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Cradle Beach mentor program gets AmeriCorps grant to assist Buffalo Public Schools students

A mentoring program that helps Buffalo Public Schools students with academics, attendance problems, conflict resolution and character building was awarded a $406,544 AmeriCorps grant Wednesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office announced.

The Cradle Beach organization, which runs the mentoring program that will assist more than 300 Buffalo students this school year, will be one of 19 not-for-profit or municipal groups to receive grants throughout the state this year.

Cradle Beach’s program, called Success Opportunity Achievement Responsibility, or SOAR, will receive the fourth-largest AmeriCorps grant awarded by the state this year.

“We’re excited about this grant, because we feel our program impacts not only the lives of the students, but of the AmeriCorps members who mentor them,” said Cheri Alvarez, chief operating officer of Cradle Beach. “The SOAR program is in its sixth year.”

The SOAR program will hire 26 AmeriCorps mentors who will make salaries of $12,000 for the year. Most of the money for the Cradle Beach-run program comes from the state-issued AmeriCorps grants, Alvarez said.

Each mentor is assigned 12 students in the Buffalo Public Schools. The mentors encourage students to show up for school and do their homework, and also help the students with behavior and character issues, Alvarez said.

“If a student doesn’t show up for school in the morning, our mentor will call their home, find out why they are not in school and go to the home and drive them to school if they have to,” Alvarez said.

SOAR mentors work with students in Schools 43, Lovejoy Discovery School; 72, Lorraine Elementary; 93, Southside Elementary; and 198, International Preparatory School.

Three other not-for-profit groups that provide assistance in Western New York also will receive AmeriCorps grants, the Governor’s Office said.

Legal Assistance of Western New York will get $265,280 to expand legal services for the poor in Olean, Jamestown and five other communities. The Service Collaborative of Western New York will receive $245,011 to provide financial literacy services to economically disadvantaged people in Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.

The Community Health Care Association of New York State will get $244,412 to prepare AmeriCorps members for community-based health care careers in Buffalo and three other communities.

A total of $5.4 million in AmeriCorps funding was announced by the Governor’s Office and the state Office of Children and Family Services.