Advancing Racial Equity in Our Community

The first graduating class of Breaking Barriers – January 19, 2019.

Many of our clients rely on the Community Foundation as a source for solutions to create long-term transformative change in Western New York. It is no secret that Buffalo is the third poorest large city and one of the most highly segregated cities anywhere in the U.S. Over a decade ago, as we approached our 90th anniversary, our board reflected on those staggering statistics and decided it was going to do something different and more proactive to address these challenges. By rooting our work in data, we would develop and lead innovative and collaborative cross-sector partnerships to better serve the universal desire to “do good.”

Our Board of Directors embarks on a strategic planning process every five years to engage the community in informing the Community Foundation’s goals, which currently focus on: education, racial equity, workforce, the environment and supporting arts, architecture and culture.

We have many initiatives that support our racial equity goal including our Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable. The Community Foundation convened the Roundtable in 2015 and it is made up of over 35 community leaders from public, private, nonprofit and faith institutions working together to advance racial equity and promote the change required to accelerate regional prosperity.

This truly transformative, collaborative work happening right now in our community will accelerate shared prosperity for all of us for generations to come. Here are a few recent highlights of the Roundtable’s work:

  • By the end of 2018, more than 1,200 leaders representing 80 organizations participated in the Racial Equity Impact Analysis Training.
  • The Roundtable joined local organizations to establish “Employ Buffalo Niagara,” and “THRIVE” with a shared goal of a workforce development system aligned with employer opportunities to create a strong, more inclusive workforce.

    EMPLOY Buffalo Niagara Meeting – February 2019.
  • The Reentry Coalition completed a plan that assessed the services and resources currently available in Erie County to individuals reentering the community following incarceration. Implementation of the plan is underway in 2019.
  • Launched Breaking Barriers, a collective of young men of color, creating and strengthening a unified voice that advocates for social justice, racial equity and policy change, in partnership with Say Yes Buffalo.
  • Twelve major employers are engaged in the Buffalo Purchasing Initiative pilot.

To learn more about our community change work, visit We will highlight the other three goals in upcoming editions of this newsletter.