BUFFALO, N.Y., Feb. 03, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The First Niagara Foundation today announced that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County was selected by community members as the winner of a $10,000 grant through the 2016 First Niagara Mentoring Matters SM Grant Giveaway. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County was nominated last month as part of a social media grant giveaway the bank sponsored in recognition of National Mentoring Month.  The organization matches caring adults with children in need of positive role models.  They have proven outcomes including improved self-confidence and better performance in school.

"We are so thrilled to be named the winner of the Mentoring Matters Grant Giveaway and are grateful to First Niagara for the opportunity it presents," said Thomas Guagliardo, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County.  "This funding will enable us to continue to provide superior mentoring programs for children who need them and make a meaningful difference in their lives."

In Second Place, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke El Camino Program, in Holyoke, MA received a $4,000 grant. 

Six runners-up each received a $1,000 grant including:

The eight organizations' videos can be viewed at First Niagara's Facebook page.

"We at First Niagara are proud to support mentoring initiatives throughout the communities we serve and help make a tangible difference in the lives of young people," said Elizabeth Gurney, Executive Director of the First Niagara Foundation.  "This contest has served as an opportunity for us to celebrate national mentoring month and help spread the message about the critical need for quality mentoring programs.  The videos submitted serve as an important reminder of the many ways mentors can change lives, by providing positive role models, offering hope and inspiration often to those who need it most."

Individuals whose lives have been impacted by mentoring were asked to create and submit a short video about their mentoring experience and nominate a not-for-profit organization that offers mentoring services in the four-state footprint that First Niagara serves.  The bank then asked members of the community to vote for their favorite of the eight finalists on Facebook throughout the month of January. 

Since launching Mentoring Matters in 2007, First Niagara has provided more than $8 million to mentoring programs. To learn more about how you can make a difference as a mentor, visit www.mentoring.org

About The First Niagara Foundation

The First Niagara Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable entity. Founded in 1998, the First Niagara Foundation is committed to supporting organizations in the communities in which we live and work, with specific focus on Youth and Education, Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization. In 2015, First Niagara contributed nearly $6 million in charitable grants and sponsorships to community partners across the bank's four-state footprint.  For additional information on First Niagara, visit us at www.firstniagara.com, follow us on Twitter @FirstNiagara, or like us on Facebook at FirstNiagaraBank.

First Niagara ContactNews Media:Jodi JohnstonDirector, Corporate Media Relations(716) 270-8612Jodi.johnston@fnfg.com

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