To kickoff the annual Cornell United Way campaign, co-chairs Pat Wynn and Rick Burgess spoke at their launch event along with United Way of Tompkins County president, James Brown. Cornell United Way is a university philanthropy initiative.
Donations made to Cornell United Way are part of the larger United Way of Tompkins County organization, which promotes education, financial stability and health for members of the community through philanthropy and partnerships with local organizations.
The donations through Cornell United Way typically make up around 40 percent of community donations to UWTC, though the 2018-19 campaign goal will not be announced until October, according to Wynn.
According to Mark Anbinder, web communications manager for Cornell’s Campus Life Marketing and Communications office, the kickoff celebration had food and drinks provided by Cornell Catering and raffle prizes such as an Apple Watch, Beats Headphones and a Microsoft Surface, as well as a comedy performance by Brandon Fortenberry, director of Cornell Catering.
“We want this to be a truly festive occasion for all students, faculty and staff members who care about making a difference in the campus and local communities,” Wynn said, according to the Cornell Chronicle, which is run by the University.
All donations go directly to UWTC’s funded partners, including over 30 local agencies and community associations that donors can target gifts directly towards. UWTC’s administrative costs are covered by separate gifts.
This year’s campaign will end in December, continuing a change instituted last year that emphasized a shorter and earlier giving season, which Burgess said “allows UWTC to build momentum and intensify our outreach,” according to The Chronicle.
Brown noted the importance of United Way’s adapting to what he sees as a community in flux, with baby boomers retiring and leaving, local companies changing ownership and younger generations taking initiative as leaders.
“The community is changing in a material way. It is not a cliché,” Brown told The Sun in an email. “We have to adjust fast enough to keep key resources in place and support people who require assistance during the transition and beyond for some. It is a serious challenge.”
Brown believes that support from the Cornell community is necessary for UWTC’s success. Currently, five Cornell staff are on the UWTC Board of Directors and others serve on committees or hold volunteer positions.
“On the service side, presenting problems are more complicated and entrenched,” Brown told The Sun. “The good news is that working together, we can be successful.”