Cazenovia Organizations Benefit from Donor’s Grant Initiative

Cazenovia-area organizations are benefiting from a new and creative funding opportunity thanks to Community Foundation fund holder Bob Hood, who is a longtime resident and supporter of the town.

“Cazenovia is blessed with several fine organizations and hundreds of caring volunteers and staff, already contributing to our community,” said Hood, “We simply wanted to offer an incentive for new initiatives and collaborations to further their good work.”

Seeing a need for more Cazenovia-area support, Hood launched the new Common Grounds Challenge Grants (CGCG) program. This is named after Common Grounds, the coffeehouse he started in the village 16 years ago to support Project Café, which is a student-directed nonprofit that encourages community leadership among teens in Cazenovia

Hood launched CGCG with the help of a ten-person volunteer steering committee named Friends of Common Grounds, after observing the Community Foundation’s CNY85 initiative in 2012 – an online grants challenge hosted to celebrate our 85th Anniversary.

“[Vice President of Grants and Community Initiatives] John Eberle was very helpful and allowed us to ‘copy’ the format,” said Hood.

Organizations in Cazenovia with an idea to better the community were encouraged to apply. The program was set up to serve as a two-for-one matching grant, meaning that the Friends of Common Grounds doubled the grant award for each dollar raised by a recipient organization. For example, if an organization raised $500, they would be awarded a $1,000 CGCG grant.caz street

“[These grants] were started by a vision to inspire creative ideas to address unmet needs in our community,” said Lauren Lines, a member of the CGCG Steering Committee. In January, six Cazenovia organizations received the first CGCG grants totaling $15,900. The chosen recipients received funding because their proposals addressed unmet needs in the community.

 “What stood out is how many of the projects included an education component,” said Lines. “Education is something that is clearly valued and supported a great deal in our community.”

The Earth Club, Cazenovia Preservation Foundation, Cazenovia Community Preschool, Cazenovia Public Library, Cazenovia Garden Club and the Town of Cazenovia were all announced as recipients.

Lines said that the application from the Cazenovia Middle School Earth Club was especially noteworthy. The group of sixth graders raised $200 over the summer towards a tree planting project. “[They] want to do their part to make an impact on our community and our world,” she said.

The steering committee hopes that the grants encourage more innovative ideas that help the community.  “Our hope is that others will be inspired after seeing what the grantees are doing, and that we’ll have even more interest for grants next year,” said Hood.

A long time philanthropist and dedicated community advocate, Hood has worked with the Community Foundation for more than 15 years, where he houses his family’s donor-advised fund.

“Our family uses the Community Foundation for philanthropy and giving back, because we trust their experienced, professional staff,” said Hood. “The Community Foundation simplifies our record keeping and provides confidence that our money will be invested and distributed wisely.”

Funding for the CGCG grants was provided by anonymous donors to Hood’s fund, from welcome to cazwhich the grants will be awarded.

This was the pilot year for the Common Grounds Challenge Grants, which are expected to return annually. “We anticipate that the awardees from this year will inspire other collaborative ideas for next year,” said Lines.

The following are the first Common Grounds Challenge Grants recipient projects:

The Cazenovia Middle School Earth Club received $400 to plant more trees in Cazenovia in partnership with the Village Tree Commission. Students will learn about, purchase and plant a variety of trees in the community.

Cazenovia Preservation Foundation received $2,400 to support its program called Cazenovia Local History: A Discovery of Place. This program creates curriculum for projects and field trips to elementary school students to connect them with community history.

Cazenovia Community Preschool received $2,000 for its Expanding Diversity Through Technology program. The preschool partnered with Cazenovia College to expose children to other cultures with technology such as Skype.

Cazenovia Public Library received $600 to implement a Little Free Library program. Little Free Libraries are book donation and collection locations in the community where readers take a book or leave a book. This is a national program to encourage literacy and reading through free book exchanges.

Cazenovia Garden Club received $4,000 for village beautification. They will replace planters, baskets, wreaths and other decorations in the village.

The Town of Cazenovia received $6,500 to create a micro-hydroelectric project. The grant will go towards the installation of a hydro turbine. The micro-hydroelectric project will generate electricity to offset the town’s electricity bill and will be used as a demonstration project to educate citizens on the technology and micro-hydro energy.

About the Central New York Community Foundation

Established in 1927, the Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of permanent charitable endowments for the betterment of the region.  The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of more than $172 million. It awarded $9.5 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations and since its inception has invested nearly $130 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses through the administration of nearly 650 funds. The organization also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen local nonprofits and address the region’s most pressing challenges. cnycf.org.

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