LEVINE: Building A Foundation, Together


A Foundation

– Together

Community Foundation

Takes Aim At COVID-19

By HARRY LEVINE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COVID-19 has changed our world. Our community faces dire health and economic shocks that have disrupted our way of life and will continue to affect us for the foreseeable future.

The Community Foundation of Otsego County was created in 2019 with the mission of improving the quality of life for all the Otsego County area. We were about to publicly announce our formation when COVID-19 attacked. Rather than wait until the emergency passes, the Board of the Foundation has decided now is the time of greatest need and the Foundation must take a leading role in addressing the challenge.

Harry Levine, former president of the Otsego Land Trust, is now leading the formation of The Community Foundatio of Otsego County.

For those not familiar with CFOC and how we have been building resources to announce our introduction to the Otsego County community, we are an IRS designated nonprofit public charity (501c3).

Our mission is to improve the quality of life for all in the Otsego County area primarily through gathering financial assets to direct to existing nonprofits in our county – to help them solve problems we all recognize and that are common to rural areas. We have an excellent Board of Directors with members dedicated to our mission.

Community foundations across the nation have taken leadership roles in establishing COVID-19 relief funds. Albany, Syracuse, Utica and Rochester all have established their funds through local community foundations. In each city, local governments, businesses, and service organizations have joined as sponsors, making these funds a central point for donations to meet the emergency needs of their communities.

CFOC has now set up a fund for Otsego County. Initially, the Fund will direct its resources to emergency relief. Once the crisis abates, and if resources remain, the Fund will shift its emphasis to recovery efforts.

The Fund will gather money to address immediate needs in Otsego County (the relief part of the Fund). We know that unemployment is rising and we are seeing growing numbers of
Please See NEW FUND, A6potentially fatal illnesses. The service sector of our economy will be faced with overwhelming assistance requests.

The Fund is a general fund. Every $1 donated will be disbursed as awards (CFOC will underwrite the administrative expenses). Awards will be made to existing organizations that have proven abilities to deliver services (CFOC does not currently have the expertise or time to evaluate new organizations).

The Fund will be a major county-wide effort to use private donations to address the COVID-19 emergency. To do this, CFOC must partner with many individuals, businesses, and other community organizations, and private foundations. We are asking you to join us as contributors to the Fund.

To be clear, this fund is an additional resource and cannot replace local, state or federal funding. Nor is it designed to shift funds away from existing nonprofits – in fact, awards by the Fund will go entirely to nonprofits to deliver services. Please do not support our efforts at the expense of your continuing support of existing and productive nonprofit organizations.


Our immediate concern is relief. We will rely upon existing nonprofit organizations that are on the front lines of responding to these needs. Awards will be issued to meet the following priorities:

• Support for medical workers, EMTs, police, firefighters, and others in essential industries who risk their own health to serve the community.
• Prevention measures such as education and sanitary supplies to limit the spread of the virus.
• Support for vulnerable populations, i.e. older adults with compromised immune systems, and people who are unhoused.
• Practical needs, in case of disruption in services to vulnerable populations, such as meal delivery and daily living support for homebound older adults.
• Food access and other practical support for people who have lost wages or are unable to stock up on food, specifically those who fall in the gaps of government-led responses.
• Support for workers, especially low-wage workers, to address lack of access to healthcare and paid sick leave, lack of proper safety equipment, economic impact of lost wages due to quarantines, cancelled activities, reduced hours/layoffs.
• Other emerging, immediate needs.

As we learn more about the impacts of the pandemic, priorities may change, but the overarching purpose of the Fund will remain the same.


The Fund has been organized to work smoothly. See our website at www.cfotsego.com for more details and how to make a contribution. We can accept checks or credit card payments.

We are operating with unpaid volunteers and will underwrite all development and administrative costs. CFOC will not charge any fees to the Fund.

The Board of CFOC has authorized an initial investment of $50,000 to start the Fund, of which $30,000 is a $1 for $1 matching challenge to the community to participate.

Please join us as we work as One Community – One County to rise to the challenges created by this pandemic.

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