The Schenectady Foundation will invest $2 million in the Capital Region in celebration of its 50th anniversary, officials announced Wednesday.
The amount is a significant increase from the charitable trust’s past annual contributions, which over the past five years have averaged about $850,000, according to Robert Carreau, the foundation’s executive director.
Half of the $2 million Golden Grants investment will be dedicated to a single project aligned with the foundation’s strategy to strengthen families. The endeavor will be one that has the promise of being transformational for the target population, neighborhood or a broader community of stakeholders, Carreau said.
How to apply
Organizations wishing to apply for the Schenectady Foundation’s Golden Grants program can find information on the foundation’s website, www.schenectadyfoundation.org, within the next two weeks. Informational meetings will also be scheduled to help explain the application process.
He invited community and business leaders, local officials and philanthropists to join a dialogue about how the investment could best be used.
“We don’t want this to be the typical ‘Submit a grant proposal by Friday at 5 p.m. and we will respond within 30 days.’ We want to know what you’re thinking about. Let’s talk about it,” he said.
There is no set date for when the funds will be distributed, but Carreau said the goal was to make the financial commitment within the foundation’s anniversary year.
The second $1 million will be divided into smaller grants. Half of those funds will be dedicated to an Innovation Grants Fund, which will award five to 10 grants to organizations and collaborative partnerships to help improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
A youth scholarship program, also supported by the grant, will be launched this summer to benefit high school and college students who give back to the community and are good role models.
In addition, the money will fund a Celebration of Philanthropy program for nonprofit leaders. Ten awardees will be recognized at a special program in the fall, and the organizations they work with will receive a cash donation.
“We really want people to tell us who out there is doing great work, and not just the CEOs and the executive directors, who we already know. We want to know, who are the people on the front lines? Who are the people who are running these programs who just stand above and ought to be recognized?’” Carreau said.
The foundation, founded in 1963, holds $32 million in assets exclusively dedicated to the well-being of Schenectady County residents. Most of the money comes from trusts, wills and estate plans.
Since its inception, the foundation has granted $16 million for community programs and scholarships. It also established the Rebuilding Families Fund in response to the devastation caused locally by tropical storms Irene and Lee, and helped more than 75 families restore their homes.
City Mission of Schenectady is one of the organizations that has benefitted from grants from the foundation. Executive Director Mike Saccocio said he is excited to work on a plan that meets the criteria for the just-announced $1 million grant.
“They’ve set the bar real high,” he said. “I’m quoting Bob [Carreau] on this: ‘visible, transformative change.’ Wow, this is what I love about the foundation. They’re not just saying, ‘Give us your ideas; we’ll give you money for them.’ They’re saying, ‘Come on, think higher, think bigger.’ ”