(Warren, September 14, 2018) – In a third quarter marked by a flurry of activity, The Raymond John Wean Foundation is sharing several exciting updates that include Community Investment awards, ongoing resident engagement in the Mahoning Valley and an expanded staff.

At its September Board of Directors meeting, Economic Action Group (EAG) was awarded funding in support of its commercial property revitalization work. EAG’s mission is to provide equitable access to economic support services for public, private and nonprofit stakeholders to continue revitalization and investment in downtown Youngstown.

This Fall marks the 10-year anniversary of the Foundation’s successful, resident-driven Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants Program. Developed to improve the quality of life in Warren and Youngstown neighborhoods, grants of $500 to $5000 have been made to 485 resident-led projects representing a decade of investment totaling more than $1.6 million.

“Becoming a viable and credible resource to the community goes beyond grant disbursements. It’s evident that the credit goes to our neighborhood leadership,” said Wean Foundation President Jennifer Roller. “The program’s grantees represent 236 organizations developing resident leadership, promoting collaboration and building upon existing community resources.”

Additionally, the Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program will launch its 2018 sessions with an opening retreat this weekend. This class of emerging community leaders will participate in a three-month program designed to cultivate leadership and foster radical imagination, building their capacity for realized change. Participants represent a broad range of Mahoning Valley organizations, including The Links, Inc., Trumbull County Land Bank, United Returning Citizens, Youngstown Areas Goodwill Industries and Inspiring Minds Warren.

Since 2013, the Emerging Leaders Program has developed the unique potential of 61 resident leaders. Past participants continue to collaborate through an alumni association; additional training; civic engagement and volunteerism; public leadership appointments; and entrepreneurial endeavors.

The Wean Foundation is also pleased to announce a new staff addition, Tiara Williams. Serving as Program Associate beginning mid-September, Williams joins the Foundation after working most recently with Inspiring Minds Youngstown. Her focus will be supporting the health and vitality of the Foundation’s capacity building initiatives, its various grant programs and administration. Williams is a graduate of Youngstown State University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 2018.

(August 24, 2018, Warren, Ohio) – In what can be described as only success, The Raymond John Wean Foundation has invested more than $1.6 million in 485 resident-led projects over the past decade. Signs of the 10th year celebration are popping up all over the Valley – from the lobby display at the Foundation’s headquarters to window clings and yard signs at grantee sites to activities and events hosted by residents and neighborhoods.

Launched in 2008, the goal of the Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants Program is to build on the human, financial and material assets that exist in the community to improve the quality of life in Warren and Youngstown neighborhoods. The most promising projects, that align with the Foundation’s strategic priorities, are awarded grants of $500 to $5,000.

“We started the program as a tool to engage civic activists in the Valley and to jumpstart an effort focused on community engagement,” said Joel Ratner, president and CEO of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and former president of the Wean Foundation during the inception of Neighborhood SUCCESS. The impact of the grant program, Ratner and the leaders of the Foundation knew, was not one that could be measured overnight but would be seen over years of sustained resident engagement.

“Becoming a viable and credible resource to the community goes beyond grant disbursements. It’s evident that the credit goes to our neighborhood leadership,” says Jennifer Roller, president of the Wean Foundation. Over the last decade, the program’s investment represents 236 organizations developing resident leadership, promoting collaboration and building upon existing resources in their communities. In 2017 alone, funding totaling $98,988 was leveraged by the grantees to a total of $685,000 with volunteer labor, cash or in-kind donations.

“What they created here gives everyday people an opportunity to change what they see fit to in their community,” said Miles Johnson, adviser for Junior Organizers, a Warren-based youth community organizing group and a recent SUCCESS grantee of $4,000 to support the construction of a youth center on Warren’s East Side. Junior Organizers now hold weekly programs and workshops in the space, exploring topics relevant to everyday success, as well as those that will help them “change the world.”

A unique aspect of the annual grant program is its Resident Council. These dedicated residents, 74 members since inception, review applications, interview grantseekers and make the final funding decisions for the projects they want to see in their neighborhoods.

“We are celebrating and honoring hundreds of residents, dozens of grantmaking committee and resident council members and staff who launched and nurtured the program from ideation to the impactful program it is today,” said Corrie Adams, Wean Foundation program officer.

