Leadership Initiatives

The Dayton Foundation’s Governing Board has joined with others to initiate activities to help address key issues in the Greater Dayton Region. Through leadership and significant financial commitments to support these issues, the Foundation is continuing its pioneering spirit to make a positive difference for the community.

The Foundation’s current leadership initiatives include the following.

Other recent leadership initiatives have included the following.


You may make a contribution at any time to the Community Impact Endowment Fund of The Dayton Foundation. We will use your contribution, along with those of others, to tackle our region’s greatest challenges.

Click here to make an online contribution via credit card today. Simply type in "Community Impact Endowment Fund of The Dayton Foundation" in the "Dayton Foundation Fund Name or Number" field on the form.

If you wish to make a gift with a check, please send it to The Dayton Foundation, 40 N. Main Street, Suite 500, Dayton, Ohio 45423 with a note that it is for the Foundation's Community Impact Endowment Fund.

To read more about the Foundation’s Community Impact Endowment Funds, click here.

To read more about The Dayton Foundation’s track record of effective leadership, stability and results related to our community leadership initiatives and discretionary grant awards, click here.


Learn to Earn Dayton’s charge is to assure that all of Greater Dayton’s children are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten and ready to earn when they graduate from college or other post-secondary institution.

At present, just 35 percent of early learners in our region are fully kindergarten ready. The potential ripple effect from this statistic translates to a similar percent graduating from a two-or four-year college within six years of high school graduation. Ultimately, the goal of Learn to Earn Dayton is to have 60 percent of the workforce (age 25 to 64) with a marketable post-secondary credential by 2025.

Dr. Thomas J. Lasley II, former dean of the University of Dayton School of Education and Allied Professions, is the executive director of Learn to Earn Dayton. He is working with school districts, employers, universities, nonprofits and others to make sure Greater Dayton has the qualified people - the "intellectual capital" - to keep employers here and to attract new business. He also is working with 16 area school districts to track required statistics to make the results measurable, as well as to encourage these schools to increase their efforts to contribute to the advancement of a much greater number of students earning a post-secondary education.

To help support this vital effort, The Dayton Foundation awarded a $300,000 grant over three years in 2012, as well as provides office space and backroom support.

Individuals wishing to support Learn to Earn Dayton philanthropically may send a gift to the Learn to Earn Dayton Fund of The Dayton Foundation, 40 N. Main Street, Suite 500, Dayton, Ohio 45423 or use a credit card to make a gift online here.

Read more about Learn to Earn Dayton in The Dayton Foundation’s newsletter, Good News here.

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Neighborhood School CentersIn 2005, The Dayton Foundation announced a community leadership initiative to create neighborhood school centers at Dayton elementary schools slated to be rebuilt over the next several years.

In addition to awarding grants totaling $80,000 to support the project, The Dayton Foundation organized a funding collaborative of 20 major partners. These partners include the City of Dayton, Dayton Public Schools, Montgomery County, United Way of the Greater Dayton Area and the University of Dayton, among others. Together they committed nearly $1 million to the project. Children and adults will be able to come after school and on weekends for programs ranging from homework clubs to community gardening and family wellness classes.

A third to a half of the students in these schools live in poverty. A national study of similar school centers in other cities has shown that students who attend these types of neighborhood schools tend to have improved grades and proficiency test scores, better attendance, and reduced behavior and discipline problems. Neighborhoods also benefit through improved safety and stronger community pride.

Read the latest news about the Dayton Public Schools Neighborhood School Centers.

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Launched by The Dayton Foundation in March 2009, the Nonprofit Alliances Support Program is a collaborative response to help address the long-term viability of our community’s nonprofits. Many regional nonprofits lack the tools or infrastructure to accomplish their missions with the greatest efficiency. Through this pilot effort, nonprofits will develop new and more efficient ways to structure their organizations through partnership, alliances or mergers.

To date, the Foundation has organized a series of informational sessions for nonprofits' boards and staff, followed by individual meetings with a consultant and then a competitive grants process. A consultant will work with the not-for-profit organizations that have requested assistance and have been accepted for the process. The consultant will help the organizations explore ways and develop a plan to partner or merge with their chosen nonprofit organizations for increased efficiency and effectiveness.

The goal of this initiative is to help preserve vital work needed for our community by our region’s nonprofit partners who provide important community services.

Read more about the Nonprofit Alliances Support Program here.

To learn more about how you can contribute to the charities and causes you care about most in the most tax-wise manner, click here.

