(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.