(September 9, 2020 – Warren, Ohio) COVID-19 and race equity topped the agenda at the Wean Foundation’s 3rd quarter Board of Directors meeting on September 1st. “As the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism persist, an ongoing, equitable response from the Wean Foundation is required,” said Jennifer Roller, Wean Foundation president. “With board support, we are refining our 3-phase ‘Respond. Stabilize. Redesign.’ strategy to partner with residents and organizations to ensure equitable access to resources, knowledge and opportunity in this time of crisis – and beyond.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic first began impacting the Mahoning Valley, the Wean Foundation has devoted its resources to existing grantees and organizations serving residents most impacted by the crisis. Together with the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and the Youngstown Foundation, the Wean Foundation formed the Mahoning Valley COVID-19 Crisis Relief Application, which was expanded in June to include stabilization efforts. Using a single, shared application process, grantseekers can apply for support from all three foundations at once. To date, 82 grants totaling $1,122,910 have been dispersed to community-based organizations. The Wean Foundation dispersed $305,300 through 28 grants.

“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,” Roller said. “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.”

A recent report published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that organizations led by people of color win less grant money and are trusted less than their white-led counterparts to make decisions about how to spend those funds. To bridge this gap, the Wean Foundation is making strategic investments in Black and other people of color-led organizations, as well as organizations committed to the uplift of communities of color. This includes the Wean Foundation’s 3rd quarter Community Investment grantees Inspiring Minds Warren and the Youngstown State University Center for Nonprofit Leadership.

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 and youth in the shifting realities of 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.

“To address systemic racism over the long term,” Roller said, “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.”

(June 17, 2020 – Warren, OH) From the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Mahoning Valley funders and civic organizations worked together to share information, leverage their support and ease the burden on organizations working to serve the community and respond quickly to the most pressing requests during the pandemic. One such request was access to food for Valley families.

In response, lists from multiple sources were transformed into The Mahoning Valley Food Pantry Map. The effort, made possible by a two-month collaboration between the Raymond John Wean Foundation, Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley (CFMV) and Eastgate Regional Council of Governments (Eastgate), gives families critical information on the hours of operation, location and resources available at the sites across the region.

“We are proud to have assisted the Wean Foundation and the Community Foundation in this endeavor; by working together, we were able to develop a site that will better serve our communities in need, now as we persevere through the pandemic and in the future,” said Jim Kinnick, executive director at Eastgate.

Using Eastgate’s technical savvy and GIS mapping tools, and insight from Wean and CFMV, the three groups worked closely with food pantry providers to learn more about individual operations and coordinated efforts between providers.

A regional, cross-sector discourse focused on the Mahoning Valley’s economic health began in early 2019; a cohort from the larger group, including CFMV, Eastgate and Wean, later joined Communities of Excellence (CoE), a national learning collaborative. CoE’s framework provides a proven, systematic approach to aligning and strengthening the effectiveness of community and

resident efforts. The collaborative culture, data-driven focus and coordinated organizational strengths experienced through the CoE participation set the stage for the creation of the Mahoning Valley Food Pantry Map.

“By leveraging our strengths, together, we were able to rapidly respond to one of the area’s most fundamental needs during crisis, while also developing a tool that will provide valuable information to the community for years to come,” said Jennifer Roller, president of The Raymond John Wean Foundation.

Access to the online resource can be found on the Wean Foundation, Eastgate and CFMV websites.

(June 17, 2020 – Youngstown/Warren, OH) – Three Valley foundations expanded their collaborative grantmaking to include stabilization efforts and support for organizations working toward the region’s reemergence from the current health crisis.

Together, the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, the Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Youngstown Foundation released an updated application Monday morning. The common form, renamed the COVID-19 Crisis Relief and Stabilization Application, is still available on all three foundation websites.

Focused almost solely on crisis relief efforts over the past few months, the three foundations collectively invested more than $877,000 in the Mahoning Valley through 64 grants since mid-March. Foundation leaders noted that emergency response requests, while still crucial, have recently declined. Meanwhile, they recognized a need for greater investment in the Valley’s resurgence efforts, hoping this new phase of funding will help sustain local nonprofits while ensuring the community begins rebuilding.

