M&T Bank Gives $180,000 to Buffalo Prep to Help Students Access Educational Support Services, Address Opportunity Gaps Exacerbated by the Pandemic

Community invited to support Buffalo Prep’s new Student Success Center, launched amid the pandemic to fill a critical need for one-on-one academic assistance and interventions

 BUFFALO, N.Y., Jan. XX, 2021M&T Bank announced today it has invested $180,000 in charitable funding to support Buffalo Prep this year. As the pandemic widens opportunity gaps for students in underserved communities, M&T’s critical financial support will help bridge the gap through expanded access to educational programs that empower students to achieve academic success.


Buffalo Prep provides highly personalized academic and enrichment programs to underrepresented students to guide, nurture and prepare them to excel in their education. Its programs—which serve hundreds of students each year and are provided free to their families—are 100 percent privately funded by donors in the community. Over the years, M&T has awarded nearly $1.3 million in support to Buffalo Prep.


“With the pandemic expected to increase education gaps in underserved communities, Buffalo Prep’s mission is more important now than ever. For over 30 years, it has helped thousands of students in our community overcome obstacles and achieve amazing things they may have never thought possible. To expand Buffalo Prep’s impact during this critical time, our community needs to come together to help,” said Tracy Woodrow, M&T Bank Chief Human Resources Officer. “We encourage other local companies and foundations to join us and support increased access to educational opportunities.”


Recognizing the challenges many students have experienced in remote and hybrid learning settings, Buffalo Prep recently launched a new Student Success Center (SSC) to provide additional one-on-one academic support and intervention, a proven model to assist students during periods of disruption. Through the SSC, Buffalo Prep scholars are partnered with Academic Success Coaches who provide individualized attention to support students’ mental wellbeing and academic success.

“Launching this critical program during the pandemic was absolutely necessary to ensure our students’ ongoing success,” said Patti L. Stephen, the Robert G. Wilmers Endowed Executive Director at Buffalo Prep. “Thankfully, we have been able to rely on M&T Bank for funding support during this time of significant need for local students. Yet, given the enormous challenges facing children and families today, more support is needed to achieve our greatest impact. Our scholars need us, and Buffalo Prep needs the community’s help.”

Buffalo Prep is actively raising funds from the community to cover the costs of the new SSC program, which is above and beyond its existing programming and annual budget. As the disruption to local education systems puts some children at risk of falling behind, additional supports and intensive academic interventions are essential to preserving student achievement.

Due to disparities in access to computers and home-internet connections, the pandemic could have lasting negative effects on academic outcomes among low-income students. With nearly 50 percent of Western New York children living in poverty, Buffalo Prep’s programs—now supplemented by the SSC—serve as an important solution to help low-income students during the pandemic and beyond. Buffalo Prep helps to close opportunity gaps for students who are bright and talented, but may lack the financial means to access tutoring and other academic support services.

Rashida Dowell, a Buffalo Prep class of 1998 graduate who currently serves as a vice president at M&T, said, “Enrolling in Buffalo Prep when I was 12 years old helped me access educational opportunities that I otherwise may not have experienced. It was this foundation that allowed me to reach my full potential throughout middle, high school, and college, and go on to have a career that I am proud of. I’m living proof that this program truly works—and is incredibly necessary for our community.”

“At M&T, we actively recruit Buffalo Prep alumni to join our company,” Woodrow said. “The program has become an important talent pipeline for Western New York businesses, developing high-achieving, community-focused professionals who want to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors.”

Buffalo Prep was founded in 1989, after the late Robert G. Wilmers, longtime M&T Bank Chairman and CEO, was introduced to an educational program in New York City and recognized the concept’s potential to fill a critical gap in Buffalo. He brought community, education and business leaders together to design, fund and launch the Buffalo Prep program. Similar to the role it played then, M&T is again calling on the community to get involved and support Buffalo Prep to address emerging local challenges.

In addition to its work with Buffalo Prep, M&T Bank has invested heavily—both in terms of volunteer hours and charitable funding—to expand access to educational opportunities for children and families in Western New York and beyond. Annually, M&T provides approximately $5.6 million to support educational programs across the communities it serves.

To learn more and support Buffalo Prep today, visit www.buffaloprep.com. Students and families interested in applying for one of Buffalo Prep’s programs should visit buffaloprep.com/admissions.

About M&T Bank

M&T Bank Corporation is a financial holding company headquartered in Buffalo, New York. M&T’s principal banking subsidiary, M&T Bank, operates banking offices in New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Trust-related services are provided by M&T’s Wilmington Trust-affiliated companies and by M&T Bank.

Media Contact:

Julia Berchou, (716) 842-5385, jberchou@mtb.com

© 2021 M&T Bank. Member FDIC.

About Buffalo Prep

Since its founding in 1989, Buffalo Prep has worked with thousands of underrepresented students to provide academic and social support in a rigorous and nurturing environment. Through this preparatory process, Buffalo Prep students are able to enter and excel in local private and competitive public high schools, colleges and universities.

Grace O’Connor, (716) 829-3766, goconnor@buffaloprep.org