Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative

Each year, the CGLI recognizes four outstanding individuals or organizations that embody its mission of cultivating positive change in the lives of trailblazing youth of color living within Western New York.

The Pay It Forward Awards recognize personal and professional accomplishments and how those actions increase philanthropy in communities of color. Emphasis is placed on service to the community and educating the next generation, with a focus on showcasing community champions that reflect the multicultural and ethnic diversity of the CGLI mission.

Please join us on November 4, 2021, as we honor this year’s recipients: Terence Jenkins, Waterfront Elementary School; Stan Martin, HOPE Buffalo; Dinorah Santos, The Belle Center; and the Hispanic Women’s League. Register for this free event here or by clicking on the link above.

About the CGLI

The Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative® (CGLI), a fund of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, recognizes the importance of endowment-building as a sustainable means of inspiring philanthropy for and within communities of color. CGLI Council Members all share a desire to “pay it forward” in honor of those who helped them succeed by creating a legacy of success that will encourage collective giving to support positive change in the lives of youth of color living in low-income communities.


The mission of the CGLI is to cultivate positive change in the lives of trailblazing youth of color living within Western New York. CGLI accomplishes this mission via endowment building, engaging strategic partners and intentional community connections.


1. Provide an endowed vehicle for collaborative grantmaking;
2. Inspire philanthropy within and for communities of color in Western New York;
3. Cultivate the next generation of philanthropists of color; and
4. Create positive change in the lives of trailblazing youth of color.


To learn more about CGLI or any of its initiatives below, please call (716) 852-2857 or email

Please click here to read an important message shared by the CGLI Council on June 9, 2020. 

More About CGLI

Sponsors and Supporters

We are grateful for the generosity of those individuals, families and organizations who support our endowment.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has generously supported the work of the Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative over the years. Currently, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is providing support through its Catalyzing Community Giving Program.

Legacy Access Donors

• BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York (HealthNow Healthy Living Fund)
• Charles Balbach
• Ruth Matthews

Close Up Washington, D.C.

Success Looks Like Me

GM Tonawanda Engine Plant


CGLI Council Officers:

Ruth D. Bryant, Chairperson

Michele Agosto , Vice Chairperson

Tanya Staples, Secretary

Robert Lowery, Treasurer

CGLI Council Members:

Tammy Alsace, Ph.D.

Thomas Beauford, Jr.

Tracey Cleveland

Bonita R. Durand, Ph.D.

Steven K. Gathers

Danis J. Gehl, Ph.D.

Karla E. Kawenniiostha General

Leah M. Halton-Pope

Kawanza A. Humphrey

Oswaldo Mestre, Jr.

Oluwole McFoy

Sean Mckinnie

Derrick Parson

Talia Rodriguez, J.D.

Honorary Council:

Donald Boswell 

Jennifer J. Parker, J.D.

Lou Santiago 

Alphonso O’Neil-White

Karen Lee Spaulding

The Young Philanthropists

“If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, I can achieve it…So I’m here to tell you what you can do.”

– Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Success Looks Like Me® Launch 2012.

Attention Buffalo Public high school juniors! Be a part of a unique teen leadership program that provides business knowledge and real experience granting money to local nonprofits. Check back in early 2022 for updates.


In March 2016, The Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative (CGLI) launched The Young Philanthropists (TYPs) for high school students. TYPs participate in a program designed to spark their curiosity about grantmaking, community impact and philanthropy.  After hearing from community leaders and philanthropists in the community, TYPs have the opportunity to award two $1,500 grants to worthwhile community organizations.

Below are some videos from our Success Looks Like Me® Role Model Project over the years. Click to watch them and to learn more about the good we do together.

Emerging Philanthropists of Color

The Emerging Philanthropists of Color (EPC) initiative is a unique giving circle of the Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative (CGLI). It offers access to people, places and experiences for entrepreneurial individuals of color who are enthusiastic about collective giving. As a result, joining EPC is a life-changing experience.


An EPC membership provides members with the rare opportunity of being both mentor and protégé. Members have special access to civic leaders and philanthropists of color on the CGLI Council for mentoring, networking and inspiration. In addition, members have numerous opportunities to share their experiences with the youth who participate in CGLI activities.

  • Quarterly Networking
  • Social gatherings with people of color
  • Opportunity to “Pay it Forward” to the next generation
  • Participation in the Community Foundation’s 21st Century Fund
  • Collective giving (mini grants)
  • Personal and professional development

EPC Membership

Membership is $300 per year. That fee is divided up and $100 goes towards the CGLI Endowment Fund and the remaining $200 is pooled with your colleagues’ funds to create a giving circle. Click here for membership information.

Join EPC Here

Learn More About EPC Grant Here 

The Washington, D.C. Experience

Sponsored by the Communities of Giving Legacy, the Close Up Washington, D.C. Experience is an annual eight-month journey into civic education, culminating in a trip to Washington, D.C. in late June. It provides students with opportunities to engage with fellow high school peers from around the country and the world. They also learn about our government and democracy during the week-long civic engagement trip.

Participants in this program commit to eight months of social change. The highlight of the program is learning in the classroom. The classroom in this case is the foundation of democracy; our nation’s capital. Our youth will visit everything from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to the Smithsonian Museums — and much more, all while interacting with peers.

Experiences like this are possible thanks to the generous support from the community. If you would like to sponsor a student, please email

Pay It Forward Awards

Each year, the CGLI recognizes four outstanding individuals or organizations that embody its mission of cultivating positive change in the lives of trailblazing youth of color living within Western New York.  Awardees will be honored at the annual Pay It Forward Awards in November.

On November 5, 2020, the Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative (CGLI) hosted its 2020 Pay It Forward Awards. We are so proud of the 2020 honorees – Zandra Cunningham, Tommy McClam, Daniel Robertson, Renee Mapp, and Marilyn Young. They exemplify the mission of CGLI – which is to cultivate positive change in the lives of trailblazing youth of color in Western New York.

If you missed the celebration, or if you want to see it again, click on the video below: