Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Dedecker Going to Washington to Share Buffalo’s Success Stories [Buffalo Business First]

Feb 10, 2015 | Posted in News

Buffalo Business First - February 10, 2015:

Buffalo will be well-represented in Washington, D.C., this Thursday as Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker speaks at a White House panel on philanthropy's role in advancing opportunities for young people of color in America's cities.

Dedecker, president and CEO at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, will participate in a panel discussion tied to President Obama's My Brother's Keeper initiative, which challenges communities to pursue strategies to help young men and boys of color reach their full potential from early childhood through college to careers.

Buffalo, along with cities and municipalities across the country, have signed on to participate as MBK communities. Representatives of many of those communities — including Buffalo Deputy Mayor Ellen Grant — will be on hand Thursday to share their stories, while hearing from representatives like Dedecker, who has spent the past year working with other national leaders to develop a collaborative philanthropic response to the initiative.

"Buffalo is a perfect example of a city that is well-positioned to address the MBK challenge from the White House," Dedecker said.

"We here in Buffalo have excelled and the Community Foundation has excelled at brokering public-private partnerships to address very challenging issues that are beyond the reach of any one organization or entity," she said. "There's a long history of partnership here, which is an emerging trend in philanthropy and still not the norm."

While some communities are just beginning to plan programs to address the issue, Buffalo has dozens of cross-sector programs already underway with collaborative support from the public and private sectors, as well as higher education, philanthropy and the business sector.

She pointed to the Say Yes Buffalo initiative, as well as the Promise Neighborhoods programs, both of which work to expand opportunities for low-income boys and girls, many of them African-American and Hispanic. Other existing programs like Read to Succeed have focused on school readiness or career readiness, like Success Looks Like Me.

Most of those programs have relied on partnerships between the city and county, funders like the Community Foundation and the John R. Oishei Foundation as well as corporate partners like M&T Bank.

"They're all at the table, working through a very coordinated approach which is what it takes," Dedecker said. "A lot of the MBK Communities are looking for cities like Buffalo that have done the hard work of creating these cross-sector partnerships. We can get much better outcomes in our community if we're all coordinating what we're already doing."

With total assets over $300 million, the Community Foundation is the largest foundation in the Western New York region. Last year, the foundation awarded grants totaling $11.6 million. About 90 percent of that funding or $6 million went toward advancing racial equity and a more equitable community. Those included the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative and energy savings programs, which address health issues and reduce costs to low-income homeowners in partnership with state and federal government funding.

Highlighting the need for the MBK initiative, Dedecker pointed to U.S. Census Bureau statistics that show children of color will represent the majority of the nation's children by 2018, while people of color overall will supass 50 percent of the U.S. population by 2043. In Buffalo, people of color already represent 50 percent of the population, though the graduation rate for African American males is just 48 percent.

Dedecker said the ultimate goal is to connect the White House and city hall with national philanthropy and foundations to work together to achieve stronger outcomes.

"We have a very clear mandate to ensure that boys and young men of color in Buffalo reach their full potential and we're not achieving that at this point," she said. "And if we're serious about building the workforce for the future, we have got to get serious about ensuring that boys and young men of color in this country succeed and thrive."

To view this story in Buffalo Business First, click here.

content management, website design, e-commerce and web development services in Erie, Pennsylvania