A community foundation serves as a conduit for helping donors’ gifts reach worthy causes, but the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes also does a great deal more. Given our experience, resources and connections, we’re in an ideal position to serve as a catalyst for change in our region. It’s an honor to work with our community partners on programs such as those described below.
The School Readiness Project
When the Community Foundation received a $15 million bequest from Helen Schuyler in 2004, that gift presented an amazing opportunity. Here was a chance to step up, identify an urgent community need and address it in a way that would make a lasting difference.
As we polled local leaders for ideas, one issue kept surfacing, early childhood education. Too many children entering kindergarten lacked the skills they needed to succeed. Working with the players in the early childhood field and supported by the county as well as local school district superintendents the School Readiness Project (SRP) was off and running.
Started in 2006, SRP is a ground-breaking early childhood system that benefits all children and families living in Chemung County. SRP unifies the community’s rich offering of early childhood services into one cohesive system.
40 Grants in 40 Weeks
A 2013 initiative to celebrate our 40th anniversary, in which the Foundation awarded a surprise "grant of the week" to a not-for-profit organization serving the citizens of Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben or Yates counties. Forty organizations nominated by a mix of foundation board members, staff, high school students, local youth centers, and the general community each received a $1,000 grant check.
Failure can deliver important lessons, the kind that lead to eventual success. But not many people go out of their way to trumpet their mistakes. We think they should. So in 2012, the Community Foundation held its first Failure Summit. We repeated the event in 2013, giving seven community leaders the chance to discuss significant professional failures and describe the insights they gained as a result. People at all points in their careers, from college students to business professionals, have flocked to the Failure Summit for a chance to share in this hard-earned wisdom.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first community foundation, staff visited 100 different classrooms in Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties by the end of 2014, teaching students in grades K-5 about philanthropy. Students first learn what the word philanthropy means and the kind of philanthropist they would like to be. Each classroom then brainstorms the needs they see in their communities and ends the lesson by awarding a $100 grant to the local charity of the students’ choice!
Some opportunities appear out of the blue and vanish if you don’t grab them fast. Those are the opportunities we had in mind when we formed QuickArts, a mini-grant program supported by the Community Foundation’s Helen Schuyler Fund and administered by The ARTS Council for the Southern Finger Lakes.
QuickArts offers grants of $50 to $500 to artists and arts organizations in Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties. It includes two programs, QuickArts: Go! and QuickArts Community Arts Money in a Jiffy!
QuickArts: Go! helps individual artists seize unique chances to benefit their work or career development. For example, a grant might help an artist travel to give a reading or performance or to exhibit his or her own work. It might fund one-on-one study with a mentor, pay for materials to make work for a specific opportunity or help an artists in a number of other small but crucial ways. QuickArts Community Arts Money in a Jiffy! supports community-based arts and cultural activities such as readings, performances, workshops, festivals, concerts, screenings and extra-curricular art activities for students.