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LEAD Council offers community engagement, philanthropic work for young professionals

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The Northern New York Community Foundation is looking to bridge the age gap of philanthropic leaders, by creating the LEAD Council for young professionals.

To be fully unveiled in 2014, the council seeks select community members from ages 21 to 45 to participate in strategic grant making, learn about the work of nonprofits and develop skills to become community leaders, according to a recent foundation news release. Community Foundation Donor Services Coordinator Max M. DelSignore said the council is needed to tie the agency’s youth philanthropy councils in both Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties together with the agency’s board of directors.

“They could very well be the leaders we consider as board members down the road,” he said. “The young professionals are leaders already. We have a responsibility, I feel, to have a program like this.”

LEAD stands for leadership, engagement, access and direction. He said those words fit well with the agency’s vision for the council.

Mr. DelSignore said the agency is looking for participants from Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties who stretch a breadth of careers from nonprofit staff members to business employees to entrepreneurs. The foundation’s youth philanthropy council members also may be encouraged to join after they graduate from college or begin their careers right after high school.

The hope, he said, is to have 10 to 12 council members who will remain active for a few years. From there, long-standing members may mentor new members as they join the council.

“We are going to seek out local businesses and other sponsors on this initiative,” he said. “Once that’s completed, we’ll recruit. It’ll be nice to do something in the springtime.”

The Community Foundation board of directors last week agreed to allot $5,000 from the organization’s Friends of the Foundation Community Betterment Fund to support grant making for the LEAD Council in its first year. Mr. DelSignore said the foundation hopes to get support for council members to award a total of $10,000, with the goal of council members presenting recommendations for grants to the board of directors in December 2014.

This project mirrors one that is done through a community foundation in Rochester, Mr. DelSignore said.

For more information, call 782-7110.

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