By Rob Montana
DRYDEN — Non-profit organizations are plentiful throughout Tompkins County, and make a big impact in our communities. Despite their contributions, area non-profits can sometimes go unnoticed or unknown. In an effort to shine a spotlight on those who are making a difference in our county, Tompkins Weekly will be showcasing these organizations on a regular basis.
This week we are highlighting the Dryden Youth Opportunity Fund. To find out more about the organization, we interviewed Paul Streeter, the president and one of the founders of the DYOF.
Tompkins Weekly: What is your mission?
Paul Streeter: Our mission is to encourage philanthropy for the benefit of youth in the Dryden community and to use this philanthropy to provide funding for activities that enrich and expand learning and development opportunities for Dryden youth.
TW: How do you fulfill that mission?
PS: The Dryden Youth Opportunity Fund was founded by a group of volunteers in 2003 who envisioned a very simple and straight forward role for the DYOF. We seek community funding support, largely through individual donors, through an annual solicitation and we use these funds to make grant awards to non-profit organizations in support of activities benefitting our youth. We conduct two semi-annual grant award cycles in April and October, in which organizations seeking funding submit a grant application to the DYOF. Our DYOF Board reviews the applications and makes funding decisions based on the merit of the grant proposal and the positive impact the activity will have on our youth and based on the amount of funding available. To date, through the generosity of our donors we have awarded 190 individual grant awards totaling more than $118,000 and we will be awarding more this month. We are very proud that the DYOF grant support goes to many organizations in our community serving and supporting children including, but not limited to, the Dryden School District, Southworth Library, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, Villages of Dryden and Freeville, local churches and the Dryden Fire Department.
The Dryden Youth Opportunity Fund operates as a donor-advised fund within the Tompkins Charitable Gift Fund. The Tompkins Charitable Gift Fund provides an important role in managing our funds and ensuring the DYOF complies with IRS regulations governing charitable activities.
TW: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces?
PS: Our biggest challenge at this point is growing our community of donors and raising awareness of the positive impact DYOF funded activities our having on our kids. We have been very fortunate with the generosity and support of many in our community, but in reality our donor base is quite small relative to the number of youth and families benefitting from DYOF funded activities. We think it is a sign of success that the number of high quality grant applications we receive each year exceeds the amount of funds we have available. This is a nice problem to have as we want to put our donor support to good use right away, but if we can grow the level of donor support we will grow the benefit and impact on our kids in a very positive manner.
TW: What is something people do not know about your organization?
PS: The DYOF operates solely as a vehicle for folks in our community to invest directly in the youth of Dryden. Gifts to the DYOF are tax-deductible and 100 percent of all gift funds received are used to fund activities benefitting kids. We sponsor an “Honor Tree” located in Times Square at the four corners in Dryden during the holiday season. Community members can buy a bulb to honor or remember a family member or friend and these bulb sales provide us with sufficient funds to cover our minimal operating costs so that we can ensure that gift funds are used 100 percent for the benefit of kids.
DYOF funded activities reach our youth through numerous organizations across a very wide-range of interests. More information on the DYOF including a listing of all our grant activity can be found at www.dyof.org.
TW: How can people best support your mission?
PS: Our mission is best supported in two ways: Donor support and grant applications. Individuals can make a donation by sending a check payable to the DYOF to P.O. Box 1076, Dryden, NY or by making an on-line donation through our website at www.dyof.org. Any non-profit organization sponsoring activities that support the youth of Dryden specifically are eligible to submit a grant application for funding support. The grant application form is available on our website and it can be mailed to the address above or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.