Youngstown Rotary Awards $25,000 in Community Grants to Nonprofits

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Six local nonprofit organizations were the beneficiaries of $25,000 in community grants awarded by the Rotary Club of Youngstown and the Youngstown Rotary Foundation.

The grants were awarded Wednesday during the club’s weekly meeting at the Wick Park Pavilion. 

Awardees for this year’s community grants from the Youngstown Rotary Foundation were presented Wednesday during the club’s luncheon. A committee reviews the applications and determines which applications will be funded and for how much, Joshua Prest, club president, said.

The largest grant awarded Wednesday, $10,000 to support monthly workshops, was presented to United Returning Citizens, a not-for-profit agency that provides job search assistance, training and other support for formerly incarcerated individuals and those affected by mass incarceration.

The grant will support taking URC clients to Notting Hill Columbus Retreat on weekends. There will be a psychologist present who will provide support for mental and emotional health needs.

“We want to say thank you,” Dionne Dowdy, executive director, stated. “These days in the COVID, a lot of people have had stress and anxiety.”

The decision to assist clients with mental health came from clients themselves, Dowdy said. Making vision boards, the women said the support would help them be “more present” at home with their families. “That’s what they’re asking for. I’ll go out and get the resources.”

Another five grants of $3,000 each were awarded to Action Inc., Down Syndrome Association of the Valley, Sight For All United, Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology and Yellow Brick Place.

“We would like to thank you for partnering with us,” said Michele Jones, Down Syndrome Association of the Valley president. Funds will go toward the Buddy Up Tennis program, housed at Youngstown State University.  DSAV works with the men’s and women’s tennis teams, providing members the opportunity to learn tennis and fitness while having fun.

Having access to healthy food is “a complicated problem” not only in Youngstown but in surrounding communities, Vicki Vicars, an organizer for Action, said.

“Our mobile market is going to be one solution” to the problem by helping provide that access to people, she said. The mobile truck should be launched at the end of April.

Sight for All United’s $3,000 check will help the nonprofit “to take care of kids” who missed school or were otherwise unavailable during the eye exams visits, Dom Mancini, chief operating officer, said. Funds will help with transportation and get the students to area optometrists, he said.

Children from Youngstown City Schools will get some hands-on experience from creators of some of their favorite movies during an eight-week Pixar program through Oh Wow. Students participating in the “digital story telling and digital literacy curriculum” will produce a 5-minute short film that will be shown worldwide, Marvin Logan Jr., Oh Wow’s executive director, said.  

“We feel the youth of the Valley have a story to tell and we’re happy to give them a resource to be able to do so,” Logan said.

“This is the basis for us to grow,” Kathleen Moliterno, executive director of Yellow Brick Place, said of the $3,000 grant her organization received. The money will go toward software to help keep contacts and files organized.

Yellow Brick Place provides non-medical support to people battling cancer Moliterno said. There’s a potential of 140,000 patients in the Mahoning Valley each year, with Yellow Brick Place serving about 300 annually.

“We have a lot of growth to do, and this will make an impact,” she said.  

The community grant program was established several years ago but lapsed during the pandemic, Prest said.

“We want to be out in the community, supporting those nonprofits that are doing even more work in the Youngstown community,” he said. “We’re blessed to be able to give out grants like this, and other funds to other projects.”

Pictured: Dionne Dowdy (left), executive director of United Returning Citizens, joined by Gloris Ann Griffin and April Slocum. delivered remarks after the Rotary Club of Youngstown awarded her organization a $10,000 grant.

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