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Make a Lasting Difference by Taking Charge of Change

By Lauri Van Hise

One of the pleasures of getting older is the confidence that comes with the knowledge and experience you’ve gained over your lifetime. You know what’s important and what you want, not only for yourself and your loved ones, but for your community — the place where you’ve lived, worked and perhaps raised a family. 

Perhaps you’ve gotten involved with community organizations and nonprofits whose work is meaningful to you. Through that activity you’ve found a sense of purpose. Soon you come to realize how much more can be done.

Then things happen that bring more urgency to your desire to see more done — a pandemic, racial injustice, civic divisiveness and so much more. You want to take action but are unsure how best to do so. You want to make a difference, but you also want your time and money to be well invested. In the face of significant, community-wide challenges, you might reach a point where you think what difference can one make? 

You may not be aware that there is a way to make a lasting difference and have ongoing impact on your community.

Rochester Area Community Foundation accepts financial gifts from individuals, families, businesses and other organizations to make grants to nonprofit organizations in the region. In some cases, where the money is directed is determined by the donors; in other cases, those decisions are made by foundation staff and reviewed and approved by a local board of directors.  

You don’t need to be an expert on all the issues the community faces. The foundation’s staff fills that role. They have real-time knowledge and understanding of the current challenges and issues our region is facing, as well as of the nonprofits, coalitions, and groups in place to aid those who are adversely affected. 

And here’s the lasting impact part — if you make a gift to a permanent fund (an “endowed” fund) at the foundation, it isn’t a one-time, spend-it-all-now gift. Your contribution grows in value over time, even as the foundation uses a portion to make grants, year after year after year.

Giving to the Community Foundation isn’t meant to replace the engagement you have with your favorite nonprofits and community organizations. It can, however, extend your desire to have an impact on community issues that you know are important — and to do so in way that lasts well into the future.

So, how can you take charge of change and make that lasting difference in our region? These are some of the permanent funds at the Community Foundation that accept gifts from anyone interested in addressing urgent community needs in a variety of areas:

Catalysts for Change Fund: Addresses the highest priority issues in our region;

Arts and Culture Fund: Supports programs and initiatives that promote access to and the creation of all manner of arts and cultural endeavors;

Civic Development and Problem-Solving Fund: For programs and initiatives that bring people with a vision for demonstrable improvement together to create positive community change; 

Economic Self-Sufficiency Fund: Promotes equitable opportunities for individuals to achieve financial health;

Education Fund: Supports initiatives that ensure equitable access to all forms of education and training;

Environment and Natural Resources Fund: Addresses the pursuit of inclusive solutions to environmental and natural resource challenges;

Historical Preservation Fund: Supports initiatives to preserve, protect, and promote the historical heritage of our region;

Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund: Addresses the need for remedies to systemic inequities and injustices towards those who have been marginalized;

Successful Aging, Health, and Well-Being Fund: Supports programs that ensure that our region’s residents can enjoy good health and be able to age in place; and 

• Youth and Families Fund: For initiatives that improve the atmosphere for raising children and strengthening families.

If you want to specifically support the county where you live, we have an endowment fund for each of the eight counties we serve — Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, and Yates.

For more information on these and other opportunities the Community Foundation offers, please visit www.racf.org or call us at 585-271-4100.

Lauri Van Hise is senior director of the endowment initiative at Rochester Area Community Foundation