The East Side is getting another big boost, this time in the form of “an educationally focused pre-school for children six-weeks to school-age.”
This is the second Buffalo Promise Neighborhood (BPN) children’s academy on the East Side, in the Gerard Place Community Center. M&T Bank is committing $1.6 million to renovating the first floor of the building, which is located on the ‘Gerard Place campus’. M&T is the lead on this multi-stakeholder project – ‘Buffalo Promise Neighborhood Children’s Academy at Gerard Place”.
“This new Children’s Academy will empower the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood to make an impact in the lives of more children and families in the community we serve,” said BPN COO and Senior Director of Programs, Glenn Jackson. “Transforming an economically challenged neighborhood into one that can prosper begins by providing children with the opportunity to be successful in school. With this second academy, we’ll be able to provide care and strong academic offerings to twice as many children.”
This new learning facility will accommodate 100 children, most of whom will gain admittance via the following criteria: proximity to the BPN service area, those who have siblings that attend a BPN school, and those whose family resides at Gerard Place. EduKids is the preferred educational training program at both of the academies.
“M&T Bank and Gerard Place have worked for years to help improve the lives of families in our community,” said Gerard Place Executive Director David Zapfel. “Together, we will expand our impact on families in Buffalo and Western New York.”
The Buffalo Promise Neighborhood includes Westminster Community Charter School, Highgate Heights Elementary School and the BPN Children’s Academy.
Gerard Place bought the two-story, 30,000-square-foot facility at 2515 Bailey Avenue back in 2011.
The original intention was to establish a community center. While there are funds in place to build out the first floor, an estimated $3.5 million is needed to finish the gymnasium and the second floor. Once the second floor is complete, it will be utilized for adult programming. A capital campaign is already underway to complete the project.
“Gerard Place is very happy to partner with Buffalo Promise Neighborhood,” added Zapfel. “Hundreds of lives are changed every day at Gerard Place. As part of the Gerard Place Community Center, the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood Children’s Academy will enable us to support entire families as they work to get themselves out of poverty.”
Altogether M&T Bank has allocated $50 million to its “cradle-to-career” initiative, a public-private partnership that is dedicated to advancing the education and career opportunities for neighborhood children. Back in the early 1990s, the Buffalo-based bank did something remarkable – it adopted one of the city’s lowest performing schools in the neighborhood. Since that time the effort has led to the bank’s involvement with bringing the national Promise Neighborhood model to Buffalo.
This new children’s academy aligns with M&T’s directive to help bolster underserved communities in Buffalo.
Work is expected to begin in July, with the goal of opening in the first half of 2018.