Needs Assessment Informs Planning Committee's Discussions and Strategies
Armed with data from the Community Foundation’s Regional Needs Assessment, members of our planning committee are shaping a grantmaking strategy based on a solid understanding of our region’s most urgent issues.
“The committee is going through the findings methodically,” says Patrick Doyle, chair of the Community Foundation’s Board. “The Needs Assessment has already been helpful in making sure we pay attention to the things that need to be done.”
The Needs Assessment is also fueling productive conversations with allies in the community. “It helps to build a common language for the nonprofit community and people involved in economic development,” says Beth Roberts, grants and contracts administrator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, a board member at United Way of Broome County and a member of the planning committee. “We are sometimes siloed in that way, but really, quality of life is economic development.”
Roberts is one of several individuals from outside the Community Foundation’s Board who serve on the planning committee. The Board recently expanded committee membership to include non-Board members, bringing fresh perspectives to its discussions. “It’s valuable to hear outside views and get feedback from a larger number of people,” Doyle says.
Another of those members from beyond the Board is Patricia Ingraham, founding dean of the College of Community and Public Affairs at Binghamton University and chair of the board of the Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation. The two foundations share many interests, and they have worked as partners on several projects. One new opportunity emerged from meetings between the planning committee and local government officials, including State Senator Fred Akshar.
“When we talked about childhood poverty and childhood hunger, that’s something Senator Akshar identified with very quickly,” Ingraham says. “He asked for an action agenda from the committee.” The Community Foundation and the Klee Foundation plan to collaborate on translating some of the data from the Needs Assessment into a policy and action package, she says.
The planning committee is also using the findings to chart its own course for the future. “Our committee has been pulling apart that Needs Assessment data and digging into what each community may need,” Roberts says. The response to those needs will certainly include grants, but it could also include other strategies, such as marketing campaigns or workshops, she says.
Already, the committee is focusing some attention on specific needs revealed in the assessment, such as the lack of transportation options in rural regions, Roberts says. “That’s just an example of digging deeper into what we really need to make our community stronger.”