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Community changemakers honored at annual Wavemaker Celebration  

Causewave Community Partners’ Wavemaker Celebration honored local volunteers, companies and initiatives with signature awards Thursday night, highlighting those in the community who are making a difference.  

Causewave Community PartnersMembers from the nonprofit, marketing, government and corporate sectors attended the event at the Arbor at the Port. 

The award winners are: 

  • Martha Bush, recently retired chief marketing officer at Foodlink, who received the Lantern Award in recognition for her individual volunteer effort has been given each year since 1978; 
  • The Credit Union Collective (Reliant, Pittsford and Summit Federal Credit Unions) received the Beacon Award, in recognition for their long-standing and significant financial and volunteer support to Causewave, especially for their sponsorship of the Matchstick Prize; 
  • The AMPED: Go All Electric Coalition that works with organizations to upgrade to clean, fossil-free electricity received the W. B. Potter Founder’s Award, recognizing a results-oriented collaborative initiative that both fills a community need and serves as a role model for other partnerships; 
  • Alyssa Belasco, executive director at NY Kitchen, received the Spark Award, honoring an individual age 40 or under who has used their role as a Causewave volunteer to serve as a catalyst for positive change; 
  • The Greater Rochester Health Foundation received the Chairman’s Award, which honors a business who has performed remarkable acts to support Causewave’s mission, and 
  • John Geraci, president of CRUX Research, received the Legacy Award, which was created as part of Causewave’s 50th anniversary celebration, in 2001, to recognize former Lantern Award winners who have continued to demonstrate extraordinary commitment to the organization. 

Causewave – which was founded as the Advertising Council of Rochester in 1950 – collaborates with more than 200 nonprofits each year through programs focused on building individual nonprofit capacity and community-level response to a wide range of community issues from traffic safety to child sexual abuse prevention. 

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Causewave collaborates on Matchstick Prize for local nonprofit

Causewave Community Partners is partnering with the Credit Union Collective — the Summit, Pittsford and Reliant Credit Unions — Rochester Area Community Foundation and News 8 WROC-TV to award an outstanding small, local nonprofit organization with the Matchstick Prize. It is the sixth year the prize has been awarded.

As the pandemic continues to affect the community and nonprofit sector, the collaborative will choose four finalists that each will receive customized capacity-building programming facilitated by Causewave. Additionally, the group will choose one overall winner, as it historically has.

Todd Butler

“Small nonprofits are so important to so many in our community,” said Causewave President and CEO Todd Butler in a statement. “They provide critical support and fill gaps in services to underserved populations – and their work is needed even more now, in the era of COVID-19.

“Nonprofits, like many of us, have been hit hard financially, whether they provide direct services or not. We are proud to be able to expand the Matchstick Prize this year to support more nonprofits as they support our community,” Butler added.

A group of community judges will review the nominations of small nonprofits in the Greater Rochester area that have demonstrated meaningful impact. Five finalists will be selected and one organization will receive a cash prize of $5,000, funded by the three credit unions, along with a media grant valued at $20,000, courtesy of News 8 WROC-TV.

Finalists will be notified in late November and the winner will be announced in mid-December, officials noted.

“Making a positive difference in people’s lives is an integral part of what we do at The Summit,” said Twanda Christensen, vice president of marketing and community engagement at the Summit Federal Credit Union. “We are happy to partner with other credit unions to sponsor the Matchstick Prize and help local not-for-profits in their work to strengthen our community.”

Causewave established the award in 2015 to recognize the impact of the nonprofit sector in the region. To qualify for the award, applicants must be a nonprofit with a yearly budget of less than $1 million and demonstrate meaningful and measurable change in the community.

This year, Causewave has streamlined the nomination process, reflecting the time demands being placed on small nonprofits. Particular consideration is being given to qualifying nonprofits that have been impacted by COVID-19 and are adapting services to constituent needs. Nominations are due by Nov. 12 at 5:00 p.m.

“Nonprofits have been the backbone of support for so many in our community and their heroic efforts often go unrecognized. We hope expanding the Matchstick Prize’s reach will help bring the importance of nonprofits’ work to the forefront,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Jennifer Leonard.

Previous winners of the Matchstick Prize include Coffee Connection, NAMI Rochester, R Community Bikes, C.U.R.E. Childhood Cancer and Teen Empowerment.

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AMPED Go All Electric campaign kicks off

Two dozen groups have come together to form the Go All Electric coalition to help organizations transition to clean energy.

The Go All Electric AMPED campaign will use outreach, advertising and communication to connect organizations with information and resources to support their transition to clean energy use.

