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Thousand Islands Foundation to operate under NNY Community Foundation

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CLAYTON — The 12-year-old Thousand Islands Foundation will now operate under the auspices of the Northern New York Community Foundation.

Although there are a few more details to work out, Community Foundation Executive Director Rande S. Richardson said the year-long process will soon be finalized.

“With (the Thousand Islands Foundation) in particular, given our long heritage with scholarship administration, it makes perfect sense,” Mr. Richardson said.

The Thousand Islands Foundation administers slightly over $1 million in assets, he said, while the Community Foundation’s assets are about $50 million.

Since its inception in 2002, the Thousand Islands Foundation has awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships. Since 1980, the Northern New York Community Foundation has awarded more than $11 million in scholarships.

According to a Community Foundation news release, TI Foundation scholarships that would transfer to the Community Foundation include those named for Clayton Volunteer Fire Department, Grindstone Island Research and Heritage Center, Keith Brabant Music, Lechler and Seaway Trail, among others.

The Thousand Islands Foundation was started by a few residents along the St. Lawrence River who wanted to offer educational and other opportunities for local residents. One of them was Howard E. Lechler, who had experience with the Gouverneur Foundation during his days at Cives Steel Corp., and contributed about $200,000 to kick off the TI Foundation. Over the years, his contributions have totaled about $500,000. A scholarship has since been named in his honor.

Lori Durand, former Thousand Islands Foundation board president, declined comment about the nonprofit’s December dissolution.

“We’re in process of transitioning over,” she said.

More details are expected to emerge during its February monthly meeting. While the foundation is no longer recognized as a nonprofit, it will operate as a component foundation within the Community Foundation and its former board members will remain a part of the organization’s awarding of scholarships to youths in Alexandria, LaFargeville, Lyme and Thousand Islands Central schools, according to Mr. Richardson.

“They have a scholarship committee specifically responsible for making the selection of recipients,” he said. “That all will remain intact.”

That process is similar to select other scholarship funds established within the Community Foundation.

Mr. Richardson said a component foundation within the Community Foundation means the secondary foundation will essentially receive assistance in managing finances and donor services.

Since the TI Foundation is no longer recognized as a nonprofit, future contributions should be made payable to “Northern New York Community Foundation, Attn: TIF.” For more information, call the Community Foundation at 782-7110.

Scholarship applications, which are due May 16, will be made available this year at www.thousandislandsfoundation.org.

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