Those interested in the 2019 Neighborhood SUCCESS Grants Program should plan to attend one of the Grantseeker orientations coming this Fall. More information can be found on the Foundation’s website and Facebook page in the coming weeks.


(Warren, August 22, 2018) – After a competitive application process, the 2018 cohort of the Emerging Leaders Program at The Raymond John Wean Foundation has been selected. This group of emerging community leaders will take part in a three-month program designed to cultivate leadership and foster radical imagination.

“The complexity of challenges today requires leaders to think and act in radically imaginative ways. Traditional leadership development approaches are not sufficient for equipping people to lead system shifting change,” said Program Officer, Corrie Adams. “The Emerging Leaders Program provides residents with the environment and tools to activate their passions toward the creation of a vibrant, equitable Mahoning Valley.”

This year’s cohort includes individuals representing a wide range of organizations, including The Links, Inc., Trumbull County Land Bank, United Returning Citizens, Youngstown Areas Goodwill Industries and Inspiring Minds Warren, among others. Coming together from across the Mahoning Valley, these passionate individuals share a common goal of building their capacity for realized change.

Leaders will participate in a two-day intensive retreat and weekly comprehensive workshops and immersion learning sessions covering topics including self-awareness, negotiation, civic participation and systems change. The cohort will also participate in a half-day Racial Equity Institute Groundwater training.

Since 2013, the Emerging Leaders Program has developed the unique potential of 61 resident leaders affecting change and influencing leadership in their communities. Past participants continue to gain and share their experience through an alumni association; additional training; civic engagement and volunteerism; public leadership appointments; and entrepreneurial endeavors.

The 2018 Emerging Leaders are:

TaRee Avery, Youngstown
Dionne Dowdy, Youngstown
Rachel Dunn, Warren
Allison Farrell, Warren
Korey Gall, Warren
Jessica King, Cortland
Margaret Person, Girard
Charlene Pittman, Warren
Honeya Price, Warren
Stacy Quinones, Youngstown
Geraldine Richardson, Warren
Denis Robinson, Youngstown
Lester Scott, Youngstown
Jordan Wilkins, Youngstown

(August 21, 2018, Warren, Ohio) – The Main Street to Thumm’s Project got underway with two public input sessions on Wednesday, August 15 and Thursday, August 16. Both sessions, hosted by the Foundation in partnership with the City of Warren, were facilitated by the Economic Action Group, a local economic development organization managing the project.

A diverse cross-section of Warren stakeholders attended each session where they were invited to share their input on the Main Street to Thumm’s Project (adjacent to David Grohl Alley), which represents the latest development to improve the alleyway connecting Main Street to South Park Avenue.

“We get visitors from all across America and different countries that come to see David Grohl Alley,” said Warren Mayor Doug Franklin at a downtown Warren stakeholder meeting in July, also hosted by the Wean Foundation. “But there are some specific safety issues that were brought to our attention by the stakeholders.” Mayor Franklin spoke about the genesis of the Main Street to Thumm’s Project as a petition to the City of Warren that called for addressing safety concerns of fast-moving vehicular traffic in that area.

During each meeting, a walking tour of the Main Street to Thumm’s Court space culminated in discussions and group activities on what stakeholders want to see. Among the various ideas shared were visibility and lighting, pedestrian mobility, safety and maintenance. Thoughtfully engaging youth and elderly residents around a project that each can take ownership of and enjoy was a recurring theme.

“To give [the youth] an area that allows for self-expression, whatever that may be, would be great,” said east side Warren resident, DeShawn Scott, who runs a business in the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center (TBEIC) located along David Grohl Alley. Scott also spoke of the Project as a bridge to connect the youth and elderly populations, referring to the latter as the ‘wisdom population.’

Next steps for the Project include the Economic Action Group’s compilation of the feedback from the input sessions, followed in the coming weeks by a Call to Artists/Request for Proposals. As host of the public input sessions, Wean Foundation President, Jennifer Roller, views the Foundation’s participation in the Main Street to Thumm’s Project as “an opportunity to continue efforts to envision David Grohl Alley as a welcoming space for the entire Warren community to enjoy.”

(June 1, 2018, Warren, Ohio) – The Raymond John Wean Foundation announced this week that
Program Associate Nan Wilkoff was selected for the Next Gen Fellowship with Exponent Philanthropy, the country’s largest association of funders.