Because the majority of local emissions come from building heating systems and on-road vehicles, the focus of the campaign is to encourage and support the transition of area organizations’ buildings and vehicles to technologies that are powered by carbon-free electricity, rather than fossil fuels, officials said.

“Our region’s power grid is already amongst the cleanest in the nation due to the high number of fossil fuel-free energy sources: wind, solar, hydroelectric and nuclear power,” said Climate Solutions Accelerator Executive Director Abby McHugh-Grifa. “So when we plug-in versus pipe-in or fill-up, we are dramatically lowering our carbon footprint.”

Officials noted that when businesses, schools, nonprofits, churches and other organizations act as leaders in the transition to clean energy, they impact not only their own use of buildings and vehicles but also influence their employees and customers. Improvements in technology and affordability mean they have much to gain economically, while also potentially addressing significant challenges in adapting to new climate policy requirements.

“Our region’s economic development is very much linked to impacts from climate change,” said Jenny Lowenstein, planner, Genesee/Finger Lakes Region Planning Council. “Our progress in transitioning to clean energy consumption helps create jobs to produce, sell and install heat pumps, charging stations and electric vehicles. Protecting our area’s natural beauty and clean air is critical to attracting employers and workers.”

Buildings that use heat pumps for heating and cooling benefit from both lower operating costs (in some cases, more than 50 percent) and improved indoor air quality, while providing a more stable temperature. This has been a significant benefit to the Henrietta Public Library, having installed a heat pump system in its new library in 2018.

“The temperature in here is very consistent. It’s something that we don’t have to think about, which, from a management standpoint, is wonderful,” said Adrienne Pettinelli, library director.

The AMPED campaign was developed through a process facilitated by Causewave Community Partners and funded by the Climate Solutions Accelerator, Greater Rochester Clean Cities, New York State Pollution Prevention Institute and the city of Rochester. Collaborators in the campaign included representatives from those funders and Center for Community Health & Prevention, Common Ground Health, Dutton Properties, EMCOR Betlem, Empire State Development, Gallina Development, Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council, Genesee Transportation Council, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Monroe County, PathStone Corp., Piekunka Systems Inc., Rochester Gas and Electric Corp., Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester Housing Authority, Rochester Regional Health, Regional Transit Service, SWBR and University of Rochester.

“We are all about collaborating with organizations to tackle big community issues,” said Todd Butler, Causewave president and CEO. “The risks and current impacts of climate change affect everyone in our community and it’s critical that we take action to reduce human-controlled causes. The AMPED campaign will help organization leaders take concrete steps to implement beneficial electrification in their institutions.”

The free webinar series, “Get AMPED Forum,” will happen monthly with the first event scheduled for Sept. 30, titled “Road to Electrification”. Details and registration can be found on

The campaign encompasses a nine-county area in the New York Finger Lakes Region including Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties.

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New campaign aims to reduce carbon footprint

On Thursday, Sept. 23, Causewave Community Partners will unveil a new campaign to promote the use of carbon-free electricity to power the region’s buildings and vehicles.

AMPED, an initiative that was developed by a number of community partners including Climate Solutions Accelerator, Greater Rochester Clean Cities, New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, the city of Rochester and several others, will launch Thursday with a program at Imaginarium at I-Square in Irondequoit.

Event speakers include:
• Todd Butler, president and CEO, Causewave Community Partners
• Abby McHugh-Grifa, executive director, Climate Solutions Accelerator
• David Keefe, coordinator, Greater Rochester Clean Cities
• Tamara Mayberry, director of intergovernmental affairs, Empire State Development
• Scott Ensign, VP client solutions, Butler/Till
• Donna VonDerLinn, creative director, Butler/Till
• David Belaskas, director of engineering and facilities management, Regional Transit Service
• Michael Waller, director of sustainability, Rochester Regional Health
• Adrienne Pettinelli, director, Henrietta Public Library

The event also will include networking.

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Collaborative helps keep children on track

Children’s Institute, Causewave Community Partners and a collaborative of child-serving organizations this week announced a new community campaign to ensure families are aware of the benefits and availability of free developmental checks for young children.

Organizers noted that just 20 to 30 percent of children with health, behavioral and development problems are identified and receive appropriate interventions prior to entering school. The Get Ready to GROW collaborative, led by Children’s Institute, features screenings designed to support a child’s doctor by providing complementary information that they would not get during a typical well visit.

In addition to height, weight, vision and hearing, the development checks will look at movement, dental, speech and language, thinking and reasoning and more.

