Over $100 Million Awarded to Community Action Organization of WNY, Inc. and Holy Cross Head Start, Inc. for Head Start and Early Head Start Services in Erie County

Over $100 Million Awarded to Community Action Organization of WNY, Inc. and Holy Cross Head Start, Inc. for Head Start and Early Head Start Services in Erie County

(Buffalo, NY) — The Office of Head Start (OHS) has awarded the Community Action Organization of WNY, Inc. (CAO) $77.1 million grant over five years to provide Head Start and Early Head Start programming to 1,080 Head Start students and 205 infants, toddlers, and pregnant women in Erie County. Holy Cross Head Start Inc., formerly a delegate of CAO since 1969, was also awarded a portion of the Erie County grant and will now serve the community as a Grantee agency alongside CAO. Holy Cross was awarded $25 million over five years, serving 500 Head Start children.

“CAO’s dedication of providing Head Start and Early Head Start services that promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services for enrolled children and families” is unmatched, said Chelsea White, Executive VP/Chief of Education. She continues, “We are looking forward to continuing our partnerships with Holy Cross Head Start, as we provide premier Head Start and Early Head Start programming throughout Erie County.   

Cortland Purks, Executive Director of Holy Cross Head Start Inc., celebrated the decision and said, “We are excited to continue our partnership with CAO and provide early childhood education to children as it plays a vital role in creating a pathway for children and families to thrive.”

“Head Start programs work to provide every child with a strong start in life,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This federal funding will help ensure that children in Erie County have the support they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom. I will continue fighting to ensure that CAO and similar organizations have the resources to prioritize early childhood education throughout Erie County and beyond.”

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) commented on the accomplishments of the two organizations: “I want to congratulate CAO and Holy Cross for receiving grants to provide Head Start programming to multiple localities and thousands of children in Erie County. As an advocate for education, I understand the importance of Head Start and early childhood education in developing life-long learners. I look forward to working together with both organizations to ensure the success of hundreds of children in Erie County.”

“As we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, our children desperately need hands-on development and educational opportunities, and this massive investment will ensure that these quality WNY agencies will be able to provide those critical services,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. 

Thomas Kim, CEO for CAO of WNY, is proud of the partnership with Holy Cross Head Start and says: “We look forward to deepening our relationship with Holy Cross Head Start as their vision aligns with ours. An early head start for a child is critical in preparing them for a better and brighter future.” He continues, “I am proud of the team at CAO Head Start and Early Head Start for continuously working to develop high-quality services and with innovation and diligence spearheading early childhood development in this region.

Both CAO and Holy Cross Head Start, Inc. are committed to a seamless transition and continuity of services. They want to assure the families in Erie County that Head Start services will continue in their community. 

For media files, visit here.


CAO was designated in 1965 as the official anti-poverty agency for Erie County with a mission to serve the unmet needs of the low-income populations. Today, CAO serves more than 50,000 families and individuals within Erie and Niagara Counties through various programs and services. Visit caowny.org for more information. 


CAO Head Start/Early Head Start provides infant/toddler and preschool services to children and families throughout Western New York. The mission of the program is to provide a learning environment that supports children’s growth and development through improved language, literacy, and numeracy skills along with a positive social setting. Visit caowny.org/head-start-early-head-start/ for more information. 


Holy Cross Head Start, Inc. has served over 30,000 children and their families since 1969. The Holy Cross Head Start, Inc. program provides early childhood education and school readiness to children through research based, developmentally appropriate curriculums taught by qualified and experienced teachers. HCHS prides itself in providing high quality, comprehensive, holistic and supportive services for Erie County’s most vulnerable population. Visit our website for center locations and contact information. holycrossheadstart.org