As before, the application link allows charitable organizations to submit the same proposal to any one of the foundations or all three at the same time. In addition, the Community Foundation’s three affiliated foundations—Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation, Western Reserve Health Foundation and William Swanston Charitable Fund—are also actively participating in the collaborative review and grantmaking process.

Applicants should ensure their total request amount reflects their organization’s entire need as funded proposals may receive a combination of funding from one or more of the foundations. More details about each funder’s specific priority areas around crisis relief and stabilization grants can be found on their individual websites: www.cfmv.org; www.rjweanfdn.org; www.youngstownfoundation.org

Staff and board members of the three organizations have witnessed a tremendous community response to COVID-19’s negative impacts and thank all those who continue working on the front lines and investing in the well-being of their Valley neighbors. The continuation of this coordinated approach to funding is intended to increase support for local organizations carrying out that front-line work and assist the Mahoning Valley in moving forward.

(Youngstown/Warren, OH) – Together, three Valley foundations created the COVID-19 Crisis Relief Application to simplify the grant request process for nonprofits addressing impacts of the current health crisis.

The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, the Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Youngstown Foundation released the application Friday morning. The common form can be accessed on all three foundation websites and allows charitable organizations to submit the same proposal to any one of the foundations or all three at the same time. Foundations will then review applications collaboratively, so applicants should ensure their total request amount reflects their organization’s entire need. Funded proposals may receive a combination of funding from one or more of the foundations.

This joint application follows a pledge by all three foundations and other local funders last week to work together and leverage funding made in response to the novel coronavirus. The three foundation leaders regularly met before the COVID-19 outbreak, but all three believe expanded collaboration is now imperative in order to strengthen the regional response to COVID-19 and better support local nonprofit organizations.

“Years of sharing information and building a familiarity with one another’s giving has provided the strong foundation needed to execute this coordinated effort. My hope is that beyond the crisis, and we will get beyond it, we use this model and begin to look toward this as a promising practice for future collective grantmaking,” said Jennifer Roller, president of the Wean Foundation.

In addition to a coordinated application, the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley launched the Mahoning Valley Community Response Fund. With commitments from CFMV’s three affiliated foundations, several component funds and outside donors, the Response Fund has already made several grants to address immediate needs. Those wanting to support this emergency fund can contribute online at www.cfmv.org/response-fund.

The Youngstown Foundation is also seeking donations for their Crisis Assistance Fund and Support Fund program, the latter of which adds 10% to any donation made to the program’s participating nonprofits. More information on both opportunities can be found at https://www.youngstownfoundation.org/give/donate-now.aspx.

The foundation leaders and staff extend their sincere gratitude to the local nonprofit community for their efforts to respond rapidly and efficiently to those who are being most deeply impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. This coordinated funding approach is intended to strengthen support for those front-line organizations and the Valley residents they serve.

(Youngstown/Warren, OH) – Together, three Valley foundations created the COVID-19 Crisis Relief Application to simplify the grant request process for nonprofits addressing impacts of the current health crisis.

The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, the Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Youngstown Foundation released the application Friday morning. The common form can be accessed on all three foundation websites and allows charitable organizations to submit the same proposal to any one of the foundations or all three at the same time. Foundations will then review applications collaboratively, so applicants should ensure their total request amount reflects their organization’s entire need. Funded proposals may receive a combination of funding from one or more of the foundations.

This joint application follows a pledge by all three foundations and other local funders last week to work together and leverage funding made in response to the novel coronavirus. The three foundation leaders regularly met before the COVID-19 outbreak, but all three believe expanded collaboration is now imperative in order to strengthen the regional response to COVID-19 and better support local nonprofit organizations.

In addition to a coordinated application, the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley launched the Mahoning Valley Community Response Fund. With commitments from CFMV’s three affiliated foundations, several component funds and outside donors, the Response Fund has already made several grants to address immediate needs. Those wanting to support this emergency fund can contribute online at www.cfmv.org/response-fund.