“This campaign helps parents know about Get Ready to GROW’s comprehensive, convenient and fun checks – with trusted follow-up and support. Every parent should have as many people as possible in their corner and help at their fingertips, as growth is rapid during childhood and a worry can rise quickly,” said Children’s Institute Executive Director Ann Marie White.

Regional advertising agency Mower donated time and talent totaling more than $90,000 to develop the Let Their Greatness GROW campaign. The initiative is designed to raise awareness and educate parents about the screenings. The advertising acknowledges that parents often see things in their child’s behavior they are unsure of or think will go away with time. With the help of a screening they can uncover their child’s strengths and if a need is identified take action to ensure their development is on track. Additional pro bono production support for the campaign was donated by PushMP and dPost.

“This was a complex challenge as parents have a lot on their plates, and it can be scary to think about your child needing help in order to thrive,” said Causewave President and CEO Todd Butler. “We needed the team at Mower to come up with a messaging strategy that was clear, focused, optimistic and empowers parents to take action for their child. They really delivered.”

The Get Ready to GROW comprehensive screening model is more than just a one-time check. A GROW navigator partners with the family, school, child care providers and physicians to better understand a child’s developmental path. Navigators will assist parents and work with the support network to help ensure the child is prepared for success in school.

“Get Ready to GROW screenings are more comprehensive than what I would normally be able to do in the office and provide links to services and navigation support not typically available,” said Sarah Collins-McGowan M.D., a pediatrician with Rochester Regional Health at Genesee Pediatrics and the Center for Refugee Health. “It’s so easy to work with the GROW team as a provider. They figured out what our office needed and personalized processes for maximum efficiency and value.”

Initial funding came from Rochester’s Child, Rochester Area Community Foundation, Greater Rochester Health Foundation, United Way of Greater Rochester Inc., the city of Rochester, New York State Education Department and Rochester City School District to launch the development of the screening model and has been vital in getting the initiative to where it is today, officials said. Value-based payment in healthcare also is a source of funding, recognizing the value of early intervention and reimbursing screening costs.

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Causewave expands team during pandemic

Big changes are coming to Causewave Community Partners as it reaches its 70th anniversary year. The nonprofit collaborative has named its first chief operating officer and made a number of new hires to accommodate the needs of the nonprofit sector brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.

Katelin Pellett has been promoted to COO and Elizabeth Murray has been promoted to director of community engagement. In addition, Causewave has hired Tiffany Paine-Cirrincione as a senior program manager and Deb Hanmer, Stanley Byrd and Vanessa Martell as senior project managers.

Todd Butler
Todd Butler

“It’s an exciting time for Causewave. We couldn’t be more pleased to announce the promotions of Katelin Pellett and Elizabeth Murray,” said Causewave President and CEO Todd Butler. “Through their years of service, both Katelin and Elizabeth have proven to be an essential part of our mission, doing work that has made a positive impact on not only our organization but causes and organizations across the region. I’m grateful our organization and community can continue to benefit from their expertise, especially in this time when we are being called on to support nonprofits in new and different ways than ever before.”

Pellett, who has been with the organization for 13 years and most recently served as vice president of programs, will transition her focus to overseeing the organization’s people and operations, as well as spending more time on understanding and responding to nonprofit sector needs.

Murray joined Causewave in 2014 and in her new role will be focused on managing the organization’s raised revenue, including individual donors, corporate membership, grants, events, volunteers and in-kind contributions.

“I’m so thrilled to have added Tiffany, Stanley, Deb and Vanessa to help us meet more of the need we’re seeing,” Pellett said. “Each of them brings a unique and diverse set of experiences to our small but mighty team of changemakers and we know they’ll help Causewave have even more impact for nonprofits across the region through this extremely challenging time.”

Since March, Causewave has served more than 100 organizations through emergency consultations alone. Causewave is a collaborative of local businesses and volunteers that works to achieve meaningful change for organizations and communities through collective impact projects and capacity building programs in the areas of nonprofit management, professional development, fundraising, strategic planning and marketing.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Causewave to honor coalition behind ‘Six Feet Saves’ campaign

Causewave Community Partners will honor the coalition responsible for the local “Six Feet Saves” campaign, comprising dozens of local community organizations and media partners, for its outstanding public service campaign that was launched in rapid response to COVID-19.

Representatives of the coalition, including Sharon Napier and Rob Kottkamp of Partners + Napier,  County Executive Adam Bello, on behalf of the Monroe County Department of Public Health, and Entercom Vice President and General Manager Susan Munn, will accept the W.B. Potter Award virtually at Causewave Community Partner’s Annual Wavemaker Celebration on Sept. 11.

