Public Voting for Community Choice Awards Begins August 15

The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties is asking the public to help select the winners of the Community Choice Awards (CCA). In partnership with Community Foundation donor-advised funds, its board of trustees, and the Rome Community Foundation to serve as category sponsors, a total of $85,000 will be awarded through this year’s Community Choice Awards grantmaking program.

Now in its second year, CCA features eight categories to help local nonprofits with community projects: animal welfare, arts & culture, copper city (to benefit projects in the City of Rome), education, health & wellness, human services, seniors, and sports & recreation.

Nearly 80 nonprofit organizations in Herkimer and Oneida counties submitted grant proposals for consideration. Community Foundation staff in consultation with category sponsors selected three finalists in each category.

Public voting will determine the recipients of eight $10,000 grants being awarded to local nonprofits. Voting will take place online at www.ccawards.org beginning on Thursday, August 15, and will close on Wednesday, August 31. Individuals will be allowed one vote per category for the duration of the contest.

After the votes are tallied and the eight grand-prize winners have been chosen by the community, one of the remaining 16 finalists will be selected to receive a $5,000 Board Recognition Award given by The Community Foundation Board of Trustees.

Community Foundation staff, Trustees and category sponsors will surprise each category winner at the chosen organization’s headquarters with a big check and celebration on Wednesday, September 18.

For more information on the finalist’s projects and to cast votes, visit www.ccawards.org.

The Animal Welfare category, sponsored by Staffworks Fund, is for domestic animal welfare projects. Finalists include:

  • 4PetSake Food Pantry – Expanding and continuing 4PetSake Food Pantry’s Trap-Neuter-Release program to remove feral cats from the wild in Herkimer and Oneida counties, reducing their numbers, improving the quality of their lives and preventing animal cruelty
  • Herkimer County Humane Society – Greatly improving the quality of life for shelter residents, Herkimer County Humane Society’s project would provide air conditioning for animals transitioning to their forever home
  • Stevens-Swan Humane Society – Providing exams, rabies vaccinations, spay-neuter surgeries and microchipping for 40 dogs owned by Herkimer and Oneida county veterans and active duty service personnel

The Arts and Culture category, sponsored by the Bull Family Fund, is for projects with a focus on creating a more vibrant community for all through the exposure to the arts. Finalists include:

  • Broadway Theatre League – Expanding Broadway Utica’s program for hundreds of students in a four-county area, introducing master classes, high-school theatre awards, and a Broadway Utica Wishes program
  • Upstate Cerebral Palsy – Creating installations for vacant storefronts in Downtown Utica through UCP’s Art Program, one of the few programs in the area for people with special needs
  • Uptown Theatre for Creative Arts – Offering low-cost entertainment to area residents, the Uptown Theatre $2 Tuesdays promotion as a year-long movie series

The Copper City category, sponsored by the Rome Community Foundation, is for projects that enhance nonprofit organizations located in the City of Rome. Finalists include:

  • Copper City Community Connection – Funding Copper City Community Connection’s purchase of a covered, raised-platform outdoor – event/activity pavilion for older adults and other community residents
  • Project Fibonacci – Supporting Project Fibonacci’s annual speaker series by funding keynote presentations from those involved in cutting-edge technologies to enhance technology education and career preparation for Mohawk Valley students
  • Rome Art and Community Center – Serving the City of Rome, completing Phase II of the Rome Arts and Community Center’s sound garden would enable the purchase of three additional musical instruments, supporting the project’s purpose: a fun, educational, accessible community space

The Education category, sponsored by the M&T Bank/Partners Trust Bank Charitable Fund, is for projects that improve current and future access to enhanced multigenerational learning. Finalists include:

  • Center for Family Life & Recovery – Center For Family Life and Recovery- funding to support Basic Life Skills For Teens ages 14-18 called “Project Ready” will teach and educate youth on money management, personal healthcare, safety, auto maintenance, domestic skills, resume building, interview skills and much more. “Project Ready” prepares teens for independence and success.
  • Empowered Pathways – Introducing 11-14-year-old-girls, through two week-long, all-day, hands-on programs, to a combination of technology-related and soft skills to cultivate and encourage female leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields
  • Mohawk Valley Jr. Frontiers – Expanding Mohawk Valley Junior-Frontiers’ programming to empower historically disadvantaged students, encourage their educational excellence and professional development, and introduce them to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Technology careers and providing SAT prep

The Health and Wellness category, sponsored by the David & Janet Griffith Family Fund, is for projects that promote healthy and active lifestyles to advance the quality of life for individuals and families in our community. Finalists include:

  • Central New York Conservancy – Restoring long-neglected paths in the Frederick T. Proctor Park, the Central New York Conservancy project would also add benches and multilingual wayfinding signage and provide a physically and psychologically healthful experience for residents
  • Presbyterian Homes Foundation – Advancing its support for individuals with Parkinson’s, the Presbyterian Homes Foundation’s project will support a research-based high-intensity spin class to help those living with Parkinson’s disease function better
  • Charles T. Sitrin Health Care Center – Establishing an aquatic cycling program, Sitrin Health Care Center would serve community residents whose health challenges need an innovative alternative to high-intensity traditional fitness programs

The Human Services category, sponsored by the Ronald & Sheila Cuccaro Family Fund, is for services that help fulfill the communities’ most basic needs and contribute to community members’ overall quality of life. Finalists include:

  • Hope House – Providing operational support to continue Hope House’s mission of feeding the hungry, helping address the ongoing costs of serving an average of 80,000 hot meals each year for the community’s most vulnerable residents
  • ICAN – Ensuring that homeless young women and children at Evelyn’s House have a safe, inviting and functional kitchen and dining environment, ICAN’s project would provide essential amenities including room renovation and new appliances
  • Rescue Mission of Utica – Enhancing its ability to salvage, process and distribute fresh, clean produce to thousands of families each year, the Rescue Mission project would fund the purchase and installation of a stainless steel, double-sink bowl and a mop sink, each with a spray faucet

The Seniors category, sponsored by the Mele Family Fund, is for services that support the health, well-being, and quality of life for seniors in the community. Finalists include:

  • Abraham House – Providing terminally ill guests and their families a space where they can be at peace during some of the most stressful and emotional days of their lives, the Abraham House project would also enable families to memorialize their loved ones through a “tree of life” mural
  • CNY Health Home Network – Supporting Central New York Home Network’s training of local professionals, the project would expand educational offerings for those suffering from chronic diseases and for their family, friends and the community around them
  • Resource Center for Independent Living – Expanding its offerings for seniors, RCIL’s Many Hearts Senior Care Center program would provide a year-long series of educational, entertaining events for seniors and their caregivers to learn from and enjoy together

The Sports and Recreation category, sponsored by the All In For Vin Memorial Fund, supports projects with a goal of enhancing athletic and recreational activities for youth and adults to promote healthy, active lifestyles. Finalists include:

  • Kelberman Center – Providing quality learning opportunities in recreational activities for individuals with disabilities, the Kelberman Center project would give children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder confidence and a sense of achievement, while supporting their future independence
  • Rising Stars Soccer Club – Supporting Rising Stars Soccer Club’s mission to provide a safe place for children to be active and develop positive peer relationships, the project would help fund a new, free, public afterschool recreational program from November through May
  • Root Farm – Through the area’s only all-abilities adventure center, Root Farm’s project would make free recreational, wellness-based educational and exercise opportunities available to children of all abilities in a day-camp setting