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Greater Toledo Community Foundation and The Blade, in partnership with The Center for Nonprofit Resources, announce the 2022 Northwest Ohio Nonprofit Excellence Awards. Applications for the excellence awards were accepted until midnight on May 31, 2022. 

Local nonprofit organizations were encouraged to nominate themselves for the awards by completing an application between by May 31, 2022. Winners will be announced on Thursday, October 20, 2022 at a special breakfast ceremony. Winners receive a one-of-a-kind glass award, a $7,500 unrestricted grant from Greater Toledo Community Foundation and a $1,000 unrestricted grant from The Andersons, plus a half-page ad in The Blade. 

About the Awards

The Blade and Greater Toledo Community Foundation, in partnership with The Center for Nonprofit Resources, are pleased to announce a refreshed iteration of the Nonprofit Innovation & Excellence Awards - now called the Northwest Ohio Nonprofit Excellence Awards. The Awards are designed to honor and recognize outstanding nonprofit organizations and their achievements in our community.

Awards will be given to three nonprofit organizations, one in each of the following categories (note the new categories for this year):

  • Excellence in Collaborative Programming
  • Excellence in Strategic Action
  • Excellence in Organizational Operations

Awards Eligibility and Criteria

In each category, applicant organizations should meet the following general eligibility criteria: 

  • Applicant must be a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code and based in northwest Ohio or southeast Michigan.
  • Organizations may apply for, and are eligible to win in, more than one award category, but must submit a separate application for each category and must address the criteria specific to each award.
  • Once an organization has received an award, that organization will become ineligible for that same award for the following three years.

All organizations are required to submit due diligence documentation with their online application to Greater Toledo Community Foundation. Documentation includes: 

  • A copy of the organizational budget for the current fiscal year;
  • A copy of the audited financial statements for the most recent year available – if unavailable, the unaudited income and expense statement and balance sheet must be provided;
  • A list of board members with affiliations; and
  • A copy of the applicant’s tax exemption letter from the Internal Revenue Service.

The submission must include:

  • A high quality electronic version of the organization’s logo, and 
  • Three original electronic high resolution photos (300 DPI or higher) that depict the organization’s mission and services.

These items will be used as part of the award ceremony for organizations selected as finalists. Winners will not be announced in advance of the ceremony. As part of the review process, any applicant may be requested to submit additional supplemental information.


Excellence in Collaborative Programming

This award showcases a joint initiative that leverages the skills and resources of multiple nonprofit partners to deliver excellent service to residents of northwest Ohio or southeast Michigan. Creative partnerships lead to greater impact in the community by reaching underserved audiences and avoiding duplication of service. Applications that clearly address the following will receive priority consideration: 

  • Description – Provide a description of the specific project for which the application is being made. Include details about how the project represents a creative solution to a community challenge.
  • Collaboration – Fully describe all partners contributing to project success including, but not limited to, nonprofit organizations, businesses, governmental agencies or funders. 
  • Results – Provide a description of how the project is evaluated and what measurable, positive results have ensued.

Applications for the Excellence in Collaborative Programming Award were accepted until midnight on May 31, 2022. 

Please note, there is only one application. Within the application, organizations choose which category they wish to apply for; if an organization wishes to apply for two awards, they will need to complete and submit two separate applications.

Excellence in Strategic Action

This award highlights organizations that have strategically expanded programming or pivoted to a new service delivery model to better meet a community need. Priority consideration will be given to projects that utilized data and metrics to identify a gap in service, aligned with community-wide planning efforts to ensure activities did not duplicate existing services and successfully implemented and sustained the expansion. It is anticipated that projects will still be active and have completed the strategic action within the past five years, but the committee will consider older initiatives as well.  Applications that address the following will receive priority consideration:

  • Description – Describe how the opportunity for expansion or a new approach to service delivery was identified.  Detail the planning and implementation process. Clearly identify the need that was addressed through the strategic action including, but not limited to, reaching participants in an underserved geography, reaching a specific demographic or pursuing a policy change, etc. Note how the action has been sustained.
  • Results – Describe how success is measured.  Include any metrics that illustrate impact.

