First Niagara Foundation and Computers For Children, Inc. (CFC) announced today that First Niagara Financial Group's community foundation has donated over 6,000 pieces of computer equipment valued at over $500,000 - - the single largest donation ever received by the nonprofit computer-education organization.
"Every contribution of cash, equipment, and service, is valuable, however, there are those historic instances over the past 15 years that stand out, and this gift from First Niagara marks a truly monumental occasion for our organization," said Christine Carr, Executive Director of Computers For Children.
"This is more than just a donation; this is a true partnership for the greater good. With this contribution, the programs we will be able complete for the educational future of our children and our community are significant," Ms. Carr added.
Elizabeth Gurney, Executive Director, First Niagara Foundation, said the computer equipment, which includes 2,200 computers, 2,200 monitors and 2,200 keyboards, were stockpiled by the financial institution during its recent acquisitions.
"We had the computers and other equipment and Computers For Children had the need, so it was a perfect fit for First Niagara and this great organization. We strive to do great things every day for the communities we serve, this is one great example of how we can empower the youth of Western New York!," Ms. Gurney said.
Richard Hamister, Vice President, Private Clients Services, First Niagara, brought CFC to the attention of the foundation as the bank considered options for the extra computer gear.
"The reuse of more than 6,000 pieces of computer equipment will allow lots of children in Western New York to build necessary skills to enhance their future. It's very exciting for First Niagara to partner with Computers For Children in a manner that will touch so many," Mr. Hamister said.
First Niagara staff "wiped" the hard drives of all the computers, removing all stored data, before making the massive donation to get them ready for reprogramming by CFC students and instructors. The financial institution also recycled some 100,000 pounds of computer equipment, resulting in additional donation to the organization of over $14,000.
"I would like to thank First Niagara for the generous donation that will help facilitate the work of Computers for Children as they help train our next generation. It is important to prepare the students with the knowledge economy they will need for their education while providing them concrete skill sets to build upon for their future careers" said Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D., President, Computers For Children Board of Directors and Executive Director, WNY Consortium of Higher Education.
The organization's largest program, KidCo, provides hands on training for at-risk youth giving them the opportunity to learn computer refurbishing and construction, MS Suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, computer navigation, on-line safety. Successful completion of the program enables youth to take a computer home. Kid-Co further reduces the digital divide and provides kids access to educational and career opportunities.
CFC's program targeted for middle school student includes software training, but also offers ROBO-Tech a program that infuses STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). Students to learn and explore technology with science and engineering in a creative programs such as Junk Drawer & LEGO® Robotics, which touches on computer programming, GPS Mapping, as well digital software programs encompassing photography, video and web design.
Its Summer TECHMasters Academy, the largest summer technology camp in the Buffalo area, has enrolled more than 350 since its launch in 2010. TECHMasters Academy incorporates all of the above, allowing kids 10-15 years of age the opportunity to learn and explore all while having summer fun.
"We cannot express enough the importance of community partners and we are so grateful to First Niagara's partnership," Ms. Carr said. "With the help of our partners, Computers For Children reaches over 500 students and the numbers are growing each year. Educational partners like Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Mayors Summer Youth Program, Buffalo Urban League, Erie County Youth Bureau, CATS, Hillside Services, Northwest Community Services and many more, as well as our very important relationship with our public and charter school districts allows us to make this impact."
CFC also offers low-cost, refurbished PCs and laptops to the community-at- large through its own on-site retail shop, as well as through partnerships with Goodwill and the Buffalo City Mission. Proceeds from sales of the computer equipment benefits both CFC and its nonprofit retail partners.
"We're excited about the collaboration of Goodwill and Computers For Children. This is an ideal example of a win-win scenario - Goodwill's customers have access to reasonably priced, refurbished computers and Computers For Children has a retail outlet for their excess machines that provides additional revenue to support its mission," said Thomas Lynch, President and CEO, Goodwill Industries of Western New York, Inc.
Over the past 15 years, CFC has donated more than 15,000 computers to schools and trained hundreds of disadvantaged youth on state-of-the-art computer applications.