Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo


Dec 04, 2013 | Posted in News

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Today Lumina Foundation announced that Buffalo will be among the first 20 cities in America to partner with Lumina Foundation in a mobilization effort designed to increase the number of local residents with postsecondary credentials. This collaborative effort will establish a community-wide attainment goal for Buffalo and support Buffalo partners in achieving that goal. Partners will have access to significant technical and planning assistance, data tools, flexible funding and guidance from a network of national thought leaders.

“If you intend to be a great 21st century city, increased educational attainment has to be at the heart of everything you do,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President/CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. “This partnership opens the door to additional resources which will further the work of Say Yes Buffalo by focusing on college completion.”

Buffalo was selected to join in this mobilization effort because of the work the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Say Yes Buffalo and Medaille College are doing to improve postsecondary attainment rates. Through this effort, Buffalo will amplify existing momentum by partnering with Lumina – as well as other national groups – to develop an action plan to increase the percentage of local residents with high quality associate and bachelor’s degrees.

Buffalo is already pioneering efforts to create a comprehensive program to address the community’s education needs through Say Yes Buffalo. In addition to providing locally funded tuition scholarships to a growing list of 115 colleges and universities, Say Yes addresses vital student support services to overcome academic, health, and social/emotional barriers to educational success. As we near the end of 2013, 60% of Buffalo Public Schools now have a dedicated staff person on site to connect students with support services and in its first year, 995 Say Yes scholars enrolled in college. The funding from Lumina Foundation will expand those support services to Say Yes students attending Medaille College to assist them in earning a college diploma.

“Research shows a direct correlation between thriving cities and education beyond high school,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of Lumina. “Increased attainment delivers stronger local economies, greater individual earning power and better quality of life. Every community in America wants that, and we’ve designed this work to give leaders in Buffalo and beyond the tools they need to be successful.”

Through this initiative Buffalo will be eligible for an allocation of $200,000 from Lumina over a three-year period. The allocation will be tied to the achievement of goals and the overall effort connects to Goal 2025, a national goal to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. The guidance offered to Buffalo by national partners will be the most crucial part of the movement.

Project leaders from Buffalo and the other 19 cities have already begun to participate in webinars with the national partners to prepare them for the upcoming months of strategic planning. Community representatives and project leaders are currently in Indianapolis for a two-day kick-off convening and workshop being led by Lumina.
“It is our hope that Lumina’s support can fan the flames that are already burning in our partnership cities, improving results there and showing cities across the country how this gets done and just how transformational education can be for communities’ social, economic and civic strength,” said Haley Glover, strategy director at Lumina Foundation heading up this work.

The national thought-leadership organizations that Buffalo partners will have access to through this initiative include: American Chamber of Commerce Executives, Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, Brookings Institution, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, DCA, Inc., Excelencia in Education, The Harwood Institute, Institute for Higher Education Policy, National League of Cities, OMG Center, Say Yes to Education Foundation, Strive Together, Talent Dividend and United Way Worldwide.

The other cities joining Buffalo in the first cohort of this initiative include: Albuquerque, N.M.; Boston, Mass.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbus, Ind.; Dayton, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Greensboro, N.C.; Houston, Texas; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Providence, R.I.; Quad Cities, Iowa/Ill.; San Antonio, Texas; Santa Ana, Calif.; South Seattle, Wash., and Syracuse, N.Y..

About Lumina Foundation: Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. For more information, log on

To learn more about this partnership, please watch the short video here

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