(August 26, 2021 – Warren, Ohio) The Raymond John Wean Foundation invites grassroots groups from Warren and Youngstown to apply for a fall round of Neighborhood SUCCESS grants of $500 to $5,000 through its Submittable application portal beginning August 31, 2021.

“Navigating life around the pandemic’s negative impacts remains a reality for us all. An additional cycle of Neighborhood SUCCESS that centers residents’ capacity to prevail over these times is something the Foundation can do to support the local neighborhoods of Warren and Youngstown as the recovery continues,” says Tara Walker-Pollock, Program Officer of Capacity Building.

In response to the pandemic and to ease grantseeker burden, the fall grant cycle will include a streamlined application process, on-demand grantseeker orientation and an expedited review process. Requests that align with resident identified priorities and the spirit of the program will be considered for:

• COVID Stabilization – efforts related to overcoming neighborhood challenges caused or made worse by the pandemic.
• Program/Operations – resources to bolster organization operations or programs.

Applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on September 21 and reviewed by the Resident Council who represent the diversity of thought and experience of Warren and Youngstown residents.

Before applying, groups are encouraged to visit the Neighborhood SUCCESS page at www.rjweanfdn.org for more information.

Now in its 11th year, Neighborhood SUCCESS has invested over $1.6 million in support of more than 525 resident-led projects in the Mahoning Valley.

 

(June 24, 2021 – Warren, Ohio) Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants, a program of the Raymond John Wean Foundation, has awarded a total of $49,575 to 13 resident-led organizations for 2021. These grassroots community builders leverage the financial, human and material resources that exist in Warren and Youngstown neighborhoods to improve quality of life in their communities. Funded projects align with resident identified priorities and are primarily focused on efforts to address neighborhood challenges caused by the pandemic or to provide necessary resources to bolster organizational operations.

This year, the grant program was streamlined in response to the challenges experienced by residents due to the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racial inequity. Grantseekers and staff alike benefited from a streamlined application portal, rolling deadlines and on-demand virtual orientation and technical assistance. Likewise the SUCCESS Program’s Resident Council, residents representing the community’s rich diversity of thought and experience, adapted its review process by conducting virtual interviews and bi-weekly meetings to expedite funding decisions. The result was a rapid infusion of nearly $50,000 directly into community initiatives across the Mahoning Valley. Significantly, the leadership makeup of this year’s grantees is 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.

“We are encouraged by the spirit of resiliency that we have seen in the 2021 grantees and our Resident Council in response to the challenges of the last two years,” said Corrie Adams, program officer for the Foundation. “The Foundation is honored to partner with their resolve and ingenuity, and to promote that same spirit to our local neighborhoods as we continue to combine our resources to strengthen Warren and Youngstown.”

Since 2008, Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants has invested over $1.6 million in support of more than 525 resident-led projects in the Mahoning Valley.

2021 Neighborhood SUCCESS Grant Awards

Organization Project Title
Black Boys Read Black Boys Read Spring/Summer 2021
Boston Avenue Neighbor Association (BANA) Happy Places Greenspace
Boulevard Park Block Watch Boulevard Park Phase III
Greater Youngstown Community Dialogue on Racism (GYCDOR) The Greater Youngstown Community Dialogue on Racism
Handels Neighborhood Association Handels Neighborhood Engagement & Beautification Project
Hunger Helpers Hunger Helpers – Project Corner Store
Lit Youngstown Literacy and Literary Love: Head Start Book Project
Paradise Gardens Development Greenspace Project
Quilts From the Heart Quilts from the Heart
SOPHIA (Stop One Place Help is Avaialble) Assistance for Utilities
The Harriet TaylorUpton Association Warren Schools Historic Tours
Thrive Mahoning Valley Dear Mahoning Valley
TNR of Warren Pet Food Giveaways in Response to COVID

(June 18, 2021 – Warren, Ohio) As the Mahoning Valley emerges from the pandemic, the Wean Foundation announced its next round of grants, noted progress towards its 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,” says Jennifer Roller, Wean Foundation president.

