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

Klee Volunteer Recognition

The Klee Foundation Board of Directors appreciates the hard work and efforts of the volunteers in our community. “In every organization, there are volunteers who work behind the scenes and who do not seek leadership positions or recognition, but their dedication and service is critical to the success of the organization,” said Patricia Ingraham, Past Board Chair.

In recognition of their work, the Klee Foundation created the Arthur Orr Award for Exemplary Volunteer Service. The award honors Arthur Orr, a longtime Klee Board member who embodies the qualities that the award is designed to celebrate. Previous recipients include Chris Julian, a longtime volunteer at Tri-Cities OperaOpera, Stacy Richards, a dedicated VINES volunteer, and Bill Austin, leader of the Broome County Council of Churches’ Ramp It Up Youth Initiative.

Organizations that have previously been funded by the Klee Foundation may nominate volunteers for the award. The Board will also consider nominations from nonprofit organizations whose missions closely align with that of the Klee Foundation, and whose programs address critical community needs.

Each year, the Board will choose one volunteer from among the nominees and honor that person at its Annual Partner Reception in November. In addition, the Klee Foundation will make a $1,000 grant to the nonprofit of the volunteer’s choice.

Do you want to nominate someone for the Exemplary Volunteer Service Award?
Information about the 2023 Volunteer Recognition Program will be coming soon!

Volunteer Nominations

Scholarships

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Continue reading “Scholarships”

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

2022 Klee Foundation Grants

2022 GRANT AWARDS

CAPACITY BUILDING
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Action for Older Persons — Medicare Insurance Counseling (3-year grant) $25,000
Samaritan Counseling Center — Engineering Survey $8,700
 
 
CAPITAL PROJECTS
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Crime Victims Assistance Center – Building Renovation $50,000
Eastern Broome Emergency Services – Cardiac Monitor $40,000
Endicott Rotary Foundation – George F. Johnson Memorial Rehabilitation Project $5,000
Friends of the Forum – Theatre Awning $2,500
Volunteers of America – Bathroom Repairs for Permanent Supportive Housing Units $10,150
 
 
OPERATING SUPPORT
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Binghamton Philharmonic $50,000
Broome County Arts Council $55,000
Broome County Council of Churches $25,000
Broome County Historical Society $25,000
Bundy Museum of History & Art $10,000
Goodwill Theatre $15,000
Klee House $10,000
NYCON – Southern Tier Capacity Building Mini-Grant Program $10,000
Roberson Museum & Science Center $74,000
Samaritan Counseling Center $20,000
Tri-Cities Opera $90,000
Triple Cities Makerspace $75,000
YWCA – Young Wonders Child Care Program $20,000
 
 
PROGRAM/PROJECTS
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Animal Care Sanctuary – Broome County Humane Education Program $5,000
Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce – Serling Center Study $37,500
Mothers & Babies Perinatal Network – Johnson City PAL Center Program (3-year grant) $110,000
Rural Health Network – Community Outreach CORE Program (2-year grant) $59,812
 
 
SPECIAL INITIATIVE
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Transportation Assistance Micro-Grant Program $26,000
 
TOTAL GRANTS AWARDED 2022 $858,662

2021 Klee Foundation Grants

2021 GRANT AWARDS

ANNUAL OPERATING GRANTS
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Binghamton Philharmonic $50,000
Broome County Arts Council $55,000
Broome County Council of Churches $25,000
Broome County Historical Society $25,000
Klee House $10,000
NYCON toward mini-grants for technical assistance $10,000
Roberson Museum & Science Center $74,000
Samaritan Counseling Center $20,000
Tri-Cities Opera $90,000
YWCA, restricted to Young Wonders child care program $30,000
 
TOTAL ANNUAL OPERATING GRANTS 2021 $389,000
 
 
PROJECT/PROGRAM GRANTS
ORGANIZATION AWARD
Binghamton Police Athletic League (PAL) Summer Camp $10,000
Boys and Girls Club of Binghamton $24,950
Eastern Broome Emergency Services $17,000
Friends of the Broome County Public Library2-year grant $75,000
Fenton Free Library $500
The Goodwill Theatre $15,000
KEYS Program $5,000
Literacy Volunteers of Broome/Tioga Counties $20,000
United Health Services Foundation5-year grant for Wilson Expansion $250,000
VINES/Memory Maker – 3-year grant $34,400
 
TOTAL PROJECT GRANTS 2021 $451,850
 
TOTAL GRANTS AWARDED 2021 $840,850

2020 Klee Foundation Grants

2020 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 2020 $358,000
SPECIAL PROJECT GRANTS
ORGANIZATION AWARD
COVID-19 Community Response Fund $100,000
KNOW Theater $15,000
Rural Health Network – Facility Improvements $50,000
VINES/Memory Maker – Shared Dev/Comm Position $39,000
TOTAL PROJECT GRANTS 2020 $204,000
TOTAL GRANTS AWARDED 2020 $562,000

