Helping You Make a Difference – Grants in Action

Through The Dayton Foundation’s grantmaking process, generous donors, like you, are seeing their charitable gifts at work. Grants in Action recognizes the results of notable grant awards, whether large or small, and the significant impact they have on strengthening our Greater Dayton community.

Grant Makes Plan for Outdoor Amphitheater Come to Life

Picture the setting. Hundreds of people perched on limestone seating along a grassy hillside. Stone pathways lead to an outdoor amphitheater, while wetlands and forest serve as a dramatic backdrop. The stage is equipped with a sound system, but nature provides the best acoustics for an evening’s festivities.

After more than a decade of planning, Preble County Historical Society (PCHS) was able to do more than picture this setting - they raised funds to construct an environmentally friendly, outdoor amphitheater. The amphitheater, which accomodates more than 1,000 visitors, provides a new venue to draw residents and tourists to community events, outdoor educational opportunities and private functions. In 2012 The Dayton Foundation supported the project with a $25,000 discretionary grant towards the building of the stage and roof.

"We are so thankful for The Dayton Foundation’s grant," said Jane Lightner, executive director of PCHS. "Not only did it help cover construction costs, but we were able to use it as leverage to obtain additional funding from prospective donors."

Former Ohio Governors Bob Taft and Ted Strickland were among the supporters who attended the amphitheater’s dedication ceremony last summer, which included a spectacular fireworks display. PCHS currently is planning a 2013 season that will include theater productions and country music concerts, among other events.

"The opportunities the new amphitheater presents will improve the quality of life in Preble County," Jane Lightner said. "It would not have been possible without the support of The Dayton Foundation."

Grants Make Children in Developing Countries Smile

It is estimated that more than one million children in developing countries are in need of cleft palate or cleft lip surgery. Not only does an unrepaired cleft impact a child’s ability to speak and eat, but also it can cause social issues. Children in some parts of the world are shunned by their community or abandoned by their family. They often are not allowed to attend school or to get a job.

Smile Train, a nonprofit organization that provides cleft treatment programs in developing countries, works with medical facilities in these countries to provide free cleft repair surgery and follow-up services to children. By partnering with area hospitals to provide equipment and empowering local medical teams through training and education, Smile Train has managed to keep the cost of these treatments to a minimum.

Based in New York, Smile Train’s work is supported by donors in communities throughout the country, including those in the Dayton Region. Dayton Foundation donors alone have awarded more than $114,000 in grants to support its mission in the last decade. With cleft surgery costing as low as $250 in some areas, an estimated 450 children have received this life-altering, and sometimes lifesaving, cleft surgery due to Foundation donor gifts.

"Generous supporters, such as donors from The Dayton Foundation, truly are Smile Train’s lifeblood," said Priscilla Ma, executive director of Smile Train. "With the help of this surgery, these children can go on to lead full and productive lives."

Program Helps More Adults Learn to Read, Thanks to Grant

It is estimated that as many as 193,000 adults in Montgomery, Greene and Preble Counties struggle to read and understand simple documents, such as a job application or a prescription bottle. Statistics also show that more than 40 percent of adults who read at the lowest literacy level are living in poverty.

When a local literacy organization that provided tutoring services for adults closed its doors in 2010, Project READ stepped up to fill this void by creating the Adult Literacy Management Project. Project READ, a coalition of literacy providers, now recruits, trains and manages volunteers to work with adult learners to help them reach their educational goals. In 2011 The Dayton Foundation supported Project READ with a $10,000 discretionary grant to increase staff support dedicated to this program.

"With The Dayton Foundation’s help, we are on our way to increasing the number of tutored students served from 63 to 150," said Holly Elkins-Lopez, education programs and outreach coordinator for Project READ. Thanks to the Foundation’s grant, Project READ was able to increase Holly Elkins-Lopez’s hours from part time to full time. "Now we are able to dedicate more time to recruiting and managing our volunteers, so that we can help our adult clients get on the road to literacy sooner, rather than later," she said.

Lunchtime Art Series Offers "A Bit of Magic"

Arts organizations have long played a key role in the vitality of the Greater Dayton Region. Local residents have access to many of the top-notch theatrical performances, museums and arts events that residents in larger cities enjoy, a unique opportunity for a community this size.

