Grant Impact Stories
Community Foundation awarded 418 grants in the period January 1-December 31, 2017 totaling $1,555,217 in support of the arts & culture, environment, education, health & human services, and other means of community growth. From grantee reports and site visits and community conversations with donors and grantees we learn about what has worked, what has fallen short, and how we can dedicate our grant making to constantly improving impact.
Learn more about grant successes and ways we have partnered with donors to help solve specific problems in our community.
Fresh Produce Program Offers New Resources for Single Parents
Single-parent families from Tompkins County will receive weekly bushels of fresh produce this summer in a program that will offer culinary support for parents pressed for time to cook.
Healthy Food for All, a nonprofit that makes fresh produce accessible to low-income families, will provide partial and full subsidies for single parents who want to receive shares from a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program at one of ten local farms in Tompkins County. The CSA typically cost $600 for the season, which runs from June to November.
While the nonprofit has provided CSA shares to low-income families for more than a decade, the program will feature a new service for single parents with young children: a trained chef who will help the parents turn their share of fruits and vegetables into nutritious meals by offering food-prep assistance as well as free cooking classes, said Liz Karabinakis, director of Healthy Food for All.
Healthy Food for All began developing a program for single parents in 2016, after Karabinakis attended a gathering on women and poverty, organized by Community Foundation of Tompkins County’s Women’s Fund. At the gathering, Karabinakis said she was struck by the dire needs of single mothers with young children in Tompkins County.
A Tompkins County Community Health Assessment presented at the meeting showed that 100 percent of single-mother families with children under age 5 live in poverty in the City of Ithaca and in the Town of Groton. The overall poverty rate for single women with children under 5 in Tompkins County is 58 percent.
“After hearing the statistics and the stories of the women, I felt compelled to do something,” Karabinakis said. “I made a pledge on behalf of Healthy Food for All farmers that we would provide food-insecure single-parent families with a CSA share of fresh produce for whatever price they could afford.”
In the summer of 2016, the nonprofit provided CSA shares to 25 single parents. Last year, the number of single-parent families participating in the program grew to nearly 50 and more are expected to sign up this season.
Karabinakis said she would not have created the program for single-parent families if she had not attended Community Foundation’s gathering on women and poverty. “The Community Foundation’s support extends well beyond their financial programs and grants,” she said. “They play a much greater role in supporting our community, and this is one example.”
Amy LeViere, philanthropic services officer for Community Foundation, said the CSA program for single-parent families reflects the conversations that occur at Community Foundation convenings. “We truly are an intersection of cross-cultural and cross-sector engagement that attracts community members, philanthropists, civic leaders, businesses and elected officials all to advance equity and opportunity through multi-layered connections to community resources,” she said.
Steph Bailey, chair of Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund Advisory Committee, added, “Empowering women changes lives and changes our community. Connections through Women’s Fund grants, resources, gatherings and events help make that happen.”
This Summer - Trumansburg Philomathic Library to Offer Third Community Read
Middle school students and their families in Trumansburg will read the novel “Esperanza Rising” in the third Community Read this summer, thanks to a grant from Community Foundation.
The library will use the $1,200 grant to purchase 300 copies of the novel by Pam Muñoz Ryan, which chronicles the life of a Mexican girl and her family who migrate to California during the Great Depression and live in a Mexican labor camp. The book is based on the life of the author’s grandmother.
Ksana Broadwell, director of the Ulysses Philomathic Library, said she chose the book because it explores a number of themes in current events, including immigration, racism and classism. “The book is an award-winner, it is ten years old now, and it’s becoming a modern classic,” Broadwell said. “It touches on a lot of current topics of the time we live in.”
The books will be distributed in June at the Trumansburg Middle School and at the library. Parents and students will be able to comment on the book on the library’s Facebook page during the summer and also attend a community discussion in August.
Broadwell said the library would not be able to sponsor the Community Read if it didn’t receive funding from Community Foundation, which provided this year’s grant from the Myrtle Dee Nash Memorial Fund. “The Community Foundation has been very supportive of our Community Reads,” Broadwell said. “We very much appreciate the Community Foundation’s support.”
Click here to learn more about Community Foundation’s annual Library Grant Cycle
Kids Discover the Trail! Program Expands
This spring, hundreds of elementary school students experienced a 19th century classroom in the Eight Square Schoolhouse, dug for fossils at the Museum of the Earth and identified wildflowers in the Cornell Botanic Garden.
A record number of children in Tompkins County — 4,400 — participated in Kids Discover the Trail! (KDT!) program, a series of field trips that bring learning to life at eight educational organizations. This year, 80 percent of district elementary students from all six school districts in Tompkins County participated in the program.
KDT! was expanded to all six school districts last year after Community Foundation of Tompkins County, along with several other donors, funded a feasibility study in 2011. Community Foundation contributed $10,000 toward the study, which examined how the program could be introduced into elementary schools in districts beyond Ithaca and Trumansburg.
“The feasibility study was critical in documenting both the need as well as outlining the required logistics,” said Charlie Trautman, a member of the Discover Trail Board of Directors and former executive director of the Sciencenter. “Each site had its own challenges and opportunities. Once we had the study, it was possible for the Discovery Trail board to outline a way forward.”
After the study was completed, new schools were phased each year until all six districts had been added by last spring. The newest grades to take a field trip this spring were the third grade in Newfield, which visited the Johnson Museum of Art, and the fifth grade in Dryden, which will visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in June.
Diane Tripodi, a first-grade teacher who is the program’s liaison in Newfield, said that many children wouldn’t have the opportunity to visit museums in Tompkins County if they didn’t participate in the KDT! field trips. When her first-grade class went to the Museum of the Earth in early May, she said it was the first time many of them had seen the museum.
“I think that cost is a deterrent for a lot of families, because it’s not just one child going — it’s a full family,” Tripodi said. “For families that are working hard to make ends meet, that would just be an extravagance they just couldn’t afford.”
Payton Daley, a student in Tripodi’s class, visited the Museum of the Earth for the first time during the field trip and was so excited about learning about fossils that she went back with her sister and her parents the following weekend. The museum gives each student on the field trip a family pass offering free admission.
“She was really just excited to show her dad the fossils,” said Dorinda Daley, Payton’s mother. “She thought it was really cool.”
Before students travel to any of the eight sites, an educator from one of the organizations visits their classroom or their teacher conducts a pre-trip activity to prepare them for the field trip. The KDT! program also provides a book relating to the visit, such as bird or wildflower guides, to each student.
Star Bressler, executive director of the Discovery Trail, said the program will continue to add classrooms from the six school districts each year. “Our goal is to reach all of Tompkins County,” she said. “We’re only growing a few grades at a time so it may take several years to do that. But I think it’s more important to grow the program in a sustainable way, both financially and educationally.”
Bressler said she is thankful for the funding of Community Foundation, which also awards grants to the program annually through its donor-advised funds. “We are really deeply appreciative of the funding we receive from Community Foundation,” she said. “The study wouldn’t have been possible without its contribution.”
Janet Cotraccia, program officer for Community Foundation, said the funding was awarded to the feasibility study because Community Foundation saw the value of providing access to local arts and cultural resources for all children in Tompkins County. “Scaling up this kind of programming to allow access for all, while engaging our fund advisors in dynamic ways to support this kind of programming, is a great example of how we magnify philanthropy,” she said.