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Photo Release -- First Niagara Announces $1.0 Million in Mentoring Matters Grants Across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts

BUFFALO, N.Y., Oct. 8, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The First Niagara Foundation today announced grants totaling $1.0 million to support not for profit youth mentoring programs and organizations across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts through the regional bank's Mentoring Matters℠ program.

Gary Crosby, President and CEO of First Niagara and Elizabeth Gurney, Executive Director of the First Niagara Foundation announced grants totaling $1.0 million to support not for profit youth mentoring programs and organizations across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts through the regional bank's Mentoring Matters(SM) program.


A photo accompanying this release is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=36794

The announcement was made today at a press conference in Holyoke, Massachusetts with Mass Mentoring Partnership, one of the organizations supported by the Mentoring Matters℠ grant.

"The relationship between a mentor and a mentee can have a lasting, positive effect on a child both academically and personally," said Gary Crosby, President and CEO of First Niagara. "Through our strategic partnership with these organizations, we are able to cast a wide net of support to programs and initiatives in the communities where our customers and employees live, work and do business."

First Niagara launched Mentoring Matters℠ 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-eight not for profit organizations across First Niagara's footprint will share in the $1.0 million grant award, directly benefiting more than 40,000 children who participate in these well-known programs.

Including the 2015 Mentoring Matters℠ grant, First Niagara has provided more than $7.25 million to mentoring programs over the past eight years.

"First Niagara is proud of our commitment to empowering young people to create brighter futures for themselves through outstanding relationships with positive role models," said Elizabeth Gurney, Executive Director of the First Niagara Foundation. "Our grant program is further enhanced by the generous volunteer efforts of our employees, who volunteer their time and talents to children in their local communities."

Marty Martinez, President and CEO of Mass Mentoring Partnership, adds "First Niagara's investment continues to strengthen communities throughout Hampden County. We're honored to be a grant recipient and look forward to making more empowering youth-adult relationships happen thanks to First Niagara's generous support."

Recipients of First Niagara's 2015 Mentoring Matters℠ grants are:

100 Black Men of Syracuse Inc., Syracuse, NY
Be A Friend Program Inc., Buffalo, NY
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, Vails Gate, NY
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County, New City, NY
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region, Albany, NY
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Booker T. Washington Community Center of Auburn, NY
Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo Inc., Buffalo, NY
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns, Buffalo, NY
Boys Club of Mount Kisco Inc., Mt. Kisco, NY
Bridgeport Public Education Fund Inc., Bridgeport, CT
Buffalo Prep Inc., Buffalo, NY
Commission on Economic Opportunity, Troy, NY
Compeer of Greater Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Equinox Inc., Albany, NY
Girls Incorporated of the Greater Capital Region, Schenectady, NY
Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection Inc., Buffalo, NY
Human Services Council Inc., Norwalk, CT
Innovative Charitable Initiatives, Albany, NY
Junior Achievement of Central Upstate New York, Syracuse, NY
Junior Achievement of Central Upstate New York, Rochester, NY
Junior Achievement of Northeastern New York, Latham, NY
Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, New Haven, CT
Junior Achievement of Western New York, Buffalo, NY
Mass Mentoring Partnership, Inc., Boston, MA
Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY
Norwalk Community College, Norwalk, CT
On Point for College Inc., Syracuse and Utica, NY
Seneca Street Community Development Corp., Buffalo, NY
St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY
Stamford Public Education Foundation Inc., Stamford, CT
SUNY Polytechnic Institute Career Services Mentoring Program, Utica, NY
The Governor's Prevention Partnership, Wethersfield, CT
The New Haven Reads Community Book Bank, Inc., New Haven, CT
United Way of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, PA
WMHT Educational Telecommunications Inc., Schenectady, NY
YMCA of the Capital District (Black & Latinos Achievers), Albany, NY
Youth Mentoring Service of Niagara County, Inc., Lockport, NY

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 2014, First Niagara contributed more than $10 million in charitable grants and sponsorships to community partners across the bank's four-state footprint.

About First Niagara

First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 390 branches, $39 billion in assets, $28 billion in deposits, and approximately 5,400 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.

The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.

CONTACT: First Niagara Contact News Media: Jodi Johnston Director, Corporate Media Relations (716) 515-8762 Jodi.johnston@fnfg.com

Source:First Niagara Financial Group, Inc.