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Binghamton youth programs get state funding for gun violence prevention

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — The Binghamton City School District is expecting to hire two youth advocates to work in their high school and middle schools with funding recently awarded to the city for gun violence prevention. Some of the $250,000 will also go to the Binghamton Bulldogs basketball team and Broome YMCA Binghamton branch for after-school programs, scholarships for summer clinics, and community building events between kids and law enforcement.

"I'm not sure what it's going to look like. I'm just delighted that they're even beginning to broach the topic.” said New York Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-123), who recently announced the funding for Binghamton. YWCA, a non-profit advocacy group which supports women and children with housing and health services, and the police department bureau are both on Hawley Street, and Lupardo said there is a need to build those connections.

These programs are getting funding now through New York State's Office of Children & Family Services. In July, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency and allotted $150 million for gun violence prevention initiatives.

“Whatever statistics the state used to determine cities in need, we obviously have had some gun related violence in the city, but I think more importantly, we have a number of youth at risk," said Lupardo. "As many of us are painfully aware, the level of poverty in the City of Binghamton is quite high, especially when you look at the statistics for children.”

According to the United States Census Bureau, 32.6% of Binghamton residents live in poverty and that jumps to 45.2% when just looking at data of kids under 18 years old.

Meaningful activities that can engage kids with role models can really be life changing, Lupardo said, but poverty "is the underpinning for a lot of the problems that we're facing."