Applications for the Excellence in Strategic Action Award were accepted until midnight on May 31, 2022. 

Please note, there is only one application. Within the application, organizations choose which category they wish to apply for; if an organization wishes to apply for two awards, they will need to complete and submit two separate applications.

Excellence in Organizational Operations

This award recognizes organizations for overall excellence. The strongest applications will demonstrate active involvement by staff, board members, volunteers and constituents in advancing the mission of the organization.  Eligible applicants must have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for at least five years and have a local governance and management structure in place. Applications that cite examples of best practices within the following areas will receive priority consideration:

  • Governance – Provide examples that demonstrate organizational excellence in board management and engagement.
  • Financial Management & Fundraising – Provide examples that show the organization’s financial management is strong, transparent and accountable.  Describe the organization's development strategies including adherence to best practices and donor centered approaches.
  • Evaluation/Community Impact – Cite examples of how outcome data is used to achieve the organization’s mission and how this impacts the community.

Applications for the Excellence in Organizational Operations Award were accepted until midnight on May 31, 2022. 

Please note, there is only one application. Within the application, organizations choose which category they wish to apply for; if an organization wishes to apply for two awards, they will need to complete and submit two separate applications.

Print a copy of these Grant Guidelines here.

Awards Selection Process & Timeline

The award application deadline was Tuesday, May 31, 2022. Award applications must be submitted through Greater Toledo Community Foundation’s online application process. Award applications must be received by midnight of the application deadline.

Selection Committee

A GTCF selection committee comprised of past winners and community members with knowledge of area nonprofits will review the applications and select award winners in each category.

Recipient Prizes

All Award Recipients will receive:

  • The honor and distinction of being recognized as a leader among northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan’s nonprofits;
  • A one-of-a-kind glass art award engraved with the organization’s name;
  • An unrestricted grant from Greater Toledo Community Foundation in the amount of $7,500;
  • An unrestricted grant in the amount of $1,000 from The Andersons;
  • A half-page ad in The Blade;
  • A feature article highlighting the winning organizations in Greater Toledo Community Foundation‘s newsletter, and sharing of award winners via The Center for Nonprofit Resources’ e-newsletter and website; and
  • One table for ten (at no charge) to the recognition event to be held on Thursday, October 20, 2022.

Awards Ceremony Information

Awards will be presented to winning organizations at the Northwest Ohio Nonprofit Excellence Awards ceremony and breakfast on Thursday, October 20, 2022. Questions about the ceremony should be directed to Laura Sams at [email protected].

Presented By:

Breakfast Sponsor:

As one of the Toledo area’s leading family-focused community agencies, the YMCA of Greater Toledo has had a long relationship with Greater Toledo Community Foundation. When the COVID-19 pandemic upended the lives of so many served by the Y, the established partnership became more important than ever.

Rewriting the script for childcare

“GTCF had been helping support our early childhood programs that serve infants, toddlers and preschoolers by enabling us to improve teaching practices and program quality, as well as hiring a teacher mentor to implement curriculum programs,” said Lesley Doria, YMCA Vice President of Child Care. “The whole culture in our early childhood programs had changed in a positive direction.”

She continued, “It’s well-known that more than 60% of children entering kindergarten in Ohio are not ready to learn. Our goal was to have every child kindergarten-ready, and pre-COVID we had been making tremendous progress. We had more than 20 centers serving 1300 to 1500 kids each day from 10 area school districts, with about 86% of kids in our programs at ready-to-learn levels.”

Then on March 25, all early childcare centers were ordered to close — and the Y’s forward momentum suddenly halted. “We received pandemic licensing but maintaining capacity to re-open was a challenge. We had to change health and safety practices as well as cleaning procedures and spent a lot of time and expense to make those work,” said Lesley. “At first, we were able to keep only four centers open and could accept only about 200 youngsters from families of essential workers.”

Pre-pandemic, the Y was also working inside elementary schools, providing wrap-around before- and after-school care — and again, the Y adapted. “We worked directly with school districts in the past, so we were an entity the schools could lean on for support,” said Lesley. “We transitioned our early childcare stand-alone services to accommodate working families with school-aged kids who needed daytime supervision.”

