The economic downturn over the last five years has led to belt-tightening everywhere–and particularly by nonprofits. Since 2009, funding to human-services nonprofits has been slashed by a billion dollars. At the same time, the cost of living has continue to rise, making it even harder for those that were already struggling to get by.
Every day we see families in our programs who work multiple jobs but still can’t cover their expenses. Today, some 15% of state residents now live below the poverty line. Just when services like early childhood education, job training, and after school programs are needed most, nonprofits have been forced to cut back.
And yet a bit of good news came from Albany recently, as lawmakers announced a budget surplus of $5 billion. It’s a windfall of historic proportions–and a real opportunity to make a difference in our poorest communities. In an editorial in the Albany Times Union, Karim Camara, state assemblyman from Brooklyn, makes an excellent case for investing $500 million of that surplus into high-quality nonprofit human services.
For the families these nonprofits serve, says Camara, these services “can mean the difference between hopelessness and a better future.” For the state, it’s a wise investment, as services like these help families become self-sufficient and reduce the need for expensive public support. And all of us benefit when families are given the opportunities and guidance they need to thrive and build strong communities.
An investment in our nonprofit infrastructure is an investment in the future we all share–and a pledge to make that future a better one, together.