Oishei Grant to Benefit Daemen’s Nonprofit Resource Institute

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Daemen College has received a $350,000 grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation for the Institute for Government and Nonprofit Innovation, Training, and Evaluation (IGNITE), which is housed in Daemen’s historic Curtis Hall.

The foundation funding will provide support toward major facility enhancements that will maximize IGNITE’s use of Curtis Hall, including additional training and conference rooms, upgraded technology infrastructure, improved accessibility, a new heating and cooling system, and other modifications.

“We are deeply grateful to the Oishei Foundation for their generous support to help create a more modern, functional space for IGNITE’s community-based initiatives,” said Daemen President Gary Olson. “This refurbishment project is vital to enhancing IGNITE’s ability to better serve our community and will augment the spaces for our faculty and students involved with these services for the non-profit sector.”

Established in 2014, IGNITE connects Daemen’s social work faculty with non-profit organizations, foundations, schools, and community groups to provide professional assistance and other support that will improve the lives of the individuals they serve. To date, the institute has provided faculty expertise and services for nearly 50 projects, with guidance offered on organizational assessment, capacity building, strategic planning, policy analysis, program design and evaluation, and board and staff development, among other areas.

Training sessions and continuing education for licensed social work professionals are also offered to community providers on a range of topics such as child welfare, homelessness, economic self-sufficiency, and cultural competency.

Dr. Diane Bessel, IGNITE’s founder and MSW program director, noted, “The primary goal of IGNITE is to support the advancement of local non-profit organizations and social work practitioners through the provision of high quality professional services that are also affordable. Curtis Hall’s renovations will be a major step forward in improving our spaces and ensuring we are well-equipped to expand upon programming that will greatly benefit the community.”

Beyond this, IGNITE provides real-world on-campus learning opportunities for Daemen social work students to build their skills and knowledge in the field.

IGNITE is housed on the first floor of Curtis Hall, which is also the primary location for Daemen’s social work, sociology, and physician assistant studies programs. Built in 1918, the two-story building was designed by Louis Greenstein, a respected Buffalo architect during the early to mid-20th century. The building was purchased by Daemen (then Rosary Hill College) in 1956 and became a part of the college’s main campus.

Improvements made to Curtis Hall will ensure the integrity of the building’s Italian Renaissance Revival characteristics are retained. Work on the renovation project, which is also being supported by a substantial private donation, is expected to be completed in spring 2019.

The Oishei grant is included as part of the $22 million goal for Daemen’s “Drive to 75” campaign, which was launched publicly last fall.

The John R. Oishei Foundation enhances the economic vitality and quality of life for the Buffalo Niagara region through grantmaking, leadership, and network building. The foundation was established in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corp.


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