Golisano Foundation’s leader announces retirement date  

Ann Costello, executive director of the Golisano Foundation, will retire from her position on June 2. Costello has led the foundation for 23 years since 1999. 

Ann Costello visiting Kenya in 2019 to see Special Olympics Healthy Communities’ health work that now extends to more than 100 countries with the support of Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation. (submitted photo)

The Golisano Foundation is one of the nation’s leading foundations dedicated exclusively to helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It was established in 1985 by Paychex Inc. Founder Tom Golisano.

“I want to thank Ann for her outstanding leadership and an unyielding dedication to the foundation’s mission over the past two decades,” Golisano said in a press release. “She has been a relentless advocate for inclusion and dignity for people with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of their lives, working alongside hundreds of organizations to help them realize their vision and goals for innovative programs and services. Her work has made an enormous difference in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and of their families.” 

A Golisano Foundation Board of Trustees committee will be formed to appoint a successor. 

Costello has worked for more than 40 years in the non-profit sector, primarily in human service administration, philanthropy and organizational policy development. 

Prior to joining the foundation, she worked for 15 years at the United Way of Greater Rochester serving as director of Community Investment. 

During her tenure, Costello has witnessed the Golisano Foundation’s growth. Total foundation assets now exceed $60 million with distribution of funds at $3 million annually.

She also oversaw the foundation’s geographic expansion to support organizations in Southwest Florida, in addition to western and central New York. 

Under her leadership, the foundation has supported and launched numerous partnerships and programs, including the global Healthy Communities initiative with Special Olympics that is now advancing inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities in more than 100 countries.  

Costello also has brought together key partners to collaborate on and establish innovative programs. She was instrumental and integral in the development and launch of the Golisano Autism Center, the Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness Center, Nazareth University’s Golisano Training Center and transition and employment services at several agencies to enhance quality of life and maximize the abilities of young adults with developmental disabilities. 

Additionally, she worked with St. John Fisher University to launch the first organization of its kind in the country, the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing, dedicated to promoting positive change in developmental disability nursing. 

Her vision for leveraging public media’s reach through news and programming to build more inclusive communities led to the launch of Move to Include with WXXI and PBS stations in several states. The initiative is now expanding its partnership to more than 40 additional stations. 

Costello has also managed Tom Golisano’s personal philanthropic endeavors including the three Golisano Children’s Hospitals in Rochester, Syracuse and southwest Florida and numerous healthcare and educational institutions including the Center for Restorative Neurology and Rehabilitation and Golisano Pavilion and Emergency Center at Rochester Regional Health, Golisano Institute for Sustainability and Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences at RIT and the soon to open Golisano Community Engagement Center at Roberts Wesleyan. 

“This has been the most fulfilling career I could have imagined,” Costello said, in a statement, adding that much has been achieved by working collaboratively with Golisano, the foundation board, staff and partner agencies. “We have reached new heights in philanthropy. We have challenged systems of care to see things not just as they are but as they could be.” 

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Golisano Foundation awards $230,000 in COVID-19 grants

The Golisano Foundation has awarded nearly $230,000 in the fourth round of its COVID-19 Response Grants to six organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida.

Grants totaling more than $215,000 have been awarded to agencies that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, while $14,000 in grants have been awarded by Bailey and Friends to organizations supporting animal welfare. Bailey and Friends is a component of the Golisano Foundation that is dedicated to supporting animal welfare.

The grants will assist organizations with urgent needs stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Awardees include:

• Arc of Monroe – $84,500
• Cobblestone Arts Center – $20,000
• Epilepsy-Pralid Inc. – $15,000
• Happiness House – $31,000
• Daystar Kids – $25,000
• The Summit Center – $40,000
• Humane Society at Lollypop Farm – $3,000
• Keller’s Kats Rescue Inc. – $3,000
• Cape Coral Animal Shelter (Southwest Florida) – $5,000
• Gulf Coast Humane Society (Southwest Florida) – $3,000

Ann Costello
Ann Costello

“While agencies, clients and families are growing weary of the COVID-19 restrictions, they certainly understand the importance of maintaining precautions according to New York State guidelines as some programs and activities begin to reopen,” said Golisano Foundation Executive Director Ann Costello. “Providers continue to do a remarkable job of keeping participants engaged and connected in these challenging times.”

