The Dictionary Fund: Defining philanthropy

 Look up the definition of philanthropy and you’ll find ‘love of mankind, generosity, benevolence.’ Of course, you’ll need a dictionary to find that, and unfortunately many people do not have their own dictionaries – let alone children whose learning could benefit the most from having one.

The Dictionary Fund, originally established at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation by Dahmen Brown and Mary Gallagher, is meant to provide our area’s third graders with their own dictionaries. Dictionaries are an essential tool for a child’s education. They provide a point of reference for understanding many different areas of study. The dictionaries provided through this fund include maps, weights and measures, the Constitution and a list of the United States Presidents, along with other data. These dictionaries are small in size – about 470 pages – yet substantive enough to be carried throughout a student’s education.

This spring the fund purchased 528 dictionaries for area third graders through The Dictionary Project, a national organization committed to providing students with their own personal dictionaries. Participants include Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cuba, East View, Hinsdale, Little Valley, Portville, Seneca and Washington West elementary schools. Some schools chose to receive their dictionaries this spring, others next fall.

Donations to the Dictionary Fund are greatly appreciated and can be made care of the Community Foundation, 120 North Union Street, Olean. For more information, contact the Community Foundation at (716) 372-4433, email or visit