Lesley observed that GTCF funding was vital to sustaining the YMCA’S childcare activities during the peak months of the pandemic. “Some of the funds helped us provide staff to facilitate virtual learning. Kids needed a lot of help with that, especially at the very beginning,” she noted.

“And, about 50% of our kids are on some kind of assistance, such as state funds or YMCA scholarships, and paid by attendance, rather than enrollment. This was tough because student attendance was very inconsistent,” she explained. “The other 50% of families couldn’t budget for kids to be out of school the entire time. Going from $60 or $80 a week for part-time to $140 for full-time is a big jump up. GTCF funding allowed us to expand services to kids without passing costs along to families.”

Feeding the newly hungry

When many formerly self-sufficient families found themselves under financial stress, GTCF funding also supported expanded food distribution and hot meals for families at various YMCA facilities across the region.

Beth Deakins, YMCA’s Director of Healthy Living, explained the Y’s role of distribution in a collaborative effort to provide meals to families in need. “We work with Summer Meal Partners, a group that provides kids with food when school is not in session, Connecting Kids to Meals, and A Village on Adams / Manhattan’s Catering, both of which provide the bulk of meals for children in after-school programs, sports programs that feed participating kids, and YMCA sites,” she said.

With pandemic restrictions in place, the Y and their partners no longer could provide the in-person, family-meal experiences that were their norm. But hot meals that families could enjoy together was still the focus. And, with the GTCF grant, the program expanded from one to three meals a day — so when parents came to pick up lunches, they would also get something for dinner and breakfast for the following day.

“We saw the same faces and families over and over,” said Beth. “They told us that sharing breakfast, lunch and dinner together when the parents were unable to work made a big difference. Because of the GTCF funding we received, we built new relationships with families that typically wouldn’t have needed assistance.

“In some cases, families weren’t even really able to cook,” Beth added. “One of the barriers we consistently saw were families that didn’t even have the means to cook — like a working stove or oven, or pots and pans — or families who had the utilities turned off because they were unable to pay the bills. The hot meals that the Y was able to provide helped parents fill the gap even though they didn’t personally have the means to make that happen.”

GTCF grant supports sustained service

“When it was announced that schools were going to go remote and food access at schools would no longer be available to them, the Y network pulled together to ask, ‘What are the locations where we could start something immediately?’” said Beth. Right away, Wayman Palmer and Eastern Community Y, serving Oregon & East Toledo residents, were added, as were the West Toledo and Wolf Creek locations a few weeks later, with Panera as an additional meal-prep supporter.

“GTCF funding came through quickly, and the actual dollars lasted us through October. But, because of the funding we got, we were able to put some things in place to help us sustain the programs,” said Beth. “Food insecurity issues are not going away. Food access has been an issue in our community for some time, and the GTCF grant has provided resources to building systems and structures that will help address these issues going forward.”

Beth also acknowledged the service of countless volunteers, some of whom were actually furloughed YMCA employees and older community members who were among the most at risk of contracting COVID-19. “It’s passion work,” she noted. “The strength of relationship and collaboration in Toledo really pushed us ahead in the pandemic and gave us an opportunity to build people up at a time when things were crumbling beneath us.” Added Lesley, “Shifting our programs to meet shifting needs was how we kept going.”

Like so many who relocate from a big city to Toledo, Meg and Dick Ressner discovered it was a place where they could have a special kind of impact.

“Dick and I met in Chicago while with Owens-Corning (OC), and moved here in 1989,” said Meg. “We fell hard for Toledo because we realized we could make a real difference here.”

The couple’s dedication to their new community began with volunteering and continues today from their residences in Toledo and Florida. “Early on, I served on the board of the Toledo Arts Commission, David’s House, and the OC Foundation — back then, you had to be physically present for meetings. Now, we can stay involved no matter where we are,” she noted.

