Mentoring Critical to Academic, Social, and Personal Development of Area Youth, According to Findings from First Niagara Bank Survey

Sep 02, 2010, 10:28 ET from First Niagara

BUFFALO, N.Y., Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Significant improvements in academic grades and school attendance are among the many benefits of mentoring, according to a survey conducted last month by First Niagara Bank of past Mentoring Matters(SM) grant recipients.

The survey also found that mentoring was effective in elevating young adults' self-esteem, communication skills, learning to relate well to others, setting career goals and adopting new, positive behaviors.

Recently kicking off its fourth year, First Niagara's Mentoring Matters program provides critical funding and volunteer support for mentoring efforts conducted by non-profit organizations in Upstate New York. The program will top the $2 million total grant mark in 2010, positively impacting more than 13,000 youth through more than 150 organized mentoring programs throughout Upstate New York.

"Mentoring imparts positive change and we're proud to make a lasting difference in the lives of our community's children," said Daniel E. Cantara, First Niagara Bank Western New York regional president.

Among 31 respondents statewide responsible for mentoring programs within their non-profit organizations, the most significant survey findings showed:

  • 93.5% saying their program was very effective in achieving mentoring objectives
  • 80.6% saying their program was very effective in improving academic performance
  • 64.5% saying academic grades for those being mentored improved considerably
  • 51.7% (more than half) saying academic grades improved more than 20%
  • 67.7% saying school attendance improved considerably, 29% of which said school attendance improved more than 30%
  • 87.1% saying their mentoring program was very effective in helping youth to try new, positive behaviors
  • 83.9% saying their program was very effective in helping students develop socially
  • 87.1% saying self-esteem improved considerably
  • 83.9% saying communication skills improved considerably
  • 100% saying their program helped participants to improve relating well to others
  • 38.7% saying their program was very effective in helping participants set career goals
  • 32.3% saying their program was very effective in helping young people learn to seek and keep jobs
  • 58.1% saying program was very effective in helping introduce young people to professional resources and organizations

The 2010 Mentoring Matters program will provide $500,000 to eligible not-for-profits in Upstate New York. This year's program also features a first-ever mentoring essay contest open to sixth grade students involved in mentoring programs and enrolled in schools in the counties where First Niagara serves throughout Upstate New York.

The maximum grant awarded is $25,000, minimum $5,000. Student essay contest winners will receive $5,000 for their school, a $500 savings bond for themselves, and a starring role on a national First Niagara television advertisement along with other great prizes.

Interested non-profits and students can visit to begin the grant application and essay contest processes. The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2010.

About First Niagara

Niagara Financial Group, Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., has $21 billion in assets, 255 branches and $14 billion in deposits. First Niagara Bank is a multi-state community-oriented bank with about 3,800 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses. Upon completion of its pending merger with NewAlliance Bancorp, Inc. -- subject to customary closing conditions including approvals from regulators and shareholders -- First Niagara will have more than $29 billion in assets, $18 billion in deposits and 340 branches across Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information, visit

SOURCE First Niagara