Invest in Poughkeepsie’s Future - Invest in Our Youth!

City of Poughkeepsie Common Council and Administration

In the City of Poughkeepsie, violence is rising, our graduation rates have been and continue to be painfully low, poverty is worsening, large sections of the city are in decay, and opportunity is difficult to come by. The last 5-year American Community Survey from 2019 showed that 25.9% of City of Poughkeepsie youth below the age of 18 were living in poverty, which is 123% more than the Dutchess County rate, 54% more than the national rate, and 43% more than the NY State rate. The ever widening economic divide is at the core of many other issues facing our youth. The severity of the issues faced by the young people of this city require an amount of financial support and investment that will give youth a legitimate chance of overcoming these conditions--an amount of support that our leaders have never been willing to pledge. If we want to see a better future, we must act TODAY.

The city’s proposed budget gives less than 0.5% to youth services and programming, with a total yearly investment of only $54.65 per resident under the age of 18 to be spent directly on programs that would benefit them. This number needs to be drastically increased if a sense of opportunity and hope is to become real for those who need it most.

Simply put, youth opportunities are in short supply here. Those that do or have existed are all too often here one day and gone the next. It is little wonder that fights, stabbings, and shootings are on the rise: violence is the language of the unheard and underserved. When visibility and validation are more readily available through destructive rather than constructive means, we can only blame ourselves when our youth choose destruction, especially in the forms of gun and gang violence. It is imperative that we construct an easily accessible avenue of opportunity leading to the promise of a bright future for those who will take us there - the youth of this city.

To: City of Poughkeepsie Common Council and Administration
From: [Your Name]

We, the undersigned residents, constituents, and stakeholders of the City of Poughkeepsie, demand that the city reserve 2%-3% of its budget, some $2-$3 million dollars, to youth outreach, interventions, activities, skills development, and other services. While we applaud the city for creating a Division of Youth Services, we find that the proposed figures are wholly inadequate to properly serve the overwhelming and dire needs of our city’s youth.

Not only do we demand that the city’s budget for these desperately needed interventions increase to an amount we deem minimal, but we also demand that these funds are invested into proven, promising, and sustainable programs and strategies which combine to intentionally create an atmosphere of opportunity and a continuum of services for our youth. It is critical that the city is completely transparent in how and where this funding flows, that results are measurable, and that those who control the distribution of funds and the organizations that receive said funds are held accountable for their success or failure.

While meeting these community demands would be an unprecedented step for our city, it should be recognized that doing so is the only reasonable approach toward earnestly addressing the needs of our young people, and as such it is the first step required to chart a path towards a brighter future together.