The WNY Prosperity Fellowship Program is designed to immerse University at Buffalo students into a series of situations where they encounter the economic and social inner-workings of the region. By doing this, students become intimately familiar with the local climate, in ways that would otherwise not be possible. Students that are selected to participate in the program must commit to working in the region for at least two years, within ten years of graduating.
“When these students become Prosperity Fellows, they promise to contribute to the economic development and sustainability of Western New York,” says Hadar Borden, director of the fellowship program and of the Blackstone LaunchPad at UB, which supports fellows through programs that cultivate entrepreneurship at UB. “Our hope is that these students will become leaders in our community, and to do that, they need to have an understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the region.”
Starting Monday, January 22, the week-long program begins. 25 Prosperity Fellows (UB undergraduate and graduate students) will set out to engage with local entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, and other change-makers. The seminar is broken down into a series of events, from morning to late afternoon, every day this week. Following is an example of just a few of the tours, roundtables, and panel discussions that have been organized:
Monday, Jan. 22:
1 p.m. tour of Circuit Clinical at 599 Delaware Ave., Suite 100, Buffalo. The company — a Buffalo startup — brings leading-edge clinical study opportunities to health care providers and their patients. Students will meet with Circuit Clinical founder Irfan Khan, MD, and Hubbell, the Circuit Clinical budget analyst and Prosperity Fellowship alumnus.
Tuesday, Jan. 23:
3 p.m. panel discussion at the Fredonia Technology Incubator on economic development at 214 Central Ave., Dunkirk. To cap off a day in the Southern Tier, students will hear from stakeholders involved in the region’s economic development, including representatives of area companies and local economic development officials. The panel was co-organized by Prosperity Fellowship alumnus Aldrich, the community economic development specialist with the Northern Chautauqua Local Economic Development Initiative.
Wednesday, Jan. 24
10:30 a.m. sustainable business roundtable at Wendel, 375 Essjay Road, Suite 200, Amherst. The roundtable, a discussion on building purposeful businesses that are invested in the environment, will include representatives of companies including Wendel, an architecture and engineering firm with a sustainable focus.
Thursday, Jan. 25
8:30 a.m. panel discussion on diversity and inclusion at the Colored Musicians Club, 145 Broadway, Buffalo. Students will hear from leaders of local nonprofits that are engaged in empowering Buffalo’s diverse communities, and from a representative of UB’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center). The conversation will be facilitated by Hall, the UB Regional Institute planner and Prosperity Fellowship alumnus.
10:30 a.m. tour of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, including the Nash House Museum and Michigan Street Baptist Church — an Underground Railroad station. The tour will be led by Explore Buffalo founder Brad Hahn, a UB political science, English and geography alumnus, as part of Explore Buffalo’s partnership with the fellowship program.
Friday, Jan. 26
9 a.m. tour of the University District neighborhood, starting at the University Heights Tool Library at 5 W. Northrup Place in Buffalo. This innovative, community-based tool-lending library was founded by UB urban planning alumnus Darren Cotton, director of community development and planning at the University District Community Development Association. Cotton will lead the tour. Later in the day, students will use what they learned about the neighborhood to develop business concepts for the vacant storefront on Main Street previously occupied by Talking Leaves Books.
The Western New York Prosperity Fellowship Program, funded by the Prentice Family Foundation, supports students who are committed to the region’s economic vitality by awarding each fellow up to $25,000 in scholarship and internship support for an academic year. Alumni of the program who are now employed in Western New York helped to plan this year’s seminar. These include Nathan Aldrich, a community economic development specialist with the Northern Chautauqua Local Economic Development Initiative; Kari Anastasia, an engineer with Integer; Enjoli Hall, a planner with the UB Regional Institute; and Ryan Hubbell, a budget analyst with Circuit Clinical.