Klee History

History of the Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation

The Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation was founded on August 6, 1957, with a check from the Klees for $5,000. Through further contributions from the Klees, and careful financial stewardship, the foundation has grown tremendously over the years, allowing it to make nearly $31 million in grants as of January 2021. The management of the Klee Foundation, and the focus of its philanthropy, have also evolved over time.

In 1957, in accordance with the new foundation’s bylaws, all members of the original board of directors were affiliated with major banking institutions, either as directors or bank presidents. Klee nominated as chair his friend Cornelius Van Patten, who would serve in that capacity for the next 30 years. He was succeeded by longtime board member Clayton Axtell, who served 26 years, yielding the position to his son Clayton III in 2003.

Upon Clayton III’s untimely death in 2005, the board hired an executive director, established a foundation office, developed a web site and implemented terms of office for board members and officers.

For decades, the Klee Foundation made grants—many of them small—to as many as 60 organizations each year. With the reorganization in the mid-2000s, the board started to re-examine the foundation’s philosophy, gradually deciding to give fewer grants, but more substantial ones, to achieve greater impact.

Several years later, the board also started to consider a new approach grantmaking. Along with responding to grant requests in the traditional way, board members decided the foundation should initiate new programs to tackle some of Broome County’s most urgent issues. That led to a focus on childhood obesity, which gradually evolved into a multi-faceted, multi-year pilot program to promote healthy living in one Binghamton neighborhood.

As part of Klee’s initiative to address some of Broome County’s most pressing issues, in 2012 we awarded $300,000 to fund what would become the Healthy Lifestyles Coalition and its pilot program, Eat Well. Play Hard. Binghamton!

See the 2016 Progress Report

Another example of the Klee Foundation’s focus on larger, (multi-year) grants with lasting impact was the $300,000 we provided to United Way of Broome County to help local victims after the disastrous flood of 2011.

The question of impact has become more and more important to the Klee Foundation’s board in recent years. Members believe that they need to consider not only how much money the foundation distributes, but how effectively these gifts help to address the community’s most significant needs, as determined by needs assessments. Thanks to those discussions, we have continued our work on healthy lifestyles, while also exploring how the foundation can help in areas such as poverty, access to food and workforce development.

Conrad and Virginia Klee would probably be surprised to see how their foundation has grown and matured, and to see how local needs have changed since their day. Given their love for Binghamton and Broome County, we feel sure they would approve of our work to meet this community’s most critical needs as they continue to evolve.

Board of Directors

David Campbell, Chair

Cathy Frankenbach, Vice Chair

Stacey Duncan, Treasurer

Rich Allman

Larry Anderson

Aisha Jasper

Prakash Ramanathan

Chelsea Reome-Nedlik

Recent Grants – 2023

 

2023 GRANT AWARDS

2023 OPERATING GRANTS
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Binghamton Philharmonic $60,000
Broome County Arts Council $85,000
Broome County Council of Churches $25,000
Broome County Historical Society $25,000
Klee House $12,000
Literacy Volunteers of Broome/Tioga – 2-yr, $50,000 for Capacity Building $25,000
North of Main (NoMa) Community Center $20,000
NYCON (toward Southern Tier Capacity Building Project) $5,000
Roberson Museum & Science Center $74,000
Samaritan Counseling Center $25,000
Tri-Cities Opera $90,000
YWCA – Young Wonders child care program $20,000
Total Operating Grants Awarded $466,000
 
 
2023 PROJECT, PROGRAM & CAPACITY BUILDING GRANTS
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Binghamton City Schools Foundation – Student Mental Health Initiatives $5,000
Broome County Council of Churches – Mobile Grocery Bus $25,000
Broome County Habitat for Humanity – Storage Facility $20,000
CARES Advocates – Peer Tutoring $15,000
Eastern Broome Emergency Services – Cardiac Monitor $40,000
GiGi’s Playhouse of the Southern Tier – Capital Campaign $25,000
KEYS Program – Music Therapy for Medically Fragile Children $5,000
Kopernik Society of Broome County – Capacity Building $25,000
Mothers & Babies Perinatal Network – 3-yr, $110,000 for JC PAL Center $50,000
Roberson Museum & Science Center – 2-yr, $100,000 for Capital Campaign $100,000
Southern Tier Zoological Society – 3-yr, $72,767 for Capacity Building $30,357
Stand With Me Assistance Dog Team Training – Community Education $35,000
United Health Services Foundation – 5-year, $250,000 for Wilson Hospital $100,000
United Way of Broome County – Executive Director Leadership Academy $2,625
Total Project, Program & Capacity Building Grants Awarded $477,982
 
TOTAL GRANTS AWARDED 2023 $943,982

2019 Klee Foundation Grants

2019 GRANT AWARDS

ANNUAL OPERATING GRANTS
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Binghamton Philharmonic $50,000
Broome County Arts Council $55,000
Broome County Council of Churches $9,000
Broome County Historical Society $25,000
Klee House $10,000
NYCON toward mini-grants for technical assistance $10,000
Roberson Musuem & Science Center $74,000
Samaritan Counseling Center $15,000
Tri Cities Opera $90,000
YWCA, restricted to childcare $20,000
TOTAL ANNUAL OPERATING GRANTS 2019 $358,000
SPECIAL PROJECT GRANTS
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Broome County Arts Council Arts Trail – 3 yrs. $120,000
Broome County Council of Churches – North Side Market – 3 yrs. $325,000
Children’s Home of Wyoming Conference – Song Factory music therapy program $50,000
S.P.E.A.K. Animal Hospital – HVAC improvement for cat sanctuary $5,000
TOTAL PROJECT GRANTS 2019 $500,000
TOTAL GRANTS AWARDED 2019 $858,000