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St. Lawrence Central contemplates partnership with NNY Community Foundation

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BRASHER FALLS - St. Lawrence Central School Board of Education members are pondering whether to join the Northern New York Community Foundation following a presentation by that organization’s executive director this week.

If they do, the Northern New York Community Foundation, which started in 1929, would handle donations to the school, including scholarship funding.

“We started out as an educational foundation. We take education very seriously. It’s part of our heritage,” Rande S. Richardson told board members.

The Northern New York Community Foundation’s main purpose is to act as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, working with donors and organizations, including educational institutions.

They raise, manage and administer an endowment and collection of funds for the benefit of the community, built and added to by gifts from individuals and organizations committed to meeting the changing needs of Northern New York.

Their primary investment to the community is through scholarships, but they also provide grants. They have provided more than $11 million in scholarship funding since 1980 and, in 2011-12, they provided $740,662 to 352 students in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties for educational pursuits.

Mr. Richardson said they work with donors and organizations to officially do what schools may already be doing or would like to do in the future. That, he said, allows donors to better direct their gifts to the school, a benefit for both the school and donor.

“Donors want to be able to have a conduit to do that. It’s all about providing the best opportunity for you,” he said.

The Northern New York Community Foundation can also handle “more complex gifts” and provides a higher deduction for tax purposes for the donor, Mr. Richardson said.

Using their services also alleviates any potential problems that might crop up with changes in the administration, staff or superintendency of a school.

“They have consistency,” he said.

It would mean less paperwork for the district, too, according to the executive director.

“It alleviates all administrative roles for the school. You would have nothing in terms of reporting it. We’re simply a conduit to help you grow it, market it and administer it,” Mr. Richardson said.

“We just think it’s an important service that we offer,” he added.

The Northern New York Community Foundation is already working with some schools in the region, including Potsdam Central School, where they have set up a Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund under the auspices of the Community Foundation.

A Potsdam Central couple had made a challenge in 2012 in which they would match up to $100,000 raised. If successful, the group would start off with $200,000. The fund will be administered by the Northern New York Community Foundation.

A kick-off event was held in September for that fund, which is designed to enhance the educational experiences of Potsdam students and the efforts of their teachers beyond the scope of the curriculum. They launched a program that grants funds to PCS teachers for the enhancement of their work with students, on the basis of competitive proposals.

The Norwood-Norfolk Central School District is also considering contracting with the organization after hearing a presentation from Mr. Richardson in November.

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