Thursday, September 30, 2010

Job Opening: Deputy Commissioner, Onondaga County

The Onondaga County Department of Social Services is accepting applications for the position of Deputy Commissioner of Children’s Division. This position is responsible for a 200+ staff operation involving the areas of child protective investigations, foster care, adoptions and preventive services.

The position reports directly to the Commissioner of Social Services. The salary starts at $76,000.

The full job description can be viewed via the Onondaga County website (, departments, personnel, job description, deputy commissioner social services).

Applications should be submitted by October 17, 2011 to Elizabeth Rivers, Onondaga County Department of Social Services, 421 Montgomery Street, 12th floor, Syracuse, NY 13202.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grants Available to strengthen park and trail groups

Parks & Trails New York is offering a new round of Capacity Building Grants for park and trail groups in New York State. The grants, of up to $3,000, will strengthen not-for-profit organizations that are working to build and protect parks and trails in communities across the state --- helping to not only provide places for close-to-home, healthy physical activity but also generate additional tourist dollars to strengthen local economies.

Parks & Trails New York's goal is to enable not-for-profits to better fulfill their missions; improve their reach, effectiveness, and impact; leverage more resources; and increase community support for and involvement in park and trail planning, development, and stewardship. Funds can be used to assist with activities associated with organizational start-up and development, training, communications, and volunteer recruitment and management. The deadline for submitting applications is November 22, 2010.

For more information email Parks & Trails New York or call 518-434-1583.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nonprofit Resources Regarding the Oct. 15 Deadline

Time is running out for small nonprofits facing loss of tax-exempt status because they have not filed Form 990-N or Form 990-EZ for three consecutive years. The deadline for the IRS's one-time filing relief program is October 15, 2010. After that, nonprofits that are required to file a 990 and whose filings are at least three years in arrears will automatically lose their exemptions. To regain tax-exempt status, they will have to apply to the IRS all over again, a process that can take several months and requires payment of fees. To help you make sense of the rules and regulations surrounding this program, GuideStar is offering you a few resources:
  • GuideStar Resource Center: includes articles and links to keep you updated in this ongoing process.
  • IRS Communications Toolkit: includes facts outlining the situation, a list of organizations IRS records show are at risk, a YouTube video, and a widget for posting on Web sites.
  • Guide Star Charity Check: includes information on exemption status of organizations and is updated as more information from the IRS becomes available.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact" Available Now

The Foundation Center, the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, has launched an online database of proven approaches to measuring and analyzing the impact of social investments. As philanthropists and the nonprofit community shift towards more strategic approaches to get a "social return," evaluation activities must also operate at a higher level. TRASI ("Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact") addresses these growing needs by offering tools and methodologies that place a premium on evidence and metrics in tracking progress.

"Measuring the effectiveness of social programs has always been a challenge because it's not just about the numbers. TRASI helps organizations meet that challenge and go beyond simply determining whether projected outcomes were achieved," said Lawrence T. McGill, the Foundation Center's vice president for research. "The organizations that have generously shared their own strategic methods for measuring impact will greatly help others to find a solution that is a good fit for them."

Developed in partnership with McKinsey & Co., the assessment approaches in TRASI were authored by a range of organizations, including social investors, foundations, NGOs, and microfinance institutions. The Better Business Bureau, USAID, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Center for Effective Philanthropy are among them. The resources in the database range from off-the-shelf tools and concrete methodologies to generalized best practices and are complemented by multimedia features and social networking tools.

Each approach has been carefully indexed against a common set of key elements and presented in a way that makes it easy to compare their relative merits. The key elements include: who the approach applies to, what kind of organization or evaluation the approach is best suited for, and the costs and techniques involved in its implementation. Each approach was thoroughly reviewed by an Expert Review Panel convened by the New York University Stern School of Business.

Online Kick-off Event
The Center is hosting an online event to kick-off the TRASI launch. Beginning at 2:00 pm EDT on Wednesday, September 22, 2010, a live chat with some of the individuals from the Expert Review Panel will be held. Anyone interested in learning more about impact assessment and the TRASI platform is invited to attend by visiting

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 550 foundations, the Foundation Center is the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, connecting nonprofits and the grantmakers supporting them to tools they can use and information they can trust. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and beyond. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Community Forums Offered to Collect Input on the Arts: Sept 25-29

As part of a community-wide effort to examine the role arts and cultural organizations play in Central New York there will be a series of local meetings to hear from you, the residents of Onondaga County and beyond. We hope to involve not just current arts supporters, but also those that have encountered real or perceived barriers in attendance or participation. Please review the activities below, and attend if you can – also please share with others – we welcome all points of view. No RSVP is required but we encourage you to let us know if you will attending the CNYSpeaks/CRC Forum – see below.

