KeyBank, in Partnership With the First Niagara Foundation, Helps Fund Collaborative Program at Field & Fork Network

Dec 6, 2022 9:00 AM ET
Food Pathways logo shown on top of fresh vegetables.

Niagara Falls High School students will have an opportunity to enhance their education and receive professional development opportunities thanks to an investment from two foundations focused on strengthening Niagara County. Food Pathways, a program developed by Field & Fork Network, received a $32,375 grant from KeyBank, in partnership with the First Niagara FoundationGeneral Motors also contributed a $25,000 grant to this unique partnership. The funding will prepare 20 students to take on important careers that help improve and sustain our local food system.

"This innovative collaboration is connecting young people to the community in a unique way by providing career development opportunities while enhancing access to a fresh, affordable and sustainable food system," said Elizabeth Gurney, executive director of the KeyBank and First Niagara foundations. "Our investment in their future will help strengthen our regional economy and create plans and pathways to help students reach their full potential."

Food Pathways was developed and piloted last year to address gaps that exist between the workforce and food system employers in Niagara County. A partnership with Niagara Falls High School quickly formed, and a collaboration with the Niagara Global Tourism Institute helped create a comprehensive curriculum to engage seniors in exploring new career paths and learning tangible professional skills from leading professionals to better prepare them for the futures.

“We are thankful for the continued support from GM, who also funded the pilot, and to KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation for stepping up to fill the gap, enabling us to continue this program,” said Tom Lowe, Project Director at Field & Fork Network. “This is a unique opportunity for many of these students, and one that has the power to transform their lives; I feel lucky I get to be a part of it.”

“For the second year NFHS students will benefit from this partnership, it’s a chance to learn in a practical setting about new career paths and life skills that will stay with them as they transition to college or a career,” said Superintendent Mark Laurie.

Food Pathways will launch in January 2023, offering 20 Niagara Falls High School seniors a $500 stipend to participate in the 14-week program that explores career paths in the food system. The curriculum combines in-class professional development activities such as personal branding, social intelligence, team building, with food system experiences both in the classroom and out in the field at local businesses within the food system.

Learn more about KeyBank here