Community Foundation’s 21st Century Fund Announces Final Four Organizations Competing for $100,000 Grant

Final vote scheduled for April 21, 2022  

Buffalo, N.Y. – The 21st Century Fund announced that four local organizations were chosen by a member vote as finalists for a $100,000 grant to be awarded in April. The four finalists are: Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc.; Cradle Beach Camp; Kevin Guest House; and Mercy Flight Inc. Celebrating 22 years in 2022, the 21st Century Fund members have granted more than $1 million to local organizations. Recent past winners include FeedMore WNY, Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club, Gerard Place and Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum.

The 21st Century Fund is a giving circle open to anyone who wants to give back to Western New York. The Fund is unique in that it makes philanthropy accessible to everyone. Members pay a one-time fee to join and come together every other year to listen, vote and award an organization with a $100,000 grant.

On Thursday, March 10, 2022, the 21st Century Fund invited eight local organizations to present a project that the organization would complete if awarded the $100,000 grant. The members of the 21st Century Fund had the opportunity to ask each organization questions about their project before casting ballots online for the four finalists.

Below are the final four organizations that will give a presentation on their proposed project to 21st Century Fund members at the virtual Final Vote Event on April 21, 2022.

 Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc.

Project Name: Botanical Gardens Expansion Project

Project Description: The Botanical Gardens opened to the public in 1900. It is the only Botanical Gardens in WNY. With exponential visitor growth (146,694 in 2019), increased demand for education programs (20,846 in 2019) and the need to address facility issues, the Gardens commissioned Toshiko Mori Architect to complete a master plan. The master plan calls for the demolition of 17,880sf of non-historic structures and adding 33,000sf including new classrooms, exhibits, a butterfly conservatory, visitor amenities and growhouses. Audiences are expected to grow to 220,000 in 2025. The annual economic impact will grow from $5.1M to $9.1M affecting adjacent neighborhoods where average poverty rates are 24.3% compared to NYS poverty rate of 15.3% (2017). Expanded education space will serve approximately 32,000/yr.  Funds from the 21st Century Fund will be used for the demolition of 7 non-historic structures, preparing the site for the new construction. The grant from the 21st Century Fund would also be used to announce the public phase of the Botanical Gardens’ Capital Campaign inviting the whole community to participate.

Cradle Beach Camp

Project Name: Accessible Swimming Pool Renovation and Restoration

Project Description: Each summer, nearly 800 children with disabilities or economic challenges come to Cradle Beach and learn to swim and have fun in a fully-accessible swimming pool, equipped with ramps, lifts and other modifications that enable all kids with a wide range of physical abilities to have fun together. The current pool is approximately 25 years old and is impacted by the winter elements, acid washing each summer and the high use during summer months. This project will provide needed resurfacing, cleaning, repair and a safe seasonal covering for the pool, extending its viability and safety for many years. The pool renovation will have a direct impact on Cradle Beach’s 800 summer campers, but also on hundreds of children and family members who come to the camp during off-season family camping excursions, respite care weekends, and other events hosted on the 66-acre campus on the shores of Lake Erie in Angola, NY.

Kevin Guest House

Project Name: Building for our Future

Project Description: The Kevin Guest House has hosted 60,000+ patients’ families seeking medical care in Buffalo since 1972. After adding a 4th guest house in 2018 on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, KGH serves 2,000 guests annually. 90% reside in NY, most from the 8 WNY counties where specialized treatment is not available. KGH typically has 90% occupancy.  Guest accommodations include a mix of 6 full apartments, 4 suites w/private bathrooms, and the original house with 10 rooms, shared bathrooms and common spaces. During the pandemic, shared common spaces and bathrooms in the aging original properties revealed greater risks to immunocompromised guests, with old HVAC systems and decades old materials being difficult to thoroughly clean. This grant will allow the KGH to add private bathrooms in the main house, make durable upgrades in structure and safety and materials that are easier to clean and meet healthcare standards now requested to serve the most compromised patients and caregivers. The goal is to upgrade the original 3 buildings to the standard of the 2018 expansion for long-term health, safety and comfort of guests.

Mercy Flight Inc.

Project Name: Implementation of a Lifesaving Air Ambulance Enhancement in Rural WNY

Project Description: Mercy Flight plans to implement an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) approach system across WNY. This enhancement will allow its helicopter air ambulances to provide lifesaving transportation even in inclement weather by relying on instrument readings rather than solely on visual cues, thereby decreasing travel time and increasing positive patient outcomes. This project will install IFR approach systems at four strategic locations – Wyoming County Community Hospital (Warsaw), Olean General Hospital (Olean), Bertrand Chaffee Hospital (Springville), and Medina Memorial Hospital (Medina). This placement will allow Mercy Flight to create intercept points so that if someone in a roughly 15-mile radius of each IFR approach location has a traumatic injury or illness, we’ll be able to fly to them when weather conditions might previously have prevented it. This placement will create a service area that includes rural areas of Wyoming, Orleans, Cattaraugus, and Southern Erie Counties, serving over 500,000 residents.

The 21st Century Fund is a fund of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. For more information about the 21st Century Fund and membership details, visit



About the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
For more than a century, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has enhanced and encouraged long-term philanthropy in the Western New York community. A 501 (c)(3) organization, the Community Foundation’s mission is: Connecting people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York. Established in 1919, the Community Foundation has made the most of the generosity of individuals, families, foundations and organizations who entrust charitable assets to the Community Foundation’s care. Learn more at