Buffalo Wins $6 Million Promise Neighborhood Grant
Awarded one of only five competitive Education Department grants
PR Newswire

BUFFALO, N.Y., Dec. 19, 2011 -- The Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, a collaborative effort led by M&T Bank and the Westminster Foundation to provide a life-changing continuum of cradle-to-career services to some of Buffalo's  underprivileged children, has been awarded an historic $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant, which will be leveraged by an additional $14.6 in investments from M&T Bank and other partners, will be used to help transform education, health care, housing and other services available to children living within Buffalo's 14215 zip code, a low-income neighborhood.

Buffalo Promise Neighborhood was one of only five U.S. communities, out of more than 35 applicants, to receive the U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhood implementation grant. In 2010, the Westminster Foundation was one of 21 national recipients of a federal Promise Neighborhood planning grant, which led to the establishment of the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood.

The Westminster Foundation was aided by more than a dozen major community partners, including Buffalo Public Schools, the John R. Oishei Foundation.

"The Buffalo Promise Neighborhood seeks to bring immediate improvements in the quality and quantity of services available to children in our city, but over the long term, we intend to transform this neighborhood, providing new opportunities and attracting new investment into this low-income neighborhood," said Mark Czarnecki, president of M&T Bank and chairman of Buffalo Promise Neighborhood Board of Directors.

The Westminster Foundation was established in 2004, following significant financial and volunteer commitment from Buffalo-based M&T Bank to transform Buffalo Public School #68 into the Westminster Community Charter School.

The next major project planned within the neighborhood will be the construction of a new early childhood education center, serving infants through pre-kindergarten students, on Bailey Avenue. This work is scheduled to begin in early 2012.

The Buffalo Promise Neighborhood will also play a role in school improvement efforts at Bennett High School, Westminster Community Charter School and Highgate Heights Elementary School.  

"This is wonderful news for the Buffalo community," said Mayor Byron W. Brown.  "I am grateful to the U.S. Department of Education, the Westminster Foundation, M&T Bank and the other partners, including the City of Buffalo, for continuing to invest in our children by helping to transform, and strengthen this distressed neighborhood.  This implementation grant will help Buffalo Promise Neighborhood pair wraparound services, such as health, with education—a powerful initiative that will help place Buffalo children on the right course toward educational achievement and employment.  Since 2006, the City of Buffalo has invested over $3,694,405 in the targeted area with additional projects currently being planned.  The improvements included:  road and sidewalk repairs, and quality of life programs such as Buffalo's Clean Sweep."

"The Buffalo Promise Neighborhood is just the beginning of the Buffalo community coming together on behalf of our children," said Interim Superintendent Amber M. Dixon, "and the Buffalo Public School District is pleased to be part of this effort.  We share with our partners an expectation of success for all students within the neighborhood, and we are grateful to the Westminster Foundation and M&T Bank for the opportunity this affords a community that is at a tipping point in its path toward achievement."

Additional projects planned within the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood as part of the federal implementation grant include:

  • Furthering a partnership with Johns Hopkins University to fully implement the successful Talent Development model at all three schools to focus on attendance, behavior and academic supports.
  • Establishing the Council For Unity (CFU) program at Bennett High School to empower individuals with the skills necessary to promote unity, safety and achievement.
  • Implement the "Closing the Gap" model in the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood's three schools to support the children's emotional and behavioral needs.



Michael Zabel