Sunday, June 10, 2007

If poor do the right thing, they will prosper, sez Mike

By: Lisa L. Colangelo

The city is going to hand out cash to thousands of poor families if they send their children to school, get them to perform well on standardized exams and bring them to doctors' appointments.

Mayor Bloomberg joined with philanthropists yesterday to announce details of the nation's first ever cash-incentive welfare program. Funded by private donations, the $50 million pilot program will target 2,500 families in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods - including Harlem, Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn, and Morris Heights, Mount Hope, East Tremont and Belmont in the Bronx.

"The stress of poverty often causes people to make decisions that are detrimental to their future," Bloomberg said yesterday at the Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center in Brooklyn.

"Struggling families are so focused on surviving today, often they can't afford to plan for tomorrow," said Bloomberg, who donated money from his private fortune to fund the program.
Families in the program will be offered cash payouts, totaling up to $5,000 a year, if they meet specific goals.

For example, parents will be given $25 if their children have good school attendance and hundreds of dollars more if their kids meet academic standards. Adults in the program would also get cash rewards for working full time or participating in job-training programs.

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