The Youngstown Foundation is also seeking donations for their Crisis Assistance Fund and Support Fund program, the latter of which adds 10% to any donation made to the program’s participating nonprofits. More information on both opportunities can be found at https://www.youngstownfoundation.org/give/donate-now.aspx.

The foundation leaders and staff extend their sincere gratitude to the local nonprofit community for their efforts to respond rapidly and efficiently to those who are being most deeply impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. This coordinated funding approach is intended to strengthen support for those front-line organizations and the Valley residents they serve.

(March 10, 2020, Warren, Ohio) – The Raymond John Wean Foundation awarded a grant at its March board of directors meeting to Policy Matters Ohio in support of the organization’s work protecting Mahoning Valley residents from exploitive financial products and practices.

The second of two Community Investment Grants totaling $63,000 went to the National Inventors Hall of Fame’s (NIHF) Invention Project. Both support resident empowerment, collaboration and equitable solutions to enhance the quality of life for the Valley’s residents.

Policy Matters Ohio has nearly 20 years of experience building relationships to create economic mobility for low-income and working families in Ohio. Its Ohio CASH Coalition project will leverage the organization’s expertise in job quality, wages, transit, childcare and higher education access by engaging local partners to advance Ohio’s state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and to protect consumers from dishonest financial practices, such as predatory land contracts and payday lending.

“Policy Matters is an ally of our community and its partners. Their CASH Coalition’s work will protect residents from harmful financial practices, as well as move our community forward towards a more equitable Mahoning Valley,” said Corrie Adams, Wean Foundation Program Officer.

The Foundation will support NIHF’s Invention Project, for two cohorts, totaling 50 students in the Warren City School District, as well as provide classroom teachers with relevant professional development. NIHF addresses opportunity gaps in STEM-related careers, invention and entrepreneurship by providing high-energy, hands-on, experiential learning activities to students underrepresented in STEM, primarily students of color and young women. The program, aligned with core curriculum, will provide year-round exposure to subjects including entrepreneurship, business innovation – from product prototyping to launch – as well as expose them to economics and to solving real-world challenges.

The Wean Foundation’s five-year Strategic Direction, now in its second year of implementation, includes a combination of grantmaking, capacity building and convening and partnerships; executed by staff dedicated to community partnerships that create a vibrant Mahoning Valley. As of February 24, 2020, Danielle Dillon joins the Foundation team, serving as its Program Associate, Data Management.

A 2012-15 member of the Foundation’s Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants Program Resident Council, Dillon most recently worked as the assistant project manager for Sandy Hook Promise Northeast, an organization dedicated to preventing gun violence through smart programs and policy solutions.

Danielle has a bachelor’s degree in English from The Ohio State University and a Master’s in Public Health Policy and Management from Kent State.

(Dec. 13, 2019, Warren, Ohio) – Over the next two years, The Raymond John Wean Foundation will award more than $2 million to the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) and Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP) to expand the Foundation’s support of resident engagement, race equity and inclusion, social equity, collaboration, community investment and learning.

At its December meeting, Wean board members awarded Community Investment Grants to the Youngstown-based YNDC and the Warren-based TNP, community development corporations that have been operating as strategic partners for the Foundation due to their strong leadership roles in resident empowerment and sustained community development in Warren and Youngstown neighborhoods.

“With input from community stakeholders, this decision will uphold a shared vision between partners ‘to collectively build capacity to provide voice to residents and leaders throughout the Mahoning Valley,” said Jennifer Roller, president of the Wean Foundation.

In addition to its support for YNDC and TNP, the Wean Board also celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants program with a reception and the release of SUCCESS: A Decade of Transformation, a book chronicling the history and impact of the grassroots grantmaking program.

The Wean Foundation partnered with PolicyLink’s Founder-in-Residence Angela Glover Blackwell, to reflect on the progress of the last 10 years, in addition to providing a call to action to Mahoning Valley residents for the next decade.

