Zoldans Give $1M to YSU for Scholarships, Mentorship Program

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Zoldan family, founders of Phantom Fireworks, has donated $1 million to Youngstown State University.

The gift, part of the We See Tomorrow fundraising campaign, will support student scholarships and to establish a new mentorship program.

“YSU has been the shining star of our community, and all of our family members have benefited from the university’s presence here,” said Bruce J. Zoldan, president and CEO of Phantom Fireworks, in a statement. “It is our privilege to be able do our small part in supporting this wonderful institution.”

The gift establishes the Zoldan-Yampolsky Family Executive Fellows Program in the university’s Williamson College of Business Administration’s Center for Non-Profit Leadership. YSU juniors chosen to participate will work with senior leadership on campus or at nonprofit organizations to gain practical work experience. The goal is to increase capacity at local and regional nonprofit organizations.

“This gift is a significant investment in our students and our community,” said Betty Jo Licata, dean of the Williamson College of Business Administration.

Added YSU President Jim Tressel: “We thank the Zoldan family for their continued generosity to YSU and their ongoing commitment to the success of our students.”

The Center for Nonprofit Leadership at YSU offers a certificate and minor designed to complement any major on campus and prepare students for future leadership roles serving the community.

“Increasing the leadership capacity in nonprofit organizations has a long-term benefit for all stakeholders,” Licata said. “Our Center for Nonprofit Leadership, and our director Laura Dewberry, continue to develop impactful programs that engage our students, and the Zoldan-Yampolsky Family Executive Fellows Program is an important addition to the center’s offerings.”

The gift also increases the Sam and Sylvia Zoldan Memorial Scholarship endowment, established by the Zoldans in 2006. The renewable annual scholarship is for YSU business students who also take at least one class in Judaic and Holocaust Studies.

Phantom Fireworks traces its origins to the early 1970s and today is the country’s top consumer-based fireworks retailer.The company has retail stores and showrooms in 15 states and more than 1,500 seasonal tents and stands throughout the nation.

Sam Zoldan is credited with being the co-founder of Phantom Fireworks, providing inspiration and guidance during the formative years of the company. Sylvia Zoldan was the matriarch and foundation of the family, a strong influence at Phantom Fireworks from its inception, having visited a showroom just three days before her death. 

Abe Yampolsky, affectionately known by all as Uncle Abe, was Sylvia Zoldan’s brother. He provided business advice and taught leadership skills to the entire Zoldan family. 

Source: Youngstown State University

Pictured: On hand for the check presentation were Paul McFadden, president of the Youngstown State University Foundation; Alex Zoldan, vice president of Phantom Fireworks; YSU President Jim Tressel; Bruce Zoldan, president and CEO of Phantom Fireworks; and Alan Zoldan, executive vice president of Phantom Fireworks.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.