First-of-Its-Kind Tool Launches in Buffalo to Connect Aspiring Young Professionals with In-Demand Career Pathways
Buffalo Futures provides current information on local career pathways that have low barriers to entry and pay family sustaining wages
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable’s Youth Employment Coalition (YEC) announced the launch of Buffalo Futures, a collaborative and cross-sector initiative created to connect young people ages 16–24 with high-demand career pathways that offer family-sustaining wages and have low barriers to entry in the Greater Buffalo area. The focus of the Buffalo Futures initiative is our aspiring young professionals: ¬those who have not completed high school, those who graduated high school but are unemployed, and high school graduates with delayed or without postsecondary plans.
Buffalo Futures serves a previously unmet need in the region. Of the more than 38,000 people in the 16-24 age bracket in our community, nearly 7,400 of them were disconnected, meaning not in school or working. With our region’s employers facing serious workforce challenges, the YEC recognized the need to work together to address the challenges these aspiring young
professionals trying to enter the workforce face.
“For some aspiring young professionals in our area, plans to finish high school or attend college were interrupted, many times by forces beyond their control. Buffalo Futures was designed to meet these bright, talented and creative young people where they are in life and help them find the right career pathway filled with opportunity for growth,” said Jerrell Mason, Senior Director, Buffalo Futures. “We know that investing in our young people is investing in our future, and we want to ensure the next generation of our city’s workforce has access to the right resources to succeed. That’s what Buffalo Futures was created to do.”
The Buffalo Futures online tool, which is free for all to use, can be found at BuffaloFutures.com and it is the first of its kind in the country. It was designed as a mobile-first platform and to serve as a connection point for aspiring young professionals, local employers, and local training providers. Job seekers can create a profile on the website and, through a skills and interest quiz, are matched to a career path with current job opportunities with employers in the Greater Buffalo area. They are then able to explore not only details about jobs in that pathway and potential salaries, but find the training programs needed to enter into that career path offered by local organizations.
“Buffalo Futures is more than just a job board or career counseling. It’s not just another career aptitude test. We recognize that to truly excel in a career, access to programs and training before you step foot on the job is necessary to set someone up for success,” said Devon Patterson, Director of Community Engagement, Open Buffalo, and YEC Co-Chair. “As a community organizer through Open Buffalo, I can attest to how truly revolutionary this is and how important it will be for our community. Every detail – from childcare to success coaches to program funding – was considered, removing anticipated barriers for the aspiring young professionals in our community.”
Ensuring that Buffalo Futures has current information from local employers about in-demand career pathways is equally important and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership has been a key player since the formation of the Racial Equity Roundtable and the YEC.
“The Buffalo Niagara Partnership understands that creating meaningful connections between employers and young people seeking career opportunities is absolutely essential to achieving our regional economic goals. That is why we support Buffalo Futures and are proud to lead employer engagement in this exciting new initiative,” said Dottie Gallagher, CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership. “By exposing young people to viable employment opportunities on a defined career pathway, Buffalo Futures will help employers tackle their talent challenges and build more promising futures for our region’s young job seekers.”
If aspiring young professionals need further assistance, Buffalo Futures has career coaches available who can meet online or at its physical site, The Hub, that is conveniently located at SUNY Erie’s downtown campus at 45 Oak Street. The Hub is available for 16- to 24-year-olds looking to enter the workforce. Career coaches will assist those aspiring young professionals with career assessments, coaching, mock interviews, networking, program referrals and more.
The Service Collaborative (TSC) is the lead organization overseeing the day-to-day operations of Buffalo Futures, online and in person. The Service Collaborative of WNY addresses the needs of individuals and organizations by leveraging strengths to build stronger communities.
Buffalo Futures was created through the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable’s YEC. The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo convened the Racial Equity Roundtable in 2015 to advance racial equity and achieve an expanded, inclusive economy. The YEC is the newest initiative of the Racial Equity Roundtable and was formed in 2020 with more than 50 partners including government, nonprofits and businesses who are focused on creating a coordinated approach for young people ages 16-24 to access high-demand career pathways leading to family sustaining jobs.
“Unlocking the potential of our community’s aspiring young professionals is key to future economic growth in our region. The Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable’s Youth Employment Coalition has worked tirelessly to find solutions that are grounded in data and rooted in collaboration to address the challenges facing these important youth and connect them to high-demand career pathways informed by our local employers and supported by our training providers,” said Betsy Constantine, President/CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. “The Community Foundation believes in the power of collaboration and appreciates all the partners and funders who are moving this work forward together to create a vibrant and equitable Greater Buffalo region where every individual thrives.”
“The Youth Employment Coalition, and the broader Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable, believes Buffalo’s young people are crucial in driving our region forward. These aspiring young professionals are passionate, creative, tech-savvy and environment-conscious. And we need them and their talents to grow and prosper as a community,” said Thomas Beauford, Jr., President & CEO Buffalo Urban League and YEC Co-Chair. “Buffalo Futures is an exciting addition to all the work of our Coalition to achieve our goal of creating a more coordinated approach to provide career pathways for youth that lead to family-sustaining wages.”
“SUNY Erie Community College and Buffalo Futures share a common vision: improving the lives and opportunities available to everyone in our community. We stand firmly behind Buffalo Futures’ mission and remain deeply committed to ensuring its future success,” said Dr. Adiam Tsegai, Officer-In-Charge, SUNY Erie Community College.
“As a retired public school teacher, I am deeply invested in the future of our young people and as the Co-Chairperson of Live Well Erie, I am deeply invested in making sure no one gets left behind, especially our young people,” said Lisa Chimera, Deputy County Executive, Erie County. “Buffalo Futures is a game-changing new resource in our community and Erie County is proud to announce that our summer youth will be the first cohort of aspiring young professionals to take advantage of this powerful new tool to connect them with in-demand career pathways and set them up for the future they deserve.”
Buffalo Futures was made possible thanks to the generosity of the following funders: Amazon, Bank of America, Buffalo Bills, CFLeads, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, The Celia Lipton Farris & Victor W. Farris Foundation Home Community Fund, KeyBank/First Niagara Foundation, National Grid, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
To learn more about Buffalo Futures, visit www.buffalofutures.com.