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A “disconnected entrepreneur” might sound like someone running a company that isn’t tapped into what’s happening around them. And in a way, that’s true – but not the way you might suppose.

“Disconnected entrepreneurs” are those who have historically lacked access to the three essentials of successful businesses — capital, services and connections. Black-, Latinx- and women-owned businesses often find themselves without these three essentials and, as a result, may struggle to succeed.

Connecting our region’s enterprising but under-resourced business owners with these critical resources was the goal of Greater Toledo Community Foundation’s multi-year grants to JumpStart.

ESP provides insights for young companies

JumpStart had its beginnings 20 years ago in Cleveland as a venture to support tech startups in northeast Ohio. Backed by both state and community support — including major grants from the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) and KeyBank — JumpStart leads the ODOD’s Entrepreneurial Services Provider (ESP) program across Northern Ohio.

Its success with the ESP in Northeast Ohio made it the ideal organization to step into the gap in 2018, when a new leader was sought for northwest Ohio’s ESP, NextTech. Partnering with ProMedica and other organizations, JumpStart opened an office in Toledo and began leading the ESP in Northern Ohio. 

Over time, JumpStart also became highly experienced in serving disconnected entrepreneurs.

“We are not exclusively a minority business accelerator,” explained Amy Haschak, JumpStart’s director of Toledo operations, “but a lot of our work bridges that gap.” She added, “Our mission is to unlock the potential of entrepreneurship to transform entire communities. We find that some communities have more challenges than others — so making sure that everyone has access to resources is a JumpStart priority.”

GTCF and BGC partner for capital, services and connection

An initial Community Funds Impact grant from GTCF provided funds to support JumpStart’s work, including its centerpiece program, the Business Growth Collaborative (BGC). Convened and facilitated by JumpStart, the BGC currently comprises 12 independent nonprofits with a history of well-proven programming for business owners. The collaborative supports entrepreneurs in varying essential ways — including operational and technical support, financing and mentoring.

Addressing a shortage of mentors for disconnected entrepreneurs was a particular focus for the BGC. The GTCF Community Funds Impact grant, which extended over four years and helped to seed the BGC’s mentoring program, was key to attracting skilled participants. The initial outcomes were so successful, GTCF also awarded JumpStart a grant through the Equity and Access Initiative Fund. The additional award provided capital for minority owned businesses and entrepreneurs along with ongoing support for a relationship manager at a BGC member organization who focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion matters for clients.

GTCF’s Vice President of Community Investments, Patrick Johnston, explained: “Connecting area nonprofits for greater efficacy is a major focus of the Foundation. The goal of the BGC was to  bring together existing groups with well-proven track records to help them be more efficient.  It was an ideal fit.”

Amy described the game-changing role of the BGC: “It’s not uncommon for organizations to work alongside each other and make referrals, but then they don’t know what happens after that. The Business Growth Collaborative comes together in a more sophisticated way, with monthly meetings to discuss clients that need assistance and referrals.” The BGC also structures their client support by establishing milestones and tracking their clients’ progress toward those goals.

Education plays a vital role

Structured training is also key to JumpStart’s success model. “We do Value Proposition and Market Validation workshops for very early-stage businesses,” said Amy. “These provide a firm foundation for new entrepreneurs while also identifying business ideas that are not well thought-out or involve entry into an already saturated market.” Other programs available through JumpStart include one-on-one advising and a multi-week “Blueprint” program for start-up planning.

JumpStart clients with established businesses that meet a revenue threshold and other criteria can participate in their Impact program, a 12-week intensive limited to five businesses per cohort. Impact participants meet weekly with two advisors, a JumpStart staff member, and a volunteer from the community. At the end of the program, cohort members do a pitch showcase in front of judges from the community. “The top pitch is awarded $10,000 to support their business; the rest get $2,500,” said Amy, “so they are literally paid to enter the program. These and other JumpStart investments in entrepreneurs pay handsome dividends in terms of area business growth, employment and tax revenues,” she added.

State funding leverages donor dollars

JumpStart’s Communication Director, Vicki McDonald, noted that their funding structure provided even greater opportunity for impact. “Our grant from the state of Ohio has to be matched dollar for dollar,” she said. “So, to receive funds, we must raise the equivalent funds, giving us the unique ability to leverage our financial contributions.”

“We also wouldn’t have gotten as far as we have without our volunteers,” she added. “There are many exciting ways to support area entrepreneurs through JumpStart and make a deep economic impact on the community.”

As a teacher, Mary J. Baird would often take inspiration from a poster in her classroom emblazoned with these words. With the legacy scholarship fund she established in 2021, Mary will keep that flame burning brightly for former students of Sylvania’s Timberstone Junior High School.

