Monday, December 19, 2011

2012 brings new focus for 40 Below

The Syracuse Post-Standard reported about 40 Below:
They've never before put on a big concert, so the New Year's Eve party featuring Joe Driscoll at the Landmark Theatre represents a bold new splash for 40 Below, the seven-year-old Syracuse young professionals group.

That's not all that's new: Leaders say the organization will seek a permanent downtown presence in 2012, while charting a slightly altered course, based on the recognition that hard times have withered its demographic base.

"Six months ago, we saw 40 percent unemployment with young professionals in this community," said Benjamin M. Sio, manager at 40 Below. "We have all these students that are graduating from colleges and the universities in this area, but they're not staying here as much as they could be. .. Supporting them has become a main focus."

Formed in late 2004 after a high-profile summit attracted 600 people to the Oncenter, the nonprofit group has sought to stop or slow the exodus of young professionals from Central New York. It has a membership list of 3,000 but an active base of a few hundred volunteers, who work on projects ranging from building restorations to public art.

Next year, organizers hope to open a "co-working space" somewhere downtown. The space, a concept modeled in other cities, would host group functions and serve as a shared office location for members.

"We're gearing it as a place where individuals and professionals can come," said R.J. Sherman, a member of the location search committee. "If they don't have an office downtown, they can use it to meet with a customer or a client. We're looking to partition it, but also keep more of a modular space, so 40 Below can hold events there."

Sherman said the group has narrowed its search to a few places, based on the usual concerns: Location and expense. The group believes it has something else to bring a landlord.

"We're looking for a low-cost or no-cost kind of lease agreement, in exchange for bettering that space for the building owners and offering something for the community," said Ashlyn Maguire, a fellow committee member.

Since its launch, 40 Below has seen a relatively constant turnover of members, a situation described by its leadership as a natural consequence of the people it seeks to tap. By nature, young professionals are less settled and more prone to move between cities. The goal is to grow the Syracuse community and thus spur more young professionals to establish roots.

"People often first get involved as singles," Sio said. "They get married, they have kids, and they're not able to give 20 hours a week of volunteer time, as they did in the past. We're experienced in having people pass through. That's part of the organization. That's part of the nature of our leadership."

He said the Syracuse group, during its seven years, has run about 75 steering committees on various projects, and hosts a monthly series of speed networking sessions and speakers. The group receives grant money from CNY Works, a local nonprofit, which draws federal funds.

Sio said there is no age requirement for membership: Anyone can join -- even if 40 or above.

"We don't have a 'graduation,'" he said, with a smile.

Still, 2012 will have a commencement of sorts: The first-annual New Year's Eve BeLOW OUT party. Headlining will be Driscoll, a Syracuse native whose beatbox rap has gained an international following. A full house at the Landmark could generate $20,000 to $40,000 for the nonprofit, a huge boost to plans.

"We're really excited about it," Sio said. "We're hoping for a great year."

Community Foundation Awards $506,837 in Community Grants

Syracuse, NY (December 19, 2011) - The Central New York Community Foundation awarded $506,837 in grants to 21 charitable organizations in Onondaga and Madison Counties from its unrestricted and field of interest funds.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Syracuse, in partnership with the Salvation Army, received $54,104 to deploy research-based teen services focused on youth development and job readiness skills at two Club locations.

CenterState CEO received $20,000 to assist in the production of the Metropolitan Business Plan in collaboration with the Brookings Institution and regional partners. The plan will address economic development and community revitalization, including concerns of low employment growth, high poverty rates in the center city and low median household income in the area.

CONTACT Community Services received $30,000 to furnish and purchase technology for its new headquarters, which will provide safe, accessible and comfortable rooms conducive to effective training of people with diverse learning styles and physical needs.

CORA Foundation received $5,000 to support In our View: A Community Perspective, a project that will recruit residents of Syracuse’s Northside neighborhood to become documentary photographers and tell their stories, culminating in an exhibition at the ArtRage Gallery.

Everson Museum received $50,000 to provide a catalog of exhibitions, educational programs and equipment for TONY2012, a community-wide biennial exhibition featuring local artists and partners.

Jewish Home of Central New York received $13,000 to implement the Project upBEAT program to build teamwork and lower stress among long-term caregivers. This grant was funded by the Carriage House Foundation Fund.

Madison Hall Association in Morrisville received $20,000 to enhance access to the building for special events and group gatherings. A number of improvements will be made, including a new staircase, lighting, and the installation of signage at the rear entrance.

Most Holy Rosary School received $2,673 to enhance its literacy program with the purchase of a leveled literacy intervention kit for third graders.

Oneida Community Mansion House received $20,000 for the restoration and painting of the building’s exterior. These improvements will prevent further deterioration, water leakage and damage to the interior of the building.

Open Hand Theater received $11,000 to partner with area communities and artists to design puppets and performances that showcase diversity.

PEACE, Inc. received $40,000 to conduct structural renovations on the DeFrancisco Eastwood Community Center, which houses senior services and other programs.

Prevention Network received $19,200 to expand its underage drinking prevention programming with the implementation of Honor the Code, aimed to reduce alcohol and drug use among high school athletes by offering public awareness, education and recognition about how important it is to follow their codes of conduct.

