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12 nonprofits win ‘Cortland County Bright Ideas’ grants

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Twelve local nonprofits were awarded a total of $60k in the Central New York Community Foundation’s third annual Cortland County Bright Ideas grant program.

That’s the most awarded so far in the program’s young history, with each organization receiving $5,000 towards program enhancements to better serve the community.

Among the winners:


  • Access To Independence to serve as a resource and advocate for the disabled community who have experienced violence and to educate those with disabilities to reduce further violence.
  • Cortland Area Communities That Care Coalition, Inc. to implement a youth vaping prevention campaign. The campaign will target students in Cortland County with core messages on the dangers and consequences of vaping.
  • Cortland Chenango Rural Services to repair facilities and provide services in a safe environment for the many communities which are served on the premises. 
  • Cortland Community Action Program Head Start to construct their “Seed To Plate Watch Our Garden Grow” program. Several raised bed gardens for children and families will enable access to fresh food and nutrition education.
  • Cortland County Family YMCA to create an accessible space dedicated to youth programs, including art and music, STEM, and after-school care for children and teens in Cortland County.
  • Cortland County Historical Society to implement their “Adventuring Through Time: Cortland County for Kids” program, an interactive children’s space in Cortland County that will connect children to the past through play, narrative, and historical objects.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Tompkins and Cortland Counties to repair/rehabilitate houses in Cortland County, which will enable owners to stay long term in their homes.
  • Homeville Museum, Inc. to create dynamic and interactive exhibits through Living History presentations, multi-media exhibits, mannequins and demonstrations. 
  • Liberty Resources to create an all-inclusive physical exercise program for those who are wheelchair dependent. This will help to improve overall mental and physical health, as well as increase their participation and socialization amongst their peers in the program.
  • Lime Hollow Nature Center to expand storage, furnishings and equipment for our Forest preschool students.
  • The Salvation Army of Cortland to implement the new Reading and Homework Help Center and purchase the needed furnishings and books.
  • The Town and Country Garden Club to restore their sensory garden and ensure that the walking area is safe for visitors.

The Cortland County Bright Ideas grants program is supported through the generosity of the Fenstermacher Fund, the Nicholas and Agnes Renzi Charitable Fund, the Margaret and Roland Fragnoli Designated Fund, the Yaman Foundation, the Bertini Family Foundation, the Cortland Community Foundation, Brenda and Rod Comolli and other local donors who were inspired to give back to the local community.

The selection committee was comprised of the organizations and individuals who contributed.

Applicants were invited to submit a ‘bright idea’ for enhancing their nonprofit and explain how that idea will help the organization better serve its community. Each submission was evaluated based on community impact, collaboration and sustainability.

“The applications represented many deserving organizations in Cortland County. We’re delighted to continue our support of these worthwhile programs that strengthen our community at large,” said Leslee Fragnoli-Garrison, a Bright Ideas grants program donor and committee member. “I’m proud to be a part of Cortland’s Bright Ideas program.”

The Fenstermacher Fund, administered by the Central New York Community Foundation, serves as a catalyst for the Bright Ideas program. Ted Fenstermacher was a prominent attorney who served as a chief prosecutor in the Nuremberg war crimes trials following World War II. The Fenstermacher Fund, established through his bequest in 2001, has supported the general needs of the community for more than 15 years, largely through the funding of a lecture series, prior to the launch of Bright Ideas.

“It is our mission to steward donors’ intentions and bring together people with common interests to make a bigger impact,” said Peter Dunn, president & CEO of the Central New York Community Foundation. “It’s inspiring to see the generosity of Mr. Fenstermacher and the other donors supporting important projects in Cortland County.”


To learn more about the Cortland County Bright Ideas grants program, including how to make a contribution, visit www.cnycf.org/cortland.

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