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Buffalo Co-Lab

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Buffalo Co-Lab advances an equitable economy and democratic community, collaboratively integrating scholarly and practical understanding to strengthen civic action.

Andrew Grais

Photo: Andrew Grais
Lindenhurst, NY
The John R. Oishei Foundation

The John R. Oishei Foundation is the area's largest private foundation with over $300 million in assets. In addition to grant making, the Foundation is committed to devoting their time, people and networks to convening stakeholders around issues; initiating support and collaboration; sharing knowledge; building nonprofits' organizational capacity; and supporting the development of promising leaders in all communities and sectors.

Work Highlights

  • As part of the Foundation’s Philanthropic Support department, collaborated with the High Road Fellow at ACCESS of WNY to provide customized support by creating protocols, frameworks and systems of implementation for components of strategic plan.
  • This collaboration resulted in the creation of three manuals for ACCESS’s capacity building: Financial Manual, Employee Handbook, and a Board Governance Manual.   
  • Worked with the Foundation’s Communications Director to write a blog about his experience over the course of the summer.
  • Met with the Foundation’s Chief Financial Officer to learn about finance in the nonprofit sector and financial sustainability.

In their words

“The knowledge and personal growth gained through the High Road Fellowship is indispensable. The opportunity to be entirely immersed in the Buffalo community truly opened my eyes to the potential of grassroots economic development. I was able to gain a deep, Buffalonian perspective by living in a multicultural neighborhood in the West Side, touring local institutions, taking public transportation, and hearing from prominent community leaders and political officials. I now understand what it means to be ‘Talking Proud’ in Buffalo. In addition, through my work with The John R. Oishei Foundation and ACCESS of WNY, my eyes opened to the nonprofit sector.”


“Andrew was a superb partner in our capacity-building work with ACCESS WNY! I so appreciated his work ethic, insight, and keen observations over the course of the summer; he and Samir made lasting contributions to our work on behalf of NFP organizations.”

Karen Spaulding, Vice President Philanthropic Support
The John R. Oishei Foundation