CRS and the University at Buffalo Regional Institute (UBRI) work together on a portfolio of placemaking, workforce and small business development projects in Western New York. As an intermediary, CRS “connects the dots” through effective project oversight and governance; assists with strategic planning, program design, and problem-solving; connects community-based nonprofit organizations to technical assistance; and provides reporting and communications. UBRI is the research partner—responsible for qualitative and quantitative research and data analysis, stakeholder engagement and ongoing project monitoring and evaluation to inform decision-making and demonstrate impact.

East Side Avenues

East Side Avenues is a unique community-driven public/private partnership that provides capital and organizational support to transformational projects in targeted areas along four commercial corridors on the East Side of Buffalo. New York State initially invested $65M in capital that supports small business improvements, invests in key mixed-use properties, promotes historic preservation and reinvigorates fundamental East Side anchors. To strengthen the work of local nonprofit organizations to implement this work, local foundations and corporations invested more than $8M in capacity-building funds.


Regional Revitalization Partnership (RRP)

Regional Revitalization Partnership is a multi-year $300M collaborative initiative between the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJF), Empire State Development (ESD), local municipalities and other private philanthropic partners. Building upon and accelerating collaborative, community-driven work that is already underway, this public/private initiative co-invests in three interconnected geographic areas (Buffalo’s East Side and the cities of Niagara Falls and Rochester) to create a comprehensive, community-driven economic development strategy around investments that focus on small business development, placemaking and workforce development. RRP is an outgrowth of East Side Avenues.



The Center for Regional Strategies is leading the launch and implementation of a new entrepreneurial prize competition called Springboard.
Springboard awards cash prizes to organizations that help grow the entrepreneurial landscape in Buffalo-Niagara, Rochester and the Southern Tier. At least $600,000 will be awarded in three rounds through 2024. Springboard offers a streamlined application process with multiple prizes up to $25,000.
Springboard supports diverse populations, addresses the unmet needs of existing entrepreneurs, creates storytelling opportunities, and generates positive momentum and goodwill across the broader ecosystem.
Applications for Round One are now open. Visit for details.

Western New York Manufacturing and Tech Workforce Coalition

The Western New York Manufacturing and Tech Workforce Coalition (the Coalition) is a strategic, coordinated, ecosystem-based approach to workforce development that maximizes job growth, expands career opportunities for the underserved and leverages federal, state and local dollars. This strategy is unique in that it was built by aligning trainers, industry, intermediaries, pipeline developers and community-based organizations around a shared vision and coordinating their roles and projects to support ecosystem building and workforce improvements.