First Niagara Donates $3 Million for Boost!, Residency Program

Monday, December 19, 2011
New Haven Public Schools
Christopher Hoffman
First Niagara
Nicole Vasile
First Niagara Bank today announced that it is donating $3 million over three years to support two programs run by the New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) and its partners.
The funds will help pay for Boost!, a joint NHPS, city of New Haven and United Way of Greater New Haven program to assist at risk students and their families, and the Residency Program for School Leadership in which NHPS partners with the Achievement First charter school organization to train administrators.
Both programs are integral to the district’s cutting edge School Change reforms that seek to boost test scores and eliminate the achievement gap; slash the dropout rate in half; and assure that all students are academically and financially able to attend and graduate from college.
First Niagara President and CEO John Koelmel said, “We believe the Achievement First residency program and the Boost! initiative can become models for education reform throughout the country, and we’re pleased to partner on this endeavor to improve student and school performance outcomes in New Haven.”
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. said, “Thank you to First Niagara for their very generous support for New Haven School Change. I am confident that this gift will produce tangible results in our classrooms, and will help assure that every New Haven student has access to the wraparound services and talented educators we know are necessary for success.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo said, “I am deeply grateful to First Niagara for this wonderful gift to Boost! and the Residency Program for School Leadership. The bank’s generous donation demonstrates its deep commitment to New Haven and education. Boost! and Residency are vital to the district’s School Change reforms, and. First Niagara’s contribution will help them succeed.”
United Way of Greater New Haven President Jack Healy said, “We are thrilled that First Niagara has chosen to invest in Boost!  Investing in students’ social, emotional, and physical well-being is key to ensuring their academic achievement.  These funds will ensure that more students across the district have access to these needed services.”
Achievement First Director of External Affairs Patricia Sweet said, “Achievement First is proud to work with New Haven Public Schools and contribute to its School Change Campaign. Our partnership is the first in the country that provides a means for the exchange of ideas and practice between public charter schools and traditional district schools, and we applaud First Niagara for its commitment to this pioneering work.”
Under the gift, the bank will contribute $1 million a year evenly split between Boost! and the  Residency Program for School Leadership. Boost!, through United Way of Greater New Haven, matches social service providers with schools to meet the social, emotional and health needs of student and their families. Those needs include:

·         Physical health;
·         Social and behavioral health;
·         Family support and engagement;
·         School engagement/Extended learning opportunities.
Programs range from boxing to fitness to behavioral modification.
 Boost! is currently in five city schools with plans to expand it to others in the next school year. Boost! schools are: Metropolitan Business Academy, Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School, Clinton Avenue School, Augusta Lewis Troup School and Wexler-Grant Community School.
Under the Residency Program for School Leadership, NHPS public school administrator trainees, along with some non-NHPS personnel, spend half a year working at Achievement First charter schools. The residents then return to the New Haven Public Schools for the remainder of the year where they are paired with accomplished, veteran principals. Once they’ve completed the program, the residents are ready to assume leadership positions at New Haven schools.
This year the program’s first, five NHPS administrator trainees are participating.
The residency program is part of NHPS’ program to create a leadership pipeline.