“I’m excited about the sparkle in kids’ eyes,” she said, reflecting on her teaching experiences. “I taught 7th-grade English for 15 years, and then I was asked to develop a new gifted education program.” At first, Mary split her time between English and gifted ed at McCord Junior High — but when the new Timberstone Junior High was built, she took on gifted ed full time. “Everything began with the idea of creativity,” she said. “It gave the kids an open door — and when they walked through it, they flew from there.”

“Education is not the filling of the pail but the lighting of a fire.”

- William Butler Yeats

Mary also developed closer relationships with her Timberstone students than she was previously able to do. “I had the same kids for three years — 6th through 8th grade — so I knew them and their families.” She also knew of their unspoken hopes  for their future. “There are so many kids that have quiet, private dreams of what they want to do in their lives — but if they  don’t have the finances to take that leap, they can’t.”

After her retirement, Mary pondered for some time what she could do with her estate that would have meaning. “I was the last remaining member of my family,” she explained, “and in the back of my mind, I had those sparkling eyes. There are a lot of sparkling eyes out there who need to fly — what better purpose than to give them a springboard for college?”

With the help of her attorney, who suggested Mary work with Greater Toledo Community Foundation, she established a legacy scholarship fund, designated for former Timberstone students who will attend a four-year college or university. A committee of Timberstone teachers appointed by the school principal will determine each year’s awardees. “I called Jesse Stock at GTCF and he took the reins. It was easy after that,” she noted.

“My parents were so generous with us as kids and education was #1,” Mary said of her choice to fund the futures of others. “My father created a trust for us. Because so much love was funneled my way, I feel it is my responsibility to continue what they did.”

Many individuals who have established funds with Greater Toledo Community Foundation have come to know Bridget Brell Holt as a Foundation staff member and advocate for managing family philanthropy through GTCF. So, it was only natural when her mother, Joanne Seidel Brell, was about to lose her life to cancer that her father, Tom Brell, decided to establish a designated fund in his wife’s honor.

“When she became my wife, I was very lucky,” recalled Tom, reflecting on his partner of more than 50 years. “She was an amazingly talented woman, and she never sat still. But she also got on well with people and almost never said an unkind word about anyone. And she raised three wonderful daughters, too.”

As the wife of a third-generation resident of Maumee, two causes of particular importance to Joanne were the Maumee Valley Historical Society and St. Joseph’s School. She supported both with gifts and volunteer time — so the family chose a designated fund specifically to help finance these organizations.

“Joanne knew about the fund before she passed, including the benefitting organizations,” said Tom. “She was a big supporter of both the school and the historical society, so her fund continues that support now that she’s passed.”

Said Bridget’s sister, Gretchen, “One thing we love about the fund is that we can honor her memory with contributions for family birthdays and holidays.” She noted that when their sister Becky passed in 2014, all the donations in her memory were contributed to the fund.

“Since Mom died in 2005, her fund has grown tremendously,” observed Bridget, “and it will go on in perpetuity. We like that it makes giving very simple, and if either the school or historical society cease to exist, the Foundation will continue to honor her memory by supporting similar organizations.”

“Mom was from a very comfortable family and contributing to society was very important,”  said Gretchen. “Giving back to the community was just a way of life — they served as well as gave. With this fund, we all can continue  that tradition.”

TOLEDO, OHIO, July 6, 2022 – The Board of Trustees of The Andersons Fund Supporting Organization of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation recently awarded grants totaling $231,284 to 12 area nonprofit organizations.

Grants from The Andersons Fund Supporting Organization are considered once a year, and are awarded only to nonprofit, charitable organizations. Grants support organizations with programs in the areas of education, social services, physical and mental health, neighborhood and urban affairs, natural resources, and the arts. Priority consideration is given to requests related to capital projects. The annual deadline for receipt of proposals is April 15th. 

The following grants were awarded:

  • Boy Scouts of America, Erie Shores Council – $25,000 to construct the Handicraft and Leadership Center at the Pioneer Scout Reservation.
  • Children’s Resource Center – $10,000 to install commercial grade lockable storage units.
  • Compassion Health Toledo – $25,000 to renovate the former Mott Library into a new health clinic.
  • Girl Scouts of Western Ohio – $20,000 to construct a weather station at Camp Libbey.
  • Hospice of Northwest Ohio – $7,510 to replace the plate warmer at the Perrysburg Center.
  • MemoryLane Care Services – $15,000 to repair and expand the patio.
  • Mobile Meals of Toledo – $25,000 to purchase and install a walk-in freezer.
  • Nature’s Nursery – $10,000 to construct wildlife rehabilitation enclosures and classroom spaces.  
  • So All May Eat dba SAME Café – $30,000 to purchase kitchen equipment for a new pay-it-forward café.
  • The Ability Center of Greater Toledo – $20,324 to purchase a HubScrub cleaning and infection control machine for the medical equipment loan program.
  • The Sight Center of Northwest Ohio – $33,416 to repair the parking lot, walkways, rainwater drainage system and retention pond.
  • Toledo Cultural Arts Center at the Valentine Theatre – $10,034 to install automatic door openers for two restrooms.

