About Us

What is the Allegany County Area Foundation?

The Foundation is a non-profit community foundation that manages donations and endowments (now totaling almost $10 million) and devotes the earnings from those funds to efforts that encourage educational, social, cultural and civic projects benefiting the residents of Allegany County. The Foundation awards scholarships to individuals and grants to community organizations. ACAF works with individuals (and their advisors) wishing to establish funds to support education, communities or specific organizations.

Our annual reports are available online.

Why a community foundation?

ACAF is part of the community foundation movement that began with the creation of the Cleveland (OH) Foundation in 1914. Community foundations provide a means of leveraging the pooled resources of many individuals in a way that allows for coordinated, efficient investment and grant making activities that are focused on the betterment of a specific community or region. There are now over 700 community foundations in the US, and 1700 worldwide.

Who can be part of the foundation?

Anyone and everyone. Dozens of people make gifts to the various funds of the Allegany County Area Foundation each year, while several create entirely new endowed funds. Many local organizations, including the SPCA, libraries and historical societies, have benefitted from ACAF grants. Over 125 young people receive Foundation college scholarships each year.

The Allegany County Area Foundation was established in 1983, and is governed by a 12 member volunteer board, representing various occupations and Allegany County communities. ACAF also benefits from the service of non-board volunteers, especially with our scholarship process.

What fund options does the Foundation have?

Allegany Fund:
This earnings from this unrestricted account provide grants to a number area organizations each year, supporting civic, social and cultural projects that affect the lives of Allegany County area residents. See the grants and news pages for information about recent recipients.  Grant decisions are made by the Foundation’s Grant Committee, which meets quarterly.

Designated Funds:
The donor may name a specific organization (e.g., local agency, cemetery, library, etc.) when establishing a designated fund ($5,000 minimum). Each year the named recipient receives a grant based on the fund’s earnings. Click here to see the designated funds the Foundation currently administers.

Field-of-Interest Funds:
Donors can specify an area of interest for the Foundation to consider in making grants from a field-of-interest fund, such as youth work, the environment, literacy, performing arts, etc. ($5,000 minimum) Check out the Foundation’s field-of-interest funds by clicking here. The Foundation Grant Committee selects the recipient(s) that will benefit from these funds.

Scholarship Funds:
Anyone can establish a scholarship fund and specify the criteria for its awards (such as high school attended, college attending, field of study) to deserving county students. ($5,000 minimum; $10,000 preferred). ACAF is an affiliate of Dollars for Scholars.  Click here to see see a list of scholarships the Foundation administers. 

Judge Peter Sprague: A man with a vision and on a mission.

sprague-peterJudge Peter Sprague, founding member of the Board of Directors of the Allegany County Area Foundation, had a vision and a belief that the people of Allegany County possess a philanthropic spirit and would provide for others – and so the Allegany County Area Foundation was born, in 1983.

The mission of this newly-formed non-profit was and is to enhance the general quality of life in Allegany County for present and future generations. The Foundation is a resource that allows donors to serve the evolving needs of their communities with flexibility, impartiality, and thoughtful analysis, and to return to the community some part of what it has given them. The Foundation holds permanent endowments that provide financial support to educational, social, cultural and civic projects in Allegany County, New York. Thirty six years later, the Foundation continues to fulfill this original mission.

In 1983, Peter Sprague was asked by those present at the meeting of incorporation to preside as the temporary chairmen of the newly formed foundation. The original Board of Directors included: Kenneth Nielson, Patricia Regan, James Searle, Allen Schintzius, Harry Graves, Jr., Claudia Kauffman and Leslie Haggstrom.

Foundation officers elected by unanimous vote were Allen Schintzuis, president; Kenneth Nielson, vide-president; John Carter, secretary and treasurer. Thus began the Allegany County Area Foundation, Incorporated.

A reception was held on June 3, 2013 at Cuba Lake, NY to honor the work of Peter Sprague. Over 65 guests gathered on the lawn to greet Peter and Mary Lou Sprague as they arrived. The Sprague’s travelled from their home in Ohio to be attend.