ESPRI Initiative Announced

Governor Cuomo Announces $6.7 Million to Create New Empire Corps Program and Expand the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative

Funding to Support Services in 16 Communities Across New York State

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $6.7 million in funding over three years to create Empire Corps, a new program that consists of AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA members, to serve 16 communities across the State. The new program is part of the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, a $25 million initiative to help support community-driven, poverty reduction strategies that increase economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.

“Every New Yorker deserves a fair shot to succeed,” Governor Cuomo said. “This administration has made it a mission to fight poverty and its root causes and this new Empire Corps program puts resources and manpower on the front lines of this battle to achieve a stronger, fairer and more just New York for all.”

Funding for Empire Corps will establish a team of 134 AmeriCorps and 17 AmeriCorps VISTA members to accelerate poverty reduction in the Bronx, Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton, Oneonta, Buffalo, Utica, Elmira, Jamestown, Oswego, Troy, Hempstead, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Watertown, and Albany.

The AmeriCorps members will conduct outreach and engage communities to quickly identify and connect residents living in poverty to programs and services relating to workforce development, housing, education and health. The efforts of VISTA members will complement the AmeriCorps services, as they focus on building the capacity of area not-for-profits and help them to strategically align services to meet the needs of each community.

“The New York Department of State looks forward to working with all our partners in furthering Governor Cuomo’s goal of decreasing poverty throughout our State,” said New York Secretary of State and ESPRI Co-Chair Rossana Rosado. “As an integral part of ESPRI, the creation of the Empire Corps will help foster and leverage community spirit among young New Yorkers to join front line efforts to address poverty, hunger and homelessness across New York.”

The $6.7 million investment over three years includes more than $1 million in public funding from the State, as well as funding from local not-for-profit organizations. The investment also includes approximately $1.7 million in education scholarships for those AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA members who complete their terms of service.

Empire Corps will be administered through a joint effort among the New York Department of State, the New York State Commission on National and Community Service, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Funding combines AmeriCorps grants administered by NYS CNCS and AmeriCorps VISTA funding awarded by CNCS.

“The Commission is delighted to partner with the Department of State as part of the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, and is looking forward to the establishment of the DOS Empire Corps AmeriCorps program,” said New York State Commission on National and Community Service Executive Director Linda Cohen. “Efforts to alleviate poverty have been at the forefront of the Commission’s programming over the last two years as part of a strategy to maximize the use of every dollar available to us for the betterment of New Yorkers, and the anti-poverty goals of the ESPRI are almost perfectly aligned with our own.”

“Today’s announcement builds on the commitment AmeriCorps has made to solve some of the country’s most pressing challenges and ensuring our nation’s most vulnerable communities are cared for,” said AmeriCorps National Director Bill Basl. “We are proud to partner with the State of New York to help combat and reduce poverty across the state. These AmeriCorps members represent the very best of the country and we thank them for their commitment to serving the people of New York.”

“We are pleased to be part of this exciting federal, state, and local partnership to benefit the Empire State’s most vulnerable residents,” said AmeriCorps National Director VISTA Max Finberg. “As a native New Yorker, I am proud that national service programs will help address poverty throughout my home state and will bring Americans together from all walks of life to solve problems and achieve common goals like alleviating poverty.”

Governor Cuomo announced the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in the 2016 State of the State to combat poverty in 16 localities across New York. Each of the ESPRI areas will support new or existing Poverty Reduction Task Forces, modeling the successful task force in Rochester. The task forces will join representatives from state and local government, local school districts, social services districts, the businesses community, not-for-profit and community-based organizations, and community residents who have lived or now live in poverty.

Empire Corps will serve in City Halls and at not-for-profit organizations that provide critical services, such as health care, education and mentoring, financial literacy and skills development for disadvantaged New Yorkers. DOS partners include each of the 16 localities, task forces within the localities, and local not-for-profits who will manage the Empire Corps task forces.

The New York State Commission on National and Community Service – New Yorkers Volunteer seeks to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering in New York State. For more information, visit, like New Yorkers Volunteer on Facebook, and follow @NYersVolunteer on Twitter.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund, and the Volunteer Generation Fund, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. Since 1994, more than 79,000 AmeriCorps members in New York State have completed more than 120 million hours of service and earned more than $283 million in scholarships. For more information, visit

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