Local Organizations Get Funds from Rick Shale Trust

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Four local organizations – The Butler Institute of American Art, Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, Mahoning Valley Historical Society and Youngstown State University Foundation – were awarded gifts from the Rick Shale Trust.

Shale, a longtime English professor at YSU, history enthusiast and philanthropist, planned what would happen to his trust and assets after his death.

“Rick began planning for future gifts long before most of us do,” said Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation. “He knew that he wanted to continue supporting the many organizations and initiatives that impacted his daily life and saw having a plan as a necessity to ensure that would happen.”

Shale created a blueprint where several organizations would receive gifts from his estate, which totaled more than $6 million when he died in 2022.

“Rick Shale was a remarkable man. Generous and proud of his Youngstown associations, Rick’s good work can be revealed in so many community projects,” said Louis Zona, executive director of The Butler Institute of American Art. “No project was too small for Rick’s guiding hand. He loved The Butler and was a member of The Butler Docent program, an organization that he loved so much. But most of all, he was a friend to so many of us. We miss him greatly.”

The Rick Shale Fund was established at the Community Foundation at the end of June with a distribution from the Rick Shale Trust of just over $3.7 million.

“We worked with Rick for many years, making sure that we understood what his vision was for the fund here at CFMV and how that fund could support the community he valued so dearly,” Harrell said.

Rick Shale in Mill Creek Park. (YSU Archives)

Shale laid out five broad areas of interest for the fund: local history, the arts, parks, education and social services. The Rick Shale Fund will begin making grants in the first quarter of 2024, with open applications being accepted through CFMV’s general grant cycle.

“Dr. Shale touched the lives of countless students at YSU. During his career, he was recognized with three distinguished professor awards, and upon retirement received the University’s Heritage award,” said Paul McFadden, president of the YSU Foundation. “His legacy will live on for generations through his most generous bequest that will support scholarships and provide annual funding for the English Festival, the YSU Theater Department and WYSU-FM.”

The Mahoning Valley Historical Society’s gift will be part of the foundation of a capital campaign being organized to expand and improve MVHS facilities and programs.

“Rick Shale was a longtime MVHS member and friend, and after his retirement from teaching became a dedicated and engaged board member and trustee of the B.F. Wirt Trust,” said Bill Lawson, executive director of the MVHS. “He was extraordinary in that he was able to give generously of his time, talents and treasure consistently and in equal measures. Everyone at MVHS misses Rick, and we’re honored and touched to receive his continued generosity through an estate bequest.”

Shale also designated gifts to Phi Kappa Phi Foundation Inc. and Ohio Wesleyan University.

Shale was selected as the 2023 recipient of the Legacy Award, presented by the Mahoning-Shenango Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. His award will be celebrated at the local National Philanthropy Day event Nov. 16.

Pictured at top: From left are Paul McFadden, president of the YSU Foundation; Scott Schulick, senior vice president of investments at Stifel and a friend and advisor of Shale’s; Janice Elias, B.F. Wirt Trust trustee; Casey Krell, incoming president of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley; Suzanne Fleming, B.F. Wirt Trust trustee; Bill Lawson, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society; Elayne Bozick, B.F. Wirt Trust trustee; Gary Dyer, former colleague at YSU and good friend of Shale’s; Rebecca Davis, development director at The Butler Institute of American Art.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.