2021 Jim Casey Building Communities of Hope Award

Casey Family Programs has awarded the 2021 Jim Casey Building Communities of Hope Award to Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

This national award — named in honor of Casey Family Programs founder Jim Casey — recognizes leaders and communities that successfully bring together public, business, nonprofit, philanthropic and community partners to improve the safety and success of children and their families.

“Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker has transformed the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo into a trusted, innovative driver of positive change throughout the community,” said Dr. William C. Bell, President and CEO of Casey Family Programs. “She has made a tremendous impact and is a beacon of hope in her community during these challenging times. We are thrilled to award her our highest honor.”

For more than 100 years, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has worked with individuals, families, foundations and organizations to advance significant change in Western New York on issues ranging from education to racial equity. In response to the challenges brought about by COVID-19, the foundation quickly mobilized to get aid to those most in need across the region. In tackling issues such as housing and homelessness, health equity, education, criminal justice and digital literacy, Dedecker brought together more than 200 public, private and nonprofit leaders to address long-term challenges exacerbated by COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is unlike anything we have ever seen before and it has created a deluge of need,” said Dedecker. “We have seen unprecedented generosity pouring in to meet this challenge from foundations, corporations and thousands of individuals. That has allowed us to quickly distribute millions in grants to nonprofits throughout the region to make sure those hardest hit have support. It’s incredibly inspiring and yet another reminder of the unique commitment to our neighbors in our community. I share this award with all of the organizations and individuals who work to make a difference in Buffalo. There are many working to keep hope alive in our community.”

Under Dedecker’s leadership since 2007, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo brought Say Yes to Education to Buffalo, a national nonprofit that helps local students earn college scholarships. The program tackled decades of declining high-school graduation rates in Buffalo Public Schools, and since the program’s inception, which united more than 200 partners, the high school graduation rate in Buffalo has increased by 15%.

Dedecker and the foundation have also advanced significant change around racial equity, convening the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable — an effort by more than 30 local leaders from public, private, nonprofits and faith institutions to promote racial equity and the change required to accelerate a shared regional prosperity. Since its launch in 2016, the Roundtable has partnered with 210 local organizations to create opportunities for all to reach their full potential and has begun to quantify how the entire Western New York region will grow economically as racial equity is reached.

Raised in Buffalo after her family fled Cuba in 1968, Dedecker has dedicated her career to public service. In recognition of her civic sector expertise, she was appointed to the White House Council on Service and Civic Participation and named co-chair of the U.S. Committee of the United Nations International Year of the Volunteer. Dedecker has also received numerous honors and awards, including accolades from the Points of Light Foundation, the Governor’s Award for Service, the President’s Award for Service and The Buffalo News Citizen of the Year Award.