Mayor Brown’s charitable foundation holds promise


Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown mixed business with pleasure Saturday night at his inaugural gala at Stambaugh Auditorium. By all accounts, that mixture produced one stunning success.

As a social event, the ball in the ornate Tyler Grand Ballroom of the Fifth Avenue venue attracted a sold-out crowd of community movers and shakers to wish the city’s 51st mayor well. Democrat Brown officially began his term as Youngstown’s chief executive earlier this month.

As a community-service event, Brown used the occasion to publicly announce formation of a city charitable foundation to offer valuable services to two important demographic groups : young people under 18 and senior citizens over 65.

Each group accounts for roughly 20 percent of the city’s total population, according to the most recent U.S. Census data. And each group could benefit from an investment into their overall health and well-being.

We commend the mayor for establishing the as-of-yet unnamed charitable foundation for the city and for using proceeds from Saturday night’s glitzy gala as seed money for the community fund. We hope it can meet its short- and long-term potential for improving the overall quality of life in the city.

ATTRACT PRIVATE INVESTMENT

In his inaugural address, Brown laid out his vision for the foundation as a viable tool to attract additional private investment into needed programs for the city.

The formation of the foundation comes at a critical time for municipal finances. Faced with the possibility of a deficit of approximately $2.5 million in the city budget this year, the mayor and department heads are brainstorming all available options up to and including possible layoffs of city government employees.

Ideally, the foundation would provide a stable conduit outside of the taxpayer-supported general fund to provide worthwhile services to its intended recipients.

Many of those services likely could not be financed within the tight constraints of the city’s shrinking revenue stream.

Among Brown’s ideas for youth-oriented projects and activities include creation of a Youth Advisory Council to expose young people to a broader spectrum of life experiences, programs to deal with the social ill of bullying and the health malady of childhood obesity. He’d also like to invest more resources into parks and park programming.

As for senior citizens, the foundation could assist with many compelling needs for that population group, including transportation, nutrition, exploitation, employment and others.

As it works to establish itself, Mayor Brown should work to ensure that qualified and community-engaged individuals are appointed to its board and that the foundation’s mission is clearly stated and widely distributed to both potential beneficiaries of its services and to would-be financial donors in and around Youngstown.

We wish Brown the best in establishing and growing the foundation. Its potential, like that of the new mayor who created it, looks promising.

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