Exponent Philanthropy, whose stated mission is to create “a better world through informed,
passionate philanthropy,” created the Next Gen Fellows Program to develop the next generation
of foundation leadership. Crafted with a focus on peer networking and in-depth learning, Next
Gen is a six-month program that includes mentorship from experienced practitioners and field
leaders, a focus on best practices and emerging trends, and a personalized learning agenda for
each participant.

Wilkoff, who plays a significant role in supporting the Foundation’s grants administration and
Neighborhood SUCCESS Grant Program (Neighborhood SUCCESS), noted her interest in the
Fellowship as a way to further develop in the key concepts of grantmaking and to deepen her
leadership skills to advance the goals of Neighborhood SUCCESS.

Neighborhood SUCCESS, supports grassroots groups to enhance Youngstown and Warren’s
neighborhoods building on the financial, human and material resources in the community through
collaboration, communication and leadership. Among Wilkoff’s program responsibilities are grant
review, community leadership engagement and research to support grant decisions.
Wilkoff, a three-year employee of the Wean Foundation, received her Bachelor of Arts degree at
Rajamangala University in Thailand. She noted in her application that she was proud of having
“fallen into philanthropy,” enjoying a career in a field where information, resources and people
collaborate to better a community.

“The most enjoyable experience in philanthropy is to learn that there are groups of people who
are willing to help one another without expecting something in return either through the
improvement of the community, or the satisfaction of having contributed to a greater good,”
Wilkoff stated.

(June 15, 2018, Warren, Ohio) – At its June Board of Directors meeting, The Raymond John Wean
Foundation awarded Community Investment Grants totaling $643,500 to organizations whose work
aligns with its strategic priorities and includes integrated, equitable solutions enhancing the quality
of life in the Mahoning Valley.

Representing a sound and thoughtful approach to addressing the Foundation’s strategic priority of
Educational Opportunity: School, college and career readiness for Warren and Youngstown City
School District students, grants were awarded to:

Eastern Ohio Education Partnership (EOEP) – Fostering collaboration to align proven practices that
maximize educational outcomes, cradle to career.

Inspiring Minds (IM) – Engaging, inspiring and empowering youth to reach their full potential
through education and exposure to life-changing experiences.

Mahoning Valley College Access Program (MVCAP) – Increasing the number of Mahoning Valley
high school students attending college or post-secondary education.

Turning Foundation – Bringing classroom dreams to life, helping educators discover and secure
funding through grant opportunities and creating a learning environment that promotes student
success and connects to the well-being of the community.

Aligned with the Foundation’s strategic priority of Economic Opportunity: Increased economic
mobility for residents, funding was awarded to the Youngstown Business Incubator,
Women in Entrepreneurship Program (WE)
– promoting the growth and creation of women and minority-owned
enterprises as a channel for creating personal and community wealth.

Other grants awarded include:

Interfaith Home Maintenance Services, Inc.
Emergency Home Repairs

Kent State University Foundation, Inc.
The Road Not Taken; STEM Career Exploration for Young Women

Philanthropy Ohio
General Operating Support

Youngstown State University
Summer Bridge 2018

(March 8, 2018, Warren, Ohio) – At its March Board of Directors meeting, The Raymond John Wean Foundation
awarded grants totaling $178,000. The work represented by the five grantees represents the Foundation’s strategic
priorities of community revitalization, access to educational opportunities and the creation of economic opportunity
in the Mahoning Valley.Grants from the Foundation’s responsive portfolio were made to:

Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP) for its Senior Financial Empowerment Initiative, which
provides services and evidence-based programming to increase the financial stability of Ohio’s aging population. The
initiative provides financial assessment, financial education and homeowner mortgage counseling to strengthen
senior citizens’ ability to age in place with financial security.

We Are Warren, an initiative that seeks to bolster existing youth programming and better utilize community
resources to ensure that Warren’s youth live safe, healthy, productive lives. Funding will go to Inspiring Minds for
Warren City School students’ participation in its six-week summer enrichment program and the implementation of a
workforce development program focused on young adults who have graduated high school and are enrolled in
college or pursuing a career.

Eastern Ohio Education Partnership (EOEP) will receive funding for continued
professional development for youth services program providers and educators.