This round of grants brings the foundation’s total COVID-19 Response Grant funding to more than $1.3 million.

Through the end of October 2020, the foundation is redirecting some $2 million in grant funding to assist organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Grants may help cover items such as short-term operating expenses for essential programs, safety net and specialty services; the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies and equipment; new technology and technical assistance for virtual commuting and telemedicine; cleaning supplies for health and hygiene; efforts to ensure safe distancing in group homes and facilities; among others.

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Golisano Foundation awards $260,000 in local COVID-19 grants

The Golisano Foundation has awarded some $265,500 to 10 organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida in its second round of COVID-19 Response Grants.

The nonprofit has awarded nearly $700,000 in funding to date.

Locally, the grants will help the following organizations serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with urgent needs stemming from the coronavirus pandemic:
• Alzheimer’s Association of the Finger Lakes – $20,000
• Alzheimer’s Association of WNY – $20,000
• Arc of Livingston Wyoming – $65,000
• Camp Abilities – $5,000
• Catholic Charities Community Services – $50,000
• CDS Monarch – $35,000
• School of the Holy Childhood – $50,000
• Special Touch Bakery – $15,000

“While the requests in this second round were similar to those previously received, we heard from more agencies in rural areas needing to purchase and upgrade technology for staff and clients,” said Golisano Foundation Executive Director Ann Costello. “We’re also seeing the need to implement more telemedicine and teletherapy capabilities. We expect this trend and service delivery model will increase now that we are seeing the benefits, are more comfortable with usage, and reimbursement issues are being worked out.”

Through the end of October 2020, the foundation will redirect roughly $2 million in grant funding to assist organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida due to the coronavirus crisis.

Grants may help cover items such as short-term operating expenses for essential programs, safety net and specialty services; the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies/equipment; new technology and technical assistance for virtual commuting and telemedicine; cleaning supplies for health and hygiene; efforts to ensure safe distancing in group homes and facilities among others, officials said.

The next round of grant decisions will be made by June 17.

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Golisano Foundation awards COVID-19 grants

The Golisano Foundation has awarded nearly $430,000 in its first round of COVID-19 Response Grants.

Grants totaling $403,000 will help organizations serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with urgent needs stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Grants totaling $23,300 from the foundation’s new Bailey and Friends Fund will go to organizations dedicated to animal welfare that are experiencing unexpected costs due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The foundation will redirect roughly $2 million in grant funding to assist organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida due to the coronavirus crisis.

The grant application process was announced and opened on April 24, and the first round of grants was turned around in 10 days from application receipt to checks in the mail, officials said. Some 50 organizations that the foundation has supported over the last three years were invited to submit applications. Since the agencies are known to the Foundation, due diligence had already been done, allowing the process to be streamlined and as fast as possible.

“These organizations are supporting some of our most vulnerable citizens and are experiencing tremendous pressures,” said Ann Costello, executive director of the foundation. “As we launched this grant process, our objective was to be flexible, give some peace of mind and pay some very needed expenses. We are so impressed with the creativity being used to keep as many services as possible going, to maintain safety and quality of services, stay in touch with people and put programs online and in homes. We appreciate and admire their commitment, dedication and creativity as they work hard under new and difficult circumstances to continue to help those in need.”

The next round of grant decisions will be made by May 27 and may help cover items such as short-term operating expenses for essential programs, safety net and specialty services; the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies/equipment; new technology and technical assistance for virtual commuting and telemedicine; cleaning supplies for health and hygiene; efforts to ensure safe distancing in group homes and facilities, among others.

