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U.S. Department of Education Awards United Way of Buffalo & Erie County $2.5 Million Grant to Fund Education Initiatives

by Katie Buseck, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County

Full Service Community Schools Grant to Fund Closing the Gap program

Mon, Oct 5th 2015 03:35 pm
From left, our CEO Dennis Walczyk, Assemblyman Michael Kearns, Congressman Brian Higgins, South Park High School Principal Theresa Schuta, Buffalo Public School Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash, Southside Elementary School Principal Darlene Jesonowski, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Senator Timothy Kennedy, and Executive Director of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County Michael Weiner.
From left, our CEO Dennis Walczyk, Assemblyman Michael Kearns, Congressman Brian Higgins, South Park High School Principal Theresa Schuta, Buffalo Public School Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash, Southside Elementary School Principal Darlene Jesonowski, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Senator Timothy Kennedy, and Executive Director of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County Michael Weiner.

Buffalo, N.Y., October 5, 2015 -- The United Way of Buffalo & Erie County (UWBEC) today announced that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded the non-profit organization a $2.5 million Full Service Community Schools-Closing the Gap in Student Performance Consortium (FSCS-CTG) grant to support student achievement programming in the Buffalo Public Schools.

The grant is the second five-year FSCS-CTG grant awarded to UWBEC and it will continue to fund Closing the Gap programming that has been in place over the last twelve years. The first grant was awarded in 2008.  The grant will support a pre-kindergarten through grade 12 continuum of high quality, evidence-based and culturally-informed services for two high need schools, Southside Elementary School and South Park High School in the Buffalo Public Schools.  The United Way of Buffalo & Erie County was one of 12 grants awarded throughout the United States.

Dr. Kriner Cash, the new superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools made the announcement this morning at an event at the Southside Elementary School, along with Michael Weiner, President and CEO of UWBEC. Congressman Brian Higgins, Dennis Walczyk, CEO of Catholic Charities, and representatives from both schools also made remarks.

Weiner commented, "Education is a significant focus for the United Way and our Full Service Community Schools-Closing the Gap Consortium has demonstrated compelling results for students in the Buffalo Public Schools. For example in the targeted schools, 77% of students in the program increased their Grade Point Average for the 2012-2013 school year. This is a 5.5% increase from the previous year."

Weiner continued, " Additionally disciplinary referrals and suspensions at the targeted schools have decreased an average of 14% over the past four years. We are thrilled that the Department of Education has recognized this work and is committed to supporting this programming over the next five years."

Superintendent Cash added, "We are grateful to United Way and Closing the Gap for their partnership that addresses obstacles to learning that exist outside of the classroom.  This grant will allow us to continue our 12-year partnership in two of our schools with attention to increased academic performance, increased attendance, increased family engagement, and a decrease in disciplinary referrals and suspensions."

Congressman Brian Higgins, a South Park High School graduate, concluded, "Success in the classroom is best accomplished when the unique needs of individual students are supported. Through partnerships like this we give communities, schools, students and families the tools to build a better learning environment.  We commend the United Way and the Buffalo Schools for their collaborative work on behalf of our children."
   
The FSCS-CTG grant has three major goals; improve school culture and positive interactions between adults and children, improve academic achievement, and increase student and family engagement. FSCS-CTG coordinates the services of over 35 agencies to identify the needs of students and families as well as implement strategies to meet those needs. On‐campus site facilitators link school‐based agency providers to students and families to deliver services that include but are not limited to: ensuring children and families' basic needs are met, mentoring and youth development, academic support, family engagement opportunities, language access services and workshops to promote cultural understanding, mental health services, high quality early learning programming, assistance to students who have been chronically absent, and behavior intervention and support for children who have been suspended or expelled.  

About the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County:             
The United Way of Buffalo & Erie County brings people, organizations, and resources together to improve community well-being. Through program funding, community collaborations and strategic initiatives in the areas of Education, Financial Stability, and Health and Wellness, United Way helps children reach their full potential, adults and families achieve financial stability, and people of all ages achieve and maintain physical, social and emotional health. For more information, visit www.uwbec.org.

 

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