Obama’s Proposed CSBG Budget Cuts Will Undermine 44 Years of Local Agency’s Work and Purpose

Albany, NY – 2/25/11 - The average Albany County citizen has never heard of the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) funding, so most may just shrug if told it was being cut in President Obama’s 2012 Federal Budget. But what if they were told that in 2010 alone, without it, 150 lower income youth, women and men in Albany County would have gone without career training and supports, that 431 disadvantaged residents in Cohoes would have gone without emergency food and home supplies, that 93 individuals would not have obtained tax assistance to receive over $174,578 in tax credits they then used to buy necessities to support their families. CSBG may just seem like another federal acronym tied to another federal program, but the refreshing truth is that it is money used by a local community organization, for local needs, when it’s needed.

For 44 years, Albany Community Action Partnership (ACAP) has been Albany County’s designated community action agency. Four of the agency’s eleven programs for lower income residents are enhanced in some way by CSBG funding.

“The truly wonderful part of receiving CSBG funding is that the money is flexible and can be used to target very specific community needs that have been assessed by members of the community themselves,” stated ACAP Board Chair Margaret Diggs. “Poverty is complicated and the CSBG funding has allowed ACAP over the years to be adaptable in how it helps the community address this issue and its often changing circumstances… without CSBG funding, the community will suffer and over 40 years of work will be undermined.”

One recent example of meeting the community needs with the use of CSBG funding is ACAP’s Dress for Success Albany program; an international program that helps disadvantaged women -- often single mothers -- get back into the workforce by providing them with professional attire and career supports before and after employment.

“The program was started two years ago because ACAP’s employment specialists noticed that over 80% of the women coming into the agency looking for employment services were women with small children,” stated Mary Clinton, advisory board member for ACAP’s Dress for Success Albany program. “These women needed a job to take care of their families, yes, but first they needed proper clothing, career coaching and a network of support to help get them on the right path… Dress for Success Worldwide was contacted and the rest is history.”

Dress for Success Albany receives no direct program funding from the city, state or federal government. All the funding for the program is from local foundations, corporate sponsorships, and individual donors and then enhanced with CSBG funding as needed.

“This is an amazing program with great donor appeal, so as it becomes more well-known and our donor base grows, we will depend less and less on CSBG dollars and move that funding to another target need in the community… provided we still have that option after Obama’s proposed cuts,” stated Danielle Smith, a Dress for Success Albany volunteer.

The proposed 50% cut to the Community Service Block Grant released in President Obama’s 2012 Federal Budget on February 14th will mean 30 million dollars less in New York State alone. For ACAP that means $125,000 or more in flexible funding cuts. More importantly, for its customers and the community at large, that means the loss of that vital ‘option’ to shift money to services that are most needed in the community, when they’re needed.

About Albany Community Action Partnership (ACAP)

Albany Community Action Partnership, started in 1966, is an organization that works in partnership with families and communities to empower people to achieve economic self-sufficiency and an improved quality of life. ACAP currently runs 14 programs and services in 17 locations around Albany County, including Head Start, child care, employment, weatherization and energy assistance. Visit www.albanycap.org to learn more.

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Media Contact:

Michelle D. Bowen

518.463.3175 ext 101

mbowen@albanycap.org

 
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