FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 19, 2011
SCHUMER HELPS SECURE $1.5 MILLION FEDERAL INVESTMENT FOR ‘BUFFALO PROMISE NEIGHBORHOOD’ PROJECT; SUPPORTS CHARITABLE FOUNDATION’S MISSION TO REVITALIZE BUFFALO’S UNIVERSITY DISTRICT
Department Of Ed. Grant to Westminster Foundation Builds on the Success of the Westminster Community Charter School and Will Establish Cradle-to-Career Services for 3,000 Buffalo Children and their Families
Schumer’s Letter to Sec. Duncan In Support of Funding Highlighted Buffalo Promise Neighborhood’s Commitment to Education Reform Despite Vast Majority of Community’s Children Born Into Poverty
Schumer: Federal Investment Will Be A Big Boost To Buffalo Youth
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Westminster Foundation has been awarded $1.5 million for the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood (BPN) by the Department of Education Promise Neighborhoods Implementation Grants Program. This federal funding will build on the work of the Westminster Community Charter School and establish a continuum of services to cultivate the healthy development from birth through college to career of over 3,000 children and their families in Buffalo’s University District. Schumer’s letter to DOE Secretary Arne Duncan spurred a large first-year award of a grant that is anticipated to support the Westminster Foundation’s proven track record for a total of five years.
“This federal investment is a testament to the tenacity of those who continue to fight for Buffalo’s University District,” Schumer said. “It’s going to ensure that thousands of Buffalo youth have the community support they need to succeed in school, leading to the good-paying, family-sustaining jobs that help bind a community.”
Schumer’s letter stressed that the award would seek to build on one of the city’s educational success stories – the transformation of the Westminster Community Charter School (WCCS) through a unique 18 year partnership between M&T Bank and the Buffalo Public Schools. Westminster Foundation (WF), the applicant, unites 15 of Buffalo’s top education, health, and service organizations in partnership with M&T Bank, one of the 20 largest banks in the US and a major philanthropic leader.
The neighborhood, located in the northeastern corner of Buffalo reflects the signs of a distressed neighborhood – high poverty, teen pregnancy, increasing crime and failing schools. The community is 76% minority and 69% African American; 88% of BPN children are eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch and 86% of families with children under age 5 are headed by a single parent. It is also a neighborhood with promise, including dedicated community stakeholders and an ongoing commitment to education reform. The BPN initiative seeks to build on these strengths and tackle the challenges head on.
BPN is comprised of four major Continuum Initiatives, a Service Delivery System, and key Management Systems to oversee the project. The School Transformation Initiative builds on WF’s successful WCCS and a District contract for shared management of two additional schools, to create a full service neighborhood school cluster in partnership with Talent Development, the highly respected transformation organization. The Early Learning Initiative recognizes the 800 children under age 5 as a “fourth school” and leverages the capabilities of many BPN partners. The College/Career Initiative provides meaningful pre-college and pre-career experiences from the middle grades on. The Family/Community Services Network builds an “open, yet managed” infrastructure.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s September letter of support to Secretary Duncan appears below:
September 9, 2011
The Honorable Arne Duncan
US Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202
I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by M&T Bank, through the Westminster Foundation, for support under the Promise Neighborhood Implementation Grant Program.
As you know, in October 2010, M&T Bank, through the Westminster Foundation, was awarded a Planning Grant from the US Department of Education to plan a Promise Neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. The Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, located in the northeastern corner of the City of Buffalo, reflects the signs of a distressed neighborhood: high poverty, teen pregnancy, increasing crime, and failing schools. However, it is also a neighborhood with promise, including dedicated community stakeholders and an ongoing commitment to education reform. The Buffalo Promise Neighborhood seeks to build on these strengths and tackle poverty head-on with a cradle-to-career continuum of educational, health, and community support.
The initiative now seeks the next phase of federal funding. With federal support, the Westminster Foundation and its partners will be able to implement the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood’s continuum of programs and advance a new model of educational reform and neighborhood revitalization. I applaud M&T Bank and Westminster Foundation for its foresight, and I sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.
Thank you for your consideration. For additional information, please to do not hesitate to contact me or my Grants Director in Washington D.C.