Philanthropy Magnified
December 2014

A Message from our CEO, George Ferrari
George Ferrari

Thank you for your generosity, your hard work, your wisdom, and your enthusiasm in making 2014 yet another record breaking year for your Community Foundation. Even before the official year end, we can report that once again we have increased grant making by more than $500,000 over the previous year for the second consecutive year. This represents more than 280 grants totaling over $1.5 million, an increase of nearly 60% over last year's record breaking year. Our deepest thanks to this amazing community we serve. Our best wishes to you for a new year of peace, prosperity and health.


A philanthropic donation in someone's honor or memory makes a most thoughtful and gracious holiday gift. We can help you plan and make such a gift. Ask us about a wide variety of options.


Please keep your Community Foundation in mind as you prepare your charitable giving plans for the end of 2014. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Make an operational support gift at the special $1,000 HEROES Circle level
  • Donate to the Operational Endowment Fund, which helps us provide philanthropy education services to our community
  • Contribute to the growing endowments of our Women's Fund or our Children & Youth Fund
  • Make a multi-year pledge to support the operations of the Community Foundation
  • Start your own fund
  • Give to any existing fund

CLICK HERE for more information.


Thank you for your support and for your generosity. Please contact us so that we may be of assistance.


Gift Deadlines

Gifts delivered by US Mail must be postmarked by December 31, 2014 in order to receive a 2014 gift date.


Hand delivered gifts must be received in person in our office by 1 pm on Tuesday, December 31, 2014 in order to receive a 2014 gift date.


As always, keep connected by visiting our website at

Words of Wisdom...
By Amy LeViere, Donor Services Officer

Teresa Harris and Samantha Castillo-Davis, Philanthropy Magnified Reception

As Legacy Society members chatted at a recent event, we realized that we probably had both the oldest member as well as the youngest member in the room, spanning more than a half a century, with Teresa Harris having just celebrated her 94th birthday.  As they each reflected on what was important in life, Teresa remarked that it was important to be "tough enough to take what comes at you in life," while Samantha responded "be gentle with yourself."  And so, we continue to learn from each other, from life's experiences, and from our community.  Thank you for sharing.


Collective Support of our Local Nonprofits
By Janet Cotraccia, Program Officer


One of the ways we magnify philanthropy is by providing a structure, where many donors and funds can come together to support a single nonprofit. How have we done this in 2014? We have many examples; here are three. Grants supporting the Advocacy Center, which helps reduce the trauma that results from domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse, totaled $7,425 in 2014. These grants came from a range of Donor Advised and Field of Interest Funds such as the Johnson Community Impact Fund, the Strebel Fund for Community Enrichment, Vector Magnetics Fund, Tom and Maria Eisner's Fund, and the Crime Victims & Sexual Assault Victims Services of Tompkins County Fund.


Grants supporting the Tompkins County Public Library for a total of $35,968 came from our Vector Magnetics Fund, the Sandy and Jay True Fund, the Kathy Yoselson Fierce Determination Fund, The Myrtle Dee Nash Memorial Fund, and the Carman and Sandra Brink Hill Fund.


Grants supporting Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes totaled $95,500 and came from the Taylor Peck Fund, the Carman and Sandra Brink Hill Fund, Tom and Maria Eisner's Fund, the Sandy and Jay True Fund and the Vector Magnetics Fund.


We invest in our local community by gathering and providing information, building and stewarding relationships and by making grants to support the missions of our community organizations.

2015 New Board Members

Community Foundation announces its 2015 new board members and 2015 new board officers. New to the board are Fabina Colon, Alice Moore, Susan Murphy, Stephen Pope, Ron Poole and Kevin Shreve. Officers for 2015 are Alan Mathios, Chairperson, Randy Ehrenberg, Vice-Chairperson, Diane McDonough, Treasurer, and Sandy Dhimitri, Secretary.

The Pack Team

A BIG thank you to our volunteers!! We couldn't do the work here without you!!


Last month's pack party kept going and going until the job was done. Thank you all for helping with our mailings - you truly went above and beyond!



Carol Murray, Janette Miller, Cathy Parthanakis, Marge Hansel, and Jason Millen

Carol Murray and Marge Hansel
Janette Miller
Jason Millen
Intensive Joint Efforts to Solve Big Problems Are a Work in Progress
Title: Intensive Joint Efforts to Solve Big Problems Are a Work in Progress
Credit: Nathan Mandell, Chronicle of Philanthropy

Jeff Edmondson is managing director of StriveTogether, a network of "cradle to career" efforts in 26 states considered one of the most expansive and prominent collective-impact endeavors.


Twenty organizations in the Portland, Ore., area offer summer programs to help prepare rising ninth-graders for high school, but their early efforts weren't reaching enough kids at risk of dropping out.


That sobering message wasn't delivered by a school superintendent but by All Hands Raised, an organization in Portland that aspires to raise educational achievement in six low-income school districts.