TOLEDO, OH – July 6, 2022 – The Board of Trustees of Greater Toledo Community Foundation recently approved $149,515 in grants from the David C. and Lura M. Lovell Foundation Designated Fund of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation (Lovell Fund) to six nonprofit organizations.

Grants from the Lovell Fund are made to nonprofit organizations whose programming seeks to reduce the stigma around living with and seeking services for a mental health issue.

Grants were made to:

  • Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo – $25,000 was awarded to support case management services for participants enrolled in the Opportunity Kitchen culinary arts and life skills job-training program.
  • Imagination Station – $13,015 was awarded to support a STEM-based learning experience for youth receiving services from the Zepf Center designed to develop confidence, resiliency and team building skills.
  • NAMI of Greater Toledo – $33,000 was awarded to support educational programming and support for families coping with the mental health diagnosis of a family member.
  • NAMI of Greater Toledo – $11,500 was awarded to support the Kidshop/Teenshop program that helps children and youth with a mental health diagnosis or young people who have a family member with a mental health diagnosis to build self-esteem, develop coping skills, form positive relationships and minimize isolation.
  • Neighborhood Properties, Inc. – $15,000 was awarded to support the Alexis Road Family Resource Center that offers social-emotional learning and enrichment services for children and their families in a safe supportive environment.
  • Thomas M. Wernert Center $27,000 was awarded to support peer-led services that are designed to help individuals living with mental illness manage their recovery, combat loneliness, build self-confidence and reduce stigma.
  • Toledo Streets Workforce Development – $25,000 was awarded to support case management and job skills training services for homeless individuals with a diagnosis of mental illness. 

TOLEDO, OH, June 1, 2022 – The Board of Trustees of Greater Toledo Community Foundation (GTCF) recently approved $53,150 in grants from the Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Club’s Helping Hens Fund to ten area nonprofit organizations.

Grants from the Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Club’s Helping Hens Fund are made to nonprofit organizations providing sports and recreation services to youth enrolled in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Grants were made to:

  • American Heart Association, Toledo Chapter – a $2,000 grant was awarded to support CPR and First Aid training for adult volunteers of youth athletics.
  • Autism Model School – a $3,000 grant was awarded to purchase new adaptive bikes and safety equipment for younger students and support on-going maintenance of current equipment.
  • Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Foundation – a $5,000 grant was awarded to support the installation of a shade structure at Eli Joyce Field.
  • Courageous Community Services – a $10,000 grant was awarded to support pool maintenance and repairs.
  • Children’s Theatre Workshop of Toledo – a $2,000 grant was awarded to support scholarship stipends and program supplies for Summer Theatre Camp.
  • Historic South Initiative – a $9,000 grant was awarded to support the installation of playground equipment at Queen of Apostles School.
  • Little Blessings Veteran and Community Center – a $7,000 grant was awarded to support an equine riding program for children of deployed military families and veterans.
  • Sylvania Water Polo – a $2,000 grant was awarded to support water polo equipment replacement and maintenance.
  • Toledo-Lucas County Police Athletic League (PAL) – a $5,650 grant was awarded to support the youth summer baseball league.
  • Toledo School for the Arts – a $7,500 grant was awarded to support the construction of a barrier-free dance studio.

TOLEDO, OHIO, May 20, 2022 – The Board of Trustees of Greater Toledo Community Foundation recently awarded grants totaling $290,000 from its Community Funds Impact and Builder Grants programs to six organizations. The Community Funds Impact and Builder Grants programs provide seed money for new, innovative programming that addresses unmet community needs.

The next deadline for proposals is July 15, 2022. For more details on upcoming grant deadlines, click here.

Grants were recently awarded to the following organizations:

Goodwill Industries of Northwest Ohio – $120,000 was awarded to support a new collaborative job-training program in partnership with Bitwise Impact.

JumpStart, Inc. – $50,000 was awarded to support the coordination of services for Toledo small business owners and entrepreneurs.  

Lourdes University – $45,000 was awarded to support the Like Me program which is designed to encourage minority students to enter the education field.

Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) – $25,000 was awarded to support a collaborative dance program with Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo.  

Toledo Cultural Arts Center at the Valentine Theatre – $25,000 was awarded to support performances designed for audience members with autism spectrum disorder.

Water for Ishmael – $25,000 was awarded to support programming for Afghan refugees in northwest Ohio.