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In 1999, The Dayton Foundation convened a 33-person Diversity Task Force to study and develop a plan to bring the issues of diversity and inclusion to the forefront of the Greater Dayton Region. Emeritus Governing Board Member John E. Moore, Sr., chaired this Foundation leadership initiative.

The Task Force’s key effort was to engage area businesses and minority leadership in meaningful conversation about the serious gaps that exist and the economic barriers that inhibit minority participation and success.

A critically important development to come out of the work of The Dayton Foundation’s Diversity Task Force in 2007 was the formation of the Commission on Minority Inclusion and the Minority Economic Development Council (MEDC), the Commission’s first operational entity. The Diversity Task Force was phased out, with its continuing projects reassigned to the Commission and the Council. Co-chairing the Commission are Brother Raymond Fitz, former president of the University of Dayton, and William Gillispie, retired deputy city manager for the City of Dayton. John Moore continues to serve on the Commission.

The Commission and MEDC represented a groundbreaking partnership between The Dayton Foundation and the Dayton Business Committee and includes representatives from both minority and majority business owners and community leaders.

A three-year initiative of Foundation and the Business Committee, MEDC worked to foster stronger minority businesses for the overall economic growth and vitality of our region. To continue MEDC’s work in the community, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce stepped forward in 2010 to lead this initiative by incorporating MEDC’s activities into the Chamber’s. MEDC’s new name is the Minority Business Partnership. The Commission continues to be a Dayton Foundation leadership initiative.

For more information about the merger of the Minority Economic Development Council and the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce click here to read the press release.

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In 2008, The Dayton Foundation offered a special workshop for the region’s conservation organizations to explore ways to collaborate in preserving Greater Dayton’s natural resources. The idea was overwhelmingly embraced by more than 40 environmental organization participants at this workshop. As a result of this meeting, The Dayton Foundation launched the Greater Dayton Partners for the Environment.

The Partners' purpose is to continue to convene the groups, coordinate communications for information resource and public education purposes, and develop joint grant proposals to further regional conservation.

A past initiative of The Dayton Foundation, the Greater Dayton Partners for the Environment now includes the Miami Conservancy District, with additional funding support from Five Rivers MetroParks and The Dayton Foundation’s Greater Dayton Conservation Fund. The Dayton Foundation committed up to $70,000-$35,000 a year over two years-to make the Partners a reality for some 43 nonprofit, conservation-related organizations that have been identified as potential partners.

The funding of this pilot effort made possible a part-time environmental professional position to identify key funding opportunities to support the work of the collaborating environmental organizations. The Dayton Foundation established the Friends of the Greater Dayton Partners for the Environment Fund so that other funding partners, as well as individuals who would like to make a donation, can support the effort. The goal is to enhance the effectiveness and capacity of the region’s organizations and programs to help conserve the area’s natural environment and agricultural resources and educate the public about how they can participate in this conservation effort.


When Crayons to Classrooms opened its doors for the first time on January 15, 2009, teachers from The Gardendale Academy in Dayton were overwhelmed. Said one teacher, “This is a wonderful opportunity to get help for my students. It also helps my students learn about the generosity of others – an extremely important lesson.”

Click on the arrow above to view a six-minute video that documents Dayton Crayons to Classrooms opening day and the impact the program had on the first teachers to walk through its doors.

Thousands of children come to class each day without the basic school supplies they need to be successful. Since many parents can't afford these items themselves, teachers often reach into their own pockets, as much as $500 and $1,000 per year, to help provide their students with needed supplies. To help address this need, The Dayton Foundation and the Mathile Family Foundation launched a leadership initiative in 2008 to provide free educational supplies for teachers.

As the first teacher resource center of its kind in the Dayton area, Crayons to Classrooms makes available basic educational tools, such as paper, pencils and notebooks, as well as a wide variety of arts and crafts supplies, to qualifying teachers for children in need.

Teachers must be from schools that are pre-qualified to participate in the program, the criterion being that 70 percent of the school’s students participate in the National School Lunch Program.

Would you like to make a financial or in-kind contribution, or would your company be interested in hosting a "Crayons 4 Classrooms" workplace campaign? Contact Steve Rubenstein at (937) 528-6401, for more information. Financial contributions and in-kind gifts of school supplies can be made to the Dayton Crayons to Classrooms Fund of The Dayton Foundation.

Acrobat PDF fileRead more about Dayton Crayons to Classrooms in our Spring 2008 issue of Good News.

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File date: 04.16.15


Don Vermillion

“Because The Dayton Foundation has said that neighborhood schools are important to our future, local not-for-profit organizations, trusted by their respective neighborhoods, have stepped up to help improve the lives of children and families.”
– Don Vermillion, director of public projects, Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, University of Dayton

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