First Niagara Successfully Launches First-Ever Day of Mentoring Statewide to Guide Youth on Financial Literacy and Workplace Awareness

May 22, 2009, 10:00 ET from First Niagara

100 Upstate New York Students First to Participate

BUFFALO, N.Y., May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- First Niagara successfully hosted today its first annual Day of Mentoring statewide with more than 100 participating students from five area schools in each of First Niagara's market regions -- Buffalo, Lockport, Syracuse, Rochester and Albany.

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"I learned so much and had a great time," said DiTaya Davis, student from Enterprise Charter School in Buffalo about Day of Mentoring. "It was very interesting to learn first-hand what it's like to work in the financial industry."

Davis was one of the many students who gained greater financial literacy, workplace awareness and a real world perspective on the skills and subjects learned in the classroom as a result of Day of Mentoring. Students also had the opportunity to be the "First Niagara Regional President for the day. "

"In a difficult economic climate, it's never been more important than to lead by example and to mentor our community's youth about real life issues like finance, work ethics and what it takes to successfully participate in today's workforce," said John R. Koelmel, president and CEO of First Niagara.

"We chose to support mentoring because of the community need for it and the inspiring results achieved by mentoring programs," he continued.

According to national studies, of the 15 million children in need of mentoring, only three million are currently enrolled in mentoring programs. Mentoring has also been found to have a significant impact on children including: reduced cases of substance abuse, better attendance records and attitudes about school, greater expectations to attend college and positive social relationships.

"Day of Mentoring was a tremendous success for First Niagara," said Koelmel. "It allowed us to align our financial, employee volunteer and communication resources behind one central issue -- mentoring -- while empowering and encouraging First Niagara employees to serve as mentors in a highly energized, passionate and committed environment."

First Niagara's statewide Day of Mentoring is an extension of the bank's annual Mentoring Matters(SM) program -- a community support campaign that provides monetary support and employee volunteers to Upstate New York organizational mentoring programs. In the past two years, First Niagara has donated more than $1 million to New York State mentoring programs, impacting more than 6,000 Upstate New York students.

About First Niagara Financial Group

First Niagara Financial Group, Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary First Niagara Bank, has assets of $9.6 billion and deposits of $6.2 billion. First Niagara Bank is a full-service, community-focused bank that provides financial services to individuals, families and businesses through 113 branches and four Regional Market Centers across Upstate New York. In April 2009, the company announced plans to add another 57 branches in Pittsburgh, Warren and Erie, Pa., additional deposits of $4.2 billion and additional loans of $839 million in an acquisition that is expected to close in September 2009. For more information, visit

SOURCE First Niagara