Grant Announcements

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

Through the thoughtful review of its Resident Council, Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants infused $49,575 directly into community initiatives in Warren and Youngstown. 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 with existing grantees among those first considered to ensure sustainability:

  • National Inventors Hall of Fame for its Invention Project in partnership with Warren City Schools to support a nine-week afterschool 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 frontline advocates and organizers combating racial disparities in mass criminalization and incarceration in Ohio’s communities through direct work, electoral engagement and policy advocacy.
  • Policy Matters Ohio for general operating costs that address the impacts of the pandemic and systemic racial injustice, supporting policy development and advocacy for an equitable recovery and reimagining of Ohio’s economy.
  • Kent State University – Trumbull for its pilot 2+2 Pathway Program, a bachelor’s degree completion and workforce readiness program designed to ensure justice-involved learners at Trumbull Correctional Institution are in a better position to navigate the emerging economy.

Desired Racial Equity Outcomes

The Wean Foundation continues to progress towards its Racial Equity Strategic Direction 2019 – 2023. Stakeholder surveys and interviews are being conducted to inform the further development of the Desired Racial Equity Outcomes (DREO) for each of the Foundation’s key areas of focus, including:

  • Grantmaking: To fund development and implementation of viable solutions led by organizations whose leadership reflects the racial demographics of the communities they serve.
  • Capacity Building: To support sustainable Black and Hispanic/Latinx-led organizations.
  • Convening and Partnerships: To define challenges, formulate solutions and take collective action with Black and Hispanic/Latinx-led organizations who have a stake in the decisions being made.
  • Operations: To create and sustain a culture that challenges racism.

Fall Programming

The Wean Foundation looks to a revitalized set of 2021 programs as the region continues to see the pandemic recede, including:

  • Emerging Leaders Program: The next cohort will convene beginning in the third quarter 2021. Along with core leadership tenets, the program will incorporate learning from the dual pandemics of 2020 and focus on racial equity and economic opportunity.
  • Race Equity and Inclusion Workshop: To date, 62 individuals have participated in the 2021 REI virtual training thru 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.

Details for both programs will be shared via the Foundation’s website and on social media.

(Youngstown/Warren, OH) – Three Valley foundations that have been working together on COVID-19 grantmaking issued a final call for proposals coming through the joint COVID-19 Response and Stabilization Application. The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, The Raymond John Wean Foundation and The Youngstown Foundation set Friday, April 2, 2021 at 5 p.m. as the final deadline for this grant opportunity, and applicants are encouraged to submit requests as soon as possible.

One year ago, the foundations released the joint application, which leverages grant dollars and connects grant seekers directly with all three foundations for quick funding decisions. Through the end of 2020, the foundations had jointly invested more than $2.4 million in the Mahoning Valley through 150 grants aimed at addressing both crisis response and stabilization efforts.

The application allows charitable organizations to submit the same proposal to any one of the foundations or all three at the same time, and the link will be available on all three foundation websites through April 2: www.cfmv.org; www.rjweanfdn.org; www.youngstownfoundation.org.

A declining number of grant applications and the shift in focus of local nonprofit organizations from crisis relief and stabilization back to more traditional operations were among the catalysts for closing the common application.

“Based on our commitment to do better, we’re reducing what we ask for; providing longer term and more flexible funding and paying much needed attention to Black and Hispanic/Latinx led organizations,” said Jennifer Roller, Wean Foundation president. “These positive changes will begin in quarter two, with invites to grantees funded prior to the pandemic. An expanded reach to other nonprofits will follow.”

After the April 2 deadline, grant seekers should visit each foundation’s website or contact staff at each entity for more information on grant strategies throughout 2021.

“We want to continue addressing the impacts of COVID-19 while also looking forward,” said Shari Harrell, CFMV president. “The Community Foundation will roll out several grant opportunities in the next week, so local organizations will have access to CFMV funding through those processes.”

Staff and board members of the three organizations expressed their gratitude for the partnership of

grantees in making this common application work over the past year. The Community Foundation, The Wean Foundation and The Youngstown Foundation intend to continue working closely to combat COVID-19’s negative impacts, along with other important issues facing our community.

