Executive Director Introduction
The past year has been one of great change at University District Community Development Association. The change has been relentless, but positive, and we have evolved into a stronger more sustainable organization in the process. We have sought to meet the challenges of providing important services to the community through planning, collaboration, and strategic thinking.
With an eye to increasing the number of youth that we serve we collaborated in 2013 with Child and Adolescent Treatment Services and other community partners to win the New York State Education Department’s prestigious 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. This has enabled us to serve 175 inner city children each year in after school and summer programs from 2013 to 2016. It’s a comprehensive, evidence-based program, which offers strong academic and character-building learning experiences to inner city children in grades K to 8. We also offer parents supportive workshops to enable them to remain fully engaged in their children’s education.
At the end of 2103 I recruited Michael Tritto, Jr. to join our leadership team as Associate Director of Operations and Human Services. We were at a place that required us to increase our capacity to develop new program revenues and to improve the services that we provide in our senior, youth and athletic programs. Michael joins us with experience leading nonprofit agencies, and an earlier career in secondary and college teaching. As a result our programs are more networked with community partners and we are increasing the number children, seniors, and adults that we serve.
After a year of collaborative planning with the Matt Urban Community Center and Old First Ward Community Center, in 2014 we collectively received a three-year funding commitment from the John R. Oishei Foundation to create a management service organization that would provide “back office services” including fiscal management, payroll services, information technology management, and other business management functions. BCOME (Buffalo Collaborative Opportunities and Management Enterprises) opened its doors in 2014. UDCDA and our two partner organizations are the recipients of BCOME’s services over the next three years. In the process I willingly encouraged one of our agency’s great assets to leave our staff. Our long-time Chief Fiscal Officer, Andrew Byrd, has shifted his position to become the Chief Operating Officer at BCOME, providing the fiscal and IT management at UDCDA as a contractor with BCOME. This is enabling us to focus more on providing quality programs and strategically planning our agency’s direction, as well as saving money on operations.
We have hired a talented new Housing Department specialist, Terri Gayles in 2014. Almost immediately we began to broaden our client base and projects for housing repairs.
On the economic development front, UDCDA has taken the lead in applying for New York State funding to leverage business community capital improvements on both Main Street and Bailey Avenue. In 2013 UDCDA was awarded a $150,000 grant through the New York State’s 3rd Annual Regional Economic Development Council Awards to install new HVAC systems to the Uptown Theater located on Bailey Avenue. In 2014 UDCDA has applied for funding to renovate the Parkside Candies Store exterior and other streetscape improvements in the Main and Winspear block, as well as additional renovations of the Uptown Theater on Bailey through the Buffalo Billion regional funding grant process.
The key to our effective growth has been planning. We will continue to seek nimble, fiscally prudent approaches to collaborate across the nonprofit and business community to bring more opportunity and community support to the University District.