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$20,000 Grant from First Niagara Foundation Supports Historic Hudson Valley’s Educational Programs

Croton-on-Hudson Fourth Graders Visit Philipsburg Manor to Learn about Millers and Merchants

Date Posted: December 04, 2013

SLEEPY HOLLOW, NY (December 2013) – First Niagara Foundation is helping bring history to life for some 20,000 schoolchildren, many from underserved communities. Each year, thousands of children visit Historic Hudson Valley’s (HHV) National Historic Landmark sites to participate in hands-on, curriculum-based workshops. As the first corporate sponsor of these school programs, First Niagara today presented HHV with a $20,000 grant to help support education at Philipsburg Manor and Van Cortlandt Manor. 

“First Niagara is proud to support programs such as this that foster youth education about an important part of our region’s history,” said Cathie A. Schaffer, Regional President for First Niagara’s newly formed Tri-State Region. “The Historic Hudson Valley National Historic Landmarks are near and dear to the hearts of Hudson Valley residents, and today we were able to teach these young children about the importance of history and culture.”

“Our educational programs are the bedrock of our mission,” said Historic Hudson Valley President Waddell W. Stillman. “The generous support of partners like First Niagara helps ensure our ability to serve thousands of schoolchildren each year.”

On Monday morning, Schaffer joined 70 fourth-graders from Croton-on-Hudson at Philipsburg Manor, an 18th-century provisioning plantation in Sleepy Hollow, for Millers and Merchants, one of the educational programs supported by the grant. The program focuses on the interconnected roles of the enslaved Africans, Anglo-Dutch landowners, and tenant farmers who lived and worked within the colonial economic system. Students visit the historic site’s farm, mill, activity center, and manor house where they participate in an interactive lesson that teaches them about Philipsburg Manor’s role in the developing world of international trade.

Curriculum-based programs for K-12 students with titles like Touching the Past, Millers and Merchants, and Hard Work and Hand Work are designed to meet state learning standards. At Philipsburg Manor the educational focus is the history of slavery, commerce, and cultural pluralism. Lessons are illuminated by historical background that offers a window into the lives of enslaved Africans and tenant farmers of diverse European backgrounds who operated the site. At Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, students explore the lives of a prominent Dutch patriot family, as well as their slaves and paid servants, in the years following the American Revolution. 

At each site, Historic Hudson Valley’s educational programs are characterized by small-group, hands-on learning involving craft activities and historic “tasks,” the examination of reproduction objects and documents, and participation in traditional leisure-time activities. 

About First Niagara

First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 420 branches, approximately $37 billion in assets, $27 billion in deposits, and approximately 6,000 employees providing financial services to individuals, families, and businesses across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. For more information, visit

First Niagara Foundation is a not for profit corporation founded in 1998.  The Foundation is committed to supporting organizations in the communities in which we live and work with specific focus on youth and education, community development and neighborhood revitalization. In 2012 the Foundation contributed more than $10 million in charitable grants to community partners. 

About Historic Hudson Valley

Known for its educational programs and events like the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, Historic Hudson Valley is a collection of National Historic Landmarks that serve as distinct, robust platforms for fulfilling the organization’s mission of celebrating the region’s significant history, architecture, and culture. For more information, visit


Juliana Wynohradnyk
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