The Upstate Foundation

The Upstate Foundation was founded in 1976 as a 501(c)3 non-for-profit corporation. The corporation is a public charity designed to receive and administer gifts and bequests exclusively for charitable purposes with a focus on (1) the provision of patient health care, (2) the education of health care providers, (3) scientific research, and (4) community health and well-being. The Upstate Foundation is also the primary vehicle for receiving and distributing philanthropic gifts for Upstate Medical University. 

The Foundation has 26 full- and part-time staff members, who with a 39-member board of directors, manage more than 1,000 funds; conduct multi-year, million-dollar endowment campaigns; lead capital campaigns; administer alumni associations for the Upstate colleges of Health Professions and Nursing; implement named giving and planned giving programs; run annual campaigns for Upstate University Hospital, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and the Upstate Cancer Center; and sponsor several major fundraising events, as well as many third-party events, annually. In addition, the Foundation is home to the regional chapter of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The Foundation is largely self-supporting. Its assets managed total over $230 million. 

Thank you to our donors

The Donor Appreciation Report cover graphic of two clasped hands forming a heart seems especially appropriate for our report on 2020. The image can be interpreted in many ways – unity, working together, health and wellbeing, love for one another. All of these thoughts sum up the best from last year, and remind us that together our impact is greater. 

We have been deeply moved by the community’s nimble and generous support during a time of great adversity and uncertainty for all. In March, we feared it would be impossible to meet our fundraising goals for the year. By December – because of you – we not only met, but exceeded those goals, raising a staggering $9.25 million from 9,350 donors! This included $1 million for Covid-related needs for patients, employees and students. In addition, the Foundation awarded $5.4 million in support of the Upstate mission! 

At the same time, individual donors, corporate sponsors, community fundraisers and granting organizations continued to support a broad array of initiatives across the Upstate enterprise. Ground was broken on the Nappi Wellness Institute, and significant progress was made on the campaign for the Golisano Center for Special Needs, both of which will be comprehensive, pioneering resources for our community. 

Upstate researchers rose to the challenges of the pandemic, with groundbreaking achievements in testing and the vaccine. Students and faculty stepped up as well, and made innovative advances in virtual education. Your support for science and education has perhaps never been more important. 

Please join us in celebrating the spirit of philanthropy represented on these pages. We also thank those who worked so hard all year long to ensure the work of the Foundation would carry on – Upstate Foundation board members, Upstate Council members, volunteers and Foundation staff members. 

Together our impact is greater. Thank you!


Upstate Foundation receives “Impact Award” from the Central New York Business Journal and named “Economic Champion” by CenterState CEO. 

The Upstate Foundation team – and those who support us – can be proud that our organization received recognition for the positive impact we are having in our community!

The Upstate Foundation is the recipient of the Impact Award from the Central New York Business Journal for its Covid-19 relief efforts. “This award is for someone who created or implemented a program that touched the lives of others in a meaningful way and has had a direct impact on the community. Must be able to demonstrate the impact.”

The Impact Award was one of several categories that was part of the CNY Business Journal’s 2021 Nonprofit Awards. The Foundation was selected from among many other not-for-profit organizations for the Impact Award because the judges were impressed with all that we accomplished during the pandemic.

Specifically, we raised $1 million in eight months for Covid relief to assist Upstate employees, students and patients. In addition to an outpouring of donations, the Central New York community responded with in-kind gifts totaling $360,000. And our Upstate Strong Covid Relief Benefit Concert raised nearly $250,000.

For the first time ever, Upstate Foundation was recognized by Centerstate CEO (Syracuse’s economic development corporation) as a 2020 “Economic Champion.” Bestowed on the Foundation for its merits and impact our community, this honor recognized the Foundation as a formidable economic driver, job creator and overall positive force in our region.

GuideStar’s top distinction

The Upstate Foundation has achieved Platinum distinction from GuideStar, the leading source of information on the programs, finances and impact of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations.

Platinum is the highest level of recognition in GuideStar’s nonprofit profiles. Donors, funders, researchers, educators, professional service providers, governing agencies and the media use the GuideStar site, seen by seven million visitors annually.

According to GuideStar, the Platinum distinction encourages nonprofit organizations to share their progress and results in important new ways—moving way beyond simplistic financial ratios—to reflect the changes organizations are making in the world.

The Upstate Foundation had previously received GuideStar’s Bronze, Silver and Gold level distinctions, which offer increasingly detailed organizational information ranging from basic contact information to qualitative information. For the first time, GuideStar Platinum allows nonprofits to report their progress against their missions in quantitative terms. As an early adopter of Platinum recognition, the Upstate Foundation is demonstrating its commitment to measuring progress and results, and sharing that information with potential funders.

“Our donors expect us to use their contributed dollars wisely and appropriately to alleviate illness, search for knowledge and educate tomorrow’s health care practitioners,” said Eileen Pezzi, vice president for development at Upstate. “GuideStar Platinum is one more way for the Upstate Foundation to provide transparency so our donors can see the impact of their gifts.”