As we ring in a new year, Stark Community Foundation will find cause for a very different celebration right here in Stark County.
MAKING CHANGE: This is not business as usual
Last in a series
As we ring in a new year, Stark Community Foundation will find cause for a very different celebration right here in Stark County. In 2013, we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary — 50 years of assisting donors and others in strengthening our community through the most effective philanthropy possible.
The sense of giving back in Stark County is stronger than ever. By all measures, 2012 will have been a record year for us at the Foundation. Donors have entrusted us with more than $16.4 million this year, bringing our total assets to $181 million. These dollars will ultimately have a tremendous impact in our community.
The approach of this 50th-anniversary milestone gives us pause to reflect on our past and focus on what will make a positive impact in the future.
In partnership with our donors and the nonprofit community, we have identified three focus areas that are key to the health of our community:
• Economic development
• Neighborhood revitalization
As always, we are not attempting to address these areas on our own. We have a long history of collaborating with organizations to fund projects that benefit the community.
For example, our Board of Directors recently approved a grant to the Stark Development Board to assist in the formation of a Stark County Entrepreneurship Program that will promote the creation of new businesses and ultimately serve as an engine of economic growth.
Entrepreneurs came to Stark County early in the 1900s with ideas that eventually grew into several of our largest employers in the region. These employers provided jobs that allowed families and neighborhoods to prosper. We believe the flame of entrepreneurial spirit must be rekindled and nurtured to achieve economic development.
Our collaboration with Stark Development Board and its partners throughout Stark County
will provide the environment for the creation of new business — businesses that are homegrown with a commitment to Stark County.
In the area of education, Stark Community Foundation was one of the original financial supporters of the Stark Education Partnership. Its work, in conjunction with local school districts, has proved to be a valuable investment not only for the Foundation but also for the community, as high-school graduation rates continue to increase, as do the number of college-bound students.
Without a well-educated population, we cannot be successful in improving the economic standing in Stark County. A strong education backbone, coupled with a vibrant business community, will lighten the burden on many local organizations that are answering the call for assistance on a daily basis.
With strong economic activity and a well-educated work force, Stark County will become the envy of the region and the state. It is a goal worthy of our efforts.
Page 2 of 2 - NEIGHBORHOODS
And, as economic activity begins to blossom, so, too, will the neighborhoods that we call home.
For the last 18 years, the Foundation has spearheaded programming for leaders in our neighborhoods. The Foundation’s Neighborhood Program includes more than 70 neighborhood organizations throughout Alliance, Canton and Massillon. This program has
become one of the most important areas that we support at the Foundation.
The aim of the program is to help neighborhood residents, at a grassroots level, to take on the responsibility of creating safe, well-maintained neighborhoods that are inviting places to live, work, play and raise a family. The program is a resounding success and will continue to be a major focus for the Foundation in the years to come.
Stark Community Foundation is proud to be an important participant in the growth and revitalization of our community, and we are committed to working with like-minded organizations to assure Stark County’s future success.
As we kick off the celebration of our first 50 years in serving the needs of Stark County, we wish to thank all of our donors and fellow foundations — our partners in philanthropy — who have helped us reach this milestone. We also wish to thank all of the community organizations that work on the front lines meeting the needs of the community.
Here’s looking forward to the bright future of Stark County and a new chapter at the Foundation.
Mark Samolczyk is president of Stark Community Foundation Learn more about the Stark Community Foundation at www.starkcommunityfoundation.org.