United Way of Buffalo and Erie County (UWBEC) announced a $1.4 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, which will support and expand the Western New York Girls in Sports (WNYGIS) Program.
The WNYGIS program is a bi-annual half-day event coordinated by the UWBEC in partnership with Girl Scouts of Western New York, Buffalo Public Schools and Lackawanna Central Schools designed to introduce and engage girls from 9 to 12-years-old in a variety of sports.
Officials say the grant will allow for UWBEC to build the capacity of WNYGIS and reach their goal of creating a regional program that helps girls and young women, particularly those from low-income neighborhoods, become student-athletes by providing them opportunities to engage in sports year-round.
“Participating in athletics has tremendous positive impact on young women," Mary C. Wilson, widow of Ralph C. Wilson, Life Trustee of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, and active supporter of WNY Girls in Sports said. "And we are delighted to not only help to expand this program to reach even more girls in the region, but to also enhance the experience by better connecting them to more opportunities to play sports year-round.”
Five other local United Ways have committed to participating as key partners as well, which include:
- United Way of Allegany County, working with Houghton College
- United Way of Cattaraugus County, working with St. Bonaventure University
- United Way of Greater Niagara, working with Niagara University
- United Way of Northern Chautauqua County, working with State University of New York at Fredonia
- United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, working with Jamestown Community College and the local American Association of University Women (AAUW) affiliate