Local Nonprofits Gather at Regional Impact Symposium

On Wednesday, June 6, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation (CSCF) hosted an Impact Symposium at Bucknell University.  The goal was to bring together nonprofit partners to identify and evaluated unmet needs, network, learn and collaborate.  The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce director, Jeff Emanuel, was one of the nearly 125 nonprofit participants in the event.  There were representatives from organizations that span the six-county footprint served by CSCF. 

The program began with an introduction and welcome by Holly Morrison, president/CEO of CSCF, and Chamber board member, who introduced John Kurelja, regional impact fund campaign chair. Kurelja shared the story of a widowed mother with 10 kids and asked attendees what they thought happened to these kids as they grew. No one expected the results and the successes these children would have as they became adults.  All of them are successful and that success ranged from Phds, lawyers and executives. Kurelja’s story seemed so personal when he told it, and eventually, the crowd why. He was one of those children. The point was made — with with the right programs to assist families in this region, the sky is the limit for them.

Following Kurleja was the keynote speaker, Brad Ward, director of the community philanthropy with the Council on Foundations.  Ward interacts with hundreds of community foundations and place-based institutions across the country. He has directed, merged and witnessed the impact of community foundations first hand.  “Getting at the heart of nonprofits through community foundations” was the topic of his presentation. By the time he was done, there was no doubt of the sustainable impact and legacy that community foundations offer. 

Once the presentations were wrapped up it was time for the first of two breakout sessions.  The morning session was a county breakout of Columbia and Lower Luzerne Counties, Montour County, Northumberland County, Snyder County and Union County. The groups were tasked with identifying unmet needs in their counties and discussing how these relate to needs being served by the individual organizations. Everyone in the rooms got to learn from one another, and begin to envision how collaboration would benefit each county. 

The afternoon breakout sessions were focused on the program areas of arts and culture; civic and community development; education; health; human services; and youth and recreation. Again, the attendees were asked to speak about needs they are addressing, and identifying unmet needs in their program area. Everyone had the opportunity to offer suggestions of programs they offer that could benefit other organizations, and were again offered the opportunity to envision collaborative efforts. All the organizations have limited resources, but everyone strives to have maximum impact. There was a great deal of discussion about how pooling resources and increasing communication about efforts could increase the positive impacts on those served.  

At the conclusion of the program, Christine Pangelinan, CSCF program officer, shared a unique grant opportunity with those in attendance. Everyone in the room waited to hear the strings that were attached, but they never came.  CSCF’s first unrestricted grant round through the Regional Impact Fund was announced.  This grant round is open to the entire 5 ½ county service area. There are no geographic restrictions within counties for this grant opportunity. Charitable organizations investing in community programs and projects benefiting Lower Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Union and Snyder Counties are encouraged to apply. This year, the Regional Impact Fund is granting a total of $50,000 through this competitive grant round. Grant requests up to $10,000 are being considered. 

Grant requests must be submitted online by 11:59 pm on Thursday, July 12. Grant decisions will be announced in October 2018.