Community Foundation

Tompkins County is a county in the central New York State Finger Lakes Region with a population of about 100,000 people. The county seat is Ithaca, a town on the southern shore of Lake Cayuga that is home to two leading institutions of higher education: Cornell University and Ithaca College, with a combined enrollment of about 30,000 students.

The Community Foundation of Tompkins County awards grants to a broad range of organizations in the areas of education, environment, arts and culture, health and human services and community building.

Through the Community Foundation, the community’s resources can be preserved, nurtured, and deployed in grants approved by the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors.

The Community Foundation uses a variety of resources to achieve three ultimate goals: advancing problem solving, working with a shared vision, and building community. Moreover, the Community Foundation seeks to better understand opportunities and interventions to guide grant making and to share information with individual donors and the community at large.


In early 1999 a group of concerned citizens gathered to discuss ways of creating a community foundation to serve as the philanthropic center for Tompkins County and for those wishing to support and enhance the quality of life for all who live and work here.

In June 2000, six people agreed to serve as the Incorporating Board of the new Community Foundation of Tompkins County and thus to establish a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public foundation: Jeff Furman, Howard Hartnett, Bill Myers, John Semmler, Diane Shafer, and Robert Swieringa.

In August 2000, the Foundation became a reality with Jeffrey (Jeff) True as the first executive director. Two years later, Margaret (Peg) Hendricks followed Jeff. In 2005, George Ferrari began his current service as chief executive officer. Their collective leadership has guided the growth of assets from generous donors, the gathering of community knowledge with Critical Issues Roundtable sessions and subsequent Listening & Learning focus groups, and the rapid expansion of grant-making.


The mission of our Community Foundation is to improve the quality of life in Tompkins County by inspiring and supporting enduring philanthropy.


Tompkins County thrives thanks to engaged philanthropy.


Integrity, inclusion and transparency in both grant-making and stewardship of resources.

Impartiality and flexibility, matching community needs with donor interests.

Involved donors who are empowered to take bold and effective philanthropic actions.

Community leadership in acquiring and sharing of knowledge.

Engaging in best practices and innovative models of service.

Grant-Making Philosophy

The Community Foundation makes grants that address community needs and bring about positive change. It strives to make grants that adhere to its values and principles.

1. The Community Foundation’s grant-making priorities reflect its analysis and evaluation of information gained from Listening & Learning sessions and feedback from grantees and community members.

2. The Community Foundation is committed to active and ongoing collaborative relationships with grant applicants and Tompkins County funders.

3. The Community Foundation’s grant review process engages diverse groups of community members in thoughtful discussions leading to funding decisions.


Community Foundation of Tompkins County

200 East Buffalo Street

Suite 202

Ithaca, NY 14850

(607) 272 9333