Focus On Community Understanding Service (FOCUS)

FOCUS is an extension of UWTC's Youth and Philanthropy Program. UWTC staff and volunteers work for several weeks with area elementary and middle school students on leadership, development activities; a community needs assessment, and a competitive grant process for their rural town. Each year a different Tompkins County town is selected to participate in the program.

This year, students from Dryden awarded $2,000 to local nonprofits serving the Town of Dryden. These grants were made possbile through the support of the Dryden Youth Opportunity Fund and Cornell University Student United Way.

What do students in FOCUS do?

  • Participate in consensus building activities
  • Review grant applications
  • Conduct interviews
  • Deliberate about how to award funds
  • May engage in a documentary photography project, where they capture on film what they like about their community and what they would like to change.

FOCUS is part of UWTC’s Student Engagement initiative and the Youth and Philanthropy Program, which has been generously funded by the Park Foundation.

Since the program's inception in 2002, the towns of Dryden, Caroline, Newfield, Groton, Enfield, Trumansburg, Danby and Lansing have hosted FOCUS Programs.  To date, students have granted $33,000 to nonprofit organizations.

Please contact Kelsey Rossbach at or phone 272-6286 with any questions.

The Dryden FOCUS Council Members awarded the following grants in 2015:

  • Community Dinners at Dryden United Methodist Church was awarded $850 to support community meals. 
  • Tompkins Learning Partners was awarded $600 to support the Adult Computer Literacy program at the Southworth Library.
  • Varna Community Association was awarded $550 to purchase a community computer. 


2015 Dryden FOCUS Council Members
Medina Lojic
Team Leaders
Nichole Zhe & Taylor Burke
Group Expeditors
Drew Bissen, Claire Conklin, Ellie Freeman, 
Noah Jennette, and Josh VerSchneider
Council Members
Tianna English
Stone Hunter
Shelly Kehn
Alexander Pushlar
Elijah Speight
Hayley Tanner
Joseph Tordel
Ashley Ward

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