Community Foundation staff members have a shared and heartwarming hobby. We like to drive around the region and point out – to ourselves or our patient passengers – all the places we have funded. Signage at a museum, a roof on a residential program, or a shiny Bookmobile parked near a youth center will catch our eye and remind us of a grant we made years ago.

We have grown accustomed to seeing the name of the foundation in lobbies and on giving walls, though we always pause to smile and think about the donors that made the giving to that particular campaign possible.

Since we are a funder dedicated to this specific geographic area, our hobby isn’t one we typically take with us when we travel. Sure, I will ALWAYS point out that Alice Tully was born in Corning when I’m near Lincoln Center in NYC, but otherwise “spot the grant” is only a game we play in the Finger Lakes region.


That is until I received this text over the weekend from Sara Palmer during her trip to Baltimore for a baseball game with her son.

She was visiting the National Aquarium, and there it was in black and white between Comcast and Curtis Engine & Equipment, Inc.: Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes.

For several years, educators from the National Aquarium have traveled to Horseheads to work with elementary students to plant specific species locally that are helpful to the Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts. Our location in the watershed is important to the health of all the flora and fauna downstream. We fund these efforts so that young learners here gain hands-on experience literally “in the weeds” while developing an appreciation for the interconnectedness of all the earth’s fresh water. 


Though the grant is made to the National Aquarium, it truly benefits local students. You can imagine Sara’s (and my) surprise when our name was spotted in Baltimore! 

This was a great reminder that more than just the fresh water here is important to the rest of the world. Our community’s generous nature also flows downstream.