KeyBank, in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation, has awarded five nonprofit organizations in Niagara County a total of $765,000. A press release stated, “These transformative grants are part of KeyBank’s $40 billion National Community Benefits Plan and is symbolic of both organizations’ commitment to empowering individuals and neighborhoods through investment in programs that provide long term enhancement to the quality of life.”
Director of Corporate Philanthropy at KeyBank and Executive Director of the First Niagara Foundation Elizabeth Gurney said, “KeyBank has long been part of the rich fabric of Niagara County, and neighbors in this community have supported us for more than a century – first as Lockport Savings Bank, then First Niagara and now KeyBank. We are grateful to be part of this region and proud to give back to several organizations that enrich this area, help the people of Niagara County do great things and help our communities thrive.”
Organizations receiving funding include:
•Catholic Health through the Mount St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation – $500,000 to support the introduction of the Lockport Memorial Hospital Campus of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital. This includes the construction of a new neighborhood hospital, a concept that has been gaining popularity nationwide. Lockport Memorial Hospital will serve the more than 80,000 residents of eastern Niagara County.
“We are so honored and grateful to be one of five Niagara County nonprofit organizations chosen for this award,” said C.J. Urlaub, president of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and Catholic Health senior vice president, strategic partnerships, integration and care delivery-Niagara County. “We thank KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation for this grant, and for their enduring commitment to enhancing the quality of life in our community; their investment in Lockport Memorial Hospital is truly an investment in the health and well-being of Niagara County residents.”
•Artpark & Company – $50,000 to support the “Artpark Works” program, which employs artists and cultural sector professionals (i.e., performers, visual artists, choreographers, theatrical directors, stagehands, designers, curators, teaching artists, community engagement specialists) on short-term employment contracts to alleviate financial burdens as a result of work stoppage or loss due to COVID-19.
"COVID-19 left many artists and cultural sector professionals without work for over a year,” Artpark President Sonia Kozlova Clark said. “KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation’s investment allowed Artpark to bring back those workers, giving them not just a paycheck, but also a renewed sense of purpose as we head toward normalcy again."
•Field & Fork Network – $50,000 to support the Niagara Falls Healthy Corner Store Initiative, which brings healthy options into known food desert neighborhoods while providing technical support to store owners and nutrition education to the community.
“We are so grateful for this funding from the First Niagara Foundation as it will allow for relevant stakeholders to come together to plan for and implement hyperlocal access to healthy food options in neighborhood-based corner stores, helping to alleviate transportation challenges, which is one of the largest barriers to accessing healthy food” said Tom Lowe, project director for the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan.
•Heart, Love & Soul – $115,000 to build capacity for the new Daybreak program, which addresses inadequate housing, health and other interrelated problems associated with poverty.
“KeyBank and First Niagara Foundation have been instrumental partners as Heart, Love & Soul developed Daybreak,” Executive Director Mark Baetzhold said. “Their early and generous investments helped galvanize our capital campaign, and this new round of funding helps ensure that Heart & Soul and our Daybreak program respond to community needs in a rapidly changing environment.”
•Niagara Area Habitat for Humanity – $50,000 to support construction of an affordable home for a low-income family in Niagara Falls. This home, located on 61st Street, will be built as a ZeroNet Energy home. This will provide extra utility cost-savings to the homeowners while also providing data for white papers to aid in the creation of environmental codes/laws for future home construction in New York state.
“Niagara Area Habitat for Humanity is delighted to be a recipient of KeyBank and First Niagara Foundation's generosity and recognition for empowering individuals and neighborhoods in our community through Habitat's affordable homeownership program,” Executive Director Gina Beam said. “Habitat believes all people deserve a decent, affordable, safe place to live, and we bring people together to build homes, communities and hope in the Niagara Falls area.”