-- First Niagara announces $1 million in grants to 33 organizations to support youth mentoring in communities it serves across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts --
WHITE PLAINS, NY Oct. 28, 2013 – The First Niagara Foundation announced today a $40,000 donation to the YWCA of White Plains and Central Westchester for its Girls Empowered through Meaningful Support (GEMS) youth mentoring after-school program.
The $40,000 donation, which was announced today at a news conference held at the YWCA’s headquarters in White Plains, was one of 33 grants totaling $1 million awarded through First Niagara’s Mentoring MattersSM signature grant program. The Mentoring MattersSM program funds youth mentoring programs designed to help close the achievement gap, to help children improve school attendance and performance, prevent substance abuse and behavioral problems and give at risk youth a chance to reach their potential whether it be in college or the work place.
“Mentoring provides significant, tangible, positive changes for young people, including better grades and behavior, improved school attendance, and evidence of a brighter future,” said Gary Crosby, President and CEO of First Niagara. “Mentoring MattersSM enables us to collaborate with proven, results-oriented mentoring organizations across our footprint that do great things each and every day.”
GEMS programming includes academic support from Kindergarten through high school, including SAT and college preparation, and professional development. The curriculum is reviewed and updated to address current student needs and to provide access to new academic fields and career trajectories.
“First Niagara is very pleased to support this outstanding youth mentoring program. Each year, 100 low-income girls participate in GEMS, setting them on the path to high school graduation, college attendance and career readiness,” said Cathie Schaffer, President of First Niagara's Tri-State Region.
YWCA Chief Executive Officer Maria Imperial was joined by staff and students who are involved in the GEMS program.
“We are deeply grateful for the generous support by First Niagara. All young girls deserve the same opportunities for educational, cultural, social and economic security and to grow into self-reliant, competent, caring and healthy women. They can achieve these goals with appropriate family and community support if they also have a commitment to learning positive values, social competencies and an affirmative identity. The YWCA is committed to helping all the girls in the program develop those assets,” said Imperial,
Also attending the news conference was Congresswoman Nita M, Lowey ((D-NY 17th District) a strong advocate for women, children and families, and champion of education initiatives.
“This is an exciting investment in the futures of our young women. I am so pleased that with this generous grant, YWCA of White Plains and Central Westchester can expand its wonderful mentoring program to young women in our community and help provide the opportunities they deserve,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland). “At a time of misguided cuts to education and after-school programs, investments like these are all the more important.”
Other area organizations receiving 2013 Mentoring Matters donations from First Niagara for their mentoring programs were the Nyack Center for its after-school tutoring program and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County for its juvenile mentoring program. Each organization received a $5,000 grant.
Including the awards announced today, First Niagara has provided more than $5.25 million in financial support for mentoring programs since the program’s inception in 2007. Additionally, First Niagara employees are encouraged to volunteer with mentoring initiatives in their communities across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
In making grant decisions, First Niagara evaluates specific community needs along with program metrics and outcomes. The $1 million investment in this year’s 33 community-based recipient organizations will directly support more than 45,000 youth participants in proven mentoring programs.
Why Mentoring Matters
Mentoring MattersSM is First Niagara’s charitable giving program that provides monetary and employee volunteer support to organized mentoring initiatives. Established in 2007, Mentoring Matters reinforces the importance of mentoring and the positive impact that it has on today’s young adults. In 2009, First Niagara expanded the reach and impact of Mentoring Matters by launching its annual Day of Mentoring, offering young people the opportunity to spend a day with First Niagara volunteers to learn about financial literacy, work place awareness and enhanced life skills.
About The First Niagara Foundation
First Niagara Foundation is a not for profit corporation founded in 1998. The Foundation is committed to supporting organizations in the communities in which we live and work with specific focus on youth and education, community development and neighborhood revitalization. In 2012 the Foundation contributed more than $10 million in charitable grants to community partners. For more information, visit www.firstniagara.com/community.
About First Niagara
First Niagara Financial Services (FNFG), through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 420 branches, $37 billion in assets, $27 billion in deposits, and approximately 5,800 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.firstniagara.com.