“Led by residents, the Neighborhood SUCCESS grants offer a strong example of how true collaborations can lead to intergenerational changes,” says Blackwell. “While celebrating the transformation and learning of the last 10 years, we must also take the opportunity to map a path into the coming decade.”

The Foundation’s support of TNP and YNDC mirrors a commitment to community revitalization and civic sector leadership that Blackwell points to as philanthropy’s historically powerful role in building community capacity across the United States.

YNDC and TNP have been focused on improving housing and property conditions, decaying public infrastructures, general blight and housing vacancies and a lack of healthy foods for low-income residents in Warren and Youngstown. YNDC and TNP have made progress in numerous key areas:

● The productive re-use of vacant properties, creating opportunity for residents to become homeowners and transforming the aesthetic and economic well-being of neighborhoods.
● Training for low- to-moderate income Youngstown and Warren residents in property renovation, deconstruction, post demolition, lot greening and vacant property maintenance.
● Community organizing efforts that build neighborhood resident capacity and grassroots power.

The December Wean board meeting concluded with the appointment of three new board members, who will begin their terms in January 2020.

Sybil West, a lifelong resident and active Youngstown leader, has a proven record of community building as president of the Bennington Block Watch on the city’s eastside and a Resident Council Member for the Foundation’s Neighborhood SUCCESS Grantmaking Program. A retired Ohio Lamp employee of 38 years, West holds an associate degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Youngstown State University.

Warren-based lawyer, Stanley A. Elkins, served as the Assistant Law Director in Warren for 13 years and now works with the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office, as the Chief Prosecutor of the Juvenile Division. Elkins is actively involved in the community, coaching and supporting youth sports programs and is an inductee of the Trumbull County African American Achievers Hall of Fame.

Warren resident, William Mullane, supervisor of school improvement for the Ashtabula County Educational Service Center and Jefferson Area Local Schools, served as the principal and educator at Warren G. Harding High School for twenty-eight years. In addition to his work as an educator, Bill has been involved in the region’s arts and philanthropic community for more than forty years.

Such additions to the Wean Foundation leadership will continue the Foundation’s history of partnering with the community to create a thriving and vibrant Mahoning Valley for all residents.

 

(October 4, 2019, Warren, Ohio) – After 18 months of planning, listening and learning, staff members of The Raymond John Wean Foundation have launched a new strategic plan to guide their work through 2023.

The new plan, developed with input from nearly 200 community stakeholders, calls for the Foundation to consider race equity and inclusion in all of its work. The Foundation’s grantmaking, capacity building work, in general, will also focus on supporting solutions that address the root causes of various community challenges.

“We are truly grateful for the many Valley leaders who partnered with us to develop this new strategic direction and we are thrilled to begin implementation,” said Jennifer Roller, president of the Wean Foundation. “With its sharp focus on outcomes that strengthen community connections, equity and inclusion, learning and capacity building, we believe this plan will be a powerful guidepost for the Foundation for the next four years.”

As part of the Strategic Direction plan implementation, Wean developed a community survey to gather input from community stakeholders and resident groups about pressing challenges and ideas for how to positively impact Warren and Youngstown.

The feedback, still being gathered, will continue to inform grantmaking, capacity building, and convening and partnerships within Wean’s priorities of community revitalization, economic opportunity, educational opportunity and public sector leadership.

Emerging Leaders InterMISSION program launches to support alumni

The Wean Foundation is launching Emerging Leaders InterMISSION, a year-long program to support alumni of its Emerging Leaders Program with personal and professional development and reflection. The Emerging Leaders Program started in 2013 and, to date, has cultivated 21st century leadership skills and fostered the radical imaginations of 75 aspiring community leaders. A new cohort of leaders will begin in the fall of 2020.

Emerging Leaders InterMISSION will provide a space for alumni of the Leaders Program to activate their talent, wisdom and passion to produce authentic, lasting change in the Valley. The alumni program is a strategic effort to uphold the Foundation’s commitment to the long-term investment of strong community leadership development.

