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SLC residents surpass $1 million in commitments and donations to the NNYCF

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POTSDAM — St. Lawrence County residents have committed more than $1 million to the Northern New York Community Foundation.

Executive Director Rande S. Richardson said that mark was passed with the recent $200,000 donation by an anonymous couple who once attended Potsdam Central School.

“We’ve had about a half-dozen, six-figure grants from St. Lawrence County since 2008, which is when we started there, but this is the first one directed for a specific purpose,” Mr. Richardson said.

The $200,000 will be split into two functions. The first $100,000 will go to the Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund to focus on both annual needs and for endowment-building for faculty and staff-driven initiatives at Potsdam Central School. That will be a match grant, challenging area residents, organizations, businesses and alumni to match that $100,000. The second $100,000 portion — the Potsdam Fund for Education— is more for general education throughout the Potsdam area, although it also may support the Opportunities Fund. As advisers to the Potsdam Fund for Education, the donor couple may decide which educational opportunities in Potsdam they want to support.

“I don’t think anyone on our board or in our organization expected us to be this far ahead in St. Lawrence County,” Mr. Richardson said. “I think because there hasn’t been a community foundation in St. Lawrence County, they’re starting to realize benefits of partnering with the Northern New York Community Foundation.”

The Community Foundation’s expansion into St. Lawrence County began in 2008, as more scholarships specifically were offered for county students.

“Because the majority of our investment in St. Lawrence County has been resources from Jefferson and Lewis counties, this gives the board more incentive to do more in St. Lawrence County in the future,” Mr. Richardson said. He said it was the same progression that happened in Lewis County when the program started there in 1988.

It is the hope of some donors in St. Lawrence County, he said, that the foundation would use some of its unrestricted funds to increase their gifts for a particular program or project.

“The board’s been incredibly patient, and they know it’s a long-term process and at some point there needed to be a reciprocal relationship from donors,” Mr. Richardson said.

An advisory committee in St. Lawrence County meets twice a year and is always looking for new members to have as much geographic representation as possible. The council makes grant recommendations to the board.

For more information or to donate, call the Community Foundation at 782-7110.

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