BUFFALO, N.Y., May 11, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The First Niagara Foundation is announcing grants totaling $1.0 million to support not for profit youth mentoring programs and organizations across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts through the regional bank's Mentoring Matters¿ program. 

"First Niagara is proud to serve our communities as a leading corporate citizen by investing in the people who make them such special places to live, work and do business.  Our Mentoring Matters announcement today will help empower our communities to thrive by filling important needs," said Gary Crosby, President and CEO of First Niagara.  "Mentoring is vital in helping young people succeed both academically and personally.  Our support of respected and innovative mentoring organizations across the Northeast is making a tangible and measurable difference in the lives of young people."

"First Niagara's investment in quality mentoring programs across the Northeast is helping to connect more of our young people to social and economic opportunities that in turn strengthen our communities," said Elizabeth Gurney, Executive Director of the First Niagara Foundation. "Our grant program is further enhanced by the generous volunteer efforts of our employees, who volunteer their time and talents to help youth by providing hope, guidance and the support they need to reach their full potential. "  

First Niagara launched Mentoring Matters¿ in 2007 with the goal of supporting organizations whose great work helps children improve their grades and school attendance, enhance their self-esteem, avoid the dangers of drugs and alcohol and have a better opportunity for a brighter future.

Thirty-seven not for profit organizations across First Niagara's footprint will share in the $1.0 million grant award, directly benefiting more than 40,000 children who participate in these programs.  First Niagara has provided more than $8.33 million to mentoring programs over the past nine years.

Recipients of First Niagara's 2016 Mentoring Matters¿ grants include the following:

100 Black Men of Syracuse Inc., Syracuse, NYBe A Friend Program Inc., Buffalo, NYBe A Middle School Mentor program of the United Way of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, PABig Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, Vails Gate, NYBig Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County, New City, NYBig Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region, Albany, NYBig Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PABooker T. Washington Community Center of Auburn, NYBoys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo Inc., Buffalo, NYBoys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns, Buffalo, NYBoys Club of Mount Kisco Inc., Mt. Kisco, NYBridgeport Public Education Fund Inc., Bridgeport, CTBuffalo Prep Inc., Buffalo, NYCommission on Economic Opportunity, Troy, NYCompeer of Greater Buffalo, Buffalo, NYEquinox Inc., Albany, NYESF College Foundation, Syracuse, NYFamily Services of Westchester, Inc.Girls Incorporated of the Greater Capital Region, Schenectady, NYHillside Work-Scholarship Connection Inc., Buffalo, NYInnovative Charitable Initiatives, Albany, NYJunior Achievement of Central Upstate New York, Syracuse, NYJunior Achievement of Central Upstate New York, Rochester, NYJunior Achievement of Northeastern New York, Latham, NYJunior Achievement of Western New York, Buffalo, NYMass Mentoring Partnership, Inc., Boston, MAMonroe Community College, Rochester, NYNorwalk Community College, Norwalk, CTOn Point for College Inc., Syracuse and Utica, NYSeneca Street Community Development Corp., Buffalo, NYSt. John Fisher College, Rochester, NYSUNY Polytechnic Institute Career Services Mentoring Program, Utica, NYThe Governor's Prevention Partnership, Wethersfield, CTThe New Haven Reads Community Book Bank, Inc., New Haven, CTWMHT Educational Telecommunications Inc., Schenectady, NYYMCA of the Capital District (Black & Latinos Achievers), Albany, NYYouth Mentoring Service of Niagara County, Inc., Lockport, NY

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, the First Niagara Foundation contributed nearly $6 million in charitable grants to community partners across the bank's four-state footprint. 

About First Niagara First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 390 branches, $40 billion in assets, $30 billion in deposits, and approximately 5,300 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.  For additional information on First Niagara, visit us at www.firstniagara.com, follow us on Twitter @FirstNiagara, or like us on Facebook at FirstNiagaraBank.

Contact: Jodi Johnston jodi.johnston@fnfg.com 716.270.8612

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