Growth Report 2017: Community Foundation Emphasizes Health

Editor’s Note: The following story is from Growth Report 2017, published by The Business Journal.

By Rachael Chacon, Donor services associate, Community Foundation of Mahoning Valley

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley has at the core of its mission improving the quality of life for residents and 2016 was a year of growth toward the vision of creating a healthy community for all.

The Innovations 2.0 Conference was easily the organization’s most visible event, bringing together more than 150 people to review the area’s health status, discuss the factors influencing health and examine new ways to effectively improve health outcomes.

Emphasizing the importance of a culture that acknowledges health is not dictated simply by individual choices or access to health care but more so by where individuals live, work and learn, the foundation used the conference as a springboard for conversation surrounding our Healthy Community Initiative.

This initiative was spurred by the work of the foundation’s supporting organizations – the William Swanston Charitable Fund, Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation and Western Reserve Health Foundation. Future plans include efforts to continue that conversation outside of the conference by engaging community leaders, elected officials, government entities and other organizations in a collaboration to improve the area’s health outcomes and rankings.

Being accepted into the Roadmaps to Health Coaching Program, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was another highlight of 2016 and one that will lead to growth in 2017.

Working together, representatives from Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Mahoning County District Board of Health, Trumbull County Board of Health and the Community Foundation formed the beginnings of a cross-sector collaboration. This group began working with a community coach whose goal is to help local leaders strengthen their capacity to build and advance a culture of health, and this process will continue throughout the new year.

While the launch of the Healthy Community Initiative helped define 2016, the foundation also made other strides. With the opening of 13 new funds in 2016, the foundation now administers 111 different funds, and as of Sept. 30, assets were $20.2 million with nearly $35 million held in supporting organizations.

A focus on impactful grantmaking and community investment resulted in $1.3 million distributed in grants, distributions and scholarships last year. Since the foundation began operations in 2000, more than $20 million has been awarded to over 437 different causes.

The foundation also initiated and completed a rebranding of the organization. This resulted in new materials, an updated website and a fresh logo. The rebranding effort better aligned the foundation’s mission with its visual representation, helping to communicate its identity as a community leader.

No increase in staffing took place in 2016, but Shari Harrell, the foundation’s president, completed the Executive Leadership Institute conducted by CF Leads. This year-long learning opportunity focused on leadership for community foundation CEOs and further positioned Harrell as an expert in the field and connected her with valuable resources throughout the country.

From the Innovations 2.0 Conference and Healthy Community Initiative to the foundation’s grantmaking and rebranding project, 2016 was a year of great growth. The organization recognizes that a key component of its success is its emphasis on community and collaboration. Moving forward, we are excited to continue as a leader in the convening of collaborations and impactful endeavors for the benefit of the Valley.

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