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NY Puts Money on Workforce Development as a Way to Quell Gun Violence

Patti Singer

RochesterWorks! is administering a state grant to help reduce gun violence. Provided image.

The state of New York is looking at what will end gun violence as multiple-choice question.

Is it providing more and better job training?

Offering more after-school activities?

Getting people involved in what’s being called “interrupting” the violence?

The state’s answer is “all of the above.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced funding for each of those efforts, working with local municipalities to identify the most effective use of money.

The Rochester-Finger Lakes region is set to receive $2.25 million from the Department of Labor for workforce development, which will be administered through RochesterWorks!.

The program will work with community partners to recruit young adults primarily from city ZIP codes to take part in job readiness skills training with the goal of having them land employment.

RochesterWorks! is planning an information session Oct. 7 for organizations that want to be involved.

“We need every possible community partner and existing infrastructure,” said Dave Seeley, executive director at RochesterWorks!.

“It’s relying on community partners to establish rapport with youth, to pitch to them the value of enrolling in a program like this,” he said. “It’s not fiction to think to that if you’re someone living in poverty, with a handful of months of career readiness, work experience, job training, you could be a career that provides economic independence.”

Organizations that want more information on the workforce development piece can call RochesterWorks! at (585) 258-3500, ext. 3516 or send an email to Lee Koslow, technical assistance and training manager, at

The region also is scheduled to receive $430,000 for community activities and programs and $150,000 in grants to hire new gun violence interveners. The state Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Office of Victim Services are working with other gun violence reduction and prevention initiatives, according to the governor’s office.

The money is part of $23.7 million allocated to the three-pronged approach of job training and placement, community activities and additional staff for community organizations involved with gun violence intervention, according to the governor’s office..

There were 57 homicides from Jan. 1 through Sept. 26 on the Rochester Police Department Open Data Portal. Most involved a firearm.

In one of the more high-profile approaches to quell the violence, the city is exploring how it can adapt a program used in Richmond, California, to Rochester. Advance Peace uses financial incentives and mentors to create fellowships for young men at risk of gun violence to help them change their path.

Seeley said efforts need to be complementary and that the agencies or organizations involved have to work together.

He said there aren’t rules against someone being involved in more than one program. “The more support services and incentives you can have, the better. …. I think many hands make light work here. We have relationships. We work with thousands of youth, but we’re not the boots on the ground, like a lot of these organizations.”