NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Jon Rivera Announce $2.5 Million in Funding for West Side Organizations

The Belle Center will receive $1 million in funding, while the Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute will receive $1.5 million

Buffalo – Speaker Carl Heastie today, on his annual statewide tour, joined Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera to announce $1.5 million in funding for the Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute of Western New York, as well as $1 million for the Belle Center to allow them to continue providing critical services the to the community.

Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Rivera toured the Belle Center, and announced $1 million in investment from the Assembly, which will be used to upgrade mechanicals and complete critical maintenance that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of funding.

The Belle Center provides programming for people of all ages, including universal pre-kindergarten, an Advantage After School program, evening recreational programs for youths 13-24 years of age, senior wellness programs and a food pantry.

Additionally, Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Rivera announced $1.5 million for the Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute of Western New York. The institute has been a project of the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY Inc., which is a nonprofit organization that exists to foster and inspire awareness, understanding, and appreciation of past, present, and future contributions of the Hispanic community in Western New York.

Last year on Speaker Heastie’s statewide tour, they announced $3.8 million for the construction of the institute.

The project, which is set to break ground in 2023 and open in 2024, will be the first of its kind in the region when it opens its doors at the corner of Niagara and Hudson streets on Buffalo’s West Side.

Through its museum and spaces for programming and education, the new facility will fulfill long-neglected needs within Buffalo’s Hispanic community and will provide the city’s Hispanic population with a much-needed place for conversation and cultural enrichment.

NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “Across our state there are so many organizations doing incredible work to support our communities, and this tour gives me the chance to see it in action. It’s great to be here today with Assemblymember Rivera, so we can announce this funding will help the Belle Center and the Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute of Western New York continue their missions here in Buffalo.”

Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “The services the Belle Center provides for those of all ages, but especially children are so important. I’d like to thank Speaker Heastie for coming out to announce this funding, which will help get the center necessary updates so they can continue providing these vital services, and for the continued investment in the Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute of Western New York.”

Lucy A. Candelario, Executive Director of the Belle Center, said, “The Belle Center will use the funds to support upgrading mechanicals and other critical maintenance delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of funding. The Belle Center has been providing academic, social and recreational services to the community since the center’s beginning in 1976. Our work has always been about social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, as the ever-changing neighborhood has included minorities, people of color and Buffalo’s newest Americans.”