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On Point for College one of many Syracuse organizations hoping for infusion of pandemic relief funds

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Syracuse Common Council Chambers

Syracuse Common Councilors continue doling out American Rescue Plan Act funds to organizations across the city.

Among those looking for help is On Point for College’s Syracuse operation. It’s been around for more than 20 years, helping first generation students access college. But Executive Director Sam Rowser said the pandemic really hurt participation.

“Three years prior to the pandemic, we had about 740 new young people coming to the program, joining. Since the pandemic we’re down to about 320."

Rowser said it’s likely because of the way On Point for College has had to run during the last few years.

“There are many young people who aren’t accessing the program because of the way we’ve had to run program. We’ve closed our doors, not have texting platforms, not being able to go to community centers, not able to do the traditional things able to meet people and get them engaged and get them in college.”

Rowser is hoping an infusion of up to $350,000 in ARPA funds will allow them to use new strategies to reach kids.

“A texting platform would help, because we can send out these blasts to a greater number of students, and we’ve found a greater response when we’ve done that,” he said. “We’ve also got a mobile unit we can move to neighborhoods to see these student where they’re at, so they don’t necessarily have to come to us."

Other programs being considered for ARPA funds today, the Financial Empowerment Center, which provides free financial counseling to city residents, and an Arts and Culture Recovery Fund program to help cultural organizations recovering from the pandemic.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.