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Buffalo Together Community Response Fund Announces Formation of Community-Led Steering Committee

Members chosen based on experience, insight and connection to East Side community

Buffalo, N.Y.– The Buffalo Together Community Response Fund (BTCRF), established in the wake of the racially-motivated mass shooting on Jefferson Avenue in May 2022, has announced the members of the newly-formed BTCRF Steering Committee. These individuals will engage the community in developing long-term solutions in East Buffalo and steer funds raised through BTCRF to initiatives that address systemic and racial barriers to prosperity in this neighborhood.

Those chosen for the two-year commitment include:

  • LaVonne Ansari, Ph.D., Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.
  • Felicia Beard, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
  • Thomas Beauford, Jr., Buffalo Urban League
  • Trina Burruss, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County
  • Marie A. Cannon, MSW, Erie County Department of Social Services
  • DeAnna Eason, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc.
  • Zeneta Everhart, Senator Tim Kennedy’s Office
  • Dr. Uzo Ihenko, Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Thomas Kim, Community Action Organization
  • Oluwole (OJ) McFoy, Buffalo Sewer Authority
  • James Morrell, NFTA
  • Chiwuike Owunwanne, KeyBank
  • DeLawndrea Purdue-Grant, Moog
  • Garnell Whitfield, City of Buffalo, retired
  • Dr. Tonja M. Williams, Buffalo Public Schools

The Steering Committee will be led by two co-chairs, Dr. LaVonne Ansari, CEO and executive director of the Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. and Thomas Beauford, Jr., president & CEO of the Buffalo Urban League.

Committee members were invited to participate based on their experience, connection and commitment to the East Buffalo community and for their insight into key areas of community systems. They will work together with residents to accelerate the revitalization of East Buffalo by addressing economic and racial inequities through a community-informed process resulting in a long-term investment plan.

To accelerate the work, the BTCRF has identified a consultant after a national search to work with the Steering Committee and facilitate a process to identify critical issues and develop potential solutions. Minneapolis-based Rainbow Research was chosen after review by Steering Committee members and will begin work with the committee immediately. As a Black-led organization with team members that have ties to the Buffalo area, Rainbow Research brings a community approach to developing solutions to achieve a goal of creating economic security and fostering wellbeing in East Buffalo.  The team’s approach is to listen and learn from the community, investigate options for the Steering Committee’s work together, shape criteria to evaluate those options, to help secure needed investment, and to operationalize chosen options. The group will take into consideration other investments already being made in East Buffalo to complement those efforts. Funding for the consultant was raised separately and does not come out of any funding donated to the BTCRF.

The Buffalo Together Fund is a collaboration of 14 local funders coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, established to address conditions resulting from long-standing structural racism and lack of investment that have harmed communities of color and blocked investment in East Buffalo neighborhoods. It is wholly separate from the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund.

After initial investments of $655,000 into 86 Black-led nonprofits providing immediate support to the Jefferson Avenue community, the BTCRF is now focusing on a long-term community change effort developed by residents of and for the community.

To date, $5.5 million has been committed from nearly 100 local and national foundations and corporations, as well as more than 2,000 individuals from across the country who have donated online or mailed in checks. Following the initial investment, there is $4.8 million in pledges and commitments in the Fund.  To contribute or see the full list of corporations and foundations who have committed support to date, please visit