Wean Foundation Grants Advance Racial Equity Outcomes

WARREN, Ohio – The Raymond John Wean Foundation announced its next round of grants Friday, reported progress toward racial equity outcomes and released its fall programming.

“As demonstrated through our June community investment grants, we are committed to a strategic approach to rebuild,” said Jennifer Roller, foundation president.

COVID-19 Response Grants became a singular focus in 2020, she noted. As the recovery progressed, the Wean Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and the Youngstown Foundation drew their joint grants to a close. To date, the Wean Foundation funded a total of $527,775, including $106,475 in 2021 focused on stabilization in Black and Hispanic/Latinx communities in Youngstown and Warren.

Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants infused $49,575 directly into community initiatives. Significantly, the leadership makeup of those receiving grants was representative of the community with 46% Black-led, 16% Hispanic/Latinx-led and 39% White-led. Grants were equally distributed to Warren and Youngstown neighborhoods.

The foundation made four Community Investment Grants:

  • National Inventors Hall of Fame for its Invention Project in partnership with Warren City Schools to support a nine-week after-school program for 50 students of color led by Hall of Fame inventors and entrepreneurs who look like them. Students will learn the processes of ideation, product development and marketing and be exposed to new possibilities in education and career paths.
  • Ohio Transformation Fund for general operating costs that deploy resources to combat racial disparities in mass criminalization and incarceration in Ohio’s communities.
  • Policy Matters Ohio for general operating costs.
  • Kent State University Trumbull for its pilot 2+2 Pathway Program, a bachelor’s degree completion and workforce readiness program designed inmates at the Trumbull Correctional Institution.

The Wean Foundation also advanced its Racial Equity Strategic Direction 2019 – 2023. Stakeholder surveys and interviews are being conducted to inform the further development of the desired outcomes for each of the key focus areas: grantmaking, capacity building, convening partnerships and organizations.

The foundation also looks to a revitalized set of 2021 programs as the region continues to see the pandemic recede, Roller said. These include:

  • Emerging Leaders Program: The next cohort will convene beginning in the third quarter. Along with core leadership tenets, the program will incorporate learning from the pandemic and focus on racial equity and economic opportunity.
  • Race Equity and Inclusion Workshop: To date, 62 individuals have participated in the virtual through May, bringing the overall total to nearly 600 community participants. The Phase 1, two-day workshop will resume in August followed by two fall sessions in October and November.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.