Wean grants fuel environmental, social and economic change in Valley

Wean Foundation Market Block Building

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – It’s that time of year once again when the Raymond John Wean Foundation accepts applications for its Neighborhood Success Grants. The funds are awarded every year to grassroots projects throughout Warren and Youngstown.

Since 2008, the foundation has been supporting community projects and has awarded $1.3 million in funds to more than 400 projects and programs.

Foundation president, Jennifer Roller, said the Neighborhood Success Grant is not typical. It’s a collaborative effort where an idea is taken at its infancy and given the resources to grow.

“Less top down influencing how things should always be and more about people rising to the top and saying, ‘Hey, we have some great ideas, and we have the skills and motivation to make it happen,’” Roller said.

To apply for the grant, at least two community members have to come together with their idea, and it has to meet the foundations four strategic priorities: Community Revitalization, Economic Opportunity, Educational Opportunity, and Public Service Leadership.

Roller said once they receive the application, resident council members from Warren and Youngstown review the applications and then invite the groups in to discuss the projects further.

Friends of the Mahoning River is a previous grant recipient. The money supported several of their projects, most notably a river cleanup.

But Sara Smith, with the Friends of the Mahoning River, said it’s not just about the money. The Wean Foundation also works as a support system.

“The most important thing the Wean Foundation did was give us confidence in ourselves,” Smith said.

LIT Youngstown also received a grant through their proposal to the Wean Foundation. Their project was unique in that is focused on a societal and cultural element. The group interviewed African American women with deep roots in the Youngstown area and will share those stories with the public in the form of a book that has been published and set for release in in early December.

Neighborhood Success grants range anywhere from $500 to $5,000. Up to 30 recipients are selected each year.

Applications will be accepted beginning Tuesday.