Published October 22, 2020
We’re proud to share that Chiwuike "Chi-Chi" Owunwanne of the University at Buffalo Regional Institute has been recognized among the 2020 class of Buffalo Black Achievers. Chi-Chi serves as the Program Director for the East Side Avenues initiative, which provides capital and organizational support to transformational projects in targeted areas along four commercial corridors on Buffalo’s East Side.
As part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion investment plan, $65 million is dedicated to the revitalization of Buffalo’s East Side through capital investments. With an additional $8.4 million in pooled funds from Western New York foundations and banks, East Side Avenues provides capacity building, funding and organizational support to complement five specific initiatives along Bailey, Fillmore, Jefferson and Michigan Avenues, including a Community-Based Real Estate Development Training Program to harness the East Side’s assets and ensure that revitalization is driven by members of the East Side community. Chi-Chi coordinates these activities in close collaboration with community members, funders, individual nonprofits, consultants, and the Advisory Committee.
Chi-Chi was among 36 community leaders and activists in Buffalo recognized earlier this month by Black Achievers, Inc., a local organization whose mission is to celebrate the achievements of African Americans in the community to educate, motivate and inspire others of the possibilities and opportunities to change our world.
Chi-Chi returned to Buffalo in June 2019 after almost fifteen years to join UBRI, a planning research center at UB’s School of Architecture and Planning. He previously served as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Director of Operations within the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional & Occupational Affairs. He holds a Master of Public Administration and a Certificate in Economic Development and Growth from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from SUNY at Geneseo. Although born and raised in Nigeria, he considers Buffalo his home and is happy to be making a positive impact in his hometown.