Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

KeyBank Announces $1.7M Community Investments in Buffalo [Buffalo Business First]

May 11, 2016 | Posted in News

Buffalo Business First - May 11, 2016:

By: Tracey Drury
Buffalo Business First Reporter

The chief executive officer of KeyCorp is in Buffalo Wednesday for a series of announcements affirming its commitment to the region as it prepares to complete a deal to acquire First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ: FNFG).

KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) started the morning at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, where it announced a $1 million grant to the Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship Fund to assist the organization's efforts to increase high school and post-secondary completion rates. The award brings the total raised to $25 million of its $33 million goal.

Officials noted the $1 million is the single largest philanthropic investment ever made by KeyBank Foundation outside of Key’s Cleveland, Ohio headquarters.

Margot James Copeland, CEO of the KeyBank Foundation and executive vice president for corporate philanthropy and civic engagement, told students the combined power of KeyBank and First Niagara will translate to even stronger support in the community.

"We feel this combination is going to be far more robust and far more powerful going into the future," she said.

Clotilde Dedecker, CEO at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, said the grant helps build the Say Yes program even more, which is already showing early returns with higher graduation rates in Buffalo schools.

"They get the importance of education in terms of building a robust economy that will support our private sector," she said. There is no investment in Western New York now that is yielding better returns."The grant was among a $1.7 million pool of gifts announced for Buffalo-area organizations, kicking off a series of events in Buffalo by bank officials.

Monday afternoon, KeyBank Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney will disclose plans for Key and what stake it will take in Larkinville, the corporate home of First Niagara, as well as an update on the future of First Niagara Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres.

Russ Brandon, president of the Buffalo Bills and Sabres, said the organization has been in touch with KeyBank.

"We've been in communication with KeyBank and we hope to continue to foster the relationship," Brandon said.

KeyCorp is set to acquire Buffalo-based First Niagara during the third quarter of this year, pending regulatory approval. The deal will significantly transform the region's banking landscape and could have major economic impacts depending on how many of First Niagara's 2,300 local employees lose their jobs.

Separately, First Niagara on Wednesday announced $1 million in grant funding to support the "Mentoring Matters" program. Of that total, $165,000 will be distributed among nine organizations in Western New York: Be a Friend Program Inc., Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns, Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo Inc., Buffalo Prep Inc., Compeer of Greater Buffalo, Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection Inc., Junior Achievement of Western New York, Seneca Street Community Development Corp. and Youth Mentoring Service of Niagara County Inc.

First Niagara founded the program in 2007. Since then, the company has contributed more than $8.3 million in financial support for mentoring programs across its four-state footprint. This year, Western New York received the largest portion, followed by the New England market, which received $150,000.

First Niagara usually announces "Mentoring Matters" funding in the fall. But the company chose to release this year's winner early due to the pending acquisition.

Meanwhile, KeyBank's charitable commitment also includes $500,000 to the Community Foundation to establish a fund dedicated to building an inclusive economy in Buffalo and Western New York. The Building an Inclusive Economy fund will be established by Jan. 1, 2017.

The initiative will directly align with KeyBank Foundation’s “Neighbors” strategic priority, focusing on the stabilization and revitalization of urban neighborhoods and rural communities.

Another $200,000 in grants was awarded to the following organizations that serve low- to moderate-income communities in Western New York:

  • Buffalo Urban League ($25,000)
  • Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope (NOAH) ($15,000) The Old First Ward Community Center ($10,000) which strengthens and supports the neighborhood, and responds to the changing needs of the community by providing youth services and housing programs.
  • PUSH Buffalo ($50,000)
  • Seneca-Babcock Community Association ($25,000)
  • Seneca Street Community Development Corporation ($10,000)
  • United Way of Greater Niagara ($5,000)
  • The Valley Community Association ($25,000)
  • VOICE-Buffalo ($15,000)

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

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