Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Niagara Area Foundation Convening 'Solutions Forum' on Thursday [Niagara Gazette]

Sep 15, 2014 | Posted in News

The Niagara Gazette - September 15, 2014:

The Niagara County Solutions Forum: On-ramps to Success will be presented Thursday at Niagara County Community College.
The community forum is convened by the Niagara Area Foundation, which has invited residents, local funders, business and civic leaders to discuss the connection between educational preparation and workforce outcomes. Through presentations, panel discussions and a facilitated dialogue, attendees will identify and prioritize opportunities to collectively strengthen the county’s “cradle to career pipeline.”

The Niagara Area Foundation is aiming to ignite a community conversation about Niagara County’s economic prosperity, which is directly tied to the education and skills of its residents. The Solutions Forum will further examine how education is connected to the workforce and the economic health of the region.

“The Niagara Area Foundation’s mission is to improve lives in Niagara County. As a foundation that represents the whole of the county, our broad focus and role in the region is unique. To that point, we understand that by convening partners and working together, we will have a greater impact,” said Cathy Walker, Solutions Forum co-chair and CEO of Seneca Gaming Corporation. “By identifying ways to collaborate to strengthen the cradle to career pipeline, we can help ensure a larger cross-section of our residents have access to pathways to success.”

The Solutions Forum is the second community forum organized by the foundation, a division of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. In 2008, NAF convened nearly 100 residents to begin a community conversation about the needs of the youngest Niagara County residents, infants and children up to 5 years old.

Ultimately, the effort resulted in the Early Childhood Quality Improvement Project, a collaboration between the foundation, Niagara University, United Way of Greater Niagara, The Grigg Lewis Foundation and The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation that’s focused on enhancing the quality of 30 childcare centers through training for childcare providers and improved curriculum.

Ken Franasiak, a Niagara Area Foundation Council member and CEO of Calamar, said that project is a “resounding success” whose roots are in the 2008 forum. He has high hopes for a similar outcome with the second forum.
“Our track record shows that starting the conversation is the first step in bringing about change. We’re confident that the forum will lead to partnerships that make a significant difference for Niagara County,” he said.

The Solutions Forum will be held from 8:15 to 11:45 a.m. Thursday at the NCCC Student Center, Building G. For more information or to register, visit

To view this story in the Niagara Gazette, click here.

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