Community Foundation Leads Health Partnership

By Rachael Chacon, donor services associate

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley saw extensive growth throughout 2017, particularly in respect to the Healthy Community Partnership-Mahoning Valley.

Spurred by the work of the Community Foundation’s affiliated funds to strengthen and align grant-making efforts, the partnership formally organized last year with a long-term goal to improve health outcomes in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

An initial steering committee met extensively to assess what work was taking place in the community and identify necessary partners to advance the shared vision of Mahoning Valley residents who hope to live long, healthy and productive lives.

Unfortunately, past decisions and circumstances resulted in a community where many residents lack access to healthful, affordable food or a safe, suitable environment that enables an active lifestyle.

Using data on county health rankings and with input from residents, the steering committee pinpointed Healthy Eating and Active Living as its first priority. It then further focused its efforts by forming action teams around three evidence-based approaches – healthful food retail, active transportation and parks/green spaces.

With priority and focus areas defined, the Healthy Community Partnership moved on to overcoming a major obstacle to sustainability: funding.

With commitments from the Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation, Western Reserve Health Foundation, William Swanston Charitable Fund and several component funds of Community Foundation, the partnership secured more than $1.5 million to support operations and on-the-ground actions over the next three years.

Key steps in 2018 for both the Community Foundation and Healthy Community Partnership include hiring a partnership coordinator, officially introducing the vision, goals and initial set of proposed actions at the Innovations Conference Jan. 18 and gathering residents to join and take ownership of the action teams.

Those key steps will undoubtedly present many additional challenges throughout the year, but the Community Foundation remains dedicated to leading this movement to improve where we live, learn, work and play.

While the Healthy Community Partnership-Mahoning Valley showcased the foundation’s community leadership efforts, the organization also saw growth in its traditional activities. Assets increased to more than $24 million with an additional $38 million held by its three supporting organizations.

Eleven new funds joined the Community Foundation, increasing its ability to connect with and affect the community, and bringing the total number of funds under its umbrella to 120. Investment in strategic initiatives and carrying out donors’ wishes resulted in $1.5 million made in grants, distributions and scholarships throughout 2017.

Although it was impossible to guess at the beginning of 2017 what progress the Community Foundation and the Healthy Community Partnership would make, the board and staff are proud of all they accomplished last year.

With the continued support of supporting organizations and numerous community partners, there’s no doubt 2018 should be another eventful and exciting year for the foundation.

Editor’s Note: This story was published in The Business Journal’s Growth Report 2018. The 144-page edition features growth reports from more than 200 local businesses and organizations. It was published this week. If you are not a subscriber, CLICK HERE to purchase a copy or call Eileen Lovell at 330 744 5023 Ext. 1008.

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