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The Niagara Area Foundation hosts 'Niagara County Solutions Forum: On-Ramps to Success'

by jmaloni

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Tue, Aug 26th 2014 01:15 pm

Forum will convene residents, local funders and the public and private sectors to examine Niagara County's cradle to career pipeline

The Niagara Area Foundation is convening a community forum on Sept. 18. The "Niagara County Solutions Forum: On-ramps to Success" will bring together residents, local funders, as well as business and civic leaders to discuss the connection between educational preparation and workforce outcomes - known as the "cradle to career pipeline." Through presentations, panel discussions and a facilitated dialogue, attendees will identify and prioritize opportunities to collectively strengthen the county's cradle to career pipeline. 

The Niagara Area Foundation recognized an opportunity to ignite a community conversation about Niagara County's economic prosperity, which it said is directly tied to the education and skills of its residents. The solutions forum will further examine how education is connected to the workforce and the economic health of the region.

"The Niagara Area Foundation's mission is to improve lives in Niagara County. As a foundation that represents the whole of the county, our broad focus and role in the region is unique. To that point, we understand that, by convening partners and working together, we will have a greater impact," said Seneca Gaming Corp.'s Cathy Walker, solutions forum co-chair. "By identifying ways to collaborate to strengthen the cradle to career pipeline, we can help ensure a larger cross-section of our residents have access to pathways to success."

By convening the solutions forum, the Niagara Area Foundation is capitalizing on what it views as positive momentum in Niagara County. Currently, there are multiple planning efforts underway - at both a regional and a countywide level - that identify opportunities for the county. By discussing and understanding the plans and its findings, the solutions forum aims to serve as a link between those efforts and the organizations and educational institutions that are working to drive change.

The solutions forum is the second community forum organized by the Niagara Area Foundation. In 2008, the foundation convened nearly 100 residents to begin a community conversation about the needs of the youngest Niagara County residents: infants and children up to 5 years old. Ultimately, that convening resulted in the Early Childhood Quality Improvement Project - a collaboration between the Niagara Area Foundation, Niagara University, United Way of Greater Niagara, The Grigg Lewis Foundation and The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation - focused on enhancing the quality of 30 childcare centers through training for childcare providers and improved curriculum.

Ken Franasiak, a Niagara Area Foundation Council member, and CEO of Calamar, was instrumental in orchestrating the first forum. He said of the 2008 event, "The Early Childhood Quality Improvement Project is a resounding success, and the idea began during conversations at the first Niagara Area Foundation convening."

"While we do not know the outcomes of the Sept. 18 forum, our track record shows that starting the conversation is the first step in bringing about change," he said. "We're confident that the forum will lead to partnerships that make a significant difference for Niagara County."

The "Niagara County Solutions Forum: On-ramps to Success" will be held Thursday, Sept. 18, from 8:15-11:45 a.m. at Niagara County Community College (Student Center Building G, 3111 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn).

For more information or to register to attend the solutions forum, visit NiagaraAreaSolutions.org.

The Niagara Area Foundation was established as a division of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo in 2000 by a group of Niagara County individuals who work to provide support and charity-oriented philanthropic initiatives for residents in Niagara County. Members of the Niagara Area Foundation Council represent the whole of Niagara County and are committed to countywide philanthropic efforts.

For more information, visit TheNiagaraAreaFoundation.org.

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