Our K-8 Program

In addition to good health and great love, the best gift we can provide our children is a quality education. For low-income families, access to quality education is made possible by the BISON Fund. For 25 years, members of our community, have allowed BISON to provide over 33,300 scholarships to low-income children allowing them to attend schools of their choice via tuition assistance.

Prior to BISON, families had few choices regarding their children’s education. Even though many parents desired a better education for their children (i.e. smaller class sizes, a safer learning environment, and greater involvement in their children’s education), private school tuition was not economically feasible for these struggling families. By offering partial scholarship assistance, BISON is empowering parents, often for the first time, with the ability to choose the school which best meets their child’s needs.

As the only K-8 scholarship program in WNY, and the 5th largest nationally, BISON is successful because it provides a hand-up, and not a handout. Our parents struggle to make ends meet but are willing to sacrifice to pay a portion of their child’s tuition, knowing that a quality education can open the door to more opportunities and a better tomorrow.

What makes BISON Scholarships different?

  • Families choose the school that best fits their needs – not the BISON Fund.
  • We keep families together by including all siblings for elementary school scholarships.
  • To provide stability for our families, we are committed to supporting each child from Kindergarten through 8th grade by renewing scholarships annually, as long as families remain economically eligible.
  • With a minimum family contribution of $500, BISON is a hand-up not a handout.
  • Scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need, not merit.

Our High School Program

After 23 years of providing scholarships solely to K – 8, BISON began offering high school scholarships to our 8th grade graduates. While we were extremely proud of our impact on WNY’s littlest learners, we knew the need remained once our BISON scholars left 8th grade and enrolled in high school.

Only 60% of BISON 8th graders continue onto a private high school. However, more would like to attend a private high school but can’t afford it. Additionally, some of these families who initially commit to a private school need to transfer to a public or charter school because of financial reasons.

Offering a high school scholarship to BISON families who have made the financial sacrifice for elementary school is a natural expansion for the BISON Fund. Expanding our program will provide even more pathways to successful futures for children and families who might otherwise not get the opportunity they’ve earned.

Currently, BISON is awarding nearly 100 scholarships at $3,500 annually. By 2021-22, there will be 200 BISON high school scholars. This growth comes at a significant cost but we were able to expand our program thanks to generous donors and collaboration with education-oriented foundations. We also have two (2) memorial scholarships including:

  • Judy Carr Beecher ’58 Memorial Scholarship, in memory of one of our BISON founders who passed away in late 2017, whose passion was to make school choice a reality for every child in Western New York. This scholarship is awarded to an incoming freshman at Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, Judy’s alma mater.
  • Thomas J. Comer, Jr. ’81 Memorial Scholarship, in memory of a tireless champion of BISON, its work and children in general who passed away suddenly in the fall of 2017. Tom was a BISON board member for 10 years and chair of the Development Committee for BISON. Tom’s goal was to expand to follow our BISON scholars into high school to help families continue with private education. This scholarship is awarded to an incoming freshman at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, Tom’s alma mater.

Buffalo’s future is dependent on our area’s young people. That’s why it is so important for families to choose strong academic institutions. BISON scholarships are helping our area’s learners prepare for high school, college and, ultimately, a career. By starting early in the educational process, we will have the greatest impact on our area’s future business and community leaders.