Foundations Team Up To Benefit YSU, Valley

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Many Youngstown State University alumni grew up here and remain committed to the Mahoning Valley, even if they no longer live here.

A new collaboration between the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and the YSU Foundation will allow those alumni to give back to both their university and the community that raised them.

Through the relationship, donors can establish a donor-advised fund with the Community Foundation and authorize a minimum of 50% of the annual proceeds going to YSU or the YSU Foundation. The remaining 50% can be distributed to various nonprofit agencies and other eligible charitable recipients of their choosing.

“You have two great organizations coming together as one for the benefit of Youngstown,” said Ed Muransky, chairman of the YSU Foundation, during a press event Oct. 3. “Youngstown goes as Youngstown State University goes – that’s why I care about it. Youngstown goes as our whole community, which is why I support the foundation.”

The YSU Foundation has a list of 104,000 YSU alumni that the foundation can reach out to, with about 50% living locally and the other 50% living outside the area. Paul McFadden, president of the YSU Foundation, said when you talk to these alumni, many speak fondly not only of their days at YSU, but also the places and events they cherished while they lived here.

Using the resources of YSU’s alumni connections, Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, said her organization knows how to set up the donor-advised funds, a mechanism the foundation uses often for those wanting to give back to the community. The foundation also brings a list of ongoing special projects and grant seekers requesting funds for a variety of endeavors in Youngstown and the surrounding communities.

“Either the donor can make a recommendation like, ‘I would really like my church back home to receive something this year,’ or they can look at all our grant requests and say, ‘I would like to help fund the Beatitude House or the Salvation Army or whatever.’”

Harrell said multiple donor-advised funds often will come together to fund one project or grant.

McFadden said YSU is halfway to the $20 million goal it set for construction of a new student center, which is the university’s main project. Recently, the We See Tomorrow Campaign at YSU received 57 gifts of $100,000 or more from donors outside northeastern Ohio. One recent donor was living in Thailand, he said.

That large network of people with ties to the Mahoning Valley, which YSU brings to the table, is a resource for the Community Foundation.

“It’s a good marriage we feel and now we have to go make it work,” McFadden said of the collaboration. “We’re going to get it launched, and we’re going to make it successful.”

Although such a collaboration has been attempted by other universities in Ohio without success, McFadden believes the love YSU alumni still have for their hometowns in the Mahoning Valley will make a difference.

“We’re leveraging what each foundation does best. That should be able to connect more resources to invest in the Valley and do more work here,” Harrell said.

Pictured at top: Among those announcing the collaboration are Casey Krell, director at the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley; Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation; Paul McFadden, president of the YSU Foundation; and Heather Chunn, vice president of operations at the YSU Foundation.