Golisano Foundation first-round grant recipients were:
• The Arc of Steuben – $50,000
• AutismUp – $100,000
• Best Buddies WNY – $20,000
• Best Buddies South West Florida – $30,000
• Heritage Christian Services – $75,000
• Mary Cariola Children’s Center – $64,000
• Special Olympics New York – $64,000

Bailey and Fiends first-round grant recipients included:
• Beverly Animal Shelter – $5,000
• The Humane Society of Yates County – $1,000
• Mr. Grey’s Strays Inc. – $2,000
• Pet Pride of NY – $4,800
• Rochester Hope for Pets – $3,000
• SNIP Collier – $5,000
• Wyoming County SPCA – $2,500

“The Golisano Foundation has consistently been here for Special Olympics New York. We are so grateful for their continuing partnership and dedication to our athletes,” said Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman. “This funding is going to help ensure that when we are able to bring back live training and programs, our athletes, coaches and volunteers will have everything they need to compete in a safe and healthy environment.”

Founded in 1985 by philanthropist and Paychex Inc. founder Tom Golisano, the foundation “imagines the possibilities,” advocating for families, fighting for their dignity and giving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to thrive in their communities. With more than $45 million in gross assets, the foundation awards roughly $2 million annually to non-profit organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida.

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Lifetime Assistance to renovate three centers with help from Golisano Foundation challenge grant

Lifetime Assistance Inc. has received a $750,000 challenge grant from the Golisano Foundation. The funding will help the nonprofit transform three-day services centers to meet the changing needs of those with developmental disabilities.

The Independence Together campaign, the largest in Lifetime Assistance’s history, will support essential renovations to its three largest day services centers: the Lowry Center in Clarkson, Paul Road Center in Chili and Weiland Road Center in Greece.

With a goal of $5.1 million, the Golisano Foundation gift will match every dollar up to $750,000 contributed by the community. It is the largest single campaign gift received by Lifetime Assistance to date.

James Branciforte
James Branciforte

“We are extremely grateful to the Golisano Foundation for this generous challenge grant,” said Lifetime Assistance President and CEO James Branciforte. “It demonstrates the foundation’s trust in our team and our vision for helping the extremely vulnerable population we serve benefit from an environment that meets their personal needs, facilitates learning skills and allows them to reach their potential and highest degree of independence.”

When finished, the three renovated centers will be one-of-a-kind centers with Learning & Works Suites that include culinary, senior, technology, health and wellness, continuing education/vocational, music and arts and enrichment. The centers will be fully accessible, motiving centers to meet the needs of the hundreds of individuals supported there.

“The rapidly changing needs of those we support requires us to change how we deliver services,” Branciforte said. “Those who depend on us for day services are medically frail and have severe physical needs.”

Those individuals are aging and increasingly have Alzheimer’s and other age-related conditions, he said.

“More than half of the people we serve use wheelchairs now and there is a tremendous increase of young people with severe autism,” Branciforte added. “Our quality facilities must always deliver upon Lifetime’s mission of service and reflect the dignity of the people we serve, meet diverse needs and assure community inclusion, independent growth and learning. With the community’s help, we can achieve our goal.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2020 and will be sequenced over the following two years in order to maintain services at each of the centers. The renovated centers will feature advanced assistive technologies, state-of-the-art technology, more opportunity to volunteer in the community and gain work skills and programs that are more community based, officials said.

“Lifetime’s designs for revisioning day services is an important project that will create more accessible and supportive environments, especially for the growing number of older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Ann Costello, executive director of the Golisano Foundation. “The renovations, including the Learning and Work Suites in each center, will make Lifetime’s day services inviting and flexible, providing greater opportunity for continuing education, skill development, socialization and community inclusion.”

Other major gifts received to date include those from the August Family Foundation, Barclay Damon LLC, Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation and Davenport Hatch Foundation, among others.

Lifetime Assistance is the largest, most comprehensive agency in the Greater Rochester area serving children and adults with developmental disabilities. The agency serves more than 1,800 people every day at more than 70 sites in the region. Lifetime is one of 300 agencies nationwide to receive accreditation by the Council on Quality and Leadership.

