Every year, on April Fools Day, the Community Foundation starts a new fiscal year. I have always found this somewhat amusing, the notion of ending one fiscal period and starting another on a day not typically associated with reflection or discernment. As we move into a new season, though, I’m particularly grateful for the work of our board, staff, donors and community partners in helping to move our community forward, especially during the difficult circumstances that we witnessed this past year.
As challenging as our work has been, I am humbled that our efforts have been recognized in recent months by organizations for which we have much respect.
For the first time, we were nominated and chosen to receive the Nonprofit Business of the Year Award by CenterState CEO. The award was in specific reference to our work managing and helping to amplify our community’s philanthropic response to the pandemic through the COVID-19 Community Support Fund, as well as our public commitments and funding efforts to foster racial equity in our region. We share this award with all of the community partners and donors who helped make this critical response possible.
The NAACP Syracuse Chapter, at its 42nd Annual Freedom Day Dinner on Juneteenth, recognized the Community Foundation with the Oprah Winfrey Philanthropy Award. There is much more to be done to ensure that every individual in Central New York has the same opportunity to thrive regardless of race or ethnicity. We will use this acknowledgement to spur us forward as we continue our work to address racial equity, especially with regard to our grantmaking and program development through the Black Equity & Excellence Fund.
The Early Care & Learning Council, an organization representing child care resource and referral agencies (like Childcare Solutions here in Syracuse) throughout New York State, awarded us the Partners in Philanthropy Award. This was in recognition of our efforts with local partners to create and foster the growth of the Early Childhood Alliance in Onondaga County and to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program to our region.
Lastly, along with my colleague Dashiell Elliott, I had the chance to attend the PGR Foundation’s annual Achievement and Recognition Ceremony. The PGR Foundation gave an award to the Community Foundation in gratitude for our support for the organization and the vision of its founder, Deborah McClendon Boddie. PGR is a mentoring program that cultivates the mindset of young girls ages 6-18, to ensure they’re “Poised, Gifted, and Ready” for the world. PGR began working with us as a participant in The Leadership Classroom (TLC) five years ago, received a Black Equity & Excellence Fund grant last year, and has received other grant support from the Community Foundation.
As a community foundation, we are built for the long term – fostering growth in philanthropy and supporting efforts that measurably move our community forward. These awards, coming all together in one concentrated period to recognize the work that we do and the impact that we are having right now, are particularly motivating to our staff. We also acknowledge that our work would not have so much impact if it were not for the community, donor and nonprofit partners who support us each and every day. Thank you to everyone who joins us, now and into the future, in our efforts to make Central New York a thriving community with opportunity for everyone.