The organizations aimed to have at least 75 percent of those enrolled in the summer-enrichment program Ninth Grade Counts consist of students classified by their schools as at risk of dropping out-the ones most in need of a summer boost. When All Hands Raised crunched the enrollment numbers, however, it found that only 55 percent of students in the program were so classified.

At monthly meetings, All Hands Raised pushed the 20 organizations to work more closely with school counselors to get more students who were struggling into the program.


"Everyone had to accept that this was a failure," says Dan Ryan, chief executive of All Hands Raised. "It wasn't about shaming everybody. It was about shining the light on the possibility to improve."


Since that weak start in 2009, the organizations are now reaching more of those the program is designed to help. Today, students at risk of dropping out make up nearly 80 percent of the program's enrollment.


All Hands Raised is one of many new organizations around the country that champion an approach called "collective impact," in which a number of local organizations work together to solve systemic social problems and use data to chart their progress.


The strides made by Ninth Grade Counts illustrate why advocates of collective impact hope it can achieve the nonprofit sector's holy grail-something often attempted but too seldom accomplished: achieving lasting progress in tackling big systemic problems, in areas such as education and criminal justice.


But even the most ardent advocates of the approach worry that it is being overhyped, and they acknowledge that many prominent collective-impact efforts have a long way to go before they can claim success. In Portland, for example, some schools that have succeeded in getting more at-risk students to enroll in Ninth Grade Counts have yet to see that participation translate into higher graduation rates.


"It's a work in progress," says Jeff Edmondson, managing director of StriveTogether, a network of "cradle to career" efforts in 26 states that is considered one of the most expansive and prominent collective-impact endeavors. "All of the pioneers will tell you that we have to fail forward, and build this as we go."


Different Approach

Until recently, grant makers and nonprofit leaders focused heavily on identifying high-achieving charities-often headed by charismatic chief executives-and helping them spread their top programs throughout the country.


Collective-impact efforts are different and more challenging. The focus is distinctly local, and often involves as many as 100 partners, all corralled by a "backbone organization"-like All Hands Raised-that keeps the focus on the goal of making steady progress in fighting a particular problem that is thorny and persistent. The groups agree up front on various data points that will guide their progress and point them toward areas in which changes may be needed, as in the summer programs for at-risk students in Portland.

"Collective impact is fundamentally different from the paradigms that we've seen for trying to solve social problems in the past 50 years," says Fay Hanleybrown, a managing director at FSG, a consulting firm that is perhaps the strategy's biggest champion. "This is about having a very structured approach to using data and course correcting as you go."


New Buzzword

One of the first, and perhaps the best-known, collective-impact efforts is the Strive Partnership in Cincinnati. Strive was created in 2006, when a diverse group of leaders-school-district superintendents, early-childhood educators, nonprofit and business leaders, grant makers, city officials, and university presidents-came together to try to improve education. They agreed on a common set of goals and indicators to track progress, including readiness for kindergarten, fourth-grade reading and math scores, graduation rates, and college completion.


FSG drew heavily on the Strive Partnership when, in late 2010, it adopted the term "collective impact" to describe broad approaches to social problems that rely heavily on data to chart progress. Within a short time, "collective impact" became a buzzword in philanthropy, and since then, excitement about the strategy has increased.


Today, it's hard to find a major U.S. city that doesn't have some kind of collective-impact effort under way. In March, FSG and the Aspen Institute's Forum for Community Solutions created an online forum devoted to collective impact. Within six months, 7,000 people had signed up.


The Obama administration is among the believers in the approach. In December 2012, the seven school districts participating in the Road Map Project, a collective-impact effort in South Seattle and surrounding areas to double college completion rates, won a $40-million Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education. And the federal Social Innovation Fund, which has given $243-million since 2010, announced in September that in its latest round of grants, it gave special consideration to proposals involving collective-impact approaches.


Improving education has been the main goal of many collective-impact efforts, but some successful results have been achieved in other areas. For example, an effort to overhaul New York State's juvenile-justice system significantly reduced the number of juvenile arrests and the number of youths in state custody two years later.


The approach has also helped Vibrant Communities to significantly reduce poverty rates in 13 cities in Canada; has enabled Somerville, Mass., to reduce obesity among its residents; and was effective in reducing binge drinking in Franklin County, Mass.


In Name Only

Not surprisingly, some old-school collaborations are adopting the collective-impact name.


John Kania, an FSG managing director who helped popularize the use of the term in the nonprofit sector, wrote recently in the Stanford Social Innovation Review that grant makers are getting proposals from charities that claim the use of a collective-impact approach but aren't really practicing that. And conversely, some foundations are pushing grantees to collaborate in "collective-impact" efforts that aren't true to the strategy.


Steve Patrick is executive director of the Aspen Institute's Forum for Community Solutions, which manages a fund that plans to invest $13-million over five years in local efforts that use a collective-impact approach to help young people who have either dropped out of school or are unemployed. When giving talks about the fund, he addresses the faddishness of the approach up front.


"How many of you got a little nauseous when I just put 'collective' and 'impact' together in the same sentence?" he says.


