Kids’ Summer Programs on Chopping Block unless City Council Restores Cuts

Falls kids filling the seats at the March City Council meeting – will their summer be ruined because of funding cuts?

In a recent Facebook post, community activist Saladin Quanaah Allah shared a speech given by youth advocates Samika Sullivan and Eric Fields to the Niagara Falls City Council on March 20, as follows:

“Last night at our Niagara Falls City Council meeting some of my colleagues Samika Sullivan, Jasmine White, Eric Fields, and students representing the Niagara Falls Housing Authority Packard Court Community Center and Doris Jones Family Resource Building were there to advocate for our afterschool and summer camp programs.
“What many do not know is that my career as a youth advocate and community organizer began as a volunteer in these Niagara Falls Housing Authority youth programs in the 1990s. For many years since that time I have helped facilitate and volunteer with these programs because they are vital to the growth and development of our youth.
“Niagara Falls Community Development Block Grants have helped fund these important programs yet the Niagara Falls Housing Authority was not recommended to receive this financial support this year. We need this funding to continue making these important programs FREE for our families.
“We are asking that you please send a kind email of support for our Niagara Falls Housing Authority Youth program funding to our brother Clifford Scott at Niagara Falls Community Development at
“Thank You.”

Eric Fields and Samika Sullivan make the case to City Council for restoration of funding for kids after-school and summer programs from the Community Development Block Grant program

Samika Sullivan’s address to the Niagara Falls City Council, March 20, 2024

Thank you for hearing us out… myself, as well as all these folks you see back here, and Mr. Eric Fields, represent the Niagara Falls Housing Authority’s After School and Summer Camp Programs, and we’re hear to speak during this public hearing session for the Community Development Block Grants.

For more than two decades, we’ve received funding to assist us to provide free programming for kids at Doris Jones and Packard Court, and Center Court as well… we noticed that we were not included on the recommendation list this year, and we wanted to speak out about why we think we should be included and what a dire need there is.

There’s a quote that says “It’s a lot easier to build strong boys than it is to repair broken men.”

When you’re looking behind me, that’s the future of Niagara Falls right there… that’s the future of Niagara Falls! (cheers and clapping)

We know we live in a community that doesn’t have a whole lot of means, but what we have is a whole lot of heart, we have a whole lot of community present, and we know if we gear these children in the right direction, they’ll be replacing your seats (on City Council) one day, they’ll be up there making decisions for us.

We cannot afford, as a community, to lose these resources. We’re not asking for anything special, we’re asking that you look across this community, see what the needs are, and help us fulfill those needs.

We’ll be taking a group of these children camping, giving them some exposure to things that they’re not normally exposed to, so that they can bring better things back to our community…

We ask that you please reconsider the recommendations that have been put forth. We are a very inclusive program, no one is excluded, all you have to do is show up, but we know that having to charge people, is the difference between all of these babies having a great summer, or having them roaming around the streets. Do we want to be complaining about them, or do we want to be congratulating them?

Eric Fields’ address to the Niagara Falls City Council, March 20, 2024

A lot of these kids don’t get some of the things that we offer on a regular basis… We try to expose them to things that they may not be able to do, receive or see, in a normal lifetime if they are not involved in the structured-environment program that we run.

We bring everything to the table, from recreational to cultural to educational activities… even simple things like field trips somewhere, some of these kids never get a chance to do these things in everyday life.

Some of these adults and parents are also in our programs. So we have a system that’s been rolling for decades, that’s been working. A lot of these kids from our programs go on to be successful, and they remember where it came from and what it was they learned and it carries with them.

That’s what we’re trying to do – we’re trying to continue to build on the positive, continue to give them the opportunity, to let them know somebody supports, loves and cares for them on a daily, regular basis.

Yes, it takes funding. Yes, it takes time.

We’ve got the “manpower,” we just need the assistance, the help with the funding.

We’ve got the ideas, we just need the assistance, the help with the funding.

We’ve got the passion, the care, and the right mind-set, and the people in a position to make it happen, we just need your cooperation in terms of trying to see if you can help us with continuing the funding.

You can see video of the meeting here

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