COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund

Crowdfunding Campaign Q&A


What is YWCA Cortland, and what does it do?

YWCA Cortland is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Cortland, New York, dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. YWCA Cortland celebrates diversity in its membership and offers programming for women, men, and children of all ages through four core program and service areas: Aid to Victims of Violence, Child Care, Mentoring, and Health & Fitness.

For over a century, YWCA Cortland has been actively addressing the many changing needs of women and their families in Cortland County. To do this, it leverages every dollar it raises to maximize results as it provides vital services to those who need it most in the community. YWCA Cortland is part of an international movement serving over 2 million in the United States and 25 million worldwide. Learn more:,,, and


Which YWCA Cortland programs have been deemed essential during the COVID-19 crisis?

YWCA’s Aid to Victims of Violence (AVV) program remains fully operational, and the Child Care program continues to operate on a minimal basis. These programs serve critical and vulnerable populations in our community.

The AVV program is the only rape and domestic violence program in Cortland County. During the crisis, it will continue to provide free, comprehensive and confidential services to vulnerable members of our community, such as the 24-hour crisis hotline, advocacy, virtual counseling, and crisis intervention to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, child abuse, and other crimes. The AVV program has suspended support and educational groups, off-site presentations, and community outreach, and off-site intake work, except for crisis intervention.

AVV staff also continues to operate the off-site emergency housing facility for domestic violence victims and their children. Given that economic challenges and stress increase domestic violence, there is evidence that AVV services will be needed more frequently throughout the shutdown period.

The YWCA Child Care program has transitioned to only caring for the school-age children (5-12) of those individuals identified as essential personnel in maintaining services and resources in the community (e.g., healthcare workers and first responders). This situation means that instead of bringing in tuition form over 200 children to sustain the program, YWCA Cortland is now generating revenue from only a few. The organization is losing approximately $2,000 each week to provide this critical service to those working to keep our community safe.

In addition to the essential programs, YWCA must maintain operations of necessary administrative duties critical to sustaining the organization through the crisis (e.g., finance, communications, fundraising, etc.).


Which YWCA Cortland programs have had to close due to the Governor’s Pause mandate?

Per Governor Cuomo’s mandates, the YWCA has closed the Clayton Avenue building and its two licensed daycare centers to the public. The Health & Fitness program has also canceled all of its programs and classes and has closed the weight rooms, pool, cycling area, gymnasium, and the multi-purpose room until further notice.

The YWCA Mentoring program continues to operate on a limited basis by connecting with the children, teens, and families in the program virtually, online and by phone. All other Bridges for Kids and GEMS (Girls: Empowered, Motivated, and Successful) individual and group meetings and activities have been canceled. Although volunteer mentors have been instructed to no longer meet in person with their mentees, YWCA has encouraged them to keep in touch with the children they have been mentoring through phone calls as this type of contact is crucial during this time of crisis.


How has the shutdown affected YWCA Cortland and the community at large?

YWCA was mandated to close non-essential programs on March 17 in response to the novel coronavirus crisis. So, the organization’s only income-generating programs are no longer bringing in the $111,000 a month that, along with donor support and grants, supports operations and free-of-charge programs. As mentioned above, the Child Care program’s school-age service for essential personnel is losing about $2,000 each week it continues to operate. To compound matters, expenses continue to accrue even though the facility is closed to the general public. This situation drastically impacts YWCA’s ability to serve Cortland County.

The shutdown also affects YWCA Cortland employees and the community. Of the 112 full and part-time staff it employs, with an annual payroll of $2 million that flows into the local economy, 100 employees have had to go on unemployment. Because YWCA self-insures for unemployment, it could face up to a $167,000 bill from the New York State Unemployment Office in July.

The shutdown also means that YWCA’s support of the Cortland economy through the purchasing of supplies and services from local vendors will likely not reach the levels of $400,000 – $500,000 it has in past years.


What is YWCA Cortland doing to maintain operations through the shutdown?

YWCA Leadership has applied for the loans made available through the CARES Act. However, one of these loan programs, the Paycheck Protection Program, ran out of money during the first round of funding before our applications at two different banks could be processed. Our applications at these banks remain in their loan processing queues for the second round of funding that Congress recently released. We are waiting to hear if we will be awarded an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the Small Business Administration. This program also ran out of funding due to demand, and Congress recently added more money. This funding, if approved, might take weeks, or months, to be dispersed and must be paid back with interest, adding to the overall debt of the organization.

In the meantime, YWCA Cortland continues to apply for grants and has launched fundraising efforts to support its COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which will be used to maintain operations and essential programming until it can open again.


What can community members due to help the YWCA during these difficult times?

  1. Support the YWCA COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. We are asking all community members to consider donating to the Emergency Fund to help the YWCA cover necessary operating costs for essential services and to help reduce reliance on additional loans or credit. Your charitable gift can qualify you for tax breaks due to the CARES Act, even if you don’t itemize. If you do itemize, the CARES Act removes the limit on deducting donations to nonprofits.
  2. Become a member of YWCA Cortland. Being a member is more than just access to the facility and fee-for-service programs like Child Care and Health & Fitness, it shows dedication for the entire mission of the YWCA. It also supports its free programs, including Aid to Victims of Violence, Mentoring, and community engagement for all ages.
  3. Pay attention to state policy and legislation and advocate for funding that will help some or all of the programs at YWCA Cortland. Watch the YWCA Facebook page for updates and ways to reach out to ensure that our representatives know how important YWCA child care and community services are to Cortland County.