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Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper: $3 Million award from Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

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Thu, Oct 11th 2018 05:30 pm
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper on Thursday announced $3 million has been awarded to support the organization's mission and efforts to physically improve waterfront access for the residents and visitors to the City of Buffalo and Western New York. The investment is expected to improve recreational access to water for the public, including people with varying levels of mobility, while increasing eco-tourism opportunities and encouraging community revitalization.
"Life thrives where water meets the land, and the time has come for our community to meaningfully access the world's largest fresh water system that was the reason for Buffalo's existence in the first place," Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka said. "The strategic investments that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is choosing to make in our community will prove to have long-lasting impact to our collective quality of life and regional economic growth. We will honor the trust and confidence the foundation has placed in our organization to shepherd these funds, and we commit to collaborating with the public, private and nonprofit sectors to leverage the impact of these investments for the greater good of our community and waterfront."
Totaling $3 million, the foundation grant includes $250,000 in organizational capacity support to help advance the mission and impact of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. The remaining $2.75 million in funding has been made available for the organization to leverage its Buffalo Blueway Initiative, complementing the $10 million in capital development funds previously committed by Empire State Development and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is pleased to support Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and the Buffalo Blueway Initiative to expand water access and recreational opportunities in the City of Buffalo," said Lavea Brachman, vice president of programs. "So many of the city's parks, cultural sites and tourism destinations are all connected by the water. This initiative has the ability to reconnect people and the community to those spaces."
The foundation commitment will also be utilized by Waterkeeper to help secure and leverage additional resources that will be needed to implement the large portfolio of projects envisioned in order to create a universally accessible waterfront.
ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The Buffalo Billion has catalyzed further investment in the Buffalo Blueway initiative by partners such as the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, allowing for the creation of more public access for residents and visitors to the region's waterways and for the strategic connection of waterfront sites and attractions."
A recent economic case study on the restoration of the Buffalo River completed by the University of Michigan confirmed the revitalization of the regional economy is directly correlated to investments in cleaner and more accessible water resources. The evidence and analysis presented in the case study demonstrated a four-to-one return on investment in Buffalo, and supports Waterkeeper's "rust-to-blue" approach, that, as waterways and the shorelines come back to life, the communities around them will come back to life, too. "Now," the organization said, "after decades of efforts to restore local water resources, the Buffalo Blueway is a logical next step to create universal access to our region's most important natural assets."
Visit www.bnwaterkeeper.org for details on any future public meetings or informational events related to the Buffalo Blueway and other Waterkeeper projects along regional waterways.
About Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is a community-based nonprofit organization that protects and restores waters and surrounding ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations.
About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Wilson's devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Wilson requested a significant share of his estate be used to continue a lifelong generosity of spirit by funding the foundation that bears his name. It has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires Jan. 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Wilson's desire for the foundation's impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information, visit www.rcwjrf.org.

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