City seeks apps for CARES funds

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Rome is requesting expressions of interest from all interested non-profit organizations who are actively and currently working on addressing the health, welfare and well-being of the community by providing services directly related to the COVID-19 virus emergency.

The RFI period began today and applications are due electronically to adamore@romecitygov.com by 3 p.m. on Friday, March 26. The application can be found on the city’s website, www.romenewyork.com/community-development-block-grant. No late submissions will be accepted.

Non-profit organizations located within Rome or those who provide services to residents of the city should complete the RFI. The funding availability will be the second round of public service support of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

The first round of funding was vetted through the Community Development Advisory Committee and approved by the Rome Common Council to support the city’s non-profit organizations, such as The Rome Rescue Mission, and Connected Community Schools for food security services. “We’re definitely thrilled that the COVID CDBG funds are available again and continues to be, because certainly the demand for services and resources have only increased as we’ve pivoted to ensure the families in Rome and surrounding areas have their basic needs met,” said Melissa Roys, executive director of Rome Alliance for Education Connected Community Schools.

Connected Community Schools is an initiative run by the Rome Alliance for Education in partnership with Safe Schools Mohawk Valley and CNY Health Home Network to meet the educational, social, emotional and physical needs of students and families by connecting them to needed community resources during the pandemic. “We took two small food pantries and combined them into one — probably the largest in the county at this point,” Roys said. “We went from 100 families served in one month to serving about 5,000 families a month, and we’re up to over 30,000 unduplicated families served throughout the year — here the city barely has 30,000 people.”

She said, “Our community has gotten much broader and has gone past the city itself. Since March of last year up to December, we had distributed 1 million pounds of food. The demand continues to go up — it has not decreased as of yet — and will probably continue. So to take a program that had no funding at this time a year ago and all of a sudden have to meet our demands, we had to be resourceful in finding money to do that, and the city has been phenomenal in supporting us.”

“We really drive our advertising through social media and have an enormous following. We’re also embedded in area schools — most of our families are attached to the schools, so our information goes out through the school districts, and we get referrals from school administrators,” the executive director explained.

In addition to food, “we do school supplies, hygiene packets, jackets, socks...We are always mining the resources in the community. Walmart and the Compassion Coalition have been fabulous about working with us.”

Roys said Rome City School District serves as the headquarters and main distribution center for the organization, which also serves Waterville Central School and Dolgeville Central School, and those surrounding areas.

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