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Save Rochester – BLM Continues Their Mission to End Childhood Poverty

By Tyronda James
tyrondajames@minorityreporter.net

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Save Rochester – Black Lives Matter (Save Roc-BLM) founder and organizer Mike Johnson mission is working to fight childhood poverty in the city of Rochester and areas surrounding.

Johnson says that child poverty is at an egregious level in Rochester right now and plans to do something about it.

It is the mission of Save Rochester Inc. to develop and implement a comprehensive and holistic set of community-based programs designed to eliminate and/or alleviate challenges of poverty for people living in Rochester, N.Y. and its surrounding counties, according to the organization’s website.

Save Roc – BLM plans to continue their fight, with the use of a $36,000 grant awarded by ESL Federal Credit Union. 

“There are just about 50%, a little under half of our children still live in poverty in Rochester. Many of us are just surviving and not thriving,” Johnson said. 

“So we definitely want to continue that good work and part of continuing that good work is making sure that the people in our community who are most disenfranchised have the resources that they need to be able to thrive and have a very great quality of life.”

The organization has been fighting childhood poverty through their food drives, through food deliveries and through changing the way that food drives operate in Rochester, Johnson said. The group applied for a Black and Latino equity grant to begin financial literacy workshops and more in order to help those in the Rochester community who are disenfranchised. 

“The connection is that poverty happens because of several reasons,” Johnson said. “It’s generational in many cases, many people who are born into poverty often find themselves fighting an uphill battle in poverty for the rest of their lives. The other thing contributing to poverty is literacy rates and financial literacy. So that is the reason why we have chosen to focus on financial literacy for those at risk.”

The workshops are slated to begin in May 2022. 

Johnson says the group’s focus is young men from the ages of 13 and older, who are at risk of violence and at risk of poverty. They will also offer a workshop series for older men, aged 21 and older. 

Johnson said the organization will also partner with KeyBank, to help facilitate a mobile bus that will have laptops available for participants to use as well as various other resources.

Johnson said they will collaborate with other like-minded organizations like ours, other organizations where we’ve collaborated with, as well as Person Centered Housing Options, Champion Academy, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBK) with Robert Ricks, as well as partnering with a few schools throughout the Rochester City School District.

“When we talk about black lives matter, we have to be sure that we encompass the issues that are the most threatening to black lives in America. And one of those pieces that is threatening to black lives in America is that economic piece, that financial piece that keeps so many generations locked into vicious cycles of poverty,” Johnson said.

“Child property is a huge issue, but I think that one of the things that’s gonna help is educating people. Starting at a young age, 13 is a perfect age to start learning about bank accounts, to start learning about stock markets, investment portfolios and more, before it’s too late.  

Save Roc-BLM said they will use the funds to focus on financial education, which also has components of fatherhood, for black men and self-esteem building and wellness for young boys. 

Johnson said although the main focus is financial literacy, there is also a mental health piece. The organization believes in leveraging partnerships in the community. To assist with the mental health component, workshop participants will have the benefit of working with a certified mental health clinician from Catholic Family charities. 

“I think it’s important that our youth, black men, men of color in our community have this resource,” he said. 

Save Roc- BLM’s new workshop series will be heavy financial literacy. 

Johnson also announced the organization inviting their newest Board member, Lashara Evans, who is principal of RCSD school #54.  When recruiting board members, the organization looks for individuals who are of like-mind, understand their mission.

“So, we are excited to have her on the board. Lashara is very committed to this education piece to getting people out of poverty,” Johnson said.

“We are all committed to the fact that when we look at Black lives matter issues in Rochester, it is not only about police brutality, it’s also about the disenfranchisement of black folks in economic spaces.”

For additional information about the organization, upcoming workshops, contact Save-Rochester-BLM by sending an email to: contact@saverochester.org or by calling (585)667.0660.