Joseph Polat (Executive Director) and Murat Kucukdugenci (Chief Operations Officer)
Buffalo, New York

Buffalo Academy of Science

A New Choice
“Charter schools are providing choice, especially in Rochester and Buffalo.” After a long career in the education sector, Joseph Polat joined Buffalo Academy of Science as Executive Director to oversee the growth of a school providing much-needed opportunities to a predominantly urban and low-income community. Buffalo Science’s mission is to provide an education that will impact its students beyond the classroom. “It’s more than just preparing them for a test; it’s an experience that will carry them for future success.”

After the success of its three existing schools, the time came for Buffalo Science to expand to a fourth school. Finding the right building was easy. “The location chose us. I would always pass by the monastery on the way to our middle school and notice how beautiful it was.” When the occupants of the monastery told Joseph they were looking for someone to take over the lease, Joseph wasted no time. He reached out to Civic Builders and was able to secure a $9M Facilities Investment Fund loan. “With Civic’s help, we were able to purchase the additional fourth building.”

Making Lives Better
Buffalo Science’s fourth school building, an elementary school located in the heart of downtown Buffalo, educates 350 students and consists of 24 classrooms, a cafeteria, an auditorium and facilities for additional support. The building is also situated on nine acres of land. “We have walking trails, tree houses, and a lot of recreational activities. It’s a great experience for students who don’t often have access to green, open spaces.” Buffalo Science also used a portion of the FIF loan to renovate their three existing schools. “We were able to replace the lighting, renovate the bathrooms, and get a better HVAC system – basically just adjustments to make life better.”

Breaking the Cycle
The partnership between Buffalo Science and Civic Builders is one that Buffalo Science looks forward to growing, especially as the school continues to expand its reach through new, additional buildings. “I like working with Civic Builders. They ask the right questions and give the right kind of guidance,” explained Murat Kucukdugenci, Chief Operations Officer. “One of the biggest challenges for charter schools is to secure an affordable and valuable facility. There are many obstacles,” said Joseph, “what Civic Builders does is closes that gap.” Over the next six years, Buffalo Science intends to open twelve new schools, giving around 3,600 additional students a newfound access to choice. “Charter schools don’t always have funds for better buildings but we want to break that cycle,” said Joseph, “we want to have really great buildings for our students.”

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