Paving the Road to Success for Students

At the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, we believe every child should have the opportunity to learn and to flourish in high quality schools that help to discover and nurture their potential. Education is necessary for creating a path to a brighter future for thousands of young students who will contribute to making our region stronger for everyone.

One of our goals is to improve educational achievement and workforce readiness for residents living in low-income households, and the Community Foundation has taken a leadership role in creating a number of initiatives that focus on providing learning supports from birth through post-secondary education and beyond. Some highlights of those efforts follow:

Launched in December of 2011, Say Yes Buffalo was an unprecedented, collaborative effort with more than 200 partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors committed to strengthening the Western New York economy by investing in the education of Buffalo’s future workforce. The Community Foundation played a key leadership role in bringing this initiative to Buffalo. Today, Say Yes Buffalo provides Buffalo students with a scholarship for post-secondary studies and is working to remove barriers preventing students from achieving academic success. Since its launch, the high school graduation rate in Buffalo Public Schools has increased by 16 percentage points.

In July, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it will be providing $2.9 million to support the newly-established Buffalo College Success Network, whose goal is to help students succeed in and persist through post-secondary education. The network is comprised of representatives from Say Yes Buffalo, Buffalo Public Schools and the five local higher education institutions that admit the largest number of Buffalo students receiving tuition funding from Say Yes Buffalo: Buffalo State College, Medaille College, SUNY Erie, the University at Buffalo and Villa Maria College. The Gates Foundation grant will span over 22 months and implement several new initiatives to help increase postsecondary persistence for all Say Yes Buffalo scholars who access services and increase postsecondary enrollment for graduates of Buffalo’s Public Schools, with a focus on low-income students and students of color.

Strategies include increasing resources available for Say Yes students to increase retention rates, establishing on-campus mental/behavioral health clinics, sharing the information about students between high school and higher education, creating a seamless curriculum for transition from high school to college, and developing a new peer mentor program.

Additional highlights that support education in Western New York include:

  • The Community Foundation is one of WNY’s largest scholarship providers, awarding more than $2 million in scholarships each year.
  • The Community Foundation is a partner in Lift Off, a collaborative effort to ensure that by the time WNY children reach kindergarten, they are prepared physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively to reach their full potential.
  • The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) brings together more than a dozen local partners to address critical changes and make homes safe and more energy-efficient in Buffalo. Wipe Out Lead is a collaborative initiative that aims to end lead poisoning, which can permanently impact a child’s ability to learn. These initiatives work hand in hand to prevent children from being poisoned in their homes.
  • Communities of Giving Legacy Initiatives (CGLI) inspires philanthropy for and within communities of color, creating access, collaboration, capacity and connections at every stage of life to continue to grow the collective impact. Each year, CGLI sponsors the Close Up Washington, D.C. Experience, an eight-month journey into civic education, culminating in a trip to Washington, D.C. in late June.
  • Read to Succeed Buffalo is an education-based initiative that encourages partners to support children in learning to read.

Read more about our other community goals here.