Task Force members
conducted four Task Force Meetings, 20 focus group meetings, an online
survey and over 20 individual meetings with department heads and
directors of not-for-profit human services organizations in the County.
The focus groups were particularly informative and included a wide range
of individuals and disciplines. Concurrent with that person-to-person
input, statistical data and
research was also collected.
CZB's first draft of "Findings and
Recommendations" was distributed in September and contained a diagnosis, poverty reduction
principles and the recommendation that the Task Force establish
teams of experts and lay-people to work on specific areas where change
After establishing teams the
task force began to prioritize goals, establish actions and
create metrics with which to measure success.
On December 8, 2015, the Task Force rolled out the CZB report titled "An Economic Development and Poverty Reduction
Action Plan for Oswego County." The room overflowed with people, standing room only. For nearly two hours the task force shared their strategies to "change the story" in Oswego County from one of negative trends to a story of a community lifting itself up to revitalize.
Ideas were presented dealing with virtually every aspect of life -- in our schools and colleges, businesses and non-profits, our faith community and government. Many ideas keyed on increasing collaborations between institutions and the possibility of succeeding was exemplified in the composition of the audience.
With a room full of "doers," there was a real sense that this kind of
change was possible and the right people were in the room to
institute that change.
Implementing this plan won't be easy or inexpensive, but the momentum the
Task Force has generated provides a substantial springboard from which
to begin. We will focus on
collaborations that will break down the barriers that restricted efficiencies in the past. We are building a dynamic self-help
system of support through a critical mass of expertise,
volunteerism and philanthropy.
Would you like to help? Click here for ways you can
become part of the solution.