Community spotlight: Buffalo Prep.

This month, I’m excited to showcase an organization near and dear to my heart – and the hearts of many of us here at Crowley Webb. Buffalo Prep is a nonprofit dedicated to helping underrepresented youth succeed. I became involved with the organization a few years ago, when our chief creative officer and Buffalo Prep board member, Jeff Pappalardo, introduced me to the amazing people behind Prep. Today I proudly chair the Prep Collective, which is a junior board of like-minded young professionals trying to make a positive impact in our community. And as an agency, Crowley Webb has done a lot of pro bono work for Prep. I truly believe in Prep’s vision of a future where students of all backgrounds have equal opportunity to pursue success.

It just so happens that this year is Buffalo Prep’s 30th anniversary, and boy are we ready to (continue to) celebrate. We sat down with their director of community relations, Grace O’Connor, and asked her a few questions about the organization. So let’s get to know our friends and partners at Buffalo Prep!


How did Buffalo Prep start?

The organization was founded in 1989 by education and community leaders to help talented underrepresented students prepare for, obtain entrance into, and excel at demanding college preparatory high schools. At Buffalo Prep, our goal is to close the access and opportunity gaps for underrepresented students by eliminating educational barriers and encouraging students to become lifelong learners.


How has it grown or changed over time?

We have grown exponentially over the years, from 10 students who were originally supported to now approximately 650 students and alumni served annually throughout our unique pipeline of Middle School Prep, High School Prep, College Prep, Rising to Distinction, and Alumni Prep programs. We currently partner with 19 private, public, and charter high schools that offer financial aid to our students each year.


Can you tell us more about the work your organization does?

Buffalo Prep’s educational offerings begin the summer after fifth grade and helps talented underrepresented youth succeed in all levels of education. Middle School Prep is an accelerated program that takes place during the summertime after fifth and sixth grades and on Saturdays throughout the seventh grade academic year. High School Prep is a rigorous 14-month academic enrichment program that prepares students to enter competitive college preparatory high schools. College Prep and Rising to Distinction provide academic support, college advisement, and enrichment opportunities throughout high school as students transition into higher education. Alumni Prep supports Buffalo Prep graduates through postsecondary education and career placement, providing services that include job exploration, internships, leadership and enrichment workshops, scholarship assistance, and mentoring. All our programs also offer wraparound services, such as socioemotional and mental health support and tailored need-based tool kits.


What are your goals for the next three to five years?

The University at Buffalo has affirmed its long-term commitment to Buffalo Prep through an investment in our continued growth. Relocating to Allen Hall will give us an anchor in an educational hub alongside innovative programs like the Education Collaborative of Western New York. And it will create a professional meeting place for faculty from our partner schools throughout the region. Our future home will allow us to nurture even more young dreamers, scholars, activists, and leaders and their families.


Why should people donate to Buffalo Prep?

We couldn’t do any of this without our donors’ help. Buffalo Prep is 100% privately funded. Our work is made possible by the generous financial support of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Our donors’ continual support of our programs is crucial to the success of Buffalo Prep and the deserving students and alumni we serve. Because we do not charge families tuition for our programs and do not receive government support, Buffalo Prep relies solely on donations to cover our annual operating costs and provide educational and emotional support to our students.


If you’re interested in supporting the amazing mission of Buffalo Prep, visit

What is Buffalo Prep? from Crowley Webb on Vimeo.