“Closing the Joint COVID-19 application in no way diminishes local philanthropy’s prioritization of addressing the growing and devastating impact of this pandemic on our community,” added Lynnette Forde, President of The Youngstown Foundation. “We remain committed to the pursuit of collaborative efforts to uplift the community.”

 

(March 16, 2021 – Warren, Ohio) Maintaining its commitment to center racial equity in its work and using its Strategic Direction: 2019 – 2023 as the framework, members of the Board and leadership team are embedding the Foundation’s values of race equity, resident engagement and a culture of listening into each of its pillars: grantmaking, capacity building, convening and partnerships and operations.

“We’re asking ourselves tough questions about what race equity looks like at the Foundation — and for our partners and the community,” explained Jennifer Roller, Wean Foundation president. “For example, what level of insight and trust do we all need, first, to acknowledge the legacy of racism in our communities and, second, to move forward to support viable solutions that genuinely challenge the conditions that hold problems in place?”

In 2021, the answers to these questions and others will inform a racial equity-centered strategic direction or racial equity theory of change. Or rather, a path forward that ensures equitable access to resources, knowledge and opportunity for those disproportionately impacted, and certainly exacerbated by COVID-19 – communities of color.

First, the Foundation will leverage its role and resources to provoke new thinking and disrupt the status quo. The Foundation’s 2020 Impact Report highlights both past efforts and its ongoing commitment to future strategic investments in 2021 that focus on the realization of thriving, Black-led organizations within our community.

Additionally, more than 500 Mahoning Valley community members have participated in Foundation-sponsored Race Equity and Inclusion training since 2017. This practical, data-driven experience explores the roots of racism in its institutional and structural forms. Based on the belief that real progress requires a shared understanding of racial injustice realities across all sectors, the Foundation extends an invitation to all residents, partners and organizations to attend the upcoming March or May two-day training. Visit our website to learn more and view the 2021 schedule.

Last, to support this crucial work, the Foundation is pleased to announce that Tara Walker-Pollack has joined the staff as Program Officer, Capacity Building. A native of Youngstown, Tara has a background in community and economic development with eight years of nonprofit experience in roles impacting underresourced communities in both New York City and the Mahoning Valley. In her role, Tara will manage the Capacity Building programming with a special emphasis on incorporating principles of race equity and inclusion.

“I’m very excited to be a part of the Wean Foundation team,” said Tara, “and to partner with residents and organizations to continue creating authentic change. I’ve seen the impact of racial disparities first-hand in my work and I’m looking forward to contributing my experience to build stronger, more equitable communities right here at home.”

Tara earned a Master of Professional Studies, Community and Economic Development from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Science in communications from the University of Louisville.

 

(February 15th – Youngstown, OH) – JAC Management Group and Wean Park’s Community Engagement
and Inclusion Coordinator, Derrick McDowell, have secured a ‘Little Free Library’ to stand on Wean Park’s
promenade supplied by the Youngstown Rotary in conjunction with the Little Free Library Foundation.
Installation of this ‘Little Free Library’ occurred the week of February 1
st and was facilitated by local Army
Veteran and Rotary member Frank Kishel. The ‘Little Free Library’ located on Wean Park’s promenade, which
connects the Covelli Centre and the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, is now open to all park visitors.
Little Free Library is a non-profit organization whose mission is to expand book access among communities
through volunteer led book collections in public spaces. These collections promote increased literacy and a
propensity for reading and learning.


The installation of the Little Free Library in Wean Park will allow the complex to further communicate values
associated with its pillars of equity, inclusivity and diversity through a curated collection of books that are
focused on such topics. The initial assortment of books was chosen by the Youngstown Rotary and the
Youngstown Library under the direction of Derrick McDowell to reflect themes related to Black History Month
as well as the aforementioned pillars of Wean Park. Current titles include
Walking With The Wind” by late
Congressman John Lewis, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, “Colorblind” by Tim Wise, and “The Hate U Give”
by Angie Thomas.