The buzz around the Strive Partnership has spawned copycat efforts around the country. The interest is so strong that Mr. Edmondson, its founding executive director, left to create and lead the StriveTogether network.


By 2012, the network had 100 members. Now the number is down to 49. Mr. Edmondson booted more than half the groups from the network after determining that they had not met certain milestones, like reaching broad consensus on desired outcomes or identifying data points as markers of progress.

"This is the hardest work you could ever do, and we were at risk of watering it down," Mr. Edmondson says. "We had to set a higher bar for what it means to take this work on in an authentic way."


Need for Evidence

As the pretenders fall away, the more important question becomes: Does the intensive approach actually work? Despite all the enthusiasm about it, there is little evidence demonstrating that a collective-impact approach can solve intractable social problems.

One reason for caution is the weak track record of previous collective attempts by philanthropists, schools, government agencies, and political leaders to tackle persistent systemic problems.


The language used by the Annie E. Casey Foundation for its 1988 New Futures program-a $50-million, five-year effort to aid at-risk children in five cities-sounds a lot like collective impact today. Strong political leadership, data-driven decision making, and interagency collaboration were supposed to drive down the rates of kids who dropped out of school and of teenage girls who became pregnant. By Casey's own admission, New Futures didn't work.


The foundation's mission is creating a brighter future for low-income children, so the organization continues to take on difficult urban challenges.

In May, at a sold-out conference held at the Aspen Institute for foundations interested in the collective-impact approach, Patrick McCarthy, Casey's president, described how it's being used by four current foundation projects, most of them based in Baltimore.


Mr. McCarthy says that in spite of the failure of the New Futures program, he is optimistic about the collective-impact approach, in part because of all the energy people are putting into refining the model.


"The how-to, the implementation approach is much more fully described and documented" than when Casey unveiled New Futures, he says.


"I'm not claiming that we've found the magic potion," Mr. McCarthy adds. "There's a lot more work to do. We need to be modest in what we claim for how much the collective-impact principles are backed up by rigorous evidence."

GrantStation Access
The Community Foundation now has access to GrantStation and we would like to share it with you!

GrantStation is a tool for non-profits, educational institutions, and government agencies that helps these groups find both private and federal grantmakers in their local area, for a specific area of interest, or for a specific project.

GrantStation is very user-friendly and operates using both simple and advanced search features. As a grant seeker, you can simply search within an area of interest or for a specific keyword, or do a more intricate search and find exactly what you are seeking.

There are also many resources provided by GrantStation to aid in the grant seeking process. GrantStation is divided into four sections: Search, Write, Learn, and Read. Each of these sections will help you in different ways and guide you toward writing better grants to the right people.

To give GrantStation a try in our offices or to conduct more thorough research, reserve a one-hour GrantStation time slot by contacting our Administrative Assistant, Matthew Fisher:

(607) 272-9333
New Office Wishlist
We have office furniture donated by the Park Foundation and office architecture and painting donated pro bono by Flatfield Designs, Daniel Hirtler, Registered Architect, but we are still looking for the following things to help make our office complete:
  • LCD Smart projector
  • 5 new large screen monitors
  • support for local artwork
  • Annual Report display rack
In This Issue
News and Events
Community Report Back
  • Dec. 15, 2014
  • 6pm - 7:30pm
  • The Space @ GreenStar
    700 W. Buffalo Street
    Ithaca, NY 14850
  • More information
Who We Are
2013 Annual Report

Click here to view our latest report,
Learning to Give, Giving to Learn.
What Are Community Foundations?

Community Foundations are not-for-profit organizations founded and staffed by people who are dedicated to seeking out what is needed in our community and what is valuable about Tompkins County and to helping those valuable assets grow important results. We understand our community's needs and help you to turn your charitable passions into results-oriented philanthropy. We show donors how to make gifts go further and accomplish more.

Meet the Board and Staff

Board Chair

Robin Masson


Vice Board Chair

Alan Mathios



Mary Berens



Diane McDonough



Richard Banks

Susan Brown

Tom Colbert

Paula Davis

Sandra Dhimitri

Randy Ehrenberg

Ross Feldman

Marcie Finlay

Bob Jewell

Sara Knobel

Phil McPheron

Bill Murphy

Nancy Potter

David Squires

Carol Travis

Lucia Tyler

Linda Wagenet

Julie Waters

Baruch Whitehead

Stephanie Wiles


Incorporating Board

Jeff Furman

Howard Hartnett

Bill Myers

Robert Swieringa

John Semmler

Diane Shafer



Click on a name to send an email.


Chief Executive Officer

George Ferrari, Jr.


Program Officer

Janet Cotraccia


Donor Services Officer

Amy LeViere


Administrative Assistant

Matthew Fisher

Community Foundation of Tompkins County | (607) 272-9333 | |
200 E. Buffalo St.
Suite 202
Ithaca, NY 14850

COF Standards logo
Philanthropy Magnified
 every day.