Grant Awarded to Enhance Early Childhood Education

Nearly $300,000 in Grants Awarded to Nonprofits in Onondaga & Madison counties

March 28, 2017 – Thanks to the generosity of two Syracuse women, children of Onondaga County will soon receive added literacy, health and child care services. The Central New York Community Foundation awarded $50,000 from the Martha Fund and the Shirley M. Aubrey Fund to the Early Childhood Alliance (ECA) to assist its operations.

After Martha Blumberg died at the young age of 23, her mother Ruth wanted to ensure that something good happened in the community to honor her short life. When Ruth passed away decades later in 2012, a portion of her estate was donated to the Community Foundation, forming the Martha Fund to perpetually support local children’s programs in the memory of her daughter. Shirley Aubrey, an 18-year veteran of Bristol Laboratories, also established her fund as an estate gift at her death, designating programs favoring children as the focus for its support. Together, the two funds have awarded more than $1,300,000 in grants toward children’s programming since their inception.

According to the National Education Association, providing a high-quality education to children before they turn five years old yields significant long-term benefits. One study found that children in quality preschool programs are less likely to repeat school years, need special education or get into future trouble with the law. Education is at the forefront of ECA’s mission to prepare young children to start school by promoting health, strong families and quality early learning.

The Community Foundation’s funding will support the development and implementation of ECA initiatives that seek to enhance early childhood education and wellness. The grant will empower parents and caregivers as their children’s first teachers through the Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing initiative, which is aimed at increasing awareness among parents and communities about the importance of brain and language development. The program aims to make small moments big, starting at birth, through everyday activities like talking, reading and singing.

“Research shows that children born into low-income families hear roughly 30 million fewer words by the age of four than their more affluent peers,” said Laurie Black, director of the Early Childhood Alliance. “This investment in the Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing initiative will assist us in surrounding all children in our community with language-rich environments that will lay the foundation for greater success in school and life.”

The Community Foundation also awarded the following grants to local nonprofit organizations:

Believe in Syracuse received $5,000 to support its ongoing Reading is Fun Block Party and Community & Caring programs. Both programs provide necessities to those living in poverty and encourage civic engagement in various neighborhoods throughout the City of Syracuse.

Catholic Charities received $30,000 to maintain programming that provides initial resettlement services for refugees to help families adjust to life in Central New York.

Clear Path for Veterans received $9,500 to support its Dogs2Vets program, which provides veterans who are diagnosed with PTS/MST with a service or emotional support canine. Through the relationship with a canine partner, veterans can learn to focus on social engagement, positive outlooks and building trust.

Interfaith Works received $30,000 to maintain programming that address the needs of refugees and provides them with resettlement services.

North Side Learning Center received $15,000 to launch Empowering Newcomers, a 24-week computer navigation and training program for New Americans. The training will introduce adults to internet use that will enable them to independently seek information and resources as they gain English language skills.

Onondaga Community College Foundation received $100,000 to fund Say Yes to Education’s Summer Success Academy, a 5-week bridge program for Syracuse City School District graduates preparing to enroll in Onondaga Community College.

St. Joseph’s Health Foundation received $15,194 to purchase two Spot Vision Screeners that will enhance early detection and treatment of amblyopia risk factors in young children.

The Haven at Skanda received $1,300 to build mobile duck houses that will protect endangered Magpie ducks and equine animals. The houses will improve the health of Magpie ducks and support the growth of its species.

Skaneateles Festival received $6,000 to support its 2017 season. The Festival brings together musicians from all over Central New York to provide creative and dynamic concert programming, education and outreach.

Society for New Music received $6,000 to launch the Composer-in-Residence program that will provide band and orchestra students at Henninger High School with mentors to help them create music.

The Upstate Foundation received $20,325 to conduct workshops for children with disabilities and co-occurring vision or hearing loss. The workshops will provide these children and their families with the skills to participate actively and independently in their communities and homes. In addition, Halo Sleep Sacks and Pack-N-Play Cribs will be provided at no cost to new mothers after receiving Safe Sleep training.

These grants were awarded by the following field-of-interest funds, administered by the Community Foundation:

Shirley M. Aubrey Fund, Community Fund, Community Indicators Fund, J. Henry & Martha E. Deboer Fund, Mary Louise Dunn Fund, Future Fund, HOPE Fund, Tiny Rubenstein Animal Welfare Fund, Martha Fund, John F. Marsellus Fund, James & Aileen Miller Charitable Fund, NEWS Fund, J. Daniel and Diane Pluff Fund, Say Yes Program Fund, Dorothy R. Shoudy Memorial Hearing Impaired Fund, Syracuse SIDS Prevention Fund and Spanfelner Fund.

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 nearly $193 million. It awarded $11 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations. Since its inception, it has invested nearly $150 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses through the administration of more than 700 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.

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