The IDEAS Collaborative (Initiative to Develop and Engage Audiences in Syracuse) is a cooperative venture that uses research and engagement strategies to increase participation, identify and grow sustainable audiences, develop targeted marketing strategies and uncover opportunities for cooperative activity and resource sharing. The IDEAS Collaborative is made up of 43 local arts, culture and entertainment organizations, five local funders, and the community at large - the lead consultant is Surale Phillips of Decision Support Partners.

Community Conversations and Public Forum Schedule
Saturday, September 25
Northside of Syracuse 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Northside Collaboratory
800 North Salina Street
HOSTS: Dominic Robinson and Geoff Navias

Eastern County 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Fayetteville Free Library
300 Orchard Street
Fayetteville, NY
HOST: Heidi Holtz

Sunday, September 26
CNY Speaks Forum 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm
OnCenter Ballroom
HOSTS: CNY Speaks, Cultural Resources Council, OnCenter
RSVP requested: CRC at 435-2154 or

Monday, September 27
Southern County 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Lafayette Community Center
2508 U. S. Route 11
Lafayette, NY
HOSTS: Greg Scammell and Kim Scott

Westside of Syracuse 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
The Spa at 500
500 West Onondaga Street
HOSTS: Rick Destito and Maria Revelles

Eastside of Syracuse 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
The Palace Theatre (upstairs)
5384 James Street
HOSTS: Steve Butler and Anita Welych

Tuesday, September 28
Northern County 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Baldwinsville Public Library
33 East Genesee Street
Baldwinsville, NY
HOSTS: Marilyn Laubach and Denise Headd

Western County 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Marcellus Free Library
32 Maple Street
Marcellus, NY
HOST: Greg Gilmore and Susan Mark

Wednesday, September 29
Southside of Syracuse 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Beauchamp Public Library
2111 South Salina Street
HOSTS: Geneva Hayden and Gregg Tripoli

To RSVP, or for further Information on the conversations or the IDEAS Collaborative:
Call: 435-2154

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Syracuse has new funding source for the Syracuse arts: Cultural Resources Trust

Syracuse New Times reported about the Cultural Resources Trust, which has money for arts organizations to share and the issues around it:

During the current Great Recession, financial support for the arts is drying up like the Sahara Desert. In this fiscally arid climate, the arrival of a new funding source would be like a downpour of life-giving water to the cultural scene. The new and little-known Cultural Resources Trust (CRT) could just be that source.

Take the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, whose latest financial woes have been well documented. During the 2009-2010 season the SSO was facing a large rent payment to the OnCenter in order to continue performances at the Mulroy Civic Center. If the symphony couldn’t come up with the funds, it would have had to severely cut back on its performances elsewhere in the community. But thanks to a $75,000 grant from the CRT, the symphony was able to pay the rent and keep playing.

While there are many places arts groups can go to apply for funding, the emergence of a new source that’s specific to Onondaga County is crucial. Both the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts have cut back their funding substantially over the past few years. Additionally, the pool of corporate donations is drying up as companies either move away from the area or slash budgets to deal with the recession. The CRT hopes to help fill this void.

The CRT’s source of funds is tied to the bonding process for non-profit institutions. For example, when Syracuse University wanted to raise $165 million to build a green data center and make renovations, SU went to the CRT as its conduit for placing the bonds. Underwriters, such as banks, then sought out investors to buy the bonds. Since SU is a non-profit, the CRT was able to provide tax-free sheltering for the bonds, which leads to lower interest rates.

As part of the deal the CRT collected a fee of approximately $700,000 from SU. This became the trust’s first pot of grant money for the arts.

The CRT is optimistic about future bonding prospects. Many non-profits in Central New York—SU, Le Moyne College, area hospitals—sell bonds to finance large capital projects. While there are no current bond applications, neither the members of the CRT nor those in the arts community seem too concerned about this. The belief is that there will be plenty of demand for the CRT’s bonding authority down the line and that the resulting fees will replenish the arts fund.

In addition to the grant to the SSO, the CRT partnered with the Gifford Foundation and area arts groups by providing $20,000 for the Community Engagement Project. This project is currently studying the local cultural scene and surveying the area’s arts patrons to determine who attends cultural events, and why. Once completed, it should give arts organizations a better idea of how to build audiences.

Deputy County Executive William Fisher hopes the study will draw attention to the role of the CRT and encourage non-profits to use the CRT so as to keep bonding fees in the area for local use. “We hope that some of the things the CRT has spent money on will bear fruit and generate some notice among people making these {bonding} decisions,” Fisher said.

