Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Improve Educational Achievement for Low-Income Students

Successful strategies that create and support economic self-sufficiency include improving educational attainment and increasing the assets of low-income families.

That is why the Community Foundation is proud to be the largest provider of college scholarships in Western New York. Our donors provided over $2.1 million in 2013 making it possible for more than 1,000 students to continue their education.

The Community Foundation continues to help many more students attain post-secondary education as a partner, supporter, and advocate of Say Yes Buffalo.

Launched in December of 2011, Say Yes Buffalo is an education-based initiative that provides a powerful engine for long-term economic development and radically improves the life course of an entire generation of public school students in the City of Buffalo.

Catalyzed by a universal scholarship program, Say Yes Buffalo will increase educational attainment by students in the Buffalo Public Schools, providing up to 100% of their tuition at any participating public or private post-secondary institution.

Why it Matters

  • The under-18 poverty rate is 44.5% in Buffalo and 33.6% in Niagara Falls
  • Children growing up in poverty have a high likelihood of being poor as adults. 65% of children born into the lowest economic quintile remain in the bottom two quintiles as adults
  • 30% of 65,000 adults in the city of Buffalo are illiterate (reading below a 5th grade level)
  • Buffalo Public Schools has a 4-year (on-time) graduation rate of 56%
  • Over the course of a lifetime, a worker with a bachelor’s degree will out earn a worker with high school diploma by $850,000
    • In Buffalo:
      • A person with a high school diploma will earn about $8,200 more a year than a high school dropout, which results in a difference of $328,000 over a 40-year career
      • A person with a bachelor’s degree will earn about $12,900 more a year than a high school graduate, which results in a difference of $516,000 over a 40-year career
  • In Buffalo, 42% of people with less than a high school diploma live below the poverty line compared with 24% of high school graduates and 9% college graduates
  • The unemployment rate varies by educational attainment. The unemployment rate for those with less than a college degree is more than double (11%) than those with a bachelor’s degree (4%). Those with a high school diploma are less likely to be unemployed than those without a high school diploma

Sources: (American Community Survey 2008-2012, Brookings Institute Economic Mobility Project, Say Yes Buffalo, Read to Succeed Buffalo, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census 2010)

Our Strategy

The Community Foundation focuses on four key solutions within self-sufficiency to address this tremendous need in our community and provides grants to organizations that do the following:

  1. Increase educational attainment for low-income children and adults
  2. Increase the number of low-income residents obtaining jobs that support economic self-sufficiency
  3. Increase financial assets for low-income residents
  4. Research and advocacy related to the above solutions

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