Foundations Team Up to Benefit YSU, Mahoning Valley

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Many Youngstown State University alumni grew up 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 through the Community Foundation, with a minimum of 50% of the annual proceeds going to YSU or the YSU Foundation. The remaining 50% of the proceeds 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, chair of the YSU Foundation. “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 all of the efforts of the foundation.”

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

Using the resource of YSU’s alumni connections, Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, said her organization already 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 good work in Youngstown and the surrounding communities.

“Either the donor can make an outright 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 constructing the new student center, which is currently 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.

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

McFadden said he does not feel like the two organizations compete going after the same money, and he feels the two organizations compliment each other.

“It’s a good marriage we feel, and now we have to go make it work,” McFadden said, noting there is already one donor who has given as the relationship began. “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.

Both Harrell and McFadden said the collaboration is a first here, one they both hope will be successful.

“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: From left 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.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.