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Urban League unveils new plan<br> Will focus on Kensington-Bailey

The Buffalo Urban League is on a mission to improve educational and social services in Buffalo's Kensington-Bailey neighborhood.

The Urban League unveiled a comprehensive, two-pronged approach to that endeavor at its annual meeting in Westminster Community Charter School, 24 Westminster St. Brenda McDuffie, the group's president and chief executive officer, said the Westminster School was selected as the site of 2010 annual meeting because the school is a crucial partner in its new strategic initiatives for the neighborhood.

When gauged by indicators such as economic conditions, health and wellness, educational achievement levels and foreclosure rate, McDuffie said, residents in the 14215 ZIP code "suffer the greatest disparities of any community in Erie County."

"We believe we can create a model in this community that can be replicated in every single neighborhood in this city," McDuffie said.

The two interrelated initiatives have been labeled "Education Begins at Birth," which will be headed by Westminster Principal Yvonne S. Minor-Ragan and "Live Buffalo," which will be led by Urban League board member Andrew W. Dorn Jr., president of Hunterview in Amherst.

"We are going to work in conjunction with individuals whose businesses, community and faith-based organizations, governmental entities and, yes, our educational partner in the community, the University at Buffalo, to share a commitment to making this neighborhood . . . have the ability to have every single person be able to achieve their full potential," McDuffie said.

The Urban League also will launch a public service campaign to raise its profile in the community. The ad campaign, created pro bono by Eric Mower Associates, will incorporate the Urban League's logo and a tag line: "When it comes to breaking the cycle of poverty in our community, the Buffalo Urban League is proud to be a part of the solution. Won't you play a part?" It will be featured on billboards, bus shelters and television, said Stephen Bell, the agency's senior public affairs counselor and a member of the Urban League's board.

The Buffalo Urban League was formed in 1927 to provide a comprehensive array of programs and services in Greater Buffalo. Several volunteers and those who have benefited from the Urban League's programs were highlighted at Thursday's annual meeting, which was attended by about 300 people in the Westminster school auditorium.

Dawn Berry-Walker, a retired teacher, and Gerald Marchand, who retired from a long corporate career in human resources, were acknowledged for their longtime volunteer efforts on the Buffalo Urban League's behalf.

e-mail: hmncneil@buffnews.com

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