Growth Report 2017: Youngstown Foundation Awards $6.2M

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

By Jan Strasfeld, Executive director, Youngstown Foundation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — As a community foundation, The Youngstown Foundation’s vision is to honor the wishes of our donors by managing their charitable gifts and helping them meet philanthropic goals. Since its founding in 1918, the foundation has partnered with hundreds of families, individuals, businesses and organizations to impact the lives of others and to provide for the future needs of the community.

Again in 2016, The Youngstown Foundation was recognized as one of the top grant-making organizations in northeast Ohio, distributing nearly $6.63 million in grants.

The largest awards included $1 million to the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, $500,000 to the YMCA, $373,990 to Easter Seals/Youngstown Hearing & Speech Center and $250,000 to Walnut Grove Field of Opportunity.

Another large grant was $232,786 to Operation Search and Help, a program of the foundation’s Hine Memorial Fund that provides financial assistance for children with diagnosed disabilities in need of medication, equipment, supplies or transportation to medical appointments. The incorporation of universal design in capital projects continues to be a priority of the Hine Fund as it works to ensure accessibility for all people and abilities.

Last year the foundation also awarded more than 275 grants to nonprofit organizations encompassing social services, education, health care, arts and culture, economic development and the environment. Within this scope, significant funds were directed to some of the most critical issues in our community:  infant mortality, substance abuse, mental health, workforce development, poverty and blight.

In addition, nonprofit organizations often face unanticipated emergency challenges that can devastate continuity of services. The foundation’s crisis assistance fund, in its eighth year of operation, provided immediate financial support of up to $5,000 for several crisis situations.

With an increase of 11% in donations last year, the foundation’s support fund was able to distribute over $1.3 million to 77 local agencies. This fund provides the opportunity for approved local charities to receive an additional 5% grant for qualified contributions received from local donors for their organization.  It is notable that online donations for the support fund organizations through the foundation’s website increased 22% from 2015.

June marked a milestone event as the foundation announced its first class of Y-Star scholarship recipients. The 160 Youngstown City School graduates earned a collective $443,000 in “last dollar” scholarships to attend Youngstown State University or Eastern Gateway Community College.

With an initial commitment of $3 million in 2012, the foundation developed the Y-Star program to address academic and financial challenges faced by city students as they consider post-secondary education.  The foundation’s vision is to inspire students to continue the life-long process of learning.  In support of Y-Star and with foundation funding, YSU recently introduced the YSU Academic Encouragers Program, providing educators as mentors to ensure the students’ success.

We approach 2017 recognizing the challenges that our nonprofit community will face from significant decreases in state and federal funding, health care reform and fluctuation in local funding resource. We will continue to use our financial assets, knowledge and leverage to address those financial gaps and work even harder to change lives and build a vital prosperous community where there is opportunity and quality of life for everyone.

The Youngstown Foundation is the largest community foundation in the region with assets of over $100 million. It is the fourth oldest in the nation and has distributed over $110 million in grants since its inception.

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