Buffalo & Promise Neighborhood

December 20, 2011

Back in the day, I was given a wonderful opportunity.

I was in 4th grade at PS 83 in Buffalo, NY and I was selected to be part of an experimental program that brought 16 students from various neighborhoods around the city – 8 male, 8 female – together in a 5th grade class at PS 68 with a very experienced and high-performance teacher.

Our group stayed intact from grade 5 to grade 8, and we graduated in June 1965 with the other students at PS 68, going on to the high school in our respective neighborhoods.

Sad to say, over the years, PS 68 lost its luster. It eventually sunk to the level of a failed elementary school.

In the mid-1990’s, M&T Bank discovered PS 68 and decided to adopt the school, investing not only dollars, but some of the intellectual capital of its employees and management team.

With the help of business leaders from M&T, and over a period of several years, PS 68 was transformed from a failed public school into a District Sponsored Charter School.

Today – now known as the Westminster Charter School – PS 68 is at least as good as it was in 1965 when I graduated from 8th grade.

On December 19, 2011, the neighborhood which is anchored by the Westminster Charter, Highgate Heights Elementary and Bennett High schools received notice that they had been awarded a $6 million federal grant to improve services in the neighborhood!

The Buffalo Promise Neighborhood was one of only five U.S. communities, out of more than 35 applicants, to receive the U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhood implementation grant in 2011.

In 2010, the Westminster Foundation was one of 21 national recipients of a federal Promise Neighborhood planning grant, which led to the establishment of the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood.

As a graduate of both PS 68 and Bennett HS, I’m proud to see this 360 degree transformation coming to life!

Thank you, M&T Bank, and all of the partners who have worked together to make this possible!

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