By Ned McCormack, Communications Director, County of Westchester
Jul. 26, 2017: Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino and Westchester Children’s Association Executive Director Cora Greenberg are encouraging nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and municipalities to submit their youth programs to the county for grant awards under the Westchester County Youth Bureau’s “Invest In Kids” program.
Astorino is partnering with the Westchester Children’s Association to develop a request for proposals ("RFPs") under Invest In Kids that would help ensure the best possible outcomes for Westchester’s youth.
“By joining together with Westchester Children’s Association, we are responding to the needs of our youth—particularly those at risk—by engaging the experts in our community and ensuring we are supporting programs that will do the most good,” Astorino said. “With the advice and participation from Cora Greenberg and the task force she helped assemble, 'Invest In Kids' will continue to provide essential services with far-reaching, positive results for our youth population.”
In 2015, responding to recommendations by a broad coalition of youth service organizations, Astorino and Greenberg organized a public-private task force to design a transparent and accountable award process for “Invest In Kids,” including a revised grant application and a community review board of youth service providers and child advocates to promote the grant, administer informational sessions for prospective applicants, and offer an objective review of the pool of applicants.
“This is a huge victory for Westchester’s children and their parents,” Greenberg said. “Using tax dollars, the Westchester County Youth Bureau funds organizations that provide services to thousands of young people every year. It is essential that this process proceeds in a timely fashion to ensure uninterrupted funding for year-round children’s and youth services.”
Westchester Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz applauded the joint initiative to provide an open and transparent RFP process for Invest In Kids. "Invest In Kids is a critical component to the array of programs and services that we provide, along with our nonprofit partners, for the youth in Westchester County,” Kaplowitz said. “Simply providing funding isn’t enough. It is our responsibility to ensure that the tax dollars we invest result in the best and most effective programming possible. I think this open and transparent RFP process is the best way to achieve that goal.”
Invest In Kids will provide $1,769,077 in grant awards each year for 2018 through 2020 under an RFP issued June 30, 2017, and is available to nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and municipalities. These programs provide academic support, experiences in the arts, positive relationships with peers and adults, career exploration, and many other activities to support positive youth development. Invest In Kids grants will deliver 65 percent of a program’s costs (approximately $30,000 to $45,000), with the provider matching 35 percent of costs. Under the terms of the grant, all programs will be provided free of charge and operate year-round.
Karen Blumenthal, policy advocate for student advocacy, has been involved with youth services in Westchester since the mid-1980s and also served on the task force. According to her, funding for youth development and preventive services supports county programs that foster a variety of key skills that young people need to be the best possible citizens in their schools and communities. “I am grateful that a fairer and more transparent process for awarding grants has been created. Ultimately, Westchester County children will be the true beneficiaries,” Blumenthal said.
Frank Williams, executive director of the White Plains Youth Bureau, said the partnership will provide a pathway for our children to have a brighter future. “The Invest in Kids program is an important resource to the children of Westchester County, providing support, connections, and opportunities designed to help our youth thrive. I am truly happy and excited that the process has been strengthened,” Williams said.
Dr. Iris Pagan, executive director of the Westchester County Youth Bureau, said that Invest In Kids is an opportunity for youth service agencies to build a new relationship with the county. “We are looking forward to forming new partnerships with programs that will provide mentorship and safe spaces to youth that need it the most,” Pagan said.
September 22 is the deadline for proposals. Contracts will be awarded in November and approved by the Westchester County Board of Acquisition and Contract under the county’s procurement process. Simultaneously, the county has issued an RFP for youth program grants administered by the county and provided by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Interested applicants for either RFP are required to attend an informational session on Friday, August 25, from 10:00 am to noon at Westchester County Board of Elections, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 25 Quarropas Street, White Plains, NY 10601.
Established under county law in 1993, Invest In Kids addresses the needs of at-risk youth in 11 municipalities--Elmsford, Greenburgh, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Ossining, Peekskill, Port Chester, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, White Plains, and Yonkers. From 2015 to 2017, Invest In Kids supported 50 programs across 30 agencies.
Pictured here: Bronxville elementary children observing snakes.
Photo by S. E. Thornton