Challenge grant aims to complete Cantalician Center expansion

Aug 14, 2012

A center that provides educational services to children with moderate to severe disabilities, ranging from autism to Down Syndrome, has been awarded a major grant.

The Cantalician Center is the recipient of a $750,000 challenge grant from the John R. Oishei  Foundation.  The challenge grant will double every dollar pledged by a community campaign.

The funding will allow for completion of a new academic campus, which is currently under construction on George Urban Boulevard in Depew. The new facility would consolidate the current Main Street and Eggert Road facilities.

Oishei president Robert Gioia delivered the grant to Cantalician leaders in Buffalo Tuesday morning. 

Oishei Foundation president Robert Gioia receives handmade gifts from Cantalician Center students in Buffalo
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

"Fortunately, we have the wherewithal to give such an amount. They needed to raise $1.5 million and we said we'll give you half if you can raise the other half. So it also challenges folks in the community," said Gioia.

The cost of the new Western New York Cantalician Academic Campus, which will house the daycare, preschool, and school age programs, is nearly $16 million. According to the center's website, $14.3 million has been secured to date through a set of bonds issued through the Erie County IDA, the sale of existing buildings, the Cantalician Foundation Board of Directors, and several individual and foundation donations.

"This challenge grant is the final seed being planted that we pray will grow to become the community tree of life as we make our move to the new campus. To meet this challenge and help our seed grow, we look to the community to make a commitment to improve the lives of the hundreds of students we serve each year," said Terry Scofidio, executive director of the center.

The Cantalician Center, which has three campuses, was founded in the 1956 by the Felician Sisters.  The grant was the largest in the center's history. 

The Early Childhood wing of the project scheduled to open in July of 2013.