Buffalo, NY—Mayor Byron W. Brown announced the creation of the City of Buffalo Transformation Fund, which will direct resources from the City’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) stimulus funding into categories of spending that aim to enhance Buffalo’s “People and Places” and “Progress and Prosperity.” In addition to announcing two specific initiatives the City intends to fund to bolster employment, Mayor Brown will also outline the public participation process residents can utilize to share their thoughts and ideas regarding how the City should allocate resources from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Mayor Brown said, “The Transformation Fund will be the vehicle the City employs to channel the American Rescue Plan funds Buffalo has received into innovative, responsive, and impactful initiatives that will help accelerate our City’s current positive trajectory. It is also critically important that people have a voice in determining how we allocate these funds and identify what sorts of investments they think will help enhance the quality of life in their neighborhoods. That is why we are also launching the Transformation Fund page on the City’s website. On this page, residents can learn about the ARP, leave comments, complete an online survey, and sign up to get notified of regular updates.”
The four-pillar framework of “People and Places” and “Progress and Prosperity” will help define the who, where, and why the City intends to invest in through the Transformation Fund. It will also help residents who wish to make comments frame their own thinking and ensure the suggestions and proposals the City receives conform with the regulations that have been issued by the Department of the Treasury in relation to the allocation of these funds.
The first specific project the Mayor is unveiling is an expansion of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Program. Beginning this year, the program will no longer be limited to just the summer months and stipends for the number of young people enrolled in academic enrichment or coursework catch-up programs will also be expanded. There are approximately 42,000 residents in the City of Buffalo between the ages of 14-21 and as many as 40% of them live in poverty. The goal of this expansion, over the next three years, is to ensure that every young person who wants a job to better prepare for their future will be able to secure one.
Providing young people with an employment opportunity, and the critical experience generated through that opportunity has always been a top priority of the Administration. Expanding this to cover additional months as well as educational opportunities will help prepare young people to find long-term employment in good-paying jobs after they finish their education.
This year, the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program in partnership with the SAS Institute will be able to offer program participants an opportunity to take a virtual data science course specifically tailored to introduce high-school and college-aged students to the principles of data science and lay the foundation for
additional coursework they may wish to pursue virtually or in school. This program is part of the City’s contract with SAS which requires them to provide residents with opportunities to acquire data science skills while also establishing a data analytics center for Buffalo.
Another initiative the City will fund with its ARP allocation is support for the Northland Workforce Training Center (NWTC) to establish a scholarship program for Black and brown City residents who live in low-income communities. The initial allocation of $1 million will support costs both directly and indirectly associated
with residents’ enrollment in an NWTC based program. Those costs may include tuition, remedial education support, transportation, and childcare. Additional funding will be available if the original allocation is expended. Residents of color make up only 20% of the region’s advanced manufacturing workforce, yet there are more than 3,000 current vacancies in the sector locally. Ensuring residents have the resources to receive the training they need to compete and secure these types of good-paying jobs is critical to ending the racial wealth disparity.
In addition to these specific projects, the Mayor also announced how residents can engage in a public participation process to share their thoughts and ideas on how the City should invest its Transformation Fund resources. Residents can either visit the Transformation Fund page on the City of Buffalo’s website or call
311 and answer the survey questions with an operator. The survey is designed to be simple, easy, and allow residents to share their ideas and thoughts through open-ended questions. They can also leave general comments at the end of the survey if they feel the questions did not address their specific concerns.
People can visit www.buffalony.gov to find the link to the Transformation Fund page. The public engagement period will be open until July 30th.