The W. B. Potter Founder’s Award, being presented for the 20th year, recognizes a results-oriented collaborative initiative that fills a community need and serves as a role model for other partnerships. “Six Feet Saves” was created in response to the urgent need for action to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and was the result of a number of partners, including:
• More than 30 local media partners
• Causewave Community Partners
• City of Rochester Department of Communications
• FUA Krew
• Ibero American Action League
• Mercury Print
• Monroe County Department of Communications
• Monroe County Department of Human Services
• Monroe County Department of Public Health
• Paragon Steel Rule Die, Inc.
• Partners + Napier
• Rochester Regional Health
• University of Rochester Center for Community Health
• University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute

The campaign was implemented across a number of marketing and media channels from television ads to murals to lawn signs and sidewalk paint. The campaign was created in a matter of weeks and reached hundreds of thousands of local residents with messages underscoring the importance of staying home and social distancing.

“When our community faced its biggest health challenge in 100 years, it was clear we needed something to rally around. So many people and organizations answered the call,” said Causewave President and CEO Todd Butler in a statement. “From the public servants in the health department to the communications professionals at Partners + Napier to our local media community to businesses and nonprofits, this was a joint effort like I’ve never seen. Everyone was hungry to do their part in saving lives.”

Causewave Community Partners was founded in 1950 as the Advertising Council of Rochester. Today, Causewave collaborates with more than 200 nonprofits each year through programs focused on building individual nonprofit capacity and community-level response to a wide range of community issues from traffic safety to child sexual abuse prevention.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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Five to be honored at annual Causewave event

Causewave Community Partners will hold its annual celebration this week, at which five local individuals and organizations will be honored for making a difference in the community.

causewave-logo-full-sizeCausewave’s 41st annual Lantern Award will be presented to Mike McDougall, president of McDougall Communications. The Lantern Award recognizes individual volunteer efforts.

Other award recipients include ESL Federal Credit Union, Beacon Award, in recognition for its longstanding and significant financial and volunteer support to Causewave; ACT for Education, a local school community partnership that began in 2012, will receive the W.B. Potter Founder’s Award for a results-oriented collaborative initiative that fills a community need and serves as a role model for other partnerships; Jared Longmore, associate director of advancement for athletics and student life & learning at the University of Rochester, Spark Award, honoring an individual under the age of 40 who has used his or her role as a Causewave volunteer to serve as a catalyst for change; and Antithesis Advertising, Chairman’s Award, which honors a business which has performed remarkable acts to support Causewave, due to its significant pro bono contributions.

The event will be held Friday, April 26 at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center. This year’s theme is Wake Up, It’s Time to Shine, which Causewave officials say is a reminder of the diverse causes that people work on every day, as well as the opportunity to open our eyes to important work in the community.

The breakfast event’s speakers include David Shakes, a performer who uses theater to honor Frederick Douglass and teach about the history of black America; KaeLyn Rich, a writer and organizer who educates audiences on feminism, LGBTQ+ culture and history and being an ally; and Stephanie Woodward, an attorney and disability rights advocate who works to ensure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities.

Causewave was founded in 1950 as the Advertising Council of Rochester. The nonprofit collaborates with more than 200 nonprofits annually through programs focused on building individual nonprofit capacity and community-level response to a wide range of community issues that range from traffic safety to child sexual abuse prevention.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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Survey participants find fault with media coverage of people of color

truth-newspaperLocal residents say they want to see more positive news stories on people and communities of color.

A new survey from Causewave Community Partners shows that while many people agree that local news stories involving people of color impact how people view race, fewer than half of the respondents said local media coverage accurately mirrors what happens in communities of color.

“Shaping Our Stories,” a two-stage research project that included a statistically representative community survey designed to gauge perceptions of how race is represented in local news coverage, also included a parallel poll of reporters and editors to see how they think their organizations are doing reporting on communities of color.

Some 76 percent of media professionals agreed they have a responsibility to improve race relations in our community, and they also say their organization places a high priority on portraying people of color in an unbiased manner.

But three-quarters of African Americans and 48 percent of Hispanics believe local news stories that involve people of color focus too much on negative stories. Older respondents are more likely to feel local media portray people of color fairly

More than two-thirds of African Americans and 48 percent of Hispanics said that racial and ethnic bias in reporting is a problem in local news stories, while just 31 percent of whites and 26 percent of media members thought that was the case.

