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The Western New York Women's Fund said "Thanks a million" Tuesday evening to its financial supporters, who have put it over the $1 million mark.

During a reception in the Larkin at Exchange building, the organization presented its recognition award to Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Western New York for sponsoring the Athena Award Luncheon for the past three years. The luncheons raised $120,000.

"We're pleased to support women's issues," said Alphonso O'Neil-White, president and CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield. "Some women's issues are unique and require unique solutions."

The Women's Fund supports programs to help women and girls become self-reliant and economically self-sufficient. Since 2001, it has been raising funds for an endowment to support such programs, and so far it has given grants totaling $120,000, said Sue Gardner, chairwoman.

Mary Jo Hunt, co-chairwoman of the grants committee, said the Women's Fund this year will give nearly $30,000 for the second year of the Girl Power Program, which is jointly run by the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers and Buffalo State College's Center for Excellence in Urban & Rural Education.

Hunt said that during its first year, Girl Power helped 73 percent of seventh- and eighth-grade girls at Herman Badillo Bilingual Academy to maintain or raise their math and English scores.

The Women's Fund is a collaborative effort between the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County and the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo.


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