Buffalo, NY — Five community-based organizations in Buffalo have been awarded more than $1.5 million in grants for after-school programs from the state board of education, thanks, in no small measure, to the work of Kellogg Leadership for Community Change fellows.
Even though Buffalo is the second largest city in New York, the city had previously received only a fraction of after-school funds awarded to other, smaller cities in the state. Last year, for example, Buffalo received only $140,000 from the state’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding program.
One of the reasons Buffalo was getting so little, says Ceylane Meyers, Western NY director of the Public Policy and Education Fund, which is the host agency for KLCC in Buffalo, is that there were such poor collaborative relationships between the schools and the community-based organizations.
“Once we understood this, we got focused on addressing these problems, particularly the collaboration issue,” Meyers says.
KLCC fellows worked closely with community based organizations, school board members, the teacher’s union, superintendent, mayor and state legislators to collaborate on a new round of funding through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The 21st Century program is a program of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. This statewide, competitive grant program is designed to create or expand Community Learning Centers that provide academic enrichment and extracurricular opportunities for children. It primarily targets children who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools, as well as those participating in literacy and other educational service programs used by their families.
The fellows’ hard work paid off in late January, when it was announced that Buffalo organizations would receive more than $1.5 million in grants to support after-school programs. Five different agencies from the city had submitted grants and all five received awards. They include: The Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers ($249,432); Community Action Organization of Erie County ($156,295); Northwest Buffalo Community Center ($529,402); Valley Community Association ($145,205); and Child and Adolescent Treatment Services ($450,000).
News of the awards has provided a tremendous boost for the KLCC fellows, who remain engaged in several other efforts in the community. “The fellows now have great credibility with the community,” Meyers says. They “have used the tools they’ve learned in KLCC to create this change.”
More information about the activities of KLCC Fellows in Buffalo and elsewhere will be featured in the next edition of the KLCC Bridge, due in March.