The John R. Oishei Foundation has approved a $1 million grant to help fund construction of a 10,000-square-foot early childhood education center on Bailey Avenue. The center, to be built adjacent to the Westminster Community Charter School, will serve as many as 150 neighborhood children, with a primary focus on preparing students for kindergarten.
“Research throughout the country talks about the need to reach children early to start them off on a strong educational path. M&T Bank’s commitment to this neighborhood is unparalleled and we are very pleased to assist them with the construction of an Early Childhood Center as the first stepping stone in a P-16 pathway for the 14215 community,” stated Robert D. Gioia, President of The John R. Oishei Foundation.
The Buffalo Promise Neighborhood is a collaborative effort led by M&T Bank and the Westminster Foundation to provide a life-changing continuum of services to children living within Buffalo’s 14215 zipcode, a low-income neighborhood.
Additional grant funding to complete financing of the child care center will be finalized soon by M&T Bank. The demolition of a vacant warehouse on Bailey Avenue, clearing the ground for the new center, by Buffalo-based SLR Contracting will begin in several weeks. The center is tentatively scheduled to open this fall.
“The entire focus of the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood is to provide a full range of services to children from cradle-to-career,” said Dr. Yvonne Minor-Ragan, president of the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood. “This child care center will help children from the cradle. We plan to provide proper child care, and important early childhood education, to start our children on a path of educational success.”
The U.S. Department of Education awarded a $6 million grant in December 2011 to help fund the operation of the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood for five years. The Buffalo Promise Neighborhood was one of only five U.S. communities, out of more than 35 applicants, to receive the highly competitive federal Promise Neighborhood implementation grant.
As part of the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood program, additional academic intervention and social services will be added during the current school year for students at Highgate Heights Elementary School and Bennett High School.