CFMV Supports Valley LGBT+ Projects with $191K Commitment

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In celebration of Pride Month and as part of its ongoing commitment to funding work that addresses and supports systemic change, the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley on Thursday announced $191,500 in grant awards and sponsorships to support the local LGBTQ+ community.

Two major projects will begin later this year: the Lake to River LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment – covering Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Ashtabula counties – facilitated by Kent State University public health program outreach director Andrew Snyder and graduate assistant Alex DiDonato; and the creation of a community organizer position hosted by Equality Ohio.

The projects, while separate, will work closely together and support ongoing work by local LGBTQ+ organizations, a news release states.

Snyder and DiDonato are in the process of completing their second LGBTQ+ community needs assessment, currently putting together a report for Greater Cleveland that will be released in October. The first, covering the Akron area, was completed in 2022 and is available HERE.

The needs assessment received a total of $80,000, split evenly between the Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation and the Western Reserve Health Foundation.

“The expansion of the LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment project represents an important step in empowering and uplifting the voices and priorities of LGBTQ+ communities across northeast Ohio.” Snyder said. “Ensuring that we understand the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in the Mahoning Valley enhances decision-making, commitments to investments in the community and better alignment of programs and services to improve the day-to-day lives of the LGBTQ+ people.” 

Alongside the needs assessment, Equality Ohio will hire a community organizer to work in Mahoning and Trumbull counties with the support of a two-year commitment from the Community Foundation. This is Equality Ohio’s second community organizer position, following a similar position currently serving Greater Cleveland communities.

“This investment in the Mahoning Valley expands Equality Ohio Education Fund’s ability to educate and engage within the community in consistent and meaningful ways,” said Madelyn Smith, Equality Ohio’s northeastern Ohio organizer. “By deepening our roots in this region, we will have the capacity to partner with Kent State on their ongoing and statewide community needs assessments. Such partnerships and support are instrumental in driving positive social change. The Equality Ohio Field Team is immensely grateful and eager to strengthen our presence in the Mahoning Valley to ensure the unique needs of this region are understood and represented accurately.”

As part of the second-quarter funding cycle, grant awards were also made to PFLAG Youngstown ($3,000 from the Community Foundation) and Full Spectrum Community Outreach ($7,500 from the Community Foundation and $5,000 from the Western Reserve Health Foundation). 

The foundation also is sponsoring all three local Pride celebrations: Pride in the Valley, which took place June 15, Pride Youngstown on Saturday and Columbiana County Pride on July 20. 

“When Andrew’s team from Kent State and Equality Ohio approached us about these projects, we immediately saw the benefit and alignment to local work being done by community groups,” said Casey Krell, Community Foundation president. “We’ve spent the past year working with them and talking with our local nonprofits about what’s in store for the future, and the entire CFMV team is excited to see what’s accomplished now that the wheels are in motion.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.