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Northern New York Community Foundation wants to work with Massena Central School District

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MASSENA - The Northern New York Community Foundation wants to help the Massena Central School District handle donations coming into the district.

That, Executive Director Rande S. Richardson said, could benefit the district by providing a central organizations where all donations directed to the district could be handled and then disseminated to the donor’s area of choice in the district.

“We are simply a conduit for the collection of funds,” Mr. Richardson said in a presentation to the Massena Central School Board of Education.

The Northern New York Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that serves organizations in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Locally, they work with several entities including the Potsdam and Madrid-Waddington school districts and the Massena Music Friends.

One of the reasons organizations turn to the Northern New York Community Foundation is because the Watertown-based organization is in a position to properly handle donations and the paperwork associated with it, Mr. Richardson said.

“They don’t have the proper staff, they don’t have the infrastructure for it, they don’t want to create a separate entity which creates more work for their staff. At the end of the day they want to have an advocate for them,” he said. “In the case of the school district, it’s another thing the business manager is not going to have to deal with, it’s another thing your staff is not going to get bogged down by.”

The staff at the Northern New York Community Foundation oversee donations and ensure they’re directed according to the donor’s wishes, he noted.

“They may want to give a gift to support athletics, a gift to support music, whatever they’re interested in. They can give (the donation) to the Community Foundation for that specific purpose. How is the school in a position now to handle that?” he asked.

Mr. Richardson said donors come from all facets of the community.

“Often it’s not who you think. It’s the person that just really loves what you do. They don’t have children, they don’t have other places to direct their resources and they have a heart for the school. They’re not on anybody’s radar. We work with them as financial advisors,” he said.

“We’re providing donors with another option, an option to support your school. I think one of the things we do particularly well is we make sure people are never forgotten, that their legacies are preserved respectfully,” he said. “As a school board member, it really could be the best part of your legacy.”

Once the school board agrees to enter into an agreement with the Northern New York Community Foundation, an initial gift is required, according to the executive director.

“Somebody has to put something in there - $100, $50. The staff, faculty, school board can make that first gift to get started. Then it’s on our books and we can begin the partnership,” he said.

The Massena Music Friends joined with the Northern New York Community Foundation to help them with donations that are directed to support the district’s music program.

“I know that’s worked well for them,” Mr. Richardson said.

Massena Music Friends President Paul A. Haggett agreed.

“We’re very small potatoes among funds the Community Foundation takes care of. But I know that Rande... is an email away, a phone call away if I have any questions about anything. He makes us feel very, very important, and I think we are because he emphasizes that so much. No matter how big or small your fund is or your organization is, everybody’s important,” Mr. Haggett said.

“I really want to encourage you to look very deeply into getting into a relationship with the Northern New York Community Foundation. It’s a great organization. It’s really helped our group do some things that we could not have done otherwise,” he said.

The Northern New York Community Foundation is also administering a new scholarship at Madrid-Waddington Central School. The Dr. Allen A. and Joan Taylor Welch Education Fund, a component fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation, was created by his wife, Joan, in memory of her late husband, Dr. Allen A. Welch.

The Northern New York Community Foundation administers the permanent scholarship fund on behalf of the Welch Family, and will work with faculty and staff at the school to identify the most appropriate recipients.

They also work with the Potsdam Central School District, which has established the Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund.

In Potsdam’s case, a school-based committee makes recommendations, which are then finalized by the Community Foundation’s board of directors.

The Opportunities Fund was established in 2012.

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