Syracuse City School District Adult Education received $40,000 to enhance the Points of Entry project by providing innovative supports and incentives that assist newly released justice center inmates with the transition to continuing education and vocational training.

Syracuse Academy of Science Charter School received $25,000 to upgrade the biology laboratory room which will help students in grades 8-12 expand their knowledge in zoology and environmental science. The space is also used for science and math fairs, Olympiads and other STEM competitions.

Syracuse Children’s Chorus received $15,000 in support of its Visions for Peace Spring Concert. The event is being designed in collaboration with Imagine Syracuse’s Young Musicians Project, and will bring together a diverse group of peers around the subject of peace.

Syracuse Stage received $34,900 to support the Arts Emerging education program, which will provide free tickets to the award-winning musical Caroline, or Change. Students will work with local musicians and artists to explore the impact of music on their cultural identity.

The Salvation Army received $31,710 to develop an effective anti-gang strategy for the Syracuse area on behalf of the Community Intervention Committee, which is a subcommittee of Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods and New York State’s Operation Impact Task Force. The collaborative project will include primary data collection, community perception research and the pooling of community resources.

Toomey Residential received $10,500 to renovate a bathroom in the Allen Street Agency Boarding Home, a youth foster care home accommodating teenage boys who have been separated from their families and community due to mental health or emotional difficulties.

Visions for Change received $45,000 to assist families in creating their own personal paths out of poverty by expanding the Circles program. The addition of a Circles Coach will assist more individuals in gaining financial stability by learning to take leadership roles in their lives and in their community.

YMCA of Greater Syracuse received $10,000 to expand the Downtown Writer’s Center programming, which provides new and established writers with the opportunity to take workshops, meet peers and encounter new writing on a regular basis.

YWCA Syracuse & Onondaga County received $9,750 to expand to an integrated online development and client tracking database. The database will be made available to other nonprofits in the community who are seeking to increase diversity on their boards.

The Central New York Community Foundation has served Central New York for 85 years, receiving, managing and distributing charitable funds for the benefit of nonprofit organizations. Grants are awarded for programs in the areas of human services, arts and culture, education, environment, health, economic development and civic affairs. The region’s largest endowed philanthropic foundation, the Central New York Community Foundation awards more than $5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations annually. The Community Foundation, of 431 East Fayette Street, Syracuse, NY 13202, can be reached at (315) 422-9538 or

Monday, December 12, 2011

Central New York lands $103.7 million in state economic development money

The Post-Standard reported that the region’s economic development officials got more than they hoped for from a trip to Albany Thursday, bringing home $103.7 million in state economic development funds.

Rob Simpson, president of CenterState CEO and co-chair of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, said he was “thrilled” with the announcement. Members of the council have been meeting since July hammering out a list of projects that they thought could best improve the region that includes Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga, Madison and Cortland counties.

The council’s plan included 30 projects and requests for $40 million in state funding. The state delivered $63.7 million more, including $14 million to renovate apartments in Lysander.

The extra millions came as a surprise. Council members had heard there was more money available from other state sources, but didn’t know the other projects were going to be included Thursday, said Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor, co-chair of the CNYREDC.

The announcement came at an Albany ceremony capping a process Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out earlier this year.

The state was divided into 10 regions with an economic development council for each. The councils reviewed projects and chose which to include in a plan. The separate regional plans were presented last month to a state committee that chose four as “best plan awardees.”

The North Country, Western New York and Long Island were chosen, along with Central New York, as the best.

Cuomo had said each of the winners would get $40 million while the remaining six regions would split $40 million between them.

Financial news host Maria Bartiromo, emcee for Thursday’s event, introduced videos for each region, then announced that each had been awarded millions in grants, far more than the $200 million Cuomo had talked of. In all, awards of $785 million were announced.

The money came from the $200 million in targeted regional money and from an additional $800 million in money for which companies, housing authorities, non-profits and others had filed state consolidated funding applications.

Good as the news was for Central New York, it appeared that not every project chosen by the local council received state funding. Five projects — including those that would have renovated the Abbott House in Aurora and assisted in expansions at Dupli Envelope and Graphics, Ephesus Technologies, Champlain Valley Specialty Food and Healthway Home Products — did not make the final list.

The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council's largest single money request is for more than $5 million to complete work at the CNY Biotechnology Research Center at the former Kennedy Square apartments.
“If the project is not on there, it means it isn’t funded,” said Austin Shafran, spokesman for Empire State Development. Shafran said regional technical factors could keep a project from getting funding, even it was part of a winning plan.

One factor was how quickly the project would yield new jobs. “We’re ready to create jobs in the short term, for the long term,” he said.

Among the projects that were backed by the regional council and did land funding were:

•3 million for work to the Syracuse’s Inner Harbor.
•$3 million to equip space at the Syracuse Center of Excellence.
•$1.95 million to continue work at the Central New York Biotechnology Research Center and the nearby land.
•$150,000 to build a demonstration greenhouse in Madison County.
•$994,000 to help expand a winery in Cazenovia.
•More than $4 million in support for a dairy cooperative’s plan to build a plant in Cayuga County.
•$349,000 for expansion at the Fulton Companies in Oswego Counties.

