Peoples-Stokes Announces $400,000 to Expand Boys & Girls Clubs Mental Health & Behavioral Pilot Program

June 11th, 2024

Buffalo, NY – Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes today announced $400,000 from the 2024-2025 state budget to expand a pilot program initiated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western New York that focuses on improving behavioral and mental health outcomes for participating youth.

The pilot started on Buffalo’s Eastside at the Baird (2061 Bailey Avenue), Masten (397 Northland Avenue), and Babcock (282 Babcock Street) Clubhouses and utilizes mental health and behavioral health graduate students formerly of Medaille College and now Daemen University to monitor and provide separate age-appropriate therapies to assist with processing traumas, cope with anxiety and depression, and mental health education. Many participating youth, ages 5-18, from the surrounding neighborhoods are dealing with witnessing violence, loss of life, incarcerated parents or siblings, and more. Youth participate in workshops and activities that build trust, communicate their thoughts and feelings, as well as illuminate stigma around mental health. Clinicians are also available to meet privately with youth as needed as well as provide training for Club staff in behavioral and mental health.

“I’m very humbled and proud to be able to provide resources to extend and expand this behavioral and mental health programming for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo and beyond. I applaud and thank the leadership of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo and the Collaborative of WNY for bringing this concept to my office. The program’s long-term positive impact on area youth cannot be underestimated.”

Shari McDonough, Chief Executive Officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo, commented, “The Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo have always been a safe haven for youth. Our vision is a “whole child” approach with a focus on diversity and inclusion as well as a focus on health equity. We focus daily on character and leadership, academics, nutrition, and healthy activities.  We are honored that Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes recognizes the work we are doing in mental and behavioral health, as well as the need to provide services in a safe and fun environment.”

Tracy Bradshaw, Chief Executive Officer of Boys & Girls Clubs Collaborative of Western New York, “The Boys & Girls Clubs in Western New York are transforming lives by embedding licensed mental health counselors into Clubhouses across the region offering tailored support to youth by building resilience, fostering healthier relationships, and empowering young minds to thrive. Thanks to the visionary leadership of the Majority Leader, this initiative has soared to new heights. In the 2023-24 school year alone, over 1200 members have benefited from personalized and group counseling, marking a significant milestone in our commitment to nurturing the holistic well-being of our community’s youth.”

Seed funding for the program came from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. Peoples-Stokes was able to secure $150,000 in the 2023-2024 state budget to keep the program going as seed funding was exhausted. New funding will extend the program’s operation for multiple years as well as allow additional club sites the ability to access services as needed.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo mission is to provide a safe and stable experience that assures success is within reach of all its members – that they graduate from high school with plans for their futures and that they are living healthy lifestyles. Today with a focus on academic success, career development and leadership and building healthy youth and families, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo annually serves nearly 3,000 young people who range from 5-18 years of age.

The Boys & Girls Club Collaborative of WNY is comprised of 12 independent Clubs that house 35 locations providing after-school and summer programs across WNY. Together we serve nearly 17,000 children 5-18 years of age each year. Our mission is to provide all kids in WNY, no matter who they are or where they live, access to a world-class Club experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who enters our doors.  Our members will be on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrate good character and citizenship, and live a healthy lifestyle. With one unified voice, we unite in the collective goal of improving, strengthening, and expanding the awareness of the 12 individual Clubs.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes represents the New York State Assembly’s 141st District. The district includes sections of North Buffalo, Allentown, Larkinville, the downtown central business district, and the entire East side of Buffalo. More information on the 141st district and the Assemblywoman can be found at