Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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October 30, 2013

First Niagara donates $1 million|

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara County is one of the recipients of the First Niagara Foundation’s $1 million donation to fund youth mentoring programs.

On Monday, First Niagara announced 33 nonprofit organizations will receive funding through the bank’s Mentoring Matters grant program. The initiative is designed to promote mentoring, which First Niagara said helps children improve school attendance and performance, prevent substance abuse and behavioral problems, all while helping all kids reach their full potential.

“Mentoring matters because it can change a young person’s life for the better. Proven results include better grades and behavior and improved school attendance, all of which lead to a brighter future,” said Gary Crosby, interim president and CEO of First Niagara.

Among receiving organizations are Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara County and a number of Buffalo-based nonprofits including the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns of Western New York, Junior Achievement of Western New York, Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo Inc., Seneca Street Community Development Corp., Compeer of Greater Buffalo Inc., Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County, Buffalo Prep Inc. and Hillside Work/Scholarship Connection Inc.

Annmarie Bettino, president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara County, said her agency would receive about $10,000 from First Niagara. Big Brothers Big Sisters has been a Mentoring Matters winner in the past.

“We’re very excited,” Bettino said. “It helps our agency tremendously. It makes it possible for us to expand our mentoring initiative services to children and youth throughout Niagara County. Entering a mentor in a young person’s life is a wonderful thing.”

And we’re always looking for volunteers, Bettino added.

Including this year’s awards, First Niagara has provided more than $5.25 million in financial support for mentoring programs since the program’s inception in 2007. The bank’s $1 million investment in mentoring organizations this year will directly support more than 45,000 youths, First Niagara said. 

First Niagara has been promoting mentoring for some time, as even employees are encouraged to volunteer with mentoring organizations. The company holds an annual Day of Mentoring, when young people get to spend a day with First Niagara and learn about financial literacy, work place awareness and enhanced life skills.

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