The CNY Philanthropy Center is a vibrant gem in downtown Syracuse. The iconic building, rich with history, provides
nonprofit and civic organizations with space to collaborate and expand their philanthropic footprints. Within these walls, fresh ideas are generated for the betterment of Central New York and beyond. And new purpose has been given to a century-old building that holds the stories of many who came before us.

When we purchased the University Club building in 2009 and renamed it the CNY Philanthropy Center, the economy was entering recession and the stock market was plummeting. But the investment in downtown paid off. The four-floor building now offers local nonprofit and civic organizations the opportunity to host meetings, retreats and events in our modern conference rooms and ballroom.

Additionally, nine other charities call the space home. In 2014, the Onondaga County Bar Association (OCBA) and the Onondaga County Bar Foundation relocated to the Philanthropy Center. The move has been beneficial for their staff and the clients they serve.

“The updated office suite gave our employees a nicer, more productive work environment,” said Jeff Unaitis, OCBA executive director. “Being in a facility with so many other community organizations engenders a sense of cooperation and commitment. It has raised our visibility and made the Bar Association and Foundation better organizations.”

Soon after the Philanthropy Center opened its doors, the Community Foundation launched the Nonprofit Essentials Workshop Series (NEWS). Since then more than 1,000 individuals have attended the workshops which cover topics of interest such as nonprofit management, financial modeling, succession planning, grantwriting, fundraising, endowment development and strategic partnerships.

“We had a vision that we would ‘wear out the floors’ of the facility with people coming and going, that we would expand our mission to include greater levels of nonprofit educational programming and seminars given our ability to use the space — and all that has come to pass,” said Peter Dunn, Community Foundation president & CEO.

The Philanthropy Center continues to be a hub of activity and a convenient central meeting place for nonprofits and their partners. “We have created a welcoming space that has become very much enmeshed as a part of the local civic fabric,” Dunn said. “We also preserved an important, elegant, century-old building and created a new use for it — what was once exclusive social space is now space for the community,” Dunn continued. “This building has helped realize our mission and vision for expanded and engaged philanthropy.”