Wean Foundation gifts $1.1M at year-end meeting
YOUNGSTOWN — The Raymond John Wean Foundation Board of Directors recently held its final meeting of 2022.
Dedicated to community building that promotes a racially equitable future through a combination of grantmaking, capacity building and partnerships in the under-resourced communities of Warren and Youngstown — and with a vision of creating an equitable Mahoning Valley — the Wean Foundation awarded grants totaling approximately $1.1 million to the following organizations:
• Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP) — Works to empower residents and promote sustainable community development in the City of Warren.
• Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) — A neighborhood-focused community development corporation with a focus on improving the quality of life in Youngstown by building and encouraging investment in neighborhoods of choice for all.
• Paradise Gardens Development in Warren — To repurpose land where houses have been torn down by turning the vacant lots into productive community gardens and enhancing the physical landscape.
“We are thrilled to have continued support and strong partnership from the Wean Foundation around our efforts to offer affordable home ownership, promote healthy communities through food access and the development of green space and to help residents organize and advocate for an increased quality of life with equitable outcomes for all,” said Matt Martin, executive director of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership.
In partnership with the Foundation, YNDC and TNP work to fulfill the shared vision “to collectively build capacity to provide a space for residents and leaders voices throughout the Mahoning Valley.”
YNDC and TNP center resident engagement through a range of programs and mission-aligned strategies. Empowered residents join YNDC and TNP to lift the quality of life for Mahoning Valley through homeownership and revitalization, increased access to healthy food, community revitalization, educational programming, community organizing and building leadership to create systemic change.
“Paradise Gardens Development is elated to be a recipient of the Wean Foundation 2023 operating support grant,” Samuel Carr, CEO of Paradise Gardens Development, said. “Past support received from the Foundation has made it possible for our community garden to grow exponentially. This grant will enable us to address a flooding issue, increase the amount of garden vegetables provided free of charge to the neighborhood and Warren City Mission and create an area where visitors can walk or sit while enjoying the grounds.”
The grants awarded to YNDC and TNP include support for a new effort, the Strategic Partners Fellowship. Building on plans that date back as early as 2017, the Foundation engaged the Strategic Partners to pilot the creation of a leadership pipeline.
“Though this idea has been part of ongoing conversations for several years, the team is primed for execution of the plan now,” Jennifer Roller, president of the Wean Foundation, said.
The Fellowship offers an on-ramp to leadership, with development and mentoring through full-time renewable positions with competitive compensation and a pathway to executive staff leadership for black and Hispanic / Latinx individuals. TNP’s fellow began Dec. 1 and will lead its food access work and develop its work in brownfield remediation. YNDC is in the final stages of their selection. A January 2023 start is expected.
The board also approved the distribution of nearly $205,000 to these 11 active 2022 Community Investment program grantees to address rising inflation experienced by many in various facets of their nonprofit operations:
• Economic Action Group, which is based in downtown Youngstown;
• Greater Cleveland Neighborhood Centers;
• Heart Reach Neighborhood Ministries, Youngstown;
• Inspiring Minds, which has offices in Youngstown and Warren;
• Ohio Voice, Columbus;
• Organizacion Civica y Cultural Hispana Americana (OCCHA), Youngstown;
• Policy Matters Ohio, which is based in Cleveland;
• Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership;
• United Returning Citizens, which is based in Youngstown;
• Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation; and the
• Youngstown State University Center for Nonprofit Leadership.
“At the end of the day it’s an investment in people. Human capital, that is what’s going to save our communities,” stated one board member.
The Wean Foundation seeks to provide grants that fund the development and implementation of viable solutions led by organizations whose leadership reflects the racial demographics of the communities they serve. Guided by the key principle that the deliberate and intentional engagement of residents is essential for authentic, lasting change to occur, the Wean Foundation supports organizations through four strategic priorities: Community revitalization, educational opportunity, economic opportunity, and public and civic leadership.
Organizations interested in grant opportunities within the four priorities should complete their WeanFolio on the Foundation’s website. The WeanFolio serves as the entry point and introductory way to connect with the Foundation to see if there is an opportunity to work together. To complete a WeanFolio, or learn more about grant opportunities, visit weanfoundation.org.