New Paltz nonprofit accepting funding requests

This picture of Corinne and Tom Nyquist was taken when the Nyquist Foundation gave money to the Moriello Pool playground. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

The Thomas & Corinne Nyquist Foundation is currently accepting funding requests from nonprofit organizations that serve New Paltz. This will be the 16th year the family foundation has awarded these grants. They’re particularly interested in supporting projects where a small amount of money may make the difference between success or failure, with most of the grants ranging from $100 to $1,000. With rare exceptions, the maximum award made is $2,000.

Grants are one of the revenue streams that nonprofits rely on to help create new programs or grow existing ones. Grant funding is important for these organizations in that memberships, use fees or other self-generated revenues will not, on their own, allow the nonprofits to carry out their respective missions. Grants can solve a particular problem or provide a service that goes beyond operating costs. For example, the nonprofit Wild Earth organization that offers nature-based programs to Hudson Valley youth was a beneficiary of the Nyquist Foundation in 2017, receiving $2,000 in financial aid that allowed New Paltz families who otherwise could not have paid the cost of sending their child to day camp to do so.

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The Nyquist Foundation typically funds between $8,000 and $10,000 in grants to New Paltz organizations every year, with additional funding awarded to nonprofits and local initiatives in Roosevelt County, Montana, where Thomas Nyquist was born and raised.

The foundation seldom supports projects on a multi-year basis, but will consider applications for new needs from organizations that have been supported previously. “Mohonk Preserve is deeply appreciative of the multiple grant awards we have received from the Tom & Corinne Nyquist Foundation over the years,” says Eric Roth, grants manager for the Preserve. “Their generosity has helped us to test a new blazing method for our trails, repair a bridge near Duck Pond and enhance the STEM education programming that we provide to area school children.”

Grants from the Nyquist Foundation in past years have included $2,000 awarded to Historic Huguenot Street for the purchase of authentic colonial costumes and equipment, and $965 to The Parent Council Committee of the Mountain Laurel Waldorf School to purchase five binocular compound microscopes with accompanying glass lenses. The Hudson Valley Writing Project of the School of Education at SUNY New Paltz, a collaborative effort with Historic Huguenot Street and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, received $2,000 to provide a community-based writing program for Hudson Valley students in grades six through nine, who explored the history of our region, land use and land protection.

“Without support from groups like the Nyquist Foundation, our community-based conservation programs and outreach would be limited,” says Christie DeBoer, executive director of the Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT). “We’re a small organization, so the grants really make a difference: $2,000 can go a long way with some of the projects and work that we do. WVLT is appreciative for opportunities and support such as this — Thank you, Nyquist Foundation!”

The Nyquists have lived in New Paltz since 1968, when Thomas accepted a teaching position at the college in the African Studies program. The son of a farmer and cattle rancher, Nyquist earned a BA at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, a master’s degree at the University of Montana and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in the Chicago area. He lived in the Sudan for a time doing research for his Ph.D. and in 1966-67 traveled to South Africa on a post-doctoral grant. He later worked for SUNY Central Administration as director of grants and research development for two-year colleges.

Nyquist served 16 years as village of New Paltz mayor — from 1986 to 2002 — preceded by four years as deputy mayor. Prior to that, he was an Ulster County legislator for District 8 and has served on the planning boards of Ulster County and the Village of New Paltz. In addition to chairing the board of his family foundation, he has served on the boards of Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail Association and Huguenot Historic Street (HHS), of which he is currently board vice-chair.

Corinne Nyquist has also been active in the New Paltz community. Raised in Minneapolis, she met Thomas at Macalester College in St. Paul, where she was majoring in international relations and he was a political science major. She earned a master’s degree in library science and a Ph.D. in information science, going on to head the interlibrary loan program at the SUNY New Paltz Sojourner Truth Library on campus. Corinne was one of the early recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Librarianship, and along the way published a well-received book, Resource Sharing Today: A Practical Guide to Interlibrary Loan, Consortial Circulation, and Global Cooperation (2014).

Retired from the college for approximately two years now, Corinne is also a lifelong musician, a violinist since childhood and until recently, a member of the Mid-Hudson Community Orchestra. She has served as secretary and treasurer of the 501 (c) (3) Thomas & Corinne Nyquist Foundation since it was established in 2004.

In addition to the annual grants, the other focus of the foundation has been the maintenance of the Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary at 133 Huguenot Street in New Paltz, purchased in 2011 from the site’s previous owner, Historic Huguenot Street. Protected by a conservation easement held by the WVLT, the 56-acre property is a quiet refuge, “forever wild” and open to the public free of charge every day from dawn to dusk.

In answer to the question as to why they do what they do, “We believe that if we have the money or time, we should give back to our community,” says Tom. “For Corinne and me, it seemed that the most effective way to do this was to establish our own foundation, which we did in 2004. We also wanted to involve our children in giving, and both Jon and Lynn serve on the foundation board. Jon is a geophysicist at Temple University and Lynn [Nyquist Bergstraesser] a physician, currently married to a cattle rancher in northeastern Montana. And we are very pleased that our four granddaughters, now young adults, have shown an interest in being involved, as well.”

“New Paltz has been good to us,” adds Corinne. “In establishing the foundation, it was time to give back, and helping local organizations that serve the community was a way to do so.” 

Applicants who are funded are required to inform the foundation of when and how funds are expended and how the support helps meet the specific funding need. Notification of foundation decisions will take place in early January, with actual awards made in late January or early February, 2020. Applications may be submitted through December 1, with additional materials relevant to the application welcome. Inquiries are also welcome, and will be responded to as they are received.

To download an application, visit www.nyquistfdtn.org or email nyq@hvi.net. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the foundation at that email address or call 255-3003 for advice and assistance in preparing applications.