August 29, 2017
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Nearly $500,000 in Awards for Oath's Yahoo Community Funds for Niagara County and Lockport

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Nearly $500,000 in...

Projects Support Workforce Training, Literacy, Small Business, Community Development Initiatives and Job Creation in Western New York


Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced the recipients of funding for Oath's Yahoo Community Benefit Fund for Lockport and Oath's Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County, awarded by Empire State Development. Oath is a Verizon subsidiary that includes over 50 media and tech brands including AOL and the recently acquired Yahoo. As part of Oath's $170 million agreement with Empire State Development to establish a customer care center and expand its existing data center in Niagara County, the Community Fund was created in 2015 in addition to the initial commitment the company made to Lockport in 2010 with the Community Benefit Fund. The community initiative is part of Oath's commitment to drive economic development in Western New York, a hub of technical excellence for the company. For the 2017 funding cycle, $427,826 was awarded to 20 projects. Each year from 2015 to 2021, Oath has committed to granting up to $500,000 to community organizations in Lockport and the surrounding areas.


"With strategic investments to support education and development in the Western New York community, we are bolstering the economy and driving growth and prosperity for current and future generations," Governor Cuomo said. "These projects will support community growth and our efforts to build a stronger New York for all."


"The key to rebuilding our economy has been strategic partnerships with private sector employers willing to invest in our communities," Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, who announced today's 20 award winners, "The goals of the Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County and Community Fund Benefit fund reflect the priorities set by Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development, and through our joint efforts we are developing a highly-skilled workforce while broadening opportunities for the next generation of Western New Yorkers."


Paul Bonaro, Senior Director, Oath Data Center Operations said, "Oath is driven by its core values and one of those is to 'create what's next.' That's why we've committed to investing $3.5 million over seven years to other values-led organizations that are creating and shaping what's next for STEM education, the environment and economic development in Western New York. The success of our local operations is not only a result of our talented engineers and workforce, but also of the business-friendly environment in which we operate. It is Oath's great pleasure to continue our mutually-beneficial partnership with Western New York."


Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Through the Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County, ESD has created a partnership with Oath that will provide support for multiple projects across the region. The projects receiving awards today were strategically selected because they support workforce development which aligns with the economic development strategy that the Western New York Regional Economic Council has pursued for the region."


Chairman of the Niagara County Legislature Wm. Keith McNall said, "I'm glad that Empire State Development awarded so many worthy entities in Niagara County that are truly making a positive impact in their communities. I find it particularly gratifying that there are investments in cultural and heritage sites in Lockport, where Yahoo! is located, as well as funding educational opportunities for the youth of Lockport and Eastern Niagara County in STEM fields as varied as robotics and agricultural science. Seeing a positive return for the local community that plays host to Yahoo! affirms our county government's efforts to draw top-tier employers to Niagara County."


Mayor of Niagara Falls Paul Dyster said, "Our region is proud to play host to a rapidly growing job market thanks to crucial investments from Governor Cuomo and the Yahoo Community Fund. This innovative program provides the necessary support to ensure Niagara County's businesses and workforce are at the forefront of the tech sector for years to come." 


Mayor of Lockport Anne McCaffrey said, "Our great city of Lockport continues to see increased economic development because of Governor Cuomo and companies like Oath, with their Yahoo Community Fund. Both the state and Oath see the importance of investing in the community as well its residents in order for businesses to succeed."


ESD considered proposals that advance one or more of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council's three core enablers as outlined in the REDC's strategic plan, A Strategy for Prosperity: Implement Smart Growth, Foster a Culture of Entrepreneurship, and Prepare our Workforce and/or support any of the regions target industry sectors.


The next round of annual funding will begin in the spring of 2018, with up to $500,000 available again through the two funds.


Oath's Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County - Empire State Development Awarded Projects


Engaging Niagara - Expanding the Women's Business Center E-Network to Niagara County - $18,500 grant

Canisius College

The E-Networkis designed specifically for women in business and will be facilitated by a women business owner from Niagara County that will also serve as a mentor to each of the women in the program. 


Niagara Falls Adult Literacy Drop In Center: Hire An Adult Learner Project - $13,575 grant

Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara

An Adult Literacy Drop In Center in Niagara Falls will be established to increase the literacy skills of Niagara County residents and link them to employment or further training options. 


Full STEAM Ahead- $15,000 grant

Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club

Full STEAM Ahead is an afterschool program using a combination of several programs including experiential, environmental education, computer sciences, foundation of technology skills and a series of tablet-based activities.   NFBGC will work with the Niagara Falls School District to plan and design activities with school personnel to target skills and concepts to help students practice what they are learning during the day. 


