The Gifford Newsletter

Fall 2020  |  Embracing Disruption

Banner photo credit: Daylight Blue Media

Sheena Solomon is the Executive Director of The Gifford Foundation.

Broadening Perspectives: Staying Nimble, Compassionate, and Connected

            Across Central New York, the United States, and the world – 2020 has been a year defined by disruption. Even with the divisions we face in so many areas, nearly everyone agrees that this year has shaken things up in ways that few of us have seen in our lifetimes. As we prepare for the holidays and look ahead to 2021, we need to understand what that disruption really means and how we can prepare for it. At the Gifford Foundation, we believe that the key to this lies in balancing consistency in mission with flexibility in practice.

Sheena Solomon is the Executive Director of The Gifford Foundation.

Quick On Your Feet: Why Nonprofits Need to Adapt

The pandemic has revealed that many organizations lack a plan for sudden change. What happens when a key employee leaves suddenly or falls ill? If new expenses emerge, is the budget structured in a way that is adaptable? What technology investments will actually pay off in the long run? It is not enough to just survive the current chaos – history tells us that more upheaval will eventually come. With that in mind, creating contingency plans for these scenarios is more important than ever.

Ophelia's Place provides support and educational resources for those dealing with eating disorders.

The ADVANS Program Evaluation

We preach the value of self-assessment to all of the organizations we work with. After running the ADVANS capacity building program for more than 13 years and investing nearly $4 million into it, we wanted to properly gauge its impact and effectiveness. In order to avoid bias, we hired an outside firm, 8 Bridges Workshop, to conduct the evaluation. The completion of this report marks the first time in the Gifford Foundation’s history that a program evaluation of this nature and magnitude has been conducted.

Energizing the Electorate

We sat down with Councilor Joe Driscoll to discuss the challenges surrounding engagement during a pandemic, fake news, and how to fight back against a loss of faith in our civic institutions.

Celebrating African Culture Through Masks

Through a grant from the Gifford Foundation, the Congolese Women of Vision, Integrity, and Action have been making protective masks by hand using traditional African patterns. “The fabric celebrates all of African culture, not just the Congo,” says organization President Anjelani Amani. In total they hope to make up to 1,000 masks which will be distributed for free to anyone who is interested. If you would like to arrange a time to pick some up, please contact Gail Riina at

Highlighting Our NTL Graduates 

On Wednesday Nov. 11th we celebrated the 2020 graduates of the Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders program. The event marked the completion of the nine week course designed to prepare individuals to be effective board members and to understand the importance of diversity within nonprofit leadership. The event also featured a live painting by Mike Gaut. We cannot wait to see what these graduates go on and accomplish! If you are interested in learning more about the program or any of the graduates, please contact our Executive Director Sheena Solomon at
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