Public Voting for Community Choice Awards Begins September 17

UTICA, NY – The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties is asking the public to help select the winners of its first-ever Community Choice Awards. Public voting will determine the recipients of five $10,000 grants being awarded to local nonprofits. Voting will take place online at beginning on Monday, September 17, and will close on Sunday, September 30. Individuals will be allowed one vote per category for the duration of the contest.

The Community Choice Awards is the first-ever contest of its kind for The Community Foundation. Dozens of nonprofit organizations in Herkimer and Oneida counties submitted grant proposals for consideration. Community Foundation staff in consultation with category sponsors selected three finalists in each category and is asking the public to help determine the winner of each category.

The Animals category, sponsored by Staffworks Charitable Fund, is for domestic animal welfare projects. Finalists include:

  • Humane Society of Rome – Installation of an air purification system in rooms occupied daily by staff and animals
  • Spring Farm CARES – Funding to support the ongoing spay and neuter program that assists low-income residents from Oneida County
  • Stevens-Swan Humane Society – Building of an outdoor pavilion for community engagement

The Arts and Culture category, sponsored by the Bull Family Fund, is for projects with a focus on engaging the community through the arts. Finalists include:

  • Arc Herkimer – Organizing a 2019 summer concert series at Arc Park in Herkimer
  • Players of Utica – Coordination of “Shakespeare in the Parks” to bring a reimagined version of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to different neighborhoods around the Utica area
  • Rome Capitol Arts Complex – Enhancement of spaces used for cultural and educational purposes and development of classrooms to support two arts education programs

The Health and Wellness category, sponsored by the Mele Family Fund, is for projects that promote healthy and active lifestyles as well as the quality and longevity of life. Finalists include:

  • Catholic Charities of Herkimer County – Funding to support the growth of the Retired Individuals Driving the Elderly (RIDE) program that provides transportation for older adults to medical appointments
  • Mid-York Library System – Launching a health and fitness project that will provide fitness equipment, informational books, and videos to 35 libraries across the two counties
  • Rome Hospital Foundation – Implementation of a baby safety program to provide a baby safety starter kit to parents of newborns when they are discharged

The Human Services category, sponsored by the Ron & Sheila Cuccaro Family Fund, is for services that help fulfill the communities’ most basic needs and contribute to community members’ overall quality of life. Finalists include:

  • Abraham House (Rome) – Expansion of the Rome facility to include a six-bed community care shelter for the terminally ill
  • Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees – Establishment of One World Utica Welcome & Opportunity Center that will cultivate a sense of community and inclusiveness for all newcomers and residents
  • Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen – Funding to open a service window, improving access to meals and creating a welcoming, safe and healthy environment

The Youth category, sponsored by M&T/Partners Trust Bank Charitable Fund, supports projects with a goal of strengthening opportunities for children to learn, grow and build a promising future. Finalists include:

  • Oneida County Youth Bureau – Funding for 90 young adults to participate in the “Experience Glimmerglass” interactive theatre program
  • The Kelberman Center – Support for the 2019 iCan Bike program to teach 40 children/young adults with autism or an intellectual disability how to ride bicycles
  • Utica Zoo – Installation of a glass viewing window for the outside gibbon exhibit and implementation of a primate play program for children

“Every member of our community has benefited from the support and services of a nonprofit organization at some point in their life,” said Alicia Dicks, president/CEO of The Community Foundation. “Determining which organizations are deserving of a grant requires a lot of input and the Community Choice Awards is a unique opportunity for community members to share their insight about which nonprofits are most valued in our community.”

For more information on the finalist’s projects and to cast votes, visit