The Central New York Community Foundation recently awarded three LeadSafeCNY grants, totaling $130,000, to help address childhood lead poisoning in Syracuse. The recipient organizations were runners-up in the foundation’s participatory budgeting project held in May.
United Way of Central New York received $30,000 to increase the number of children tested by removing transportation as a barrier to visiting the pediatrician’s office or the blood lab after tests have been ordered. Free roundtrip Lyft rides will be available to households with children ages 0 to 6, particularly focusing on zip codes in the city of Syracuse with a low volume of testing or those that have high positivity rates.
Syracuse Peacemaking Project received $50,000 to partner with PEACE, Inc. and Families For Lead Freedom Now to more effectively connect families to lead testing and related aftercare services; and empower residents to lead engagement efforts in their communities through an incentive program.
Baby B.A.C.K. received $50,000 to host a city-wide lead poison prevention PSA challenge for youth in partnership with the Syracuse City School District, Onondaga County Health Department and the city of Syracuse. Their goal is to increase awareness and education among Onondaga County families with a focus on high risk zip codes.
In May, the Community Foundation invited all Syracuse residents to take part in a one-day vote to choose which city-wide project would receive $150,000 in grant dollars to help increase lead testing and awareness. The winning project was designed by Village Birth International and Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center. The projects that received votes but did not win were invited to apply for LeadSafeCNY grants.
“While only one project could win the participatory budgeting process, each of the ideas submitted had established plans that could help us increase childhood lead testing in Syracuse,” said Darrell Buckingham, program officer for strategic initiatives at the Community Foundation. “Supporting these programs will help to ensure that no stone is left unturned in our pursuit to get children tested and families aware of the dangers of lead poisoning.”
The Community Foundation established LeadSafeCNY in 2018, committing to invest $2 million to fund a variety of approaches to address the region’s high childhood lead poisoning rates. According to the Onondaga County Health Department, 11.2 percent of Syracuse children tested in 2022 were shown to have elevated blood lead levels. The total amount invested in the community to date through LeadSafeCNY is $2,156,014.
Those interested in learning more about LeadSafeCNY or viewing local lead data can visit leadsafecny.org.