21st Century Fund Final Vote Event Project Descriptions

Below are the project descriptions for the four finalists that will be presenting on April 18, 2024:


Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT)

Project Name: Opening Doors: A Home for the Future

Project Description: In Fall 2024, BCAT, which offers adult workforce development and afterschool arts and technology programs, will move into a new facility at 368 Sycamore Street that allows us to expand to serve more participants. We will grow from five classrooms to 11; offer over 15 adult training programs in allied health and technology and four youth classes and have a large community gallery space as a gathering hub in our new neighborhood. We expect to serve over 250 adults and high school students annually. We are committed to being in a building that keeps BCAT in our community on Buffalo’s east side. Our new location on the corner of Sycamore/Mortimer will provide residents with easily accessible, cost-free opportunities for economic advancement and stability that historically have not been available to them.

The Sycamore building requires extensive renovation, including interior construction, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to become a viable community resource.

Family Promise of Western New York

Project Name: Building a Second Family Shelter to Respond to Increased Homelessness in Erie County

Project Description: On any given night in Erie County this year, there are on average 100 families experiencing homelessness. The purpose of our project is to respond to the increased number of families experiencing homelessness by expanding our capacity and opening a second shelter facility, more than doubling the number of families we can serve.

Specifically, Family Promise of Western New York seeks to develop a similar, small-scale family shelter model in the same neighborhood as our current shelter. The long-term impact will be that more families experiencing homelessness find permanent housing and the current blockages within the shelter placement system are eased. A grant from the 21st Century Fund will allow us to kickstart this initiative by specifically funding the pre-development expenses needed to secure land, do environmental tests, create architectural drawings and pass zoning boards – all of which are needed in order to apply for capital funding for this build from New York State.

Heart, Love & Soul

Project Name: Strengthening Our Roots to Deepen Impact in Niagara Falls

Project Description: The need for food assistance and additional social support for low-income households in Niagara Falls has grown significantly since the pandemic. For example, in 2023, meals distributed by Heart Love & Soul’s (HLS) food pantry almost doubled (87% increase) over a two year period, as food prices along with the expiration of COVID-era benefits plunged more people on the margins into poverty.

Building on the recent expansion of its social care services, including case management and community health services, HLS will upgrade its dining room, pantry, and front entrance to improve service delivery in a welcoming environment that also provides new resources for additional services that enhance the well-being and agency of its guests. The project will develop a new urban agriculture facility, expand limited pantry space, redesign the front entrance, and create a beautiful dining room interior that both enhances the community experience of sharing meals together while introducing guests to health and nutrition services.

The Tool Library

Project Name: Borrowing and Building a Shared Legacy: 2626 Main Street

Project Description: The Tool Library is seeking funding to purchase and renovate 2626 Main Street, the organization’s historic new home. As Western New York’s only community-based tool lending Library, The Tool Library works to democratize access to tools, resources, and knowledge.

For over a decade, The Tool Library has been committed to empowering our innovative neighbors. Acquisition of 2626 Main Street will allow us to expand our tool borrowing services, offer a wider range of hands-on workshops and training programs, and cultivate an accessible community space to gather, learn, and grow. This strategy has profound implications for our organization’s financial health, programmatic effectiveness, community engagement, and the ability to scale our existing impacts across Western New York.

Access to The Tool Library is how people make safe, functional, and beautiful homes. We’re the infrastructure for our collective desire to build an ideal world. Owning 2626 Main Street is how we continue to share that world for generations to come.