4 youth groups lose Nassau funding

Michael Capobianco, executive director of The North Shore

Michael Capobianco, executive director of The North Shore Boys and Girls Club, helps Nick Manfredonia, 10, of Glen Head line up a pool shot. (Jan. 2, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan)

While about 30 Nassau County youth social service agencies are starting off the new year with 35 percent less in county funding than last year, four groups were notified by the county that their funding has been completely eliminated because of tightened eligibility requirements.

The North Shore Boys and Girls Club in Glen Head, Floral Park Youth Council and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island have lost a combined $79,000 in funding, according to figures provided by the county. Another $100,000 contracted to the Long Beach Martin Luther King Jr. Center will be put out to bid, after the center came under fiscal review last year, Nassau Human Services Commissioner Lisa Murphy wrote in an email.

Murphy said groups were reassessed and given funding based on the number of children served, whether the group served an "at-risk community," and if there were other funding options available to the group.

"Core programs are responsible for larger numbers, 300 to 800 youth, high-risk populations, [and have] strong boards of directors," Murphy said.

She said while the contract with the Long Beach MLK Center was not renewed, the county is looking for another agency to contract with to provide services to children in the North Park area of Long Beach.

"The county agrees that the Long Beach North Park area is in need of services," she said.

James E. Hodge, a director of the MLK Center, said he was unaware that the county pulled its contract, noting that ever since superstorm Sandy ravaged the area, the center has been busy with recovery efforts and serving as a food distribution site.

Bill Tymann, chief executive of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, said the loss of $44,620 in county aid won't severely hamper the group, because the bulk of its funding comes from corporate donations and selling used donated goods.

"It has a much more severe impact on other agencies than us," said Tymann, whose Levittown-based group provides mentoring services for some 360 youth.

Mike Capobianco, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, said he believes his group, which lost about $20,000 in funding, was "unfairly" excluded because Glen Head lies in a more affluent area of the county. The median income in Glen Head is $96,000, according to census figures, compared with $54,000 in Hempstead, where other youth social service agencies are based. "It doesn't mean our kids are any less . . . in need," Capobianco said of the program that serves some 100 youth.

Emails and calls to the director of the Floral Park Youth Council, which lost $14,550 in funding, were not returned.

The remaining 33 youth contract agencies that provide mental health, drug rehabilitation and tutoring programs will receive $4.2 million -- down from $5.6 million last year. But several agencies say the money is welcome after spending time last year pleading with county lawmakers to restore funding that was eliminated in July as part of a partisan battle over the county's budget and borrowing.

"I'm thrilled that we're going to be able to keep doing what we do," said Pat Boyle, executive director of the Gateway Youth Outreach Center in Elmont, which was able to restore 300 children to its after-school program with $214,000 in funding.

"That doesn't mean the legislators are off the hook," Boyle said. "I hope next year, they realize they made a mistake, and bring us back to our full level of funding."

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