Buffalo, N.Y. - Since 1999, the Western New York Women's Foundation has been changing the lives of girls and women, offering support in childcare, education and employment.

"We have a trademark program called 'Moms: From Education to Employment' that has moved 234 women, single moms, through an education so that they can get a family-sustaining job and move their whole family out of poverty and stop that intergenerational cycle," said Sheri Scavone, executive director of WNY Women's Foundation.

The services the group provides are based on research and data used to identify the opportunities and barriers for the nearly 600,000 girls and women of Western New York. Over the last two decades, the Women's Foundation invested $1.2 million on initiatives that will help women and girls thrive now and in years to come.

"Research shows that they will not go into STEM careers, which really are the jobs of the future. So we've already put them behind if we can't overcome that kind of confidence barrier and the gender bias that exist throughout the community," said Scavone.

Its partnership with Niagara County Community College for the 'Moms: From Education to Employment' program is just one example of how the organization continues to make a difference in the lives of women. Since the program began in 2013, nearly 80 mothers have found jobs, 49 scholarships have been awarded and the retention rate has increased by 25 percent.

"Our impact is very strategic. We have metrics that we measure to move forward toward that goal of being a voice for women and getting rid of gender biases where we can," Scavone said.

The Western New York Women's Foundation was formed in collaboration with the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.