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First Niagara gives MAP urban farm $15,000 grant

The Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) received a $15,000 grant from the First Niagara Foundation to support youth leadership, job training and education.

The foundation has long supported MAP’s Growing Green Program, support that has allowed MAP “to change the lives of thousands of young people and community members by creating meaningful jobs, real-world leadership opportunities and increased healthy food access to community members,” MAP Executive Director Diane Picard said in a news release.

Growing Green employs up to 50 teens annually, providing training on urban agriculture, food systems and food justice issues. The program goal is to create innovative and meaningful training jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for disadvantaged youth and to increase healthy food access in Buffalo’s low-income neighborhoods.

Since 2008, 96 percent of high school seniors in the program graduated on time and 95 percent have gone on to college, Picard said.

Over the past 13 years, MAP has provided jobs and training to more than 650 teens and nutrition-based training to more than 12,000 residents, school children and policymakers. Last year alone,  MAP sold more than 30,000 pounds of affordable, local, organic produce to more than 3,600 low-income customers at six market sites across the city.

“First Niagara is committed to supporting initiatives that strengthen Buffalo’s neighborhoods and provide opportunities for our young people to reach their full potential,” said Elizabeth Gurney, executive director of the First Niagara Foundation. “Our partnership with the Massachusetts Avenue Project is helping to create meaningful jobs and leadership opportunities for students to learn valuable life skills. The program also helps provide awareness of and access to fresh and healthy foods in neighborhoods throughout our city.”

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