21st Century Fund Presentation Event Project Descriptions

Below are the project descriptions for the eight semi-finalists that will be presenting on March 7, 2024:


Assembly House 150

Project Name: Assembly House Roof Replacement

Project Description: Assembly House 150 is an immersive experiential learning laboratory for design and construction arts within the former Immaculate Conception Church in the Allentown Historic District. Assembly House will remove the severely deteriorated 100+ year-old slate roof covering its woodshop and primary education space, formerly the altar and transept when the building was a functioning church, and replace it with a new architectural shingle roof that will last for 50 years.

The new roof will protect Assembly House for decades to come, ensuring the building’s ability to support transformative skill-building and job placement programs in design and construction arts and expanding its use as a cultural tourism destination. This project will support the education and inspiration of at least 1,000 visitors per year – from local students of Assembly House’s intensive skill building and job placement programs to international tourists; over the lifetime of the new roof, it is projected this number will increase to at least 50,000 people.

Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT)

Project Name: Opening Doors: A Home for the Future

Project Description: In May 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.

Kevin Guest House

Project Name: KGH50 Transplant Recovery Building Renovation: Celebrating 50 years & building for our future

Project Description: Kevin Guest House has hosted 66,000+ patients’ families seeking medical care in Buffalo since 1972, serving 2,000 guests annually, 90% residing in NY, most from the eight WNY counties. Our three aging original properties present some risks to immunocompromised guests, with old HVAC systems and decades-old materials that are difficult to thoroughly clean.

This grant would specifically complete the first construction phase of our overall KGH50 campaign project needed to meet healthcare safety standards to serve the most immunocompromised guests & add access for mobility restrictions to this building.

This will complete the renovation of one of three original buildings that includes two transplant recovery apartments. Upgrades include: installing accessible features (first-ever porch ramp); walk-in bathrooms; larger bedrooms for families; replacing aging structures/air filtration; and durable equipment materials to meet safety standards. Until this renovation is completed, our healthcare partners are forced to refer patients to area hotels where they will need to pay for lodging.

Ronald McDonald House of Buffalo

Project Name: Access for All

Project Description: Ronald McDonald House creates and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and families and keeps families with sick/injured children together. It is crucial to make the Ronald McDonald House accessible so we can perform our mission and meet the needs of all guests. The heart of the home contains the foyer, spacious living room, dining room and kitchen. This is where guest families interact with each other, the volunteers, and staff, and celebrate their victories and comfort each other during their hardships.

The renovation will include: installation of a ramp to the front entrance; renovation of the current kitchen; installation of a new three-stop passenger elevator and a new accessible bathroom; replacing all flooring on the first floor with hard flooring for level access and ease of mobility; constructing a new accessible bedroom and bathroom on the second floor; and installing a ramp to enable guests to reach the two accessible suites constructed in 2017.

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.

Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

Project Name: The Beat Goes On: BTPM Radio Master Audio System Replacement Project

Project Description: BTPM owns and broadcasts three radio services: WBFO, WNED Classical and WBFO The Bridge. All radio broadcast, including streaming, originates from within the BTPM studios in downtown Buffalo. The backbone of these operations is the radio master audio system. The current system was purchased in 2007 and has reached the end of its functional life and cannot be repaired or serviced.

BTPM seeks to upgrade to a modular, Internet-based system using non-proprietary technology. The investment will take BTPM from lagging behind the industry standard to the leading edge of radio broadcast capability. BTPM will expand the system to include a new in-house studio for WBFO The Bridge (which currently broadcasts from a desktop PC in a converted storage room) and increase remote operations capability to facilitate employees broadcasting remotely in emergency situations. It will also enhance integration with BTPM’s TV stations to more easily allow programs to broadcast simultaneously on TV and radio.