Grant Impact Stories

Community Foundation will end 2020 awarding more than 570 grants totaling over $2.3 million in support of the arts & culture, environment, education, health & human services, and other means of community growth.

Learn more about grant successes and ways we have partnered with donors to help solve specific problems in our community.

Here is a sampling of three recent grants of many and the impacts they have delivered. Follow the links in each story to learn more. Contact us at to ask questions or offer to help.

Tompkins County COVID-19 Food Task Force Addresses Pandemic and Winter Food Gaps

Tompkins County COVID-19 Food Task Force Addresses Pandemic and Winter Food Gaps

By the third week of every month, nearly 80% of even the thriftiest people using food stamps (SNAP) have run out of food. Before COVID (2018), Feeding America estimated that 10% of all Tompkins County residents (10,400 people), and 17% of all children were food insecure. This year (2020), food insecurity is projected to impact around 14% of all residents and 22% of all children. Many people began the pandemic already facing chronic health crises (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, obesity) induced by a chronic lack of nourishing food. Community Foundation of Tompkins County has supported the Food Task Force to address further food gaps anticipated during the upcoming holiday break and through winter.

With a generous continuation grant from Community Foundation, the TC COVID-19 Food Task Force (FTF), operating since March, will plunge into winter to continue the collaborative process of food relief with its 70+ local member agencies. “Community Foundation has been able to provide this level of funding because of generous donors to our COVID-19 Response Fund,” reports Chief Impact Officer, Janet Cotraccia. Every two weeks, FTF gathers partners to share latest COVID numbers, survey results, updates on food sources, and to work on reaching Tompkins County’s hungry residents. FTF partners identify new food shortage ‘hot spots,’ addressing them through cross-collaboration, information campaigns, supplementing school food during breaks when childhood nutrition programs are suspended, coordinating volunteer deliveries, and developing ways to reach vulnerable populations. They also support the steady network of neighbors-helping-neighbors who fill outdoor “blue food cabinets,” organized on Facebook via Mutual Aid Tompkins, open to all, 24/7.

A Facebook post written by one community member shows what it takes to navigate the monthly food gap left by insufficient food stamp benefits:

“From a friend who lives in west village [housing] – There have been more blue boxes [food cabinets] here that’s good…there was food in bags by the laundry room I got more bread and potatoes so with that and what I picked up today I should have food enough to get me through til snaps [SNAP = Federal food stamp program] kicks back in…it’s this end of the month that’s always tough… “I am utterly grateful for those boxes and the food stuffs… ..I got food now so I’m not worried…I love Ithaca and the people that love people…nowhere else have I lived where they care for the fellow folks so much…I am utterly grateful…beyond belief…”

During winter, many families are headed for another rough patch when school food is suspended during breaks, and fresh produce is in short supply. In addition to continuation funding for the Food Task Force, the Community Foundation also awarded continuation funding to a key partner, Nourish Tompkins, which will provide 260 boxes of local produce, by request, to school families. Nourish Tompkins will extend its reach over the winter by providing more than 4,300 pounds of fresh produce from local farms to hunger relief partners for distribution to struggling households. Local & regional ingredients (vegetables, legumes, whole grains) will be prepared by volunteer chefs into 1,950 hot meals for distribution to hungry families, and individuals living unsheltered throughout the county.

There are many things that are uncertain during these pandemic times. The people most affected by food insecurity and by food-induced health problems, are low income, and/or people of color, and/or rural. The story of food in our county is precarious, uplifting, and unfinished. There are many ways to participate (see below).

Increase COVID-19 Response Fund Grants 

Increase Tompkins Hunger Relief Efforts

– Join a free Food Task Force Zoom Meeting Email Holly Payne 

– Drop non-perishable food at a blue food cabinet visit Mutual Aid Tompkins’ Facebook page

– Obtain free food or prepared meals LINK to 211 Human Services Coalition


The Food Task Force and Nourish Tompkins, housed at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities.






Technology Grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund  Address Health Needs

Technology Grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund Address Health Needs


As a result of your support, grants are being made to assure continued and changing services for residents health needs:

  • $10,000 grant to Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services for Telehealth Equipment for bring remote addiction treatment to individuals in recovery.
  • $6,225 grant to Advocacy Center supports enhanced hotline services due to increased call volume and additional technology to provide secure mobile services that assure confidentiality protocols.
  • $10,000 grant to Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca for staff technology to assure mental health services virtually. This grant is in response to the changing mental health needs of local residents.

Community Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund grants are providing support in a wide range of areas.  Learn about other grants here.


Need COVID Funding?  Find our updated application here.

Local Philanthropy  Working for Racial and Social Justice

Local Philanthropy Working for Racial and Social Justice

Your Community Foundation shares information and requests with fund advisors, to leverage and expand impact, as we work for more just, equitable and inclusive communities.

A recent grant began with an inquiry from Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming.  Four of the farmers at Groundswell’s Incubator Farm were hoping to attend the Emerging Farmers Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota.  This conference specifically serves refugee and immigrant farmers and is translated in multiple languages depending on need, including S’gaw Karen, the language spoken by the four farmers, all of whom are refugees from Burma.

Since only 1 of the 4 farmers speaks fluent English, this would be a unique opportunity for these farmers to learn about agriculture and business in their native language, represent the Finger Lakes at a nation event, and bring back farming knowledge to share with the other 25+ Burmese farmers at the Incubator.  Foundation staff shared this request for conference attendance with a donor advisor who might have interest in such a project and a grant was made for almost $2,000.

quote B.R. Ambedkar

A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.