NBI Areas of Focus

Urban Education Initiatives 

The tide may finally be turning, based on new data released in January of 2019, but the Buffalo Public School District continues to face challenges and resource needs. Graduation rates, though improving, are still not as high as they should be. College preparedness is often inadequate. Community leaders, business leaders and education experts agree that the effects of poverty, immigration and a host of cultural, linguistic and social challenges make fundamental and consistent reform a top priority. When students succeed, so does our community.  

Canisius has long been recognized for high-quality teacher preparation programs and in particular, a commitment to advancing education in the City of Buffalo. Our Center for Urban Education (CUE) focuses on culturally relevant pedagogy with academic excellence, experiential learning and social justice.

Through our longstanding partnership with the Buffalo Public Schools, the Canisius College School of Education and Human Services will continue to play a key role in improving and advancing community schools, educational and employment opportunities, and community development. Canisius has also accepted the invitation of the Superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools to serve as the higher education partner for the Strong Community Schools Initiative in the Northeast Zone. The mission of the NBI will further strengthen our commitment to resolving complex problems facing urban schools.

Contact information: Wil Green, Director of School and Community Partnerships

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Immersion East Side

The Immersion East Side (IES) Program provides students as well as faculty and staff members of the Canisius community with the opportunity to critically examine how the college can be an effective partner in pursuing justice for the East Side.

IES cultivates a well-educated solidarity with the college’s East Side community partners. Seminars engage participants experientially, intellectually and emotionally through a combination of site visits and listening sessions with leadership and members of the East Side community. Participants are also introduced to the cultural, religious and artistic movements that use forms of resistance and resilience to overcome challenges in the community.

Our IES seminars can also act as catalysts for religious, cultural and grassroots leaders on the East Side. Our goal is to help them combat economic injustices affecting their communities, and promote political action to remedy these conditions.

Contact information: Dr. Devonya Havis and Dr. Melissa Mosko

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New Americans in the City of Buffalo

Western New York has emerged as an enclave for New Americans, including refugees and immigrants. Between 2006 and 2013, Buffalo’s foreign-born population increased by 95 percent, and the most recent American Community Survey reports that the city is home to over 22,000 foreign-born residents. This population has enriched our greater community in a variety of ways. Still, our newest residents also face unimaginable struggles as they acclimate to a new home. Language, cultural and educational barriers are abundant and can make their transition immensely complex.  

The NBI looks for opportunities to address the challenges New Americans face, support the organizations that serve this population, and serve as a nexus for community leaders, students, faculty and practitioners. The goal is to promote inclusive dialogue and inspire action in order to welcome, support and empower Buffalo’s newest residents. In 2011 Canisius launched SewREDI Buffalo, a creative vehicle for economic empowerment. Through the NBI, we intend to explore additional solutions for our immigrant and refugee population. 

Contact information: mary.rockwell@canisius.edu

Hamlin Park Initiative

In 2010, Canisius announced The Hamlin Park Initiative. Under this initiative, the college is renovating single- or two-family homes that the college owned in Hamlin Park and sells them to buyers who committed to being owner-occupiers for at least 15 years. The program was developed in response to concerns shared by both the college and longtime residents of the neighborhood. Available properties were being purchased by investor landlords who would convert them to rental properties for students from Canisius and other colleges and universities in the vicinity. The presence of so many students in what had historically been a middle-class residential neighborhood was seen by many to be a destabilizing factor. The owner-occupied covenant recognizes that families living in nearby homes benefit both the college and the neighborhood. To date, under this program the college has renovated and sold seven houses. Additionally, the college donated two houses and adjacent lots to Habitat for Humanity. The houses were renovated and conveyed to Habitat families. Canisius has three other houses that need more substantial repairs for which city or federal housing funds are being sought. 

The Hamlin Park Initiative works in conjunction with another Canisius program that has been in existence for more than a decade: the Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) Program. EAH is a benefit offered by Canisius to enable any full-time college employee to purchase a home in the general vicinity of the college. Eligible full-time employees of Canisius receive grants in the form of forgivable loans to assist with down payments or closing costs associated with the purchases of homes in designated areas.

Through the NBI, Canisius will continue to partner with the surrounding neighborhood. We will work with the Hamlin Park Community and Taxpayers Association, other neighborhood organizations, schools (including Buffalo Public Schools 74 and 17), city departments and others to promote community and economic development in Hamlin Park.

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Contact information: mary.rockwell@canisius.edu

Entrepreneurship and Economic Development 

Once plagued by population decline and disinvestment, a revitalized Western New York continues to benefit from new construction, new initiatives, new businesses and new populations of people. A confluence of several regional developments that began around 2000 have contributed to the renaissance.  From the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to Canalside, and the development of a number of key industries, Buffalo is now ranked as one of the leading cities for growth in the nation.  

The Wehle School of Business at Canisius has spurred creative efforts to support our migrant and low-income populations in our community. Canisius students in the Enactus program, for instance, have participated in three main initiatives: YES, REDI and SewREDI. The goal is to help more Buffalonians achieve financial independence. 

Contact information: mary.rockwell@canisius.edu