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Oishei lands major grant from KeyBank, First Niagara Foundation for health equity, workforce programs

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Oishei Children's Hospital (copy)

The John R. Oishei Children's Hospital has received $1.5 million from KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation for a diversity, equity and inclusion program.

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In health care nowadays, there aren't too many topics that rank higher than health equity and workforce development. 

Kaleida Health's John R. Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo got a major grant Friday that will boost its efforts toward both initiatives. 

KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation donated $1.5 million to Oishei to help it further develop and sustain a program to address maternal health and racial equity and ensure all Western New York women receive quality maternity care. The program also is expected to address the need for all-encompassing prenatal services and provide support for community health workers interacting with expectant mothers.

With the funds, Oishei also will develop a program this year that will provide a stipend to assist nurses with two-year degrees to work toward four-year degrees.

"This is a great example of community collaboration and what we can do together because programs like this not only are really effective and we know are needed in order for us to have good healthy workforces, but in this case, it also helps us support good healthy outcomes for our community at large," Oishei President Allegra Jaros said.

Jaros called the $1.5 million gift a significant investment, noting Oishei is usually happy if it can get $2 million in grants during the course of an entire year.

It's a large grant for the bank, too, noted Elizabeth Gurney, director of corporate philanthropy for KeyBank and executive director of the First Niagara Foundation.

"This one really is a tripleheader for us, if you will," she said. "Our three focus areas are workforce, education and neighbors being in healthy, safe and thriving communities. So clearly, this fits that to help the health care for our moms and our kids, for healthier families throughout our region."

Since 2013, KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation have given Oishei nearly $2 million in grants. Gurney noted the bank had previously made a $300,000 donation to Kaleida to underwrite all non-labor costs for the move of Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo to Oishei on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

For KeyBank, based in Cleveland but one of Buffalo Niagara's largest banks after its 2016 acquisition of First Niagara Bank, the grant fits into its $40 billion National Community Benefits Plan, to be spent across its 15-state footprint.

Locally, KeyBank has made $1.1 billion in loans and investments in the Buffalo area over a five-year period through the end of 2021. 

Jon Harris can be reached at 716-849-3482 or jharris@buffnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ByJonHarris.

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