“It’s all in the prep.” That’s the motto of Buffalo Prep, dedicated to working with private, public and charter high schools to help disadvantaged youth take advantage of a first-rate college preparatory education. It started in 1989 and expanded 10 years later when funding from The John R. Oishei Foundation helped launch the Rising to Distinction program, which offers tutoring, high school readiness and college counseling services, as well as scholarships.

stories buff prep“Without the catalyst of the Oishei Foundation we would not be where we are today,” says Buffalo Prep Executive Director Marcia O’Neil-White. “Oishei has been a huge partner for both of our organizations,” agrees Rick Bryan, who heads up the Education Collaborative of WNY, or EDCO. The two groups are the yin and yang of advancing educational opportunities, working together to prep students and to partner with 15 independent area high schools.


“Our partnership lets us make a real impact on students,” notes Rick. “And it helps strengthen the diversity of the schools we work with. We make a difference in schools, and in the lives of kids.”

Up next is a big move to further strengthen both organizations. A physical move, in fact, into UB’s Allen Hall, facilitated by an Oishei grant. “We’re very excited,” says Marcia. “We feel so strongly about having our young people in a college environment, and this move will really facilitate working together.”

The space on the UB South campus will house permanent offices, classrooms, state-of-the-art technology, and other program enhancements. It offers the opportunity to take advantage of other things UB has to offer, from campus facilities and labs to graduate student tutors to easy public transportation access.

stories buff prep2LOOKING AHEAD

Buffalo Prep currently serves more than 500 students each year, and growth is definitely in the forecast. “We offer outstanding educational opportunities to underprivileged students who are hard-working and motivated,” says Marcia. “And 100% of our students graduate from high school and go to college.” Marcia and Rick both look forward to a continuing partnership as they find new ways to impact the lives of young people and expand diversity and inclusion in schools. Looking back, Rick recalls the challenges of the early years, but says, “Now, it’s a joy to watch these kids succeed.”