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Golisano Autism Center opens

The long-awaited Golisano Autism Center opened its doors last week, but celebrated in earnest on Thursday with organization leaders, elected officials and Rochester philanthropist and Paychex Inc. founder Tom Golisano, who made the dream a reality with the initial $3 million donation.

Ann Costello and Tom Golisano prepare to cut the ribbon on the newly-opened Golisano Autism Center. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)
Ann Costello and Tom Golisano prepare to cut the ribbon on the newly-opened Golisano Autism Center. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

“For them to pull it off, I consider it very unique,” Golisano said following a ribbon-cutting Thursday. “It took some skilled people to make it happen because you just don’t see this type of thing happen every day. Even in a nice community like Rochester, it just doesn’t happen. So I’m really happy and proud of these people who were able to pull it off.

“When you take a look at what it is, who it’s serving and the quantity of people that it’s serving, what a great deal,” he added.

The 33,000-square-foot facility includes custom areas for education, therapy, job training, indoor and outdoor recreation areas—including trampolines and a ball pit—sensory rooms and space to eat and relax. Teams from SWBR Architects & Engineers P.C., Marathon Engineering and the Pike Co. Inc. worked together to bring the space to life.

The autism center was the brainchild of Mary Walsh Boatfield, president and CEO of CP Rochester and chairperson of the Golisano Autism Center, who collaborated with AutismUp Executive Director Sarah Milko and Al Sigl Community of Agencies President Thomas O’Connor on the center’s concept.

“In 2015, the founders identified the need for providers in the Greater Rochester area to come together and transform delivery and access to services for individuals and families with autism,” Boatfield said to a standing-room-only crowd at Thursday’s ribbon cutting.

Ann Costello, Tom Golisano, Sarah Milko, Thomas O'Connor and Mary Walsh Boatfield were instrumental in pulling the Golisano Autism Center together. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)
From left to right: Ann Costello, Tom Golisano, Sarah Milko, Thomas O’Connor and Mary Walsh Boatfield were instrumental in pulling the Golisano Autism Center together. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

The three founders traveled across the state looking for ideas and benchmarks for the new center but found nothing approaching the scope of their idea. In 2017, they met with Golisano, who did not hesitate to offer $2.5 million toward the center. The Golisano Foundation trustees gave an additional $500,000.

Before long, Boatfield, Milko and O’Connor were collaborating with the team behind the newly announced University of Rochester Medicine’s Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness, which had received $5 million in funding from Golisano. It was decided the two centers would share the Science Parkway property with a connection between the two buildings. The pediatric center is under construction.

The project broke ground in March of this year.

In July, the Golisano Autism Center announced its $9 million fundraising campaign, “Putting the Pieces Together.” More than 170 donors have committed $7.6 million toward the campaign, Boatfield said.

Rochester is home to some 10,000 individuals with autism. The new center in its first week provided preschool and school-age educational services to 40 students ages 5 to 13 from 14 different school districts. Fifteen percent of students served are from the Rochester City School District, Boatfield noted.

“More than 200 speech, occupational and music therapy sessions have been provided in just one week,” she added. “The Golisano Autism Center is a one-stop autism hub with 14 providers.”

Providers include the center’s founders, as well as Arc of Monroe, Easter Seals, Happiness House, the Hochstein School, School of the Holy Childhood and Mary Cariola Children’s Center and others.

Location was key to the success of the Golisano Autism Center; it had to be in the city of Rochester, accessible to all, on a bus line and near expressways. The number of students served daily eventually will grow to 130, Boatfield said.

“By year five we hope that we have touched every single one of those 10,000 individuals in our community with autism,” Boatfield said.

“We’re going to grow this thing. It’s going to grow in size and scope because we have more requests and more providers that were identified through our comprehensive approach,” O’Connor said.

The center offers evaluation, early intervention, childcare, after school and respite services, employment, arts and theater, a housing liaison and more.