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

Klee Impact

COMMUNITY IMPACT

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Impact doesn’t necessarily have to be measured in dollar amounts.  Sometimes relatively small grants can pack a great deal of wallop; that is, they can be “small but mighty.”  For example, each year Klee invests $10,000 in NYCON (New York Council on Nonprofits). That grant, combined with the same amount from each of three other Broome County funders, supports a wealth of services for Broome nonprofits.  NYCON offers four to six seminars annually in Broome County, completely free to staff and board members of nonprofits that are members. Topics vary according to current “hot spots” and changing trends, and sessions are geared to be interactive.  In addition, those organizations that attend (board and staff) qualify to apply for mini-grants.

Members also can contact NYCON for some technical assistance.

Funders meet annually to review the past year’s results and to determine priorities for the coming year.

Impact?  The result of this modest investment is a stronger, more informed nonprofit community.

BUILDING CAPACITY AND SUSTAINABILITY

The mission of the Rural Health Network of South Central New York aligns well with that of the Klee Foundation: “…to advance the health and well-being of rural people and communities.”  Rural Health Network collaborates with numerous agencies to serve the needs of the more rural communities, which frequently lack services available in the immediate Binghamton area, or the means to access “remote” services.  Klee has supported the Network’s efforts with more than one grant. The first was to provide required matching funds for AmeriCorps and VISTA members who, through the Rural Health Service Corps, helped to build the capacity of 13 nonprofits to address increasing rates of obesity and chronic disease.  The second grant supported a staff coordinator position for the Food and Health Network, helping to build that network’s capacity to ”reduce hunger, improve access to healthy, affordable, regionally produced food, and decrease diet related disease.”

In supporting a new position, Klee adhered to a pattern it has followed with similar grants, decreasing the amount of the grant over three years, while requiring the grantee organization to increase its financial support for the position.  In this way, the Klee grant helps to establish a new position without creating ongoing dependency on our financial support.

The Ross Park Zoo (Southern Tier Zoological Society) needed to expand its tiny gift shop.  The existing shop generated significant annual revenue to help with the Zoo’s operations.  By enlarging it with a 625 ft. addition, not only would the zoo generate much needed additional revenue, but it would also gain a second exit from its grounds. Steering more visitor traffic past the shop’s attractive merchandise, much of it educational in nature, this new exit could help to spur more impulse purchases.  A Klee grant helped the zoo accomplish this goal and build its sustainability.

The Promise Zone, a program of Binghamton University’s College of Community and Public Affairs, has achieved much success in connecting families with schools.  Promise Zone uses the community school model, which makes schools the hub for bringing services to the community. Promise Zone’s goals include improved student attendance and academic achievement.  It nurtures family engagement with the schools so that students can access services more easily. Assisted by graduate student interns, Promise Zone coordinators partner with school administrators to zero in on key problems they have identified.  Klee has partnered with Promise Zone more than once. Because its program paralleled the goals and activities of the Healthy  Lifestyles Coalition in the Roosevelt School neighborhood, Klee funded a Promise Zone coordinator to expand that project.  This additional resource provided a variety of informal channels that parents could use to connect with the school and with one another other.  Beginning in the fall of 2018, a Klee grant will place a Promise Zone coordinator in the Harpursville school district. She will be a continual resource for both parents and teachers, and in the absence of a school-based social worker will be able to link them with support services. Working with the Promise Zone, schools build a greater capacity to link with the communities they serve, to strengthen families, and to enhance teacher’s understanding of their pupils and their home environment.

GRANTS THAT DON’T WORK OUT

Unlike government sponsored programs, a foundation, as a private funder, can decide to take a calculated risk in funding a program.  Sometimes various circumstances converge to cause a good program to close. Does this mean failure, or dollars wasted? We don’t think so. Over the past decade, exactly this has happened with several good programs.  More often than not, the ongoing financial support needed to keep operating simply isn’t there.  Sometimes the government cuts its support. Sometimes the program simply loses out in the competition for donor dollars in a shrinking community.  In select situations, Klee funding can provide the opportunity for an organization to pursue every alternative before making the difficult decision to shut the doors.

In one such instance, Klee received the following note in a final report:

“I would love to add that the support of the Klee Foundation was INSTRUMENTAL to our ability to complete last season and not simply shut the doors mid-season, leaving many more people in the lurch.  Had we been able to meet our challenges, it would have been due to the Klee’s faith in our future…. Please share my personal gratitude to your board for their support, and my apologies that we didn’t meet with better results.”
— [former executive director]