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Approximately 39,000 Children to Benefit From First Niagara's $1.0 Million in Mentoring Matters Grants Across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts

BUFFALO, N.Y., Oct. 2, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The First Niagara Foundation today announced grants totaling $1.0 million to support non-profit youth mentoring programs and organizations across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts through the regional bank's Mentoring MattersSM program.

First Niagara launched Mentoring MattersSM in 2007 with the goal of supporting organizations whose great work helps children improve their grades and school attendance, enhance their self-esteem, avoid the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and have a better opportunity for a brighter future.

Thirty-nine (39) not for profit organizations across First Niagara's footprint will share in the $1.0 million grant award, directly benefitting approximately 39,000 children participating in the highly esteemed mentoring programs. Including the 2014 Mentoring MattersSM grants, First Niagara has provided more than $6.25 million to mentoring programs since 2007.

"Mentoring is critically important to helping young people both academically and personally. The positive effect on students' attendance and academic performance, as well as on children's self-esteem and decision making skills is proven" said Gary Crosby, President and CEO of First Niagara. "Through this partnership approach, we're able to support the most respected and innovative mentoring organizations in the communities where our customers and team members live and work."

"First Niagara is wholly committed to supporting our communities through financial support and volunteer efforts. Empowering our 39 partners to provide exemplary mentoring services through this grant program is further enhanced by our First Niagara team members who take a personal interest in lending their time and talents to mentor children" said Elizabeth Gurney, Executive Director of the First Niagara Foundation.

Present at today's announcement was David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, who shared the national landscape and impact of youth mentoring and the need for more replication of First Niagara's exemplary private sector engagement in mentoring.

"We know there is a powerful mentoring effect demonstrated by the experiences of young people. Those who are at-risk for not graduating but who have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to enroll in and attend college," said Shapiro. "First Niagara's commitment to leverage the expertise and leadership of our affiliate Mentoring Partnerships and its extraordinary investments of time and money in quality mentoring programs ultimately connects more young people to social and economic opportunity and strengthens our communities."

Recipients of First Niagara's 2014 Mentoring MattersSM grants are:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns of WNY, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Compeer of Greater Buffalo, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Buffalo Prep Inc., Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Junior Achievement of Western New York, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Seneca Street Community Development Corp., Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Youth Mentoring Services of Niagara County, Inc., Lockport, N.Y.
  • Hillside Work–Scholarship Connection Inc., Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo Inc., Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Be A Friend Program Inc., Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Monroe Community College: World of Inquiry School #58 Partnership, Rochester, N.Y.
  • Junior Achievement of Central Upstate New York: World of Inquiry School #58 Partnership, Rochester, N.Y.
  • St. John Fisher College: World of Inquiry School #58 Partnership, Rochester, N.Y.
  • Booker T. Washington Community Center of Auburn, N.Y.
  • On Point for College Inc., Syracuse and Utica, N.Y.
  • 100 Black Men of Syracuse Inc., Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Junior Achievement of Central Upstate New York, Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Tech Valley School Foundation, Rensselaer, N.Y.
  • Junior Achievement of Northeastern New York, Latham, N.Y.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region, Albany, N.Y.
  • Northeast Parent & Child Society, Schenectady, N.Y.
  • Equinox Inc., Albany, N.Y.
  • Girls Incorporated of the Greater Capital Region, Schenectady, N.Y.
  • YMCA of the Capital District (Black & Latinos Achievers), Albany, N.Y.
  • WMHT Educational Telecommunications Inc., Schenectady, N.Y.
  • YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester Inc., White Plains, N.Y.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County, New City, N.Y.
  • Boys Club of Mount Kisco Inc., Mt. Kisco, N.Y.
  • Bridgeport Public Education Fund Inc., Bridgeport, C.T.
  • Human Services Council Inc., Norwalk C.T.
  • Project Morry, Inc., Elmsford, N.Y.
  • Stamford Public Education Foundation Inc., Stamford, C.T.
  • United Way of Allegheny County: Be a Middle-School Mentor, Pittsburgh, P.A.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, P.A.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County, Jamison, P.A.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Lehigh Valley, Allentown, P.A.
  • Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, Hartford, C.T.
  • The New Haven Reads Community Book Bank Inc., New Haven C.T.
  • The Governor's Prevention Partnership, Wethersfield, C.T.
  • Mass Mentoring Partnership Inc., Boston, M.A.

In making grant decisions, First Niagara evaluates specific community needs along with program metrics and outcomes, placing an emphasis on the areas of mentoring, youth and education, community development and neighborhood revitalization. To learn more about First Niagara's community grants and sponsorships, please visit www.firstniagara.com/community.

About The First Niagara Foundation

The First Niagara Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable entity. Founded in 1998, the First Niagara Foundation is committed to supporting organizations in the communities in which we live and work, with specific focus on Youth and Education, Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization. In 2013, First Niagara contributed more than $9.0 million in charitable grants to community partners across the bank's four-state footprint. For additional information on First Niagara, visit us at www.firstniagara.com, follow us on Twitter @FirstNiagara, or like us on Facebook at FirstNiagaraBank.

About First Niagara

First Niagara (Nasdaq:FNFG), through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 410 branches, $39 billion in assets, $27 billion in deposits, and approximately 5,900 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For additional information on First Niagara, visit us at www.firstniagara.com, follow us on Twitter @FirstNiagara, or like us on Facebook at FirstNiagaraBank.

CONTACT: First Niagara Contact: News Media: Jodi Johnston Director, Corporate Media Relations (716) 270-8612 Jodi.johnston@fnfg.com

Source:First Niagara Financial Group, Inc.