Peter A. Dunn

Point of View

Giving Voice Spring 2022: Point of View

In 2022, we’re marking the Community Foundation’s 95th year of service to the community. In 1927, men and women with vision and a commitment to civic engagement created what was then the Syracuse Foundation. We were founded as a vehicle for growing permanent charitable resources and sustaining local impact that makes this community a better place.

This June we mark the conclusion of our current, five-year strategic plan. During that time, much has changed in the community, for our partners, neighbors and the Community Foundation. When we set off to implement our new plan back in 2017, we envisioned growth in both resources and impact. I find it inspiring to look back now at the planning documents, at the feedback and encouragement we received at the time, and the work of our staff and board to execute on our plans in the years since. I am grateful for our institutional progress over these last five years but know that there is so much more to do.

For us, this next year will be about strategic sharpening and discernment. Our staff and board will embark on a series of conversations and engagements to create our next strategic plan – which will take us through our 100th anniversary. We will engage the Center for Effective Philanthropy, a national nonprofit consultant, to survey our donors, grantees and grant applicants to get their feedback on our work and how we can improve. We will also commission a series of targeted interviews and focus groups to complement this survey data.

Taking note of the work of our foundation peers around the country, I believe that we have an opportunity to leverage our growing resources in new ways that can create positive community outcomes. Towards that end, we’ve engaged LOCUS Impact Investing, a national nonprofit advisor for foundations, to help us deploy our financial resources using other tools beyond grantmaking to support local impact.

Data and measurement will continue to be core to our work. We’ve certainly had plenty of opportunities in recent years for data to motivate us to take action collectively. From the finding that Syracuse has the highest level of concentrated poverty among Black and Latino populations in the country, to the recent publication of census data demonstrating that Syracuse has the highest per- centage of children in poverty in the nation– the data speaks loudly. I am heartened, though, from our experience that people with goodwill, resilience and a commitment to measurable outcomes can move needles in this community. We intend to continue to be a key part of that local movement going forward.

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