“Our community has struggled for generations with issues related to race, equity and the de facto segregation that makes it unlikely that we have firsthand interactions with people who look different than us. This project was inspired by Causewave’s desire to make a unique contribution to racial equity in our community,” Causewave President and CEO Todd Butler said in a statement. “Because media representations of people of color help shape attitudes toward race—among both people of color and white people—we felt it was important to study perceptions and perspectives regarding race and local news coverage and come up with specific steps we can take to make progress on some of the most difficult problems in Greater Rochester.”

The study was designed and overseen by a steering committee co-chaired by Essie Calhoun McDavid, retired chief diversity officer of Eastman Kodak Co., and Jeff Crane, superintendent of West Irondequoit School District.

The study’s steering committee identified 22 recommendations based on the data. For media, suggestions include stepping up efforts to build relationships in the community, regularly inviting and discussing community feedback and expanding the definition of news.

The steering committee suggested that nonprofit organizations cultivate newsworthy positive stories, build relationships with local journalists and give feedback to local media when they see specific opportunities for improvement.

“We are all hard-wired to pay closer attention to negative inputs, and this part of our study reinforces the need for media to pay very close attention to every story, especially the language used and the images chosen,” Butler said. “As the research indicates, there’s an opportunity for improvement among all sectors of the community.”

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Causewave honors difference makers in Rochester

5storiesA light breakfast was accompanied by heavy stories on Tuesday, as Causewave Community Partners held its annual breakfast celebration, honoring three individuals and three organizations who have made a difference in Greater Rochester.

This year’s honorees include: Myers Creative Imaging, Chairman’s Award; Tipping Point Communications, Beacon Award; Chuck Samuels, Lantern Award; Liz Chatterton, Spark Award; Suzanne Seldes, Legacy Award; and the Hope Center in Penn Yan, Yates County, W.B. Potter Founder’s Award.

Causewave, an agency that helps nonprofits with community impact work, marketing plans and leadership training, was founded as the Advertising Council Inc. in 1950 by a number of local advertising executives, including Waldo Potter, who had served as vice president of advertising at Eastman Kodak Co. Each of this year’s honorees has or has had some tie to the agency.

“It has been a tremendous pleasure and extremely fulfilling to be associated with this organization,” said Samuels, who is general manager of 13WHAM ABC, CW and WUHF Fox Rochester. “Causewave is not just a marketing vehicle for nonprofits in Rochester. It is a full-fledged agent for positive change in our community.”

The Lantern Award was created in 1978 to recognize exceptional volunteer contributions, said Causewave President and CEO Todd Butler. In its first 40 years, the Lantern Award has honored 111 Rochesterians for their philanthropy.

Causewave’s Legacy Award was created in 2000 and is special and infrequent, Butler said. Because it is tied to legacy, the award is given to past Lantern Award recipients who demonstrate “extraordinary, ongoing commitment to the organization and to our community.”

“I harken back to the key messages that I gave when I accepted the Lantern Award back in 2010,” said Seldes, who previously was with the Strong National Museum of Play and now serves as director of communications and brand strategy for Indian River State College in Florida. “Know your community, volunteer, share your skills, build new skills, take responsibility for the health of your community, make a difference, live a life of purpose.”

The theme of Tuesday’s event was Five Stories to Fill Your Cup, which allowed media representatives to share stories of inspiration and hope. Speakers included Virginia Butler from the Democrat & Chronicle, Adam Chodak from WROC-TV 8, Norma Holland from 13WHAM, Tianna Manon from WXXI Public Broadcasting System and Nikki Rudd from News10NBC.

Chodak’s story was about a young man named Adam who chose to turn his life around rather than go to jail. He led the group of more than 500 in the Serenity Prayer.

Manon’s story focused on gun violence and ways in which Rochesterians can come together to combat the issue of gun violence and create real change in the community. And there was not a dry eye in the house when Holland, who also served as master of ceremonies, relayed her story via a video about the importance of organ donation through the eyes of one woman who lost a child but through that loss was able to save another woman’s child.

As part of the event, and in honor of the Hope Center, Causewave was gifted $10,000 by the Sylvester Foundation, which was started by the family of Causewave’s founder. The event’s presenting sponsor—and perhaps Causewave’s biggest cheerleader—Nancy J. Farrell surprised the team Tuesday with a $5,000 donation.

“To see our Greater Rochester community through Causewave eyes is to see and be not only aware of the community challenges, but it’s also to study the issues of our time with an eye towards working on the barriers and the behaviors to make a change for good,” Farrell said.

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