With a talented staff as one of our greatest resources we are able to listen and regularly engage with grantseekers and members of the community, confer and partner with our counterparts at other funding organizations, and assist in facilitating or convening diverse voices. Listening teaches us a lot, especially if we pay attention to the patterns that emerge.
What do we hear? That board members are sometimes uncertain about their roles. That groups often want to align over shared interests, but need guidance. That there is a need for prepared and diverse voices in our nonprofit leadership. For all of these reasons we embrace trainings and convenings as key elements of our philanthropy.
Board and Leadership Development Trainings
Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders
Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders was developed in 2014 through a partnership of the Gifford Foundation, the Central New York Community Foundation, Leadership Greater Syracuse, the Human Services Leadership Council and community leaders. This 8-week course, project managed by the Gifford Foundation, is for Central New York community members. It is designed to address the need for more in-depth board training that was inclusive of a diverse community and an interest in increasing the pool of effective board members. Three workshop series have trained a total of 80 community members. Plans for an additional training are underway. >> Learn more.
Board Development Series: Growing a Dynamic Board
The goal of this free, four-session workshop is to assist nonprofits with emerging and evolving boards to maximize their knowledge and potential. Since 2012 we’ve held five successful series of workshops across a three-county area. Sessions address roles and responsibilities, group dynamics, advocacy, and diversity. With the recent completion of the fifth series, over 300 individuals from 90 organizations will have been trained. For further information contact Megan Wagner-Flynn.
In partnership with the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York and the Central New York Community Foundation, the Foundation is piloting StoryGrowing, a new initiative to increase nonprofit and community capacity around collecting, shaping and sharing stories. Based upon the successful workshop held in 2015 with Andy Goodman of the Goodman Center, and with Mr. Goodman’s advice, an in-depth training and coaching program runs from April 13 through December. For the pilot any organization that attended the Goodman workshop was eligible to apply, and eleven organizations were accepted. >> learn more.
Convenings and Facilitations
The Refugee Alliance is one example of our facilitation and convening role. It started in 2011 as we brought together a working group of government entities, non-profit agencies, refugee community associations and grassroots groups, all who were involved with refugees in Syracuse. The Refugee Alliance is now run independently to pursue a vision for Syracuse as a successful refugee community and to explore the recommendations from a county-wide study on refugees in our area. The Foundation remains a supporter and partner.
We have also facilitated animal rescue organizations in discussing volunteer efforts, guided the revamping of Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today, and continue to play active roles in other community task forces (the Onondaga Citizens League study on transportation called “How CNY Moves”, TRUCE, Work Train, New Urban Space, Greater Syracuse Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, among others.)
The Foundation has served as a host organization for several national/regional conferences, including in 2013 and 2015 the biennial New York State Funders Conference and the 2012 “On the Ground” conference of Grassroots Grantmakers.
Realizing that our neighborhood associations are sources of untapped energy, in 2011, 2013 and 2015 we partnered with the city and community residents to develop the Syracuse Neighborhood Action Conference, an opportunity for peer learning and training.