International Partners in Mission for its Pilot Immersion Experience Program (IEP) that will send 20 students from
Warren and Youngstown City School Districts and Youngstown State University to El Salvador. Building on 14 years
of experience, this opportunity seeks to give students the opportunity to travel beyond their immediate geographic
area for immersive, transformational learning experiences focused on social justice initiatives.

Invent Now, a collaboration of Invention Project and the Ohio Youth Entrepreneurship Program (OYEP) provides
STEM and entrepreneurial skills programming for 50 middle school students in Warren and Youngstown City School Districts. Participants are challenged to create new and innovative designs as well as consider the business and marketing aspects of product development.

Youngstown CityScape for Sidewalk Squad, an expansion of Beautification 2018: Beyond Streetscape, which builds on the organization’s 20 years of beautification in downtown Youngstown. Sidewalk Squad will be an ambassador program designed to offer employment opportunities for young people as visible, on-the-street squad members who will provide general information and maintain the cleanliness and visual appeal of the city center.

(Feb. 8, 2018, Warren, Ohio) – The Raymond John Wean Foundation awarded $105,736 to 27 resident-led organizations seeking to transform their neighborhoods and communities. The funds were awarded as part of Neighborhood SUCCESS, a program of the Foundation which supports grassroots organizations seeking to develop resident participation and leadership, promote communication and collaboration among residents and build on existing resources in their communities. Neighborhood SUCCESS provides annual grants of $500 to $5,000 to projects aligned with the Foundation’s strategic priorities of community revitalization, economic opportunity, educational opportunity and public service leadership.


“The 2018 Neighborhood SUCCESS grantees are leveraging existing resources and engaging residents to implement innovative solutions for their neighborhoods,” said Corrie Adams, program officer for the Foundation.


Organizations seeking grants participate in a process that includes an orientation, technical assistance workshops and interviews.  Funding decisions are made by a council composed of residents from Warren and Youngstown. Those seeking grants must match the amount they are seeking with volunteer labor, cash and in-kind donations.


Among the 2018 grantees are the Junior Organizers, a group of Warren G. Harding students, working to create meaningful opportunities to support other youth in Warren through mentoring and enrichment.


In Youngstown, West Princeton Block Club is working to transform a vacant lot into a Peace Corner for neighbors to gather, recreate and meditate.


Since 2008 Neighborhood SUCCESS has awarded $1.6 million to more than 485 projects in the Mahoning Valley.


2018 Neighborhood SUCCESS Grant Awards 

Name Project Title
A Bridge from Coal to Diamond Girls ABC Diamond Girls
Boulevard Park Block Watch Beautiful Boulevard Park Neighborhood
Brownlee Woods Neighborhood Association Lynn Park Playground Improvements
Citizens Uniting Citizens, Inc. Family Ties
Crandall Park South Neighborhood Association Neighborhood Safety and Tree Planting
Dave Grohl Alley Committee Dave Grohl Alley – ReFRESH
Downtown Youngstown Partnership Downtown Youngstown Street Tree Replacement
Earth Angel Farm Earth Angel Farm Earth Tub and Recycle Room
Friends of the Mahoning River 7th Annual RiverFest
Historic Perkins Homestead Neighborhood Assoc. Perkins Rose Garden Revitalization Project
Junior Organizers Operation Outlet
Know Your Neighbor Block Watch VOICES
Martin Luther Lutheran Church Hope For Newport Community Garden
Mount Hope Veterans Memorial Park, Inc. Mount Hope Cemetery – Maintenance and Beautification
Northeast Homeowners and Concerned Citizens Association Verona Avenue Neighborhood – Improvement and Beautification
Quilts from the Heart Quilts from the Heart
Rocky Ridge Neighborhood Association Mahoning Ave. Corridor Connections
St. Patrick’s Church of Youngstown South Side Orchard
Stop One Place Help is Available, Inc. General Assistance to Families
T.N.R. of Warren, Inc. A Purrfect Solution for Neighborhoods and Community Cats
The Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past Sojourn to the Past
The Upton Association 4th Grade Ohio History Tour
Trumbull County Historical Society Look Here: Warren’s Past in the Present
Upper North Heights Neighborhood Association UNA Beautification Project
Urban Farm Cooperative Urban Farm Cooperative Beginning Farmer Initiative – Annual/Perennial Project
West Princeton Avenue Block Watch Club Peace Corner
YSUscape Community Painting Day

(December 7, 2017, Warren, Ohio) – At its December board meeting, The Raymond John Wean Foundation awarded grants totaling $2.12 million to four grantees for ongoing work in Mahoning Valley neighborhoods. The work represented by the grantees directly aligns with the Foundation’s strategic priorities of community revitalization, economic opportunity and educational opportunity.

