Burchfield Penney Art Center Receives $1.2M to Support Education, Community Engagement

Burchfield Penney Art Center Receives $1.2M to Support Education, Community Engagement Image
Burchfield Penney Art Center Receives $1.2 Million to Support Education, Community Engagement


The Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College has been awarded two grants totaling $1.225 million in support of education and a refreshed commitment to serving diverse families, school groups, and the community-at-large. The two grants—one awarded by KeyBank in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation, and the other by the Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation—will greatly expand the center’s ability and facilities to accommodate significant growth in its educational programming.

“This extraordinary pair of investments by KeyBank in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation and the Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation is a vote of confidence in the Center’s renewed focus on education and families,” said Dennis Kois, executive director of the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

“Buffalo State College would like to thank KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation, and the Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation for their incredible support of the Burchfield Penney and our collective mission to engage and improve our community,” said Buffalo State President Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner. “These gifts—combined with the Burchfield Penney’s renewed commitment to educational and family programming—will create many wonderful opportunities for our region’s families and children to engage with and learn from the diverse perspectives of Western New York’s vibrant artists and their extraordinary work.”

The KeyBank/First Niagara Foundation gift of $750,000 includes a $250,000 matching challenge, which when completed will establish a new $1 million endowment specifically to support education at the center.

“We at KeyBank are committed to doing our part to ensuring access to enrichment opportunities for children in Western New York,” said Elizabeth Gurney, executive director of the KeyBank and First Niagara Foundations. “The art education and community engagement initiative being offered at the Burchfield Penney is an exceptional program that will enlighten young people as they experience our richly diverse and creative community. “

Separately, a new gift of $225,000 from the Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation will allow significant improvements to the Burchfield’s public education spaces—including doubling the amount of space dedicated to education and the creation of a new always-available, drop-in creativity and art-making space for families—which is currently in the planning stage.

“We are thrilled to help expand and enhance the museum’s education offerings,” commented Cynthia Baird Stark, Burchfield Penney trustee and granddaughter of Cameron and Jane Baird. “The new creativity center will serve as a home for the Education Department as well as a community resource. The First Niagara grant complements and augments the center's commitment to becoming a strong educational force in our community.”

The hallmark of the Burchfield Penney is its commitment to being a truly local institution—whether that means highlighting the art, performance, and ideas of our hometown, the role the center plays as part of Buffalo State College, or the building of sustainable partnerships with local schools and institutions that reflect the extraordinary diversity of our community. 

The center has recently redoubled its efforts to provide programs and opportunities to connect with art for families, including investing in new education staffing and launching Hyatt’s All Things Creative Family Days, the second of which was held February 8, offering $5 per family admission and a range of family-friendly activities. The second family day attracted nearly 800 visitors.

“We are projecting a more than 50 percent increase in school and community group visits this year alone,” added Kois. “That is being driven primarily by growing partnerships with the Buffalo Public Schools as well as, to a lesser degree, the temporary closure of the Albright-Knox. To meet this demand, we’ve added education staff, boosted our pool of education volunteers, and launched new initiatives. The generous gifts we’ve announced today will be vital in ensuring that our mission is accessible to new generations of Buffalonians.”

Kois went on to note that research has shown that students who visit an art museum experience a marked increase in critical thinking skills, empathy, and tolerance. For students from high-poverty schools, the increase is even more significant.1  And low socioeconomic-status children who are engaged in arts learning have increases in academic performance, college-going rates, college grades, and their ability to hold a job.2

1. University of Chicago/NEA
2. American Educational Research Association, Swan

About KeyBank
KeyBank's roots trace back 190 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, KeyCorp is one of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $145 billion at December 31, 2019. Key provides deposit, lending, cash management, and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of over 1,100 branches and more than 1,400 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. KeyBank is Member FDIC.

About the First Niagara Foundation
Founded in 1998, the First Niagara Foundation will carry out the philanthropic legacy of First Niagara Bank, which was acquired by KeyBank in 2016. The Foundation, in partnership with KeyBank, supports not for profit organizations dedicated to empowering individuals and neighborhoods primarily in Western New York.

About the Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation
The Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation is a family-directed foundation that provides grants to a variety of organizations, with a strong emphasis on Western New York. 

About the Burchfield Penney Art Center
Established in 1966 on the campus of SUNY Buffalo State College, the Burchfield Penney Art Center is dedicated to the art and vision of renowned American artist Charles E. Burchfield (1893–1967) and the distinguished artists of Western New York State.

Media Contact:
Renata Toney, Community Engagement and Public Relations Strategist, Burchfield Penney Art Center | (716) 878-3907 | toneyrr@buffalostate.edu