First Rural Poverty Grant Awarded toward Madison County Housing

A total of $731,745 in Grants Awarded to Nonprofits in Madison & Onondaga counties

July 29, 2019—Heather Confer sat in disbelief as the power shut off in her home. With no money to pay rent or her utility bill, she had no choice but to leave as a cold November approached. Just like that, her family of seven was homeless.

Hindered by Madison County’s limited emergency housing options for those facing eviction or homelessness, Confer and her family were left bouncing from home to home, sleeping on the couches of various family members and friends. While staying in the eleventh home within the span of a year, they were removed by Child Protective Services after exposure to a domestic violence incident during which all of their belongings were burned.

“In the blink of an eye, my family went from having everything, to nothing but each other,” said Confer. “I felt like my family was drowning in a hole that I didn’t know how to get ourselves out of. It was the most terrifying feeling.”

Within an hour of being introduced to a case manager, Confer filled out an application and within two days she was approved for an apartment through Community Action Partnership for Madison County’s (CAP’s) Transitional Housing program. The organization provides assistance and opportunities to residents striving for economic self-sufficiency.

When CAP staff saw Confer’s application come through, they moved her request to the top of the list and helped her retrieve new birth certificates for her children and replace clothing and other belongings they’d lost in the fire.

“Frequent moves are disruptive to children’s ability to learn and grow and is shown to lead to higher rates of school truancy and recidivism,” said Antara Mitra, executive director of CAP. “When you don’t have a stable place to stay, it’s hard to focus on anything else. Our goal is to ease that burden for families.”

Madison County is one of the few counties in New York State to not have an overnight homeless shelter, and CAP’s Transitional Housing and Solutions to End Homelessness (STEHP) programs are two of only a few of its kind in the region. The STEHP program provides people facing eviction with the resources to stay in their home while the Transitional Housing program provides families with short-term and long-term housing assistance necessities.

CAP recently received a $20,000 grant from the Central New York Community Foundation to continue its Transitional Housing and STEHP programs. Once families are situated in housing, CAP provides them with access to case management services to ensure they are linked to other resources to help increase their resiliency and self-sufficiency.

“Without a homeless shelter in Madison County, it’s up to agencies like us to help, whether it is with housing or a pair of mittens for the winter,” said Mitra. “Our Transitional Housing has allowed us to provide families with a stable place to sleep while helping them get back on their feet at the same time. It’s been a game changer.”

This is the first grant awarded from the Community Foundation’s new Madison County Rural Poverty Fund. Grants from this fund will support poverty related causes in Madison County.

“Housing stability enables families to remain in the communities where they work and where children attend school,” said Robyn Smith, director, strategic initiatives at the Central New York Community Foundation. “We are happy to be supporting CAP in the great work they are doing to address the lack of housing opportunities in Madison County.”

Now, three years after facing eviction, Confer and her family are settled into a new home in Oneida. With the support of her husband, CAP, and her family and friends, she’s overcome her own struggles of childhood trauma coupled with anxiety and depression. She is now successfully caring for her bustling family while working full-time—providing her children with the life she always envisioned for them.

“My husband and I are so thankful for the way CAP has changed our life,” said Confer. “I’ll never forget the moment that my children were jumping and screaming with excitement over the fact they had their OWN bed.”

The Community Foundation recently awarded the following grants to local nonprofit organizations:

Action for Healthy Kids received $50,000 to support the Game On program to promote healthy eating and physical activity in 24 Onondaga and Madison county schools.

Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation received $27,000 to complete renovations to the lower level of its theater.

Central New York Land Trust received $60,000 to establish an Outdoor Watershed Education Center on Skaneateles Lake.

City of Syracuse/Bureau of Research received $39,600 to support SyraCoin Housing Stability program, a peer-to-peer crowd funding platform connecting low-income renters to emergency housing funding.

Community Action Partnership for Madison County received a $20,000 to continue its Transitional Housing and STEHP programs. The STEHP program provides people facing eviction with the resources to stay in their home while the Transitional Housing program provides families with short-term and long-term housing assistance necessities.

Food Bank of CNY received a $50,000 to renovate a portion of its warehouse to expand the capacity of its volunteer program and maximize distribution efforts.

Hamilton Central School received $17,995 to purchase virtual welding hardware and software for use in the Agriculture Education programs of three school districts in Madison County-Hamilton, Madison and Stockbridge Valley.

The Haven at Skanda received $20,000 to weatherize its barn to accommodate for year-round learning.

Image Initiative received $15,000 to expand the CHOICES program for Syracuse City School District high school girls. The program provides mentorship and workshops that focus on conflict resolution, education, career choices, entrepreneurship and wellness.

Jewish Home of Central New York received $23,650 to install a new security system as a result of increased threats of anti-Semitic hate crimes, incidents, and security concerns affecting Jewish senior care facilities.

Junior Achievement of Central Upstate New York received $10,000 to expand its extended learning, afterschool and business programs for students in the Syracuse City School District.

Legal Services of Central New York received $25,000 to conduct an equity audit, conduct training and create an advocacy plan to build a race equity culture.

Loretto Health & Rehabilitation Center received $75,000 to purchase classroom equipment for its Training Center of the Future that will help increase training opportunities for staff.

McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Site received $36,100 to make HVAC system improvements and install intercom equipment to increase safety measures.

Mercy Works received $13,000 to develop and implement career and life-skill development programming for youth.

Museum of Science & Technology Foundation received $22,000 to purchase a permanent dinosaur exhibit and cafeteria seating for its new student dining space.

National Math Foundation received $20,000 to purchase marketing materials, supplies and refreshments for its Young Leaders United program. The program helps the United Way of CNY through donations, fundraising, volunteering and advocacy.

Onondaga Historical Association received $25,000 to conduct research, development, and artifact selection for the Brewseum, a museum on the brewing history in Syracuse and Onondaga County, located within the Iron Pier facility.

Salvation Army of Syracuse received $64,000 to renovate two elevators at its central office to provide visitors and staff with a dependable way to access the building.

Skaneateles Festival received $16,500 to expand digital and social media programs to improve audience engagement and customer relations.

Syracuse City Ballet received $20,900 to purchase office equipment and technology upgrades to operate more efficiently.

Syracuse International Film Festival received $18,000 to support the 2019 October film festival. The purpose of the festival is to help increase civic participation and community vitality by opening up the world of film literacy to the Central New York community.

Syracuse Stage received $25,000 to make Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) mandated upgrades that include re-banding and replacing wireless devices for hearing impaired patrons.

Town of Nelson received $20,000 to create an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant multi-use trail that will provide the public with access to the Nelson Swamp Unique Area.

YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley – Oneida received $18,000 to support HVAC renovations and upgrades.


About the Central New York Community Foundation

The Central New York Community Foundation is a public charity established in 1927 that collects contributions from donors, manages them to grow over time and then distributes funding to local charities to help them thrive. It is the largest charitable foundation in Central New York with assets of more than $280 million and has invested more than $200 million in community improvement projects since its inception. As a grantmaker, civic leader, convener and sponsor of strategic initiatives, the Community Foundation strives to strengthen local nonprofits, encourage better understanding of the region and address the most critical issues of our time.

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