A collaborative of nine agencies have received a $2.4 million grant to support a new initiative geared at expanding and improving mentoring opportunities in the region.
The funds from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and the First Niagara Foundation in partnership with KeyBank support the Western New York Mentoring Collective.
The collective will work to expand and strengthen the field of mentorship programs across the region, ultimately connecting more children with mentors. Collaborating organizations include: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County, Buffalo Prep, Classroom Champions, Chautauqua Striders, Compeer, Edge Foundation, Hillside Work-Scholarship, Say Yes Buffalo, and Youth Mentoring Services of Niagara County.
The grant will be overseen by Community Connections of NY, a nonprofit management services organization, which will convene and connect the nine organizations to programs by a national group in Boston called MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, and its statewide affiliate Mentor NY. Another group, Equal Measure of Philadelphia will lead evaluation and continuous quality improvement process for the collective.
The idea is, over the next two years, to create a learning community among the participants, with each one sharing best practices, capacity building, mentor training, education and assessment support.
David Egner, president and CEO of the Wilson Foundation, applauded the cohort organizations for their commitment to work together and help close the mentoring gap in Western New York; while Elizabeth Gurney, executive director of the First Niagara Foundation, said funding from this grant will contribute to improved quality of programs in the region, while also helping to increase the number of mentors working with young people.
“We hope this investment will also serve as an invitation to professionals across all sectors in Western New York to get involved in the mentorship movement, serving as mentors and advising our youth on the path to success,” she said.