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Hispanic Heritage Council receives nearly $4 million towards construction of Cultural Institute

Thomas O'Neil-White
Officials hold up a $3.8 million check for the Hispanic Heritage Council Sept. 21, 2021.

Several local and state elected officials were on hand to help present the Hispanic Heritage Council with $3.8 million in funding from the state legislature for the building of a Hispanic Cultural Institute on Niagara Street on Buffalo’s West Side.

The project is now halfway towards its $10 million dollar goal of providing a culturally significant showcasing of Western New York’s Hispanic community.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie spoke to the institute’s significance.

“This is really something that’s very, very important,” he said. “Understanding your heritage, particularly for our young people, to understand where you came from, helps to chart where you are going.”

Hispanic Heritage Council President Casimiro Rodriguez said the announcement of the amount of funds is big news, especially during Hispanic Heritage month.

“The theme for this month is ‘Esperanza,’ a celebration of hope and heritage,” he said. “It is the very cornerstone of what today is all about.”

The institute will feature a museum showcasing Hispanic culture in Western New York, a station which broadcasts tv and radio programming and a theater.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.