Awards to strategic partners, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) and Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP), will support the organizations’ critical role in community revitalization and their work to collectively build community capacity. Both organizations have been recognized locally and statewide for their efforts, effectively leveraging relationships with neighborhood groups, local governments and national community development partners for significant local impact.

“From partnering on issues important to residents to lifting the resident voice in various capacities, our strategic partnership with YNDC and TNP has shifted siloed work into a collaborative effort in support of community revitalization in the Valley,” said Jennifer Roller, president of the Wean Foundation.

Other grants from the Foundation’s responsive portfolio include:

Policy Matters Ohio for its Making Ohio Policy Work for Mahoning Valley Families work which, in conjunction with Eastern Ohio Education Partnership, will conduct research in education policy and advocate for high-quality, accessible childcare for Valley families.  Additionally, YNDC and TNP will work together with Policy Matters on research and policy assistance focused on organizing and predatory land contracts.

Youngstown State University, Beeghly College of Education to establish the Ohio Youth Entrepreneurship Program’s Tech-E initiative.  Tech-E seeks to serve as a connector of K-12 educators to entrepreneurship and STEM-related resources, training and support.

(Warren, November 14, 2017) – Through a competitive, statewide application process, the Rockwood Leadership Institute and the Ohio Transformation Fund have selected the 2017 Leadership Now: Ohio Fellows cohort, which includes three area social change leaders – Sarah Braun, network action team manager, Eastern Ohio Education Partnership; Hannah Ferguson, independent contractor; and Deaudra Edgerson, family advocate with Headstart and vice president of Emerging Leaders Alumni Association, The Raymond John Wean Foundation.


Leadership Now: Ohio was developed through a partnership between the Ohio Transformation Fund and the Rockwood Leadership Institute with funding support from local and national foundations including The Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Ford Foundation. The eight-month fellowship provides 24 Ohioans, from multiple sectors, with skills designed to build civic capacity and drive a vision of systematic change in Ohio. Programming includes workshops focused on effective communication, relationship management, network mapping and individual coaching equipping participants to build community networks to drive statewide strategy.


The first of three multi-day retreats, held in October, has already demonstrated the program’s transformative nature. “I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to not only learn about, and eventually master, leadership best practices, but also to be guided through critical introspection,” said Braun. “I also have the privilege of growing alongside other leaders working toward equity and social transformation throughout Ohio, which will foster new collaborations and cross-sector partnerships in service of the common good.”


Braun is a licensed social worker with a master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University and a bachelor of art’s degree in Community Health and Sociology from Brown University. In her position at Eastern Ohio Education Partnership, she works for cross-sector collective impact across the Mahoning Valley for education and career readiness. She is an adjunct professor in the Social Work Department at Youngstown State University.


Ferguson, the vice president of Silence Prevents Education and Knowledge (S.P.E.A.K.) and the co-founder of The Colony, Youngstown, said she is looking forward to the positive statewide impact this collaboration will bring.


“I honestly didn’t know what to expect regarding the program, but I am truly honored to be a part of this experience,” said Ferguson. “From my initial interview, I knew this was going to be intense. This wasn’t just going to be the typical leadership “conference.” I am excited to see myself, as well as the other fellows, grow and develop our leadership skills throughout this year.”


Ferguson received her bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and her master’s in Business Administration from Keller Graduate School in Orlando, Florida. The co-founder of The Colony, Youngstown, she is also a recent graduate of the WE Launch program at the Youngstown Business Incubator, furthering her pursuit of opening an urban winery in Youngstown


Edgerson, who believes that “nothing will change if we don’t change it,” has worked with several organizations in Trumbull and Mahoning Counties as an advocate for low-income families. In addition to her degree in Applied Science from Youngstown State University (YSU), she has served in a range of leadership roles including president of Bridges Out of Poverty Student Union at YSU and assistant director of Trumbull County Take Flight.