A response to the region’s economy
After the economic downturn in 2008, we recognized that residents were struggling in communities throughout Western New York—including in communities not usually associated with poverty.
We created and funded the Mobile-Safety Net Team to enhance essential human services through a comprehensive approach, including:
- Assessing the issues in dozens of local communities
- Understanding the landscape of community-based human services providers
- Building and supporting coalitions of community organizations
- Providing better access and education to residents who may have never had a need for these services before
- Addressing large-scale, systemic issues such as housing, workforce development, and transportation
The Mobile-Safety Net Team is The Oishei Foundation’s most visible, direct link to communities outside of Buffalo’s urban core. Our team members work directly in these suburbs and rural areas, listening to community organizations and leaders, and helping them address the needs of local residents.
The communities we serve include:
The City of Tonawanda
The City of Buffalo, east of Main St.
The City of Buffalo, west of Main St.
Town of Tonawanda
We use research-informed practices to support and cultivate collaborations to strengthen under-resourced communities.
We envision a thriving region that has the necessary resources to address community needs.
Community-driven solutions, efficiency, collaboration, relationship building, transparency, honesty, information, agility, and consensus.
Assessing the needs
The John R. Oishei Foundation works with the University at Buffalo Regional Institute (UBRI) to develop comprehensive assessments of community needs and gaps in services.
The Mobile-Safety Net Team and community service providers use these reports to:
- Gather data and information, including community strengths, assets, gaps, and challenges
- Discover opportunities for collaborations and partnerships (between service providers, and with MSNT staff)
- Write grants, raise funds, and advocate for services
- Set priorities and develop new programs
- Inform decision-making
New reports coming soon
In the fall of 2019, The John R. Oishei Foundation and the UB Regional Institute (UBRI) will launch Numbers In Need, a new website featuring a wealth of new data, updated community reports, and other useful elements. This updated resource—available to all—will significantly enhance our ability to support researchers, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of the needs of communities throughout Western New York.
> Our Current Print Reports are available here
Programs and Initiatives
Working with our community coalitions, we identify critical needs and identify opportunities for collaboration to expand resources. Following are some examples of our impact.
With our support, local coalitions organize and host Community Resource Hubs to bring together a variety of services useful to local residents conveniently located in one place. Services may include those focusing on housing, education, and workforce training, as well as legal services, youth services, senior services, utility assistance and food assistance.
The Healthy Corner Store Initiative
Developed out of our North East Buffalo Coalition, this initiative has successfully launched in six stores on the east side of Buffalo since early 2016. The goal is to bring healthy options into known food desert neighborhoods while providing technical support to store owners and nutrition education to the community. The initiative was awarded $118,000 from General Mills for a full time staff person and to increase our store owner trainings and community outreach efforts.
Good for the Neighborhood Program through Independent Health
We helped facilitate connections between community coalitions and Independent Health Foundation’s Good for the Neighborhood program in both Lackawanna and Akron-Newstead. In Lackawanna, the local school district implements the program to bring ongoing health screenings and education to the community alongside consistent data collection. In addition to support from the Independent Health Foundation, the district looked at transportation challenges for community residents and worked to bridge that gap with the program. In 2018, our Building Unity through Community coalition of Akron-Newstead was also awarded the Good for the Neighborhood program, and shortly thereafter launched the first event.
Community Impact Coordinator
Annie directs research, planning, and implementation of coalition initiatives in the City of Tonawanda, the Village of Springville/Town of Concord, and the East Side of Buffalo. Most notably, she has developed programs such as the Buffalo Healthy Corner Store Initiative and the Peer-to-Peer prevention program in the City of Tonawanda School district.
Annie has been with the Mobile Safety-Net Team since 2010 and has a passion for impacting communities through collaboration and process improvement. In 2016 she was recognized by the city of Buffalo Common Council, and in 2017 received the SoPHi award for collaboration from Population Health Collaborative for her work on the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. In 2019 she received the WNY United WiNnY Award for her work on substance abuse prevention. She received her BA in Anthropology from Portland State University in Portland, OR.
Community Impact Coordinator
Natalie joined our team in 2016 and currently coordinates the Lackawanna Stakeholders Coalition, Cheektowaga Community Collaborative, and Building Unity through Community: Akron-Newstead Coalition. She has been recognized in the communities she serves including being honored in 2017 with the Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce Community Service award, in 2016 by the Lackawanna Chamber of Commerce as the Non-Profit of the Year award, and in 2014 with the Main Street Business and Professional Association Beautification Award
Natalie has served with AmeriCorps in Niagara Falls (with ReNU Niagara) and was the grants coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County of the New York State Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play and Creating Healthy Schools and Communities programs until 2016. Natalie has been involved with community gardens in Niagara Falls and Buffalo since 2012 and currently sits on the board of Grassroots Gardens of WNY. She received her bachelor’s degree at Siena College in sociology and business in 2010. She then came to the Western New York area in pursuit of her Masters in Urban and Regional Planning with a Community Development concentration from the University at Buffalo.
Allison Geddes, MSW
Community Impact Coordinator
Allison is the newest member of the MSNT team, first serving as an intern and now working full time as a Community Impact Coordinator. She facilitates coalitions in specific communities to assist in strengthening the human and social services available to residents. Her work is focused in Niagara Falls, Newfane, North Tonawanda, and in the City of Buffalo. In addition, Allison contributes to updates to 12 community reports regarding community needs and develops partnerships with local stakeholders to host forums and trainings for coalition members and the community.
Geddes holds a Masters of Social Work and Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences Interdisciplinary: Health and Human Services from the State University at Buffalo (UB). In addition to interning with MSNT, she also worked as a School Social Worker in the Buffalo Public Schools and as a Pre-K intern at the Early Childhood Research Center. Geddes also has interest health and wellness and served as a program coordinator and coach for the Amherst Soccer Association, and is pursuing her certification in trauma-informed yoga. She is a native of Long Island, N.Y.
The team is overseen by Lawrence Cook, vice president of The John R. Oishei Foundation.