Family Legacy Fund to award grants to benefit Potsdam area


The John and Dorotha VanNess Family Fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation will award its first grants to support nonprofit organizations serving the greater Potsdam area later this year.

This family legacy fund was established at the Community Foundation in 2018 to honor and recognize the lifelong community spirit of John S. and Dorotha T. VanNess. Mr. and Mrs. VanNess were actively engaged in the Potsdam community for decades through local business and volunteer efforts. The fund was created by Mr. and Mrs. VanNess’ daughter – Susan J. Sewall – who admired her parents’ civic-mindedness. After passing away in 2017, Mrs. Sewall established this permanent fund through her legacy planning to support the greater Potsdam region forever.

“We feel extremely honored to be part of the special way Susan and her parents will continue to touch the people of the Potsdam area as an ongoing expression of their love of their community,” said Rande S. Richardson, Community Foundation executive director.

Up to $10,000 in grant funding is available from the VanNess Family Fund this year. The deadline to apply for this funding opportunity is November 15. Grant awards will be determined by the end of the year.

Nonprofit organizations with a 501 (c)(3) classification and serving the Potsdam area are encouraged to apply through this grant funding opportunity. If other organizations or agencies do not have this classification, they are required to partner with an eligible nonprofit, municipality, or local agency to serve as a fiscal sponsor. Agencies seeking funding through this funding opportunity must confirm partnership with an eligible nonprofit or fiscal sponsor at the time a grant proposal is submitted.

Please contact Max DelSignore, Community Foundation assistant director, to obtain the grant application or learn more about this grant opportunity to enhance the quality of life in the Potsdam area. He may be reached at (315) 782-7110 or

About the Northern New York Community Foundation

Since 1929, the Northern New York Community Foundation has invested in improving and enriching the quality of life in communities across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

Through partnerships with businesses and organizations, generous individual donors and families, and charitable foundations, the Community Foundation awards grants and scholarships from an endowment and collection of funds that benefit the region. Its commitment to donors helps individuals achieve their charitable objectives now and for generations to come by preserving enduring legacies of community philanthropy while inspiring others.

The Community Foundation is a resource for donors, local charitable organizations, and professional advisors. It also works to bring people together at its permanent home in the Northern New York Philanthropy Center to discuss challenges our communities face and find creative solutions that strengthen the region and make it a great place to live, work, and play.

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