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Editorial: Delaware North's generosity funds new preschool

Generosity and focus of purpose are evident in Thursday’s generous $1 million gift by Delaware North in support of the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood’s latest project aimed at lifting city children out of poverty.

Buffalo Promise Neighborhood is a nonprofit organization launched in 2010 under the leadership of M&T Bank’s late chairman, Robert Wilmers.

This public-private partnership is unique and encompassing as it draws local business and community leaders together to improve the lives of everyone living in a 97-block area in the northeast portion of the city.

These good works require commitment of a kind demonstrated by the gift from Delaware North, the global food service and hospitality company with headquarters in Buffalo.

The donation will fuel M&T’s $1.6 million investment to convert the first floor of an old parish recreation hall at Bailey and East Delavan avenues into a preschool for 100 children from the Bailey neighborhood.

The company’s donation will help fund operations of the preschool for the next five years. In paying homage to Wilmers, current M&T Bank Chairman Rene F. Jones called the gift a “testament” to the long relationship and years of community service offered by Delaware North Chairman Jeremy M. Jacobs Sr. and Wilmers.

Although childhood poverty in Buffalo dipped in 2016, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures, it remains reality for too many at 44 percent.

Structural change is required. It is one of the reasons Buffalo Promise Neighborhood is so critical and why its mission of cradle-to-career services resonates with anyone – and that should be everyone – who cares about lifting these children out of poverty.

Experts often point out the importance of educational intervention at the earliest stages. The new preschool, which will be the fourth addition to the nonprofit’s “expanding footprint,” is in demand. It has 100 open slots with 475 children on the waiting list.

The wraparound services provided for children and their parents, along with high-quality early childhood education and job training, is made possible by the nonprofit’s continued focus, aided by generous donations such as this latest from Delaware North.

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