The Cornell United Way campaign, a yearly campus drive that supports an overall campaign run by United Way of Tompkins County (UWTC) to raise funds for community members in need, begins Sept. 28.
“Donors giving to UWTC are funding programs that our neighbors, families, friends and co-workers need in times of crisis and to strengthen their lives,” said Gail Belokur, interim CEO of UWTC. “We are grateful for the time and talents that our campaign chairs and other volunteers give to our community through the UWTC campaign each year.”
UWTC aims to help people meet their basic needs while working to improve in education, health and financial stability. Funds raised benefit approximately 300 local nonprofits each year, including the Downtown Ithaca Children’s Center, Women’s Opportunity Center and the Urgent Rx Prescription Program; last year’s UWTC campaign raised more than $1.7 million.
Under the UWTC’s theme, “Better United,” Cornell has a fundraising goal this year of $555,000, a 5% increase over last year’s total of $530,000. This year’s Cornell campaign co-chairs are Brandon Fortenberry, senior manager of training and development for Cornell Dining, and Pat Wynn, assistant vice president for Student and Campus Life.
“I have personally benefited from the organizations that are supported by the United Way,” Fortenberry said. “Now not only do I send recurring gifts to the United Way, I get to designate organizations that helped me in my childhood – like Big Brother/Big Sister – to receive portions of my funds.”
Instead of hosting a single university kickoff event as in years past, the Cornell campaign volunteer team will be setting up tables around campus to spread the word. Organizers will also send an email to faculty and staff to begin the giving period, which will run through the end of December.
At the UWTC’s annual Stephen E. Garner Day of Caring, held Sept. 23, co-chairs Deb Mohlenhoff and Ducson Nguyen announced the overall campaign goal of $1.8 million. Individuals and organizations, including Cornell staff, donated personal items and cleaning supplies to be distributed to the 25 pantries of the Tompkins County Food Distribution network.
“There is so much need to be addressed in our community, recently exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic,” Mohlenhoff said. “The United Way is poised to navigate the new normal, attract a new generation of donors, and impact our community in innovative and meaningful ways.”