“It may be small, in terms of capacity holding only so many books, but there is nothing “little” about what this
Little Free Library inside of Wean Park will accomplish. We know that reading opens the mind and shapes the
mentality of the reader and I, along with the Raymond John Wean Foundation and JAC Management Group,
am hopeful that when our community gets ahold of these specifically chosen books, those possibilities
continue to be endless within our community” remarked Wean Park’s Community Engagement and Inclusion
Coordinator, Derrick McDowell.


Wean Park and JAC Management Group look forward to working with community groups and organizations in
the future on book selections and interactive installations surrounding the reading material. Inquiries about
these opportunities can be submitted to Derrick McDowell at dmcdowell@weanpark.com

(January 11, 2021 – Warren, Ohio) The Raymond John Wean Foundation invites grassroots groups from Warren and Youngstown to apply for Neighborhood SUCCESS grants of $500 to $5,000 through a new streamlined application portal beginning January 14, 2021.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color and requires an urgent, equitable response that places residents at the center of the process, and leverages the financial, human and material resources that exist in the community,” says Corrie Adams, Program Officer. “Our streamlined grant application process is a response to what we’re hearing from residents and organizations today.”

For 2021, the Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants Program has been adapted to be responsive to the pandemic. In addition to a streamlined application process, on-demand orientation and technical assistance, a rolling timeline and expedited review process have been implemented.

Applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on January 21, February 4, February 18, March 4 and March 18 and reviewed by the Resident Council who represent the diversity of thought and experience of Warren and Youngstown residents. Most applications will be reviewed and processed within two weeks.

Requests that align with resident identified priorities and the spirit of the program will be considered for:
• COVID Response – efforts related to neighborhood challenges caused or made worse by the pandemic
• Program/Operations – resources to bolster organization operations or programs.

Before applying, groups are encouraged to visit the Neighborhood SUCCESS page at www.rjweanfdn.org for more information.

Now in its11th year, Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants have invested $1.6 million in nearly 500 resident-led projects improving the quality of life in underresourced neighborhoods across Warren and Youngstown.

(November 3, 2020 – Youngstown/Warren, OH) – Together, three Valley foundations issued a final call for 2020 grant proposals coming through the joint COVID-19 Crisis Relief and Stabilization Application. The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, The Raymond John Wean Foundation and The Youngstown Foundation set Friday, November 20 as the final 2020 deadline for this grant opportunity, and applicants are encouraged to submit requests as soon as possible.

In March, the foundations released the joint application, which leverages grant dollars and connects grant seekers directly with all three foundations for quick funding decisions. Together, the foundations have invested more than $1.6 million in the Mahoning Valley through 104 grants aimed at addressing both crisis relief and stabilization efforts.

The application allows charitable organizations to submit the same proposal to any one of the foundations or all three at the same time, and the link continues to be available on all three foundation websites: www.cfmv.org; www.rjweanfdn.org; www.youngstownfoundation.org.

“While we are grateful to have partnered with the Community Foundation and the Youngstown Foundation, the declining number of grant applications and the responses from our community survey suggest a shift in the approach to the pandemic this fall,” said Jennifer Roller, Wean Foundation president. “We are now focusing on what we’ve learned collectively in an effort to stabilize organizations long term.”

Possible future deadlines for the joint COVID-19 application, as well as additional opportunities for collaborative grantmaking, are currently being explored. After the November 20 deadline, grant seekers should visit each foundation’s website or else contact staff at each entity for more information on grant strategies through the end of 2020 and into 2021.

“The common application has been a powerful tool for the community,” said Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation. “And we will use all of the lessons learned from this collaborative work as we continue exploring the best ways to support our nonprofit partners during this extended crisis.”

Staff and board members of the three organizations expressed their gratitude for the partnership of grantees in making this common application work over the past nine months. The Community Foundation, Wean Foundation and The Youngstown Foundation intend to continue working closely to combat COVID-19’s negative impacts on our community.

“This in no way diminishes local philanthropy’s prioritization of addressing the growing and devastating impact of this pandemic on our community,” added Jan Strasfeld, executive director of The Youngstown Foundation. “We are just as committed as ever to meet the needs head on.”

 

(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.

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