The Community Foundation was born in Broome County, but we’ve always pursued a multi-county mission. In 1997, the board of directors of the Hoyt Foundation and its executive director, Judith Peckham, conceived the Community Foundation as a way to expand Hoyt’s reach into counties around Broome that had no community foundations of their own. Challenged to raise $1 million to launch the new organization, the community quickly met that goal.
We’ve been growing ever since. To date, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $11 million in grants across our five-county area.
As a county, Broome is highly diverse. Anchored by Binghamton and its neighboring towns, plus Binghamton University, Broome enjoys the assets—and struggles with the challenges—that come with urban and suburban life. But as residents in places such as Deposit and Whitney Point can testify, Broome is also home to rural communities.
Although we respond to needs outlined in proposals from throughout our region, Broome County receives more grants than any of our other four counties. The reason is simply a matter of math: Broome has the largest population, along with the largest number of nonprofit organizations that come to us for support.
We’re especially proud of the grants we’ve made in Broome County to tackle large community issues such as flood recovery and the opioid epidemic. We’re also proud of our support for collaborative initiatives such as Broome County Organizations Active in Disaster (BCCOAD) and the Broome County Promise Zone.
Like the Community Foundation, some of the larger nonprofits based in Broome County actually serve a much wider area. One of those is WSKG, whose TV and radio programs reach 21 counties in New York and Pennsylvania. Our recent grants to WSKG include $3,500 from our Women’s Fund in 2011 to support scientific education for girls; $12,100 in 2014 for a series of investigative reports and panel discussions about child care and early childhood education; and $13,450 in 2016 for the Youth Voices program at Union Endicott Schools’ Tiger Ventures.
The newest WSKG project to gain our support is a magazine-style TV series that will examine poverty in our region and highlight the organizations working to provide solutions for people in need.
Brian Frey, director of operations and special projects at WSKG, got the idea for the series while working on the Community Foundation’s Planning Committee. Frey is one of several individuals from outside the Foundation’s Board who have joined the Planning Committee to share their expertise and broad community perspectives.
Conversations within the Committee often focus on organizations that work to alleviate poverty. “A lot of PBS stations do journal-type shows that look at interesting aspects of the communities we serve,” Frey says. WSKG has always wanted to produce such a series, and poverty seemed like a perfect subject.
With help from several area foundations, including a $14,950 grant from Community Foundation, WSKG will release the first eight-episode season of that new series in September 2018. Current plans call for 24 half-hour episodes in all, over three years. The programs will examine a variety of issues that affect the well-being of residents, such as access to food, transportation and child care.
While working on the series, staff at WSKG were surprised to learn just how many agencies in our region are trying to help people to climb out of poverty, Frey says. “We’d love for people to realize that there is help out there, that they’re not alone.”