What We Fund

Our founder, Tom Golisano, has deep and personal interest in supporting projects and initiatives that enhance the dignity and independence of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and that build inclusive communities.  The Golisano Foundation is committed to improving the lives of people with IDD through transformational investments in organizations working to create inclusive communities where all citizens are valued as productive members of society.
With this in mind, the Foundation has adopted the following areas for funding consideration:

  • Holds the principles of social justice in highest regard as demonstrated by agency’s mission, work and proposal; believes people with disabilities are powerful agents of change and that society as a whole benefits when all individuals reach their full potential and become contributing members of their community.

  • Supports throughout the life span and transitions for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families and caregivers including but not limited to the following areas: Educational support at various stages of development as well as life-long learning opportunities; employment services including supported, career development, vocational and life skills training; year-round preventative health services, fitness activities, physical and emotional wellness; expanded residential options for community living; caregiver respite; recreation; transportation, assistive technology, community awareness and advocacy.

  • Community-wide strategies that can grow best practices and effective programs to transformative scale; are easy to replicate and share broadly with the field.

  • Interdisciplinary and interagency alliances/collaborations/coalitions that bring together the expertise and perspectives of various disciplines including non-traditional human services providers such as businesses, higher education institutions, health systems, and government.

  • Initiatives that target individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are underserved, isolated and/or have difficulty accessing services and programs; work to eliminate structural, economic or cultural barriers to services.

  • Person-directed services and planning with individuals and families involved in the selection, implementation and monitoring of one’s supports and services.

  • Applications for programs, capital projects and community planning initiatives related to the field of developmental disabilities will be given consideration.

We are willing and eager to partner with grantees, as appropriate, to achieve thes goals and maximize impact.  Therefore the approval of a grant will be followed up with careful monitoring of the project as it unfolds. The devil is in the details, and to give responsibly means remaining involved as the project proceeds. While we rely on competent agency staff, outside consultants, and expert advisors to help us make reasoned decisions on funding and monitor the implementation of funded projects, we believe that the Foundation’s involvement in the details of a project is important to the beneficiary and the community we serve.

Decision Making Criteria

When people say it can’t be done, Tom Golisano will not only find a way, he often finds a better way. He is a problem-solver. He is decisive, admires efficiency and directness, and engenders a sense of urgency, or a call to action to get down to work. He is thoughtful and thought provoking and is quick to get to the essence of often complex issues. Tom’s perseverance and unwillingness to live with status quo has driven him – and his foundation – to get to the bottom of issues and identify solutions.

Guided by our founder’s philosophy as discussed above, the Golisano Foundation Trustees exercise their responsibility to be discerning as to the true purposes of any grant reques by assessing the following:

  • Is the applicant’s presentation an honest one, or is the organization asking for funds simply because they might be made available to them?
  • Is there a sustained, deep need for this project or proposal?  Does the proposal reflect a genuine priority of the applicant rather than being one of many programs it is currently juggling?
  • Is the project well thought-out; does it show strong justification in the budget proposal, not only for its initial phase but for its continuing operation?
  • Does the organization’s leadership have a good track record, and are those leaders expected to remain in place for some time into the future?
  • Are there better or more efficient ways to accomplish the same goal?
  • Have other sources of funding been sought?  Will our funding leverage further support of others?
  • Since the Foundation’s involvement begins, rather than ends, with a gift, how will the ongoing success of the project be monitored and according to what criteria?  Is there a well-designed evaluation process reflecting the applicant’s commitment to getting results?
  • Has the applicant formed alliances with other organizations to advance mutual goals?  Does the proposal reflect a comprehensive strategy rather than a piecemeal approach?
  • While it might not apply in all cases, is there evidence of the entrepreneurial spirit, approach and action?  Does the proposal promote meaningful social change, ignite passion, encourage risk-taking and innovation?

Eligibility / Limitations

The requesting organization must be a 501(c)(3) organization whose programs meet the Golisano Foundation philanthropic priorities. The Golisano Foundation does not contribute to endowments, fund raising events or sponsorships, individuals requesting grants, medical research or municipal programs.