“It is a model of collaboration, and we know collaboration is not easy,” said Golisano Foundation Director Ann Costello.

Tom Golisano and his grandson, Max Cerone, who will use some of the services offered at the new Golisano Autism Center. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)
Tom Golisano and his grandson, Max Cerone, who will use some of the services offered at the new Golisano Autism Center. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

Golisano—whose personal philanthropy through the years totals more than $300 million—noted that he has a personal reason for underwriting projects that benefit individuals with autism and other disabilities. His stepson, Mike Cerone, his wife Carly and grandson, Max attended Thursday’s event. Max, who has been part of Autism Up since he was three, will continue to use the autism center’s services, the Cerones said.

Golisano added that his philanthropy could not have happened without the success of Paychex.

“None of this could ever happen if it wasn’t for the 15,000 employees, the 170,000 clients and thousands and thousands of shareholders,” he said. “They really are the ones that make it possible.”

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Golisano gift of $5.8 million will create institute at Fisher for developmental disabilities nursing

St. John Fisher College and the Golisano Foundation announced on Tuesday a $5.8 million gift to the college from philanthropist B. Thomas Golisano to create an institute dedicated to training nurses in the care of people with developmental disabilities.

The Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing will be the first of its kind in this country, officials said. It will offer curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a summer institute and conferences so working nurses can receive continuing education about health needs of this population. Additionally, the institute will partner with the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland, which provides  nursing degrees specifically in the area of developmental disabilities.

“We are honored to partner with the Golisano Foundation in advancing Tom’s vision for both the Rochester community and for individuals with developmental disabilities,” said President Gerard J. Rooney.  “This vital work and education will have an impact far beyond Rochester, and we are proud to lead the Golisano Institute.”

Continuing a series of transformational gifts aimed at improving the care and success of individuals with developmental disabilities, $5 million of this gift came from Golisano himself, and $800,000 from the Golisano Family Foundation, which is devoted to uplifting people with these intellectual disabilities.

“The Golisano foundation and Mr. Golisano himself have always been in the forefront of improving care and practices for people with intellectual disabilities,” noted Dianne Cooney Miner, dean of the Wegmans School of Nursing at Fisher. Cooney Miner will direct the institute.

Golisano has also made major donations to the Special Olympics organization, whose research shows that people with developmental disabilities often have unmet health care needs, limited access to health care, or are treated by health care professionals lacking training in how to care for them.

Cooney Miner said when medical professionals lack the training for dealing with a special population, they often fail to administer routine screenings or don’t fully treat or diagnose health conditions.

“When people are not comfortable, they choose not to do it,” she said. Some of the best nursing has come out of working with the unique needs of special populations, Cooney Miner said, citing the groundbreaking work the Hartford Institute at New York University has done with the elderly and Columbia University has done with veterans and their families, producing standards of care for the industry.

Fisher could do the same for care of the developmentally disabled population.

“Nursing could be a very powerful ally and advocate,” Cooney Miner said.

“Nurses play a critical role as primary care providers in health centers, and medical and dental practices,” said Golisano. “By preparing the next generation of nurses and thought leaders and by creating a network of health care professionals who care for people with developmental disabilities, St. John Fisher has demonstrated a commitment to making a significant impact on improving access to both quality and inclusive health care for people who are underserved.”

Ann Costello, director of the Golisano Foundation, said adequate health care is fundamental to the quality of life. She noted Golisano’s gifts have been made in that direction for developmentally disabled individuals for some time, including the creation in 2012 of the Special Olympics International’s Healthy Communities initiative, which aims to create greater access to health care globally for developmentally disabled people.

“Healthy Communities is about building best practices of care. It’s about all health professionals and systems understanding that this is an underserved population and quite vulnerable,” Costello said.

When Fisher proposed creating the institute with the help of the foundation, “It wasn’t a stretch at all for us to think they would be successful,” Costello said. “It starts with a champion.  St. John Fisher  and Wegmans (School of Nursing) stepped up and offered to be that champion.”

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