Our K-8 Program

The BISON Fund believes that children have the best chance at a bright future when families have a choice in selecting an education that best fits their children’s needs. Access to education should be available early in a child’s life in order to establish a solid foundation for learning. 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 hand-out. Today, more than 95% graduate from high school and more than 85% continuing on to college!

Since it’s inception in 1995, BISON has awarded over 29,500 scholarships with a private investment of $26.2 million. BISON is a program that works right now, instead of needing to wait for reform and policy changes. BISON provides an opportunity for thousands of children to have immediate access to a safe, quality, and values-based education.


What makes BISON Scholarships different?

  • Families choose a 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 the student’s family is qualified for assistance.
  • With a minimum family contribution of $500, BISON is a hand-up not a hand-out.
  • Scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need, not merit.

Our High School Program

We’re taking our investment in our BISON families to the next level because we know BISON Scholars can and do succeed beyond 8th grade. Today, an average of 60% of BISON 8th grade Scholars continue onto private school, and we know many more would like to do so but can’t afford the tuition. Additionally, some of our BISON families who initially commit to private elementary school need to transfer to a public or charter high school for financial reasons. 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. So beginning in 2018, we’re going along to high school, too, offering a $3,500 award to help eligible BISON 8th graders and their families bridge financial gaps and continue their education at the private high school of their choice.

Our community’s response to our new high school program has already been significant. We originally planned for 20 scholarships in 2018-19, but because of our community’s investment, we were able to offer 49 scholarships. 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.