To help foster a love and understanding of the community’s arts offerings, Victoria Theatre Association created the Mid-Day Arts Cafe lunchtime educational series. The Cafe, which is open to the public, offers an inside look into groups, such as Dayton Ballet, The Human Race Theatre Company and Muse Machine, by providing a venue to discuss their art forms and share insights about performances. Sessions are held once a month from September to May and include a box lunch, a performance by a local arts group and an educational component. The Monarch/Genesis Fund B of The Dayton Foundation awarded two $6,000 grants to support the program over two years.

"These grants were integral to the success of the Mid-Day Arts Cafe series," said Ken Neufeld, CEO and president of Victoria Theatre Association and the Arts Center Foundation. "The support helped offset expenses, and we were able to turn the series from a dream into a reality. It’s off to a strong start."

Attendance has grown steadily since the series' inception, requiring extra seating to be added for many Cafe events. Audience response has been overwhelmingly positive, and plans to expand the program currently are being explored.

Said one attendee, "This experience was a bit of magic in the middle of the day! I definitely will attend again."

Grant Helps Offer Comforts of Home to Ailing Servicemen and Servicewomen

The stress of dealing with a life-threatening illness or injury can take a toll on military personnel and their families. And if the best care available is located out of state, this can add a new set of challenges to an already overwhelming situation.

To help these individuals and their families cope with leaving their homes to seek treatment at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB), Fisher/Nightingale Houses, Inc., a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating Compassionate Care Houses on military bases, helped raise private funds to build the Fisher House. The Dayton Foundation supported the project with a $25,000 discretionary grant in 2010.

Fisher House was designed to give servicemen and servicewomen, who currently are receiving outpatient treatment or recently received treatment at the Wright-Patterson AFB Medical Center, a temporary place to stay before making the trip home. The House offers the comforts of home at no charge to eligible service members and their families.

"We truly appreciate The Dayton Foundation’s support," said Chris Stanley, executive director of Fisher/Nightingale Houses, Inc. "The publicity from the grant also helped to get others to ‘step up to the plate,' knowing that The Dayton Foundation was behind the project."

The impact of the home reaches far beyond just a bed to sleep in. The staff and volunteers create a caring environment, with the goal to make each individual or family feel like they are not alone as they begin recovery.

"It means so much to us to have had their support and friendship during our stay. It has made a huge difference," said one Fisher House guest. "It's our Fisher 'home' not 'The Fisher House.'"

Individuals with Disabilities Experience New Sights, Sounds, Thanks to Grant

For individuals with disabilities, participating in a multisensory stimulation program can help improve their social relations, health and overall quality of life. This form of therapy aims to increase the cognitive skills of impaired individuals and their interactions with the world around them. It even can facilitate nerve connectivity in damaged nervous systems.

Thanks in part to a $5,000 discretionary grant from The Dayton Foundation, Echoing Hills Village recently installed a multisensory environment unit at their Community Connections of Montgomery County location to help provide this experience to area residents with disabilities. The Sensory Rover cart, housed in their sensory room, has multiple features designed to stimulate the senses, from mirrored panels that reflect a light display, to a built-in sound system. It also features a 200-strand fiber optic spray for clients to touch and feel, and calming aromatherapy to enhance their sense of smell.

"The staff and clients at Community Connections of Montgomery County greatly appreciate The Dayton Foundation’s support," said Melissa Villani, habilitation specialist. "Grants like these help us to provide for our clients in ways that we would not be able to otherwise. The cart is a valuable tool to calm and sooth clients in a peaceful atmosphere."

Nelson is one of many Echoing Valley residents enjoying the benefits of the new cart. "I think it is very pretty and peaceful to look at," he said.

Read more about the local charities and programs that recently received a Dayton Foundation discretionary grant award.

Learn how you can help the efforts of local charities that recently received a Dayton Foundation grant in Connections.


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File date: 9.15.14


Barbra Stonerock

“Have a question about the initiatives and programs making an impact in our community? We can help.”
Barbra Stonerock, vice president, Community Engagement, (937) 225-9951.

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