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Watertown Urban Mission receives $41k for Bridge Program

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The Watertown Urban Mission recently was awarded $40,850 by the state to help cover operating costs of the Bridge Program.

Bridge is one of 23 programs throughout the state to receive a portion of more than $5 million in competitive grant funding, which will be administered by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, to support alternative to incarceration and alternative to jail detention programs and programs for people incarcerated at local jails to help reduce crime, according to a recent news release from that state division.

“The Bridge Program has received consistent funding since 1985 from the state,” said Andrew G. Mangione, development director for the Urban Mission. “The funding the program has received over the past 25 years has gone down, and (this) restores it to levels where it’s been.”

Most recently, Bridge has received about $26,000 in state funding toward the overall, approximately $75,000 annual cost to run the program, Mr. Mangione said. Bridge is supported largely by fundraising, although it receives $26,000 in state funding. That helps cover the program director’s salary, testing kits for drugs and alcohol, the cost of case management and other services to help clients succeed.

Mr. Mangione said the recent state grant was successful, in part, because of “the generosity in the community helping this program thrive, the state saw its merits.”

“It’s our understanding we’ll be able to renew annually as long as we are meeting criteria, at least in the short term,” Mr. Mangione said.

According to the state news release, the funding supports Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s commitment to enhance the state’s efforts to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter and remain in the community and the recently announced Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration.”

“Reducing recidivism in communities across the state will not only create safer streets, but will also expand opportunity and improve the lives of all New Yorkers,” Gov. Cuomo said in the release. “Research has shown that half of felony offenders and three-quarters of misdemeanor offenders who are sentenced to jail will re-enter the system within five years. The grants announced (Friday), along with Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration announced in (last) week’s State of the State, are common sense steps we can take to change these odds by helping those most at risk of re-offending modify their behavior, lead crime-free and productive lives and contribute to our safer communities.”

Mr. Mangione said it’s evident that the Bridge Program provides better results for the local community, its taxpayers and people who go through the alternative program.

“As an alternative to incarceration, it saves local and state taxpayers well over $1 million per year when you compare cost of the program versus putting these individuals in jail without having tools they’d need to be better citizens,” he said.

Meanwhile, the state will also implement the Pay for Success project to help reduce incarceration rates, funded by private investors and foundations, to help train and employ people who were formerly incarcerated.

Another new program, Work for Success, was launched recently to promote employment of those who have been incarcerated.

For more information on Bridge, visit the Urban Mission’s website, www.watertownurbanmission.com.

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