Niagara Community Care Coordination Training Project - $19,557 grant

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center

The unique job training partnership between NFMMC and NCCC will provide free care coordination training to 60 local residents who are currently employed by or who are seeking employment in healthcare, service agencies and community-based organizations.  The chief aim of the training is to provide multi-disciplinary care coordination skills and competencies.


2017-2018 School Tour Educational Program; Flintlocks and Council Fires - $30,750 grant

Old Fort Niagara Association

Bringing the early history of Western New York to students across the region by establishing a new program for the 2017-2018 school year, "Flintlocks and Council Fires: Fort Niagara in War and Peace," will present the Native, French, British and early American history of the Niagara Region.  This program will offer lively and informative educational activities to school students.


Enhancing Waterfront Access and Wildlife Habitat at the Niagara Gorge -

$100,000 grant

WNY Land Conservancy

The project will connect people to the Niagara Gorge along the Niagara River in Niagara Falls and restore the ecosystems. Components include: native seed collection and propagation, invasive plant control, native plantings and improvement of one community garden near the Niagara Gorge. 


 Oath's Yahoo Community Benefit Fund Awarded Projects


Lock Tender Tribute - $30,000 grant

Lockport Locks Heritage District

Inspired by an iconic 19th Century photograph of lock tenders seated on the steps of the famed Flight of Five Locks in Lockport, the objective is the creation of life-size, bronze sculptures of those same lock tenders to be placed on the same steps of the restored Flight of Five Locks.


Niagara County BISON Scholarship Initiative - $10,000 grant

BISON Children's Scholarship Fund

Support seven Lockport low-income children to attend the private elementary school of choice for the 2017-18 school year.


Dale Association Intergenerational Program - Electronic Tables for Writing, Reading and History - $13,019 grant

Dale Association, Inc.

This grant will fund the purchase of Lenovo tablets and related software and equipment to be used by elementary school students participating in the Intergenerational Program for reading, writing, and History (HISTOP) support.


Learn to Skate Program - $12,375 grant

Lockport Ice Arena and Sports Center

Support for the Learn to Skate program for children whose families could not otherwise afford for them to participate.


Junior Docent Program - $4,671 grant

Niagara County Historical Society

To educate and train Middle and High School students to become Junior Docents/Program Facilitators at the History Center of Niagara. 


The Salvation Army in Lockport - Bridging the Gap - $30,000 grant

The Salvation Army- Lockport

Support Bridging the Gap, a unique program that serves court-involved, at-risk, and high-risk youth, ages 16-19, throughout Niagara County.


AgLab - a "dirty classroom" for hands-on learning and exploration -

$20,913 grant

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County

The AgLab STEM-based education program is designed to promote agriculture and food system learning, while also inspiring environmental stewardship, through inquiry-based, hands-on education and activities to youth, adults and families.


Out of this World Education - $8,217 grant

DeSales Catholic School

The Out of the World Education project will cultivate interest, passion and knowledge of Space as it relates to STEM among students.


Will Call/Ticket Box Office Renovation - $50,000 grant

Historic Palace Inc.

The renovation of the Will Call and Box Office Areas will not only provide much needed upgrades that will be much more aesthetically pleasing, but will allow more functionality in the how the Palace sells and handles ticket sales, and provide an additional revenue source.


Tucked in Safe and Secure - $24,937 grant

Lockport CARES, Inc.

This funding will provide comfortable, clean, bug free beds for all the guests at the emergency homeless shelter and to ensure adequate fire safety, personal safety and security for all guests, volunteers and staff members.


Rebuilding From the Ground Up - $6,512 grant

Youth Mentoring Services of Niagara County

Support improvements to the building, both interior and exterior, which will offer a more welcoming environment to family and children that utilize our services throughout the year.


Lockport Literacy Drop-In Center - $10,000 grant

Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara

Support Lockport's first ever Literacy Drop-In Center to provide functionally illiterate adults with immediate access to tutoring in Basic Reading or English as a Second Language at a geographically diverse, convenient, neighborhood-based location.


Lockport High School Robotics team- Warlocks Team 1507 - $5,000 grant

Lockport Robotics Inc.

Support high school students' participation in STEM based programming and related competitions.


Community Leadership Development - $4,800 grant

Leadership Niagara

Provide tuition assistance for Leadership Niagara for individuals living or working in the Town or City of Lockport.


For more information on the Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County, please visit:


About Empire State Development

Empire State Development is New York's chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits, and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I Love NY," the State's iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit and


About Oath

Oath, a subsidiary of Verizon, is a values-led company committed to building brands people love. We reach over one billion people around the world with a dynamic house of 50+ media and technology brands. A global leader in digital and mobile, Oath is shaping the future of media. For more on Oath, visit


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