‘The Raymond John Wean Foundation Park’ hosts concerts, special events for Mahoning Valley residents downtown

In the heart of downtown Youngstown, the once industrialized area that now surrounds the Huntington Bank Community Alley and the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, has been repurposed and named ‘The Raymond John Wean Foundation Park.’

As part of a 15-year agreement, the Wean Foundation will contribute almost $2 million in annual contributions of $125,000, to support the 20-acre park alongside the Mahoning River. The investment aligns with the Wean Foundation’s long-followed practice of supporting initiatives that strengthen community through engaging residents.

Concerts, festivals and special events, like movie screenings, are expected offerings slated for 2020. The Wean Park is a bright spot within the community that continues to support the Foundation’s revitalization efforts for all Valley residents. To learn more: https://weanpark.com.

(June 21, 2019, Warren, Ohio) – At its June Board of Directors meeting, The Raymond John Wean Foundation awarded The Ohio Transformation Fund (OTF) a multi-year grant in support of its work to address the impact of mass criminalization and incarceration in Ohio’s communities. OTF efforts include community organizing, policy advocacy and civic engagement programs designed to change the state’s justice system from one of mass jailing, particularly of young people and people of color, to one based on stable families, economic security and access to health care and education.

OTF, its partners and grantees tackle tough issues like bail reform, law enforcement accountability and the school to prison pipeline. Through grants, capacity building and technical assistance, OTF supports the development and empowerment of grassroots organizations representing traditionally impacted individuals and families.

“Our theory of change is that, whereas each of these areas is important and necessary, none on its own can create sustainable, statewide change,” says OTF executive director Judy Wright.

Multiple Ohio-based and national funders, along with the Wean Foundation, understand that maximizing connections and aligning funder dollars is a model stronger than each responding individually to the opportunities and challenges of political and social activism around criminal justice, equity and progressive change.

Supporting the development of local civic engagement, the Wean Foundation awarded additional funding for OTF’s Leadership NOW: Ohio, an eight-month cross-sector fellowship program for emerging social change leaders developed through a partnership with Rockwood Leadership Institute.  Of the 24 state-wide participants that make up the 2019 cohort, a robust representation from the Mahoning Valley includes four Wean Foundation Emerging Leaders Program alumni: Dionne Dowdy, United Returning Citizens (’18), Keland Logan, The Colony Youngstown (’17), Miles Johnson, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (’16) and Chris Tennant, Thrive Mahoning Valley (’17).

These changemakers will seek to develop leadership practices that build the long-term civic capacity and fostering the cross-sector relationships necessary to achieve systemic, transformational change in Ohio.

“I look forward to participating in the cohort to expand on what I learned from the Emerging Leaders Program, specifically growing my ability to inspire and align individuals and groups. Participating will challenge me to better manage my relationships and increase personal and organizational effectiveness,” shared Tennant.

(May 10, 2019, Warren, Ohio) – The Raymond John Wean Foundation is pleased to announce Korey Gall as its new capacity building officer.  In this role, Gall will implement the Foundation’s Capacity Building Program strategies which include its Capacity Building Fund; Race Equity and Inclusion Initiatives; and Capacity Building Events.

Prior to joining the Wean Foundation, Korey served as housing associate for Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership where he supported residents in new homeowner acquisition and renovations work in coordination with the Trumbull County Land Bank.  Additionally, he served as a representative for both organizations in governmental affairs and inter-organizational collaborative projects.  As the 2018 recipient of the Ohio Community Development Corporation Association’s Ned D. Neuhausel Award, Korey was recognized for his innovative and inclusive work, promoting and creating affordable housing for Trumbull County residents.

Outside of his professional life, Korey is a member of the 2018 Emerging Leaders Cohort, a program of The Raymond John Wean Foundation designed to leverage the assets of upcoming leaders and create pathways to decision-making tables.  Past community service roles included secretary, The Trumbull County Historical Society and advisory committee member, City Club of the Mahoning Valley.

A life-long resident of Warren, Ohio, Gall is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology.

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