TOLEDO, OHIO, May 4, 2022– The Board of Trustees of Greater Toledo Community Foundation recently approved grants totaling $20,635 from the Bill Rowles Youth Foundation Fund to support programs in northwest Ohio that enhance the lives of young people under the age of 21. Grants were awarded to nine area nonprofit organizations.  

  • Adopt America Network –$2,000 was awarded to support emancipated youth transitioning into independent living.
  • Advocating Opportunities – $1,500 was awarded to support survivors of human trafficking.
  • Anne Grady – $860 was awarded to purchase bikes for special needs children receiving respite services.
  • Bittersweet Farms – $3,000 was awarded to support a transitional program in Pemberville that improves academic, social and vocational skills of individuals between the ages of 12 and 21.
  • Camp Courageous & The Arc of Northwest Ohio, Inc. dba Courageous Community Services – $3,000 was awarded to support summer program scholarships.
  • CASA/GAL of Hancock County – $1,500 was awarded to support volunteer recruitment and training for court victim advocates.
  • GreaterGenerations – $3,000 was awarded to support a workforce development program.
  • Mountain Mentors – $2,775 was awarded to support a mentoring program for at-risk teens.
  • The RIDGE Project, Inc. – $3,000 was awarded to support a summer rehabilitation film camp.

Mr. Rowles created a Field of Interest Fund at Greater Toledo Community Foundation to support youth programs, youth groups, youth serving organizations and other activities in northwest Ohio which enhance the lives of young people, aged 21 years and younger. According to his wishes, funding priority is given to programs, groups, organizations and activities in the Wood County, OH area. 

TOLEDO, OHIO, May 2, 2022 – The Board of Trustees of Greater Toledo Community Foundation (GTCF) approved plans for an Equity & Access Initiative in 2020 to proactively address the concerns raised by communities that are disproportionately impacted by inequity and lack of access in the Greater Toledo area. The Foundation has committed grant funding toward this effort, and has awarded $262,480 in grants through two rounds of funding to 11 nonprofit organizations over the last year. At the March Board of Trustees meeting, the Board voted to commit an additional $300,000 over the next three years to local nonprofits from minority-led, smaller permanent staffed, novice and established nonprofits that incorporate a proactive grassroot approach to fund new and existing projects that align with the focus of the fund.

Then and now, GTCF invites community input relative to those needs and how the community can support projects that address the removal of barriers in one or more of four focus areas.   

Now entering the third round of grantmaking from this fund, the Foundation seeks proposals that address these focus areas:

  • advocacy,
  • economic development,
  • employment, and
  • nonprofit capacity.

Local nonprofit organizations which are located in and providing services for residents of northwest Ohio or southeast Michigan may apply for funding, and the Foundation is especially interested in investing to support minority-led, smaller permanent staffed nonprofits that proactively implement a grassroot approach to their mission and work.

More information about GTCF’s Equity & Access Initiative Fund can be found at here.

The grant opportunity is open now for applications here through July 2, 2022. The GTCF Board will have the final determination of funding, with those decisions announced in late-September, 2022.

“Our hope is that by coming together, we can offer solutions to our community challenges in creative and inclusive ways,” said Keith Burwell, president, Greater Toledo Community Foundation.  “We will continue to hold ourselves accountable to help heal and connect our community.  And we will continue to work with others to build a livable, equitable and just community – where everyone feels safe,” he concluded. 

TOLEDO, OH, April 15, 2022 – The Oswald Supporting Organization of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation recently awarded grants totaling $161,317 to eight nonprofit organizations:

Connecting Kids to Meals – a grant of $25,000 was awarded to support the afterschool and summer meal program.

Gracehaven, Inc. – a grant of $20,000 was awarded to support case management services for youth and their families who have been victimized by human trafficking.

Lucas Housing Services –a grant of $20,000 was awarded to support the Bridges to Independence program that provides housing and support services for youth who have aged out of the foster care system or may have had contact with the Lucas County Juvenile Court.

Ohio Foreign Language Association –a grant of $12,500 was awarded to support the 2022 Foreign Language Summer Camp program.

The Ability Center of Greater Toledo – a grant of $20,000 was awarded to support the Disability Representation, Education and Awareness in Media (DREAM) project that promotes acceptance and inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

The Cocoon – a grant of $20,000 was awarded to support trauma-informed services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Toledo Alliance for Performing Arts – a grant of $15,000 was awarded to support the Community Music Lessons program.

TutorSmart – a grant of $28,817 was awarded to support academic tutoring services for students whose families are experiencing homelessness and are residing at the Family House emergency shelter. 

The Oswald Supporting Organization was created by the late Joan and Chuck Oswald in 2000 to support projects in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan that enable families to develop skills to nurture each other and to promote the advancement, self-sufficiency and intellectual, social, emotional and cultural growth of woman and children.

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