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Community forum Sept. 18 at NCCC

by jmaloni
Mon, Sep 15th 2014 07:00 am

"The Niagara County Solutions Forum: On-ramps to Success" will bring together residents, local funders, as well as business and civic leaders on Sept. 18 at Niagara County Community College to discuss the connection between educational preparation and workforce outcomes.

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 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," explained Cathy Walker, Solutions Forum co-chair and CEO of Seneca Gaming Corp. "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 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 their findings, the Solutions Forum will 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 five 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 child care centers through training for child care providers and improved curriculum.

Ken Franasiak, a Niagara Area Foundation Council member and CEO of Calamar, was instrumental in orchestrating the first forum. "The Early Childhood Quality Improvement Project is a resounding success and the idea began during conversations at the first Niagara Area Foundation convening," Franasiak said. "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. 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" event will be held from 8:15 to 11:45 a.m. at NCCC's Student Center, Building G, 3111 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn.

For more information or to register, visit www.NiagaraAreaSolutions.org.

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