Onondaga County already gives more than $1 million a year to arts and cultural organizations, generated from the 5 percent room occupancy tax on hotels and motels. For the CRT it is important to coordinate its funding strategy with the County’s to maximize the value of the grants. “We really are still trying to get {our} sea legs as far as providing grants,” said Mary Beth Primo, the CRT’s executive director.

In its first year, the CRT has given out 10 grants ranging from the $75,000 to the SSO to $500 for Baltimore Woods. The total given out so far is just under $140,000.

Syracuse Stage received $5,000 to support its season-opening production of No Child… “In these times, new funding sources are always welcome and really appreciated,” said Jeff Woodward, Syracuse Stage’s managing director. “So we’re very happy the county has figured out a way to allocate more funds to the arts.”

With many local arts organizations facing serious financial difficulties, there is a serious need for funds to support infrastructure and core missions. “In the past, a lot of grants have focused very much on projects,” said Steve Butler, executive director of the Cultural Resources Council. “{Now} there is a real need to justify general operating support, which is unrestricted funding, so that you can perform your operations and keep staff in place to do the good work—the programs—that you’re already doing.” Read more here. Info on the CRT:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

40 Below Partnership with Syracuse Symphony

40 Belowers,

It's All Here: Arts, a program of 40 Below, has partnered with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra (SSO) to offer you 4 for 40 Dollars

4 SSO concerts for 40 dollars total - that's only 10 dollars / ticket - more than 50% off the regular price!

The selected concerts include:

Concert 1: A Day in the Life…The Three Phantoms Return
in which Broadway performers describe a "day-in-the-life of" between numbers
Friday, September 24, 2010

Concert 2: Best of the Big Bands
featuring signature tunes of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Woody Herman
Friday, November 12, 2010

Concert 3: Beyond the Score®: Vivaldi The Four Seasons
where the Symphony engages directly with the audience to give you the story behind the music
Friday, February 4, 2011


Concert 4: Your Choice! Choose From:
Oct. 1-2 : Solid Gold
Oct. 8-9: Mozart and Merriment
Oct. 29-30: The Three-Cornered Hat
Nov. 5-6: Brahms’s Choral Masterpiece
Dec. 17-18: Holiday Pops
Jan. 7-8: Schumann, Beethoven and Strauss
Jan. 14-15: Michael Feinstein: The Sinatra Project
Jan. 21-22: All Mozart
Feb. 25-26: Nexus
March 4-5: Beethoven’s Pastorale
March 11-12: Broadway Giants: The Music of Gershwin, Ellington and Porter
March 25-26: Fisk and Falletta
April 15-16: Bach’s Monumental Mass
May 13-14: Charlie Chaplin at the Symphony
May 20-21: Fantastic Symphony

To purchase tickets, please stop by the SSO box office, or call them at (315) 424-8200 or toll free (800) 724-3810. Make sure to mention 40 Below to get the promotional pricing. Tickets may also be purchased online @
Make sure to specify your 4th show from the list above (you will need to type it in online).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Landmark Theater renovation scheduled to begin this fall

A long-planned $16 million renovation of the historic Landmark Theatre in downtown Syracuse is expected to begin this fall.

First announced in 2002, the renovation will take about a year. The theater’s auditorium and stage will be closed to events, including the showing of movies, until the fall of 2011, the theater’s executive director, Denise DiRienzo said Friday. The theater’s ornate lobby will remain open for weddings, receptions, corporate parties, fund-raisers and other events, she said.

The renovation will greatly enlarge the Landmark’s stage so that it can host larger concerts, plays and other live performances. Currently, only relatively small shows are possible on the theater’s stage, which was built for the showing of movies, not for live performances.

With a deeper, wider stage, Landmark officials hope to attract Broadway-type shows that require bigger sets.

“What we’re really doing is diversifying,” DiRienzo said.

That should be good news for the Landmark because more and bigger shows will bring greater revenues to the theater. But it also will be good for other businesses downtown because it will draw more people there on weekends, DiRienzo said.

In addition to a new stage, rehearsal and dressing rooms will be built for performers, the building’s electrical system will be upgraded, and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will be installed. The number of seats in its auditorium will not change from the current 2,948.

DiRienzo said the project has taken eight years to put together because of the need to raise money, have design and engineering plans drawn up and obtain the necessary government approvals.

Funding includes $6.5 million in state grants, a $500,000 federal grant and federal tax credits of up to 20 percent of $14.5 million of the project’s cost. The rest is being financed by loans and donations.

The theater opened as Lowe’s State Theatre at 362 S. Salina St. on Feb. 18, 1928, with the showing of the silent movie “West Point.” It has been owned by the non-profit Syracuse Area Landmark Theatre since 1979.

DiRienzo asked the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency on Friday to approve an environmental review of the project — an action that is required because the site is on the National Register of Historic Places. That approval is expected to come next month.