Projects that had not been announced before included $14 million — the largest single award in Central New York — to renovate 208 apartments at Greenway in Radisson.

Greenway Apartments rents to people who make less than 80 percent of the area’s median income. Many tenants make less than 60 percent, said Arthur Loomis, a consultant for Liberty Affordable Housing, a Rome-based non-profit taking control of the facility.

“It’s shovel ready,” Loomis said. “The complex, while in good shape, is tired and needs updating. It’s going to be like a brand-new project.” Improvements include new siding, windows and sidewalks, as well as renovated kitchens and bathrooms, Loomis said. Much of the infrastructure hasn’t been updated since the complex was built in the mid-1970s, he said. The residents’ income doesn’t make it possible to renovate extensively without public help, he said.

Renovations to Centerville Court Apartments in North Syracuse won $3,349,255 in state support while efforts to buy and renovate James Street Apartments in Syracuse got $9 million.

In Cayuga County, some $400,000 was announced for the Howland Stone Store Museum in the hamlet of Sherwood. That money is to restore “Opendore,” once home to the Howland family.

In Madison County, the state added $75,000 to provide emergency repairs to the homes of low-income, elderly residents.

In Oswego County, Grassman Energy was awarded $716,500 toward its efforts to begin design and manufacturing of wind turbines of the sort that can be seen at Carousel Center and atop the State University College at Oswego.

Before the winners were announced, Cuomo explained that the regional approach was part of a two-part effort to create jobs in New York.

The first part, he said, was improving the state’s image by improving the reality for business. That meant removing obstacles to job creation.

The second was giving the state’s region more say over what sort of development should be encouraged. “There is no single New York economy,” he said. “You know your strengths; you know your niche.”

Cuomo was joined at the ceremony by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The three said separately that they were so pleased with how the process worked that they had already agreed to fund a similar effort next year.

“Three minutes — I’ve never had as short a conversation to get anything done,” Cuomo said of the backstage discussion with Skelos and Silver.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Community Foundation Awards Sabbatical Grants

December 1, 2011 – The Central New York Community Foundation has announced this year’s Marsellus Sabbatical grant recipients. The John F. Marsellus Sabbatical Program awards grants each year to nonprofit executives seeking personal and professional growth. The program provides executives with a stipend to research, study and reflect for a period of two or four weeks.

This year’s recipients are:

Kathleen Harter, Executive Director, Junior Achievement of Central New York. Kathleen will is the first recipient of the program’s two-week option and will attend a Women in the Woods program at The Sagamore in Raquette Lake, NY, and a professional development seminar, JA’s National Leadership Conference, at the Junior Achievement University.

“Participation in Junior Achievement’s National Leadership Conference will give JA of CNY new tools and information about the latest research in financial literacy skills and how best to deliver them to our students,” said Harter. “Working, as we do, to give children a bright future carries the weight of knowing how much there is to do and how much is at stake.”

Harter’s leadership has greatly benefited the Junior Achievement of CNY and allowed the organization to achieve its goals of increased students served, balance budgets with decreasing expenses, and new initiatives that serve the community. The organization has expanded its student service area from three to six counties in CNY.

“These accomplishments are good examples of the commitment and dedication Mrs. Harter has shown to Junior Achievement in the past eight years,” said Andrew Picco, Board Chair of Junior Achievement of Central New York. “We look forward to what she will accomplish in the future.”

Sally Roesch Wagner, Executive Director, Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation. Sally will take a Spirit Springs Retreat in Middletown, California and visit museums and exhibitions to gain ideas for the Gage Center.

“At the end of the month, the Board would like me to have for them a planning document outlining my vision for the staff and foundation based on my month’s reflection and learning,” Dr. Wagner said.

Wagner will visit the Skirball Museum, Getty Museum, and the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions.

“I extend my wholehearted support to the sabbatical of our Executive Director and Founder, Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner,” said Loretta Zolkowski, President of Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation Board of Directors. “Our future plans include official accrediting from the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, which will give our site international recognition and strongly enhance our tourism potential.”

The Marsellus Sabbatical program was created in 2000 to provide nonprofit executives with a unique opportunity for reflection, revitalization and growth. It was established in memory of the late John F. Marsellus, president and owner of the Syracuse-based Marsellus Casket Company for more than thirty years, to honor his commitment to enhancing the leadership capacity of nonprofit organizations in Central New York.

Applicants must have served in a management position of a nonprofit agency in Onondaga or Madison Counties for at least five consecutive years in order to qualify. Twenty three executives have participated in the program since its inception.

The Central New York Community Foundation has served Central New York for 85 years, receiving, managing and distributing charitable funds for the benefit of not-for-profit organizations. Grants are awarded for programs in the areas of human services, arts and culture, education, environment, health, economic development and civic affairs. The region’s largest endowed philanthropic foundation, the Central New York Community Foundation awards over $5 million in grants to not-for-profit organizations annually. The Community Foundation, of 431 East Fayette Street, Syracuse, NY 13202, can be reached at (315) 422-9538 or