Supporting youth, STEM programs in WNY

By David Bertola

On Nov. 9, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie, Niagara and the Southern Tier honored National Grid with its 9th annual Stephen C. Moss Corporate Citizenship Award. The award is given annually to the local corporation that has made a strong commitment to improving the community.

In a letter to National Grid community relations manager and Big Brothers Big Sisters board member Natalie Terhaar, Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO Thomas Guagliardo thanked National Grid for our longtime partnership, which he said has been critical to ensuring success as an agency and to making differences in the lives of children.

“This partnership has allowed us to create and grow our mentoring programs to meet the needs of children facing adversity in our community,” Guagliardo wrote.

On Nov. 9, National Grid community relations manager Natalie Terhaar accepted Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie, Niagara and the Southern Tier’s Stephen C. Moss Corporate Citizenship Award.

At the Big Brothers Big Sisters annual gala on Nov. 9 Terhaar accepted the award on behalf of National Grid.

“Our employees and leaders know the value of serving others and connecting our company to the communities where we do business,” she said. “We also know that when employees are engaged, good things can happen. And as we look forward, we’ll continue to find innovative ways to create positive impacts for our customers, employees, shareholders and our communities.”

The Big Brothers Big Sisters partnership is one of many community relations initiatives that have kicked off or celebrated recently in western New York. Other projects include the following:

ABC’s of STEM – Oct. 1
National Grid co-sponsors a program that provides kids in 300 Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms the opportunity to participate in fun, STEM-related activities.

At an Oct. 1 program kickoff at the Buffalo Zoo, families of kids in pre-K and kindergarten in the Buffalo City School District experienced the activities firsthand and enjoyed the various zoo exhibits. The program, called ABC’s of STEM, runs through the school year. More about this program is available at

Classroom Champions Pro Athlete Program – Oct. 3
National Grid partnered with the Buffalo Bills and Delaware North to present the Classroom Champions Pro Athlete program in area schools. The program promotes leadership, mentoring and skill development.

“Whether we’re working with customers to help them achieve energy efficiency goals, making sure neighborhoods have reliable electric power, or supporting community initiatives, the spirit of teamwork is prevalent throughout our company, and what makes the Classroom Champions Pro Athlete Program a natural fit for us,” said regional director Ken Kujawa.

In 2018, National Grid employees teamed with the Buffalo Bills for Classroom Champions.

Explore and More – Oct. 19
National Grid continues its sponsorship of STEM-focused youth programs by creating a new partnership with Explore & More – the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Children’s Museum, which uses interactive exhibits to celebrate the power of play. As part of the STEM Saturdays sponsorship, STEM-based activities will be the focus of exhibits throughout the facility on the third Saturday of every month, when area teachers can receive admission discounts. National Grid employees are also eligible for a $3 discount on the third Saturday of each month when they present their National Grid ID badge when paying for admission.

Energize Your Future Powered by National Grid – Oct. 31
Students enrolled in WNY STEM had a chance to meet and learn about strategies used by startups that are vying for $1 million in 43N, a Buffalo-based entrepreneurship competition. Students attended presentations by area companies to learn about energy innovations, energy efficiency solutions, grid modernization, distributed energy resources and the internet of things. Student teams began designing an energy innovation concept for a report due on Dec. 10 and a Shark Tank-style competition to be held at Northland Workforce Training Center on Jan. 23, 2020.