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Buffalo’s Great Opportunity

Community Leaders Unveil New Report Showing How Achieving Racial Equity Will Benefit Entire Region

BUFFALO, NY – The Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable, a group of 30 community leaders from public, private, nonprofit and faith institutions, announced today the release of The Racial Equity Dividend: Buffalo’s Great Opportunity. This important report documents how systemic disparities in the Greater Buffalo region create differential outcomes by race, and quantifies the gains to be realized by achieving racial equity and improving outcomes for all residents.

“Tackling existing gaps in racial equity is critical to our region fulfilling its potential as a community of promise and opportunity for all” said Alphonso O’Neil-White, Chair of the Racial Equity Roundtable. “We are at a pivotal moment in time and in order to continue this momentum we are experiencing in our region into the future – even accelerate it – we must ensure that every member in our community has the opportunity to take part and fulfill their highest potential.”

The members of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable convened nearly two years ago and have committed hundreds of hours to having deep conversations about how we can advance racial equity in our region. Recognizing that there are countless other organization and individuals who are already working on these issues in countless ways, the Roundtable exists to complement and add value with a focus on changing and strengthening the systems in ways that will further accelerate our progress.

When the Roundtable began meeting, it became clear that the group needed to ground its work in data- not hearsay, not perceptions and not anecdotes, but rather numbers, which will guide efforts and be measured over time. The Roundtable commissioned the University at Buffalo Regional Institute and Make Communities to develop the report with Roundtable members.  Researchers used publicly available data measuring 16 indicators across four areas that span education and job readiness, criminal justice and safety, quality of life and neighborhoods, and income and wealth.

In addition to the potential to transform individual lives, the data also points to a compelling economic impact. Key findings from the report include:

  • Closing the racial equity gap in education and job readiness would mean over $1 billion in increased regional GDP annually;
  • Closing the racial equity gap in criminal justice would mean nearly 54,000 individuals with reduced barriers and enhanced access to workforce participation over the next decade;
  • Closing the racial equity gap in neighborhoods would mean more than 36,000 additional families purchasing a home; and
  • Closing the racial equity gap in income and wealth would mean an additional $12 billion in wealth for families in the region.

The full report is available online at

With the release of this report, the Roundtable invites the Greater Buffalo community to help live into our shared values by thinking through how you can contribute to realizing Buffalo’s opportunity and shared future. We invite everyone to get informed and get involved.

Visit and:

  • Sign up for information on training using Racial Equity Impact Analysis tool as an individual or an organization
  • Request a presentation on the report by the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable
  • Follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
  • Read the full report from the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable

The work of the Roundtable was made possible thanks to the generous support from the following organizations: Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, R&P Oak Hill, City of Buffalo, Paul P. Dosberg Charitable Fund and two anonymous donors.

Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President/CEO of Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo said,

“The Roundtable’s work is focused on the systems, institutions and organizations in our community which can make the necessary changes to close the gaps because we firmly believe that race should not correlate with life outcomes from a statistical sense. More than 70 organizations are already partnering with the Roundtable to develop systemic solutions in the areas of workforce development, education and citizen reentry. The ultimate goal is to create a vibrant and inclusive Greater Buffalo region with opportunity for all.”

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes said,

“It is imperative that we get this right.  The only way to sustain our shared economic renaissance is to make sure that everyone benefits. We are called the City of Good Neighbors, we ask that you join our effort to help close the gaps for families throughout our communities.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said,

“Buffalo has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. However, in order for that growth and economic prosperity to continue, we need to work together to ensure racial equity. By doing so, we make certain that there will be more opportunities for every one of our residents who will be able to live, work and raise their children to reach their highest potential.”

Deputy Erie County Executive Maria R. Whyte said,

“If we don’t involve everyone in helping to develop our local economy and create shared opportunity for all, we will be leaving talent on the table, which is something we simply cannot afford to do.  We need to tap into the vast treasure of talent available to us from our diverse community to help us more fully realize our region’s tremendous potential.”

Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership said,

“Buffalo’s renaissance is here and real and in order to continue to grow as a region, we need people to fill the jobs of tomorrow.  Employers understand that diversity leads to better business performance and racially diverse businesses have higher than average market share, higher sales revenues and more customers. If we can work together to bridge the gaps evident in the Racial Equity Dividend Report we will have the workers we need for tomorrow while giving more families economic security.”

Paul Vukelic, Try-It Distributing Co., Inc., said,

“As a business owner, I believe I have an important role to play in expanding opportunity so that all Western New Yorkers receive a quality education, a good paying job, and can contribute to a healthy, thriving community. My goal in providing the Racial Equity Impact Analysis training throughout my organization, is to build a more inclusive culture in which all my employees feel welcome, supported, and most importantly… safe.”

Most Reverend Richard J. Malone, Bishop of Buffalo said,

“As we marvel at the current renaissance of the City of Buffalo, it is imperative that we continue to work towards the development of a just and fair local community where one’s racial identity results in neither advantage nor disadvantage. As Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, I am proud to pledge my ongoing support of and active involvement in the work of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable. The work of the Racial Equity Roundtable is vital to the continued success and development of our city and region. I urge all members of our community to learn more about this initiative and to get on board with it. Together, we can confront the challenges facing our city as build toward a stronger, brighter future for Buffalo.”

Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable Members:

  • Dr. LaVonne Ansari, Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.
  • Lana Benatovich, National Federation of Just Communities
  • Willow Brost, Buffalo Prep Board of Directors, emeritus
  • Hon. Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo
  • Richard Cummings, Black Chamber of Commerce of WNY
  • Clotilde Dedecker, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
  • The Right Reverend R. William Franklin, Episcopal Diocese of WNY
  • Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • Dr. Danis Gehl, University at Buffalo Educational Opportunity Center, retired
  • Eunice Lewin, State University of New York Trustee
  • Most Reverend Richard Malone, Catholic Diocese of Buffalo
  • Gerard Mazurkiewicz, Dopkins & Company
  • Brenda McDuffie, Buffalo Urban League
  • Blythe Merrill, The John R. Oishei Foundation
  • Rev. George F. Nicholas, Concerned Clergy Coalition of WNY
  • Alphonso O’Neil-White, Racial Equity Roundtable Chair
  • Christina Orsi, University at Buffalo
  • Hon. Crystal Peoples-Stokes, New York State 141st Assembly District
  • Rev. Darius Pridgen, City of Buffalo Common Council
  • Hon. Jack Quinn, Erie Community College
  • Hon. Rose Sconiers, New York State Supreme Court, retired
  • Hon. Hugh Scott, U.S. Magistrate Judge
  • Shandra Spicer, Community Volunteer
  • Rev. Jonathan Staples, First Shiloh Baptist Church
  • Marsha Joy Sullivan, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo Board of Directors
  • Dr. Francisco Vasquez, Child & Family Services
  • Paul Vukelic, Try-It Distributing Co., Inc.
  • Edward Watts, Jr., Watts Architecture & Engineering, P.C.
  • Maria Whyte, Erie County Executive’s Office
  • Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development