The fundraising event held at Northland Workforce Training Center welcomed more than 150 guests who enjoyed catering by Manna@northland, entertainment by Daughters of Creative Sound, and music by Yasmin Young. Sam Magavern, founder and former executive director of the Partnership for the Public Good, was awarded the Sankofa Award for his steadfast commitment and friendship to Open Buffalo since its inception.
The event marked an important transition point for the organization that was established in 2014 when the Partnership for the Public Good, Coalition for Economic Justice, PUSH Buffalo and VOICE-Buffalo were invited to collaborate on a funding opportunity from Open Society Foundations. The funding was intended to bring lasting systemic changes to our community by collaborating on community campaigns and increasing our region’s civic capacity. Ultimately, Buffalo was one of three communities chosen for the Open Places Initiative.
News in 2017 that the funding would conclude at the close of 2019 led the organization to look inward to determine if operations would continue or be concluded along with the funding. A year-long strategic planning process supported the place and relevance Open Buffalo has now established for itself throughout the city and Western New York Region as a whole.
Revealed through the planning exercise was Open Buffalo’s success in Leadership Development, with more than 100 individuals having completed its intensive Emerging Leaders program since its inception, and more than 600 people having been trained in community-building concepts such as policy research, arts and activism, and restorative justice. The other expertise area defined by the planning process was Advocacy and Organizing, with Open Buffalo leveraging its expertise in issue campaign organizing and implementation.
The result of the year-long strategic planning is that Open Buffalo will continue its operations and community programs indefinitely by diversifying its funding sources. Supporting this responsibility is a finalized three-year strategic plan, a new mission, and a new vision that was officially launched at the January 9, 2020 event.
Check out scenes from the Sankofa Celebration from our gallery of event photos on the Open Buffalo Facebook page.