Release Date: August 21, 2007
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Bank of America Charitable Foundation today announced a $250,000 gift to the University at Buffalo to create and provide initial support for a program to train entry- and mid-level workers for Western New York's emerging life-sciences industry.
The Career Pathways in the Life Sciences Program will be offered by UB's Educational Opportunity Center located in downtown Buffalo, with 200 individuals being trained under a curriculum developed by the university's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. The first students are expected to enter the two-year program in fall 2008.
Buffalo Niagara's ability to educate and create a technical workforce is key to attracting new biotech and life sciences industries to the region, creating a biotech haven that will fuel the region's new economy and revitalizing downtown Buffalo and neighborhoods around the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, home to the Center of Excellence.
"This new program will address the critical skills and talent needs required to fill the growing jobs in the region's high-tech industry," Thomas P. Stewart, Ph.D. '80, president and chief operating officer at Gaymar Industries, Inc. and chairman of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership's Life Science Industry Council, said at a news conference held in the Center of Excellence.
"The workforce enhancements through this program will assist not only existing companies such as my own and the other 130 life sciences firms in this area, but also start-up and relocating businesses that require a strong workforce to grow, as well as the numerous academic and research institutions in the Buffalo Niagara region. The council looks forward to being an active collaborator with UB in making this project a success and improving the region's economy and the quality of life of its residents."
The gift was announced by Kevin Murphy, Buffalo market president, Bank of America.
"The life-sciences industry is transforming the Western New York economy and the University at Buffalo is providing the research, knowledge and expertise that powers this expansion," Murphy noted. "Through this grant and support of other economic development initiatives in Western and Upstate New
York, Bank of America is pleased to play an active role in supporting our local economies and building stronger communities."
Marsha S. Henderson, UB vice president for external affairs, thanked Bank of America for supporting a program with a mission to broaden the spectrum of jobs in the local life-sciences industry and open doors of opportunity within it for individuals who do not have degrees or advanced education that qualifies them for positions as scientists and researchers.
"The Career Pathways program will bring the life-sciences industry to a new group of Western New Yorkers who will form the backbone of this industry. While it will provide 200 individuals with new opportunities, hundreds of more need to be trained and UB will be looking for additional support as we expand and grow this and other workforce-development programs. Bank of America's investment is a tremendous sign of its confidence in UB, our community and its future."
UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences currently is conducting a needs assessment to identify the specific industry sectors that have the most immediate need for job development and the specific training that will be required, and, in turn, will develop curriculum for the program.
Workforce development to meet regional needs is a mission of UB's Division of Continuing and Professional Studies, which includes EOC and Millard Fillmore College and is part of the Office of the Provost. EOC provides educational job training, college preparation and related support services to economically disenfranchised and academically disadvantaged populations in Western New York. Thousands of individuals have received GEDs, entered college and secured employment through EOC. Millard Fillmore College in May began offering the first course in a new certificate program designed to develop the region's biomedical industry workforce.
Joining leaders from Bank of America and UB in making the announcement were Rep. Thomas Reynolds, whose vocal support of the life sciences industry secured substantial funding for the Center of Excellence, and Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples, who has been a very effective and valuable partner with UB in efforts to positively impact the Buffalo Niagara economy and community.
"I applaud UB and Bank of America for recognizing the need for workforce training that will be provided through the Career Pathways program," Reynolds said. "From the onset of investment, UB's Center of Excellence has been poised to catalyze economic growth in our region, and the program created through this partnership will add to the economic vitality of Western New York."
Peoples noted that the program "will offer opportunities for the underemployed and unemployed. "It also will benefit workers seeking new career directions, including those who, like the hourly workers at the American Axle and Manufacturing plant on East Delavan Avenue, increasingly are finding themselves unemployed as traditional manufacturing jobs continue to disappear in our region."
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 27,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.
Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy
Bank of America has embarked on a 10-year goal to give $1.5 billion to nonprofit organizations engaged in improving the quality and vitality of their neighborhoods. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation will give more than $200 million in 2007, making the bank one of the most generous corporate donors in the world. Bank of America approaches giving through a national strategy called "neighborhood excellence" under which it works with local leaders to identify and meet the most pressing needs of individual communities. Through Team Bank of America, bank associate volunteers contribute more than 500,000 hours each year to improve the quality of life in their communities nationwide. For more information about Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy, visit www.bankofamerica.com/foundation.