Wean Foundation Grants Address COVID-19 Relief, Racial Equity

WARREN, Ohio – At its most recent board meeting, the Raymond John Wean Foundation refined its three-phase “Respond, Stabilize, Redesign” strategy to support COVID-19 relief and race equity in the Mahoning Valley.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the Wean Foundation has worked with Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and The Youngstown Foundation to provide a coordinated relief effort through the Mahoning Valley COVID-19 Crisis Relief Application. Through the single application process, grant seekers can apply for funds from all three foundations at once. To date, the Wean Foundation has awarded $305,300 through 28 grants. Collectively, the effort has awarded $1,122,910 to 82 grant seekers,

“As the Wean Foundation now shifts to stabilize organizations long term, the realization of our vision of empowered residents creating an equitable Mahoning Valley requires fresh thinking, honest conversations and innovative strategies,” said Wean Foundation President Jennifer Roller in a statement. “We need to do more than advocate for change. We have to rethink the dynamics of decision making in the Valley. We have to ask each other who has the power to determine access to resources, knowledge and opportunity – and why.”

The foundation is also making investments in organizations committed to supporting people of color in the Valley. The Wean Foundation pointed a recent report published by the Chronicle of Philanthropy that show organizations led by people of color are awarded less grant money and trusted less about decisions on how that money is spent than their White counterparts when announcing its grant awards to Inspiring Minds Warren and Youngstown State University’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership.

“To address systemic racism over the long term, the Wean Foundation is redoubling our community-building efforts to ensure the Mahoning Valley can emerge from this crisis as a stronger, more equitable community,” Roller said.

Inspiring Minds Warren is an important Black-led anchor institution in the Valley providing academic support, personal connection and enrichment activities to Warren City School District students. The organization builds bridges between school, home and community that are even more critical for children during the pandemic. 

The Youngstown State University Center for Nonprofit Leadership provides professional development and high-quality academics for students. More recently, the center has emphasized outreach and recruitment of students and organizations of color with the potential of raising the next generation of leaders to take on the challenges of entrenched systems of advantage. 

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.