The Embracing Disruption Cohort is a 17-month capacity building program developed to support organizations as they navigate an increasingly unpredictable world.

Graduate Feedback

Listen to program reviews and anecdotes from last year’s Embracing Disruption cohort featuring a range of nonprofit organizations from across CNY.

Program History

Embracing Disruption was created to help organizations navigate today’s changing world. Click the icon above to learn about its history and mission.

Dates to Remember

Application Opens: May 9th, 2022

Application Deadline: June 10th, 2022

Program Launch: August 25th, 2022

View the Full Program Timeline

Participation in Embracing Disruption is time-intensive, so please review the schedule below. This is a tentative schedule but is provided to ensure an understanding of the expectations of participating organizations.


Embracing 2 Timeline
Phase One: Organization Selection (May 2022 – August 2022)
  • Application open (May 9, 2022)
  • Reach out to Lindsay McClung for application questions and Nonprofit Lifecycles overview (May 9, 2022 – June 9, 2022)
  • Application Deadline (June 10, 2022)
  • Gifford staff will schedule zoom meetings with organizations (June 20-24, 2022)
  • Gifford will select five organizations to participate in Embracing (week of July 25, 2022)
  • Gifford staff and lead consultant will select organization and consultant matches (July 31, 2022)
  • DEI Lifecycle Workshop with selected organization’s leadership team (August 25, 2022, full day)
Phase Two: Self-Assessment/Work Plan Process (Sept 2021– March 2023)
  • First Leadership Team Orientation (September 22, 2022)
  • Organizational Selfie Due (December 15, 2022)
  • Organizational Capacity Improvement Plan Due (December 15, 2022)
  • Second Leadership Team Cohort Meeting-Consultants & Organizations (December 15, 2022)
  • Third Leadership Team Cohort Meeting (February 16, 2023)
  • Capacity Investments- up to $15,000 (March 31, 2023)
Phase Three: Capacity Improvement Period (April 2023 – February 2024)
  • Capacity Improvement Implementation begins (April 2023)
  • Fourth Leadership Team Cohort Meeting (June 22, 2023)
  • Fifth Leadership Team Cohort Meeting (September 28, 2023)
  • Sixth Leadership Team Cohort Meeting/Celebration (February 15, 2024)
  • Final written Reflections due (March 2024)

Gifford will select five organizations to participate in this pilot round of Embracing Disruption based on the following criteria:

  • Organizations must be receptive to change.
  • Reflect strong leadership at the organizational and board levels.
  • Be able to field a leadership team (a minimum 4 people is required per leadership team).
  • Leadership Team members need to be committed to stay with the team to monitor the progress of the capacity work plan and stay engaged for the entire 17-month period.
  • Organizations must have ongoing programming that is critical to the community.
  • Serve Onondaga, Madison, or Oswego Counties.

Congratulations to Our First Cohort

We would like to highlight the incredible hard work and perseverance shown by the first Embracing Disruption cohort. These five organizations have showed courage, commitment, and creativity over the past 15 months as they pushed to reinvigorate their systems, programs, and philosophies. As they graduate from the program, we cannot wait to see what they go on to accomplish.

If you are considering whether or not Embracing Disruption would be a good fit for your organization, we encourage you to contact any of our past participants in order to hear their take on what the program experience was really like.

About the Program

The 21st century has been defined by rapid change and unprecedented disruption. Our methods of communication, entertainment, commerce, and so much have all changed dramatically due to technological advancements and an increasingly interconnected global community. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated these transformations, sending shockwaves that have deeply shaken every area of our economies and communities – the nonprofit sector included.

Looking to the future, perhaps the only prediction that we can make with any certainty is that the coming years will continue to bring extreme upheaval in nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives. The institutions that survive will be those who are the most adaptive, creative, and flexible. The Gifford Foundation is committed to helping nonprofit organizations across CNY address these challenges through our capacity building program Embracing Disruption: Resilience Amidst a Changing Environment.

“In order to keep up with the world of 2050, you will need not merely to invent new ideas and products – you will above all need to reinvent yourself again and again.”

– Prof. Yuval Noah Harari

How can your nonprofit adapt to a remote work environment?

What steps can you take to diversify your funding sources?

How can you create effective contingency plans?

Learn How To Prepare

The Embracing Disruption Cohort is a 17-month capacity building program developed to support organizations as they navigate a rapidly changing environment. The curriculum uses a Nonprofit Lifecycles approach to organizational development. This program is designed to host five organizations through a self-assessment, planning process, and capacity implementation period. While similar to past Gifford programs like POWER and ADVANS, the Embracing Disruption Cohort program focuses heavily on building organizational resiliency in our increasingly unpredictable world.

The program design uses concepts developed under the direction of organizational consultant Dr. Susan Kenny Stevens. This “meet them where they are” approach is known as the Nonprofit Lifecycles Approach to capacity building. The Gifford Foundation launches this capacity building initiative with lead consultant Jennifer Bonnett, MPA, CLCC, CEO & President of the Nonprofit Lifecycles Institute.

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