Thanks to Meg’s prior involvement with the OC Foundation, the Ressners are also very strategic about their giving — so the couple’s philanthropic commitment to Toledo was a deciding factor in establishing a fund with GTCF. “When our financial advisor suggested we create a donor advised fund, we could have done that with any wealth management firm, and we vetted all those options,” she noted. “But GTCF is a leader in the community that is making a difference for Toledo — so if we were going to do this, we wanted to do it with them.”

Maintaining a philanthropic focus is another priority for the Ressners. “I had my causes, he had his — but with our fund, we said no, we’re going to make an impact with the things we care about as a family. Deciding that was the hard part. After you decide that, the Foundation makes it easy,” she noted. “I use their online system— we do all our stuff online and it’s simple. I like that — I do not like it when it’s complicated!” she laughed.

Meg and Dick Ressner, center, at Inverness Country Club with (left to right)
Adam Reny, Evans Scholar Alumnus and Executive Director, First Tee of Lake Erie,
and Ohio State Evans Scholars Johnathan Burks, '22; Gina Silvestri, '25;
and Brandon Burks, '24.

While also reserving a portion of their resources to support friends’ causes, the Ressners have dedicated their volunteer work and giving to women’s empowerment, autism, the Evans Scholar program for young golf caddies, and the new collaboration between First Tee of Lake Erie and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo, serving youth in the Rogers-McTigue learning community. But when COVID-19 brought a halt to community activities, Meg found a new way to support Toledo with the creation of another fund at GTCF.  

“During Covid, my friend Annie and I were staying connected with Zoom coffee chats,” she explained. “We were talking about how lucky we both were — and Annie said ‘We’ve got to do something. What if we raised money to pay the restaurants to make food to serve the hospitals and first responders … they can be our ‘plus one’ for a meal.”

After their Zoom call, Meg promptly emailed several restauranteurs about the idea — and within a week of creating the Toledo Plus One Fund at GTCF, more than $20,000 in donations had come into the Fund and delivery of hot, restaurant-grade meals for hospitals and first responders began. Toledo Plus One raised more than $70,000, funding more than 4,100 meals.

Meg cites three reasons for opening a family fund at GTCF.  “First, it was a witness to the difference that GTCF makes in Toledo – it fits our ‘supporting Toledo’ strategy. They’ve also been incredibly helpful — we couldn’t have done Toledo Plus One if we didn’t have the Foundation to make it work. We trust them to manage our funds wisely. And, we wanted the flexibility tax-wise to release the money when we need to, in a way that is consistent with our strategy. Our GTCF fund makes all of that possible.”

Start A Fund

To inquire about starting a fund at the Foundation, please contact Mike Greer, Vice President, Philanthropic Services & Advancement,
at 419-241-5049 or [email protected]

When Stephanie White encouraged her father, Dave, to establish what became the Hugh David & Dana White Family Fund with Greater Toledo Community Foundation, she had no idea she would be one of the advisors to that fund so soon after it was established.

Both Stephanie and her dad begun their own funds in 2019. “Our family did quite a bit of charitable giving, both privately and through the car dealership, but didn’t publicize it,” said Stephanie. “My parents supported all kinds of causes.  They were both outdoor people who oved animals, so that was a special focus of their giving, but they also supported many other things, like education, the arts and health care.”

Her parents’ generosity was something they instilled in the younger generations in their family, too. “Some time ago, Dad started giving our family members gifts to give to charity,” said Stephanie. “We each received an amount that we had to donate — and we had to give away all of it.”

After a few years, Stephanie decided to manage her charitable gifts with a fund at GTCF. “Our family had several good friends who were involved with the Foundation since day one,” she said. “I was also in Sylvania Rotary with Mike George, GTCF’s VP of Philanthropic Services & Advancement at the time, so I was comfortable having the discussion.”

The Dave White family, seen here in Wyoming, enjoyed vacationing together in the outdoors.

After multiple conversations, Dave, Sr. decided to follow Stephanie in establishing a fund at GTCF. Dave, Sr. elected to establish a donor advised fund, while Stephanie chose a donor directed pooled fund. “We had considered establishing our own foundation,” noted Stephanie, “but after talking to GTCF, we saw we could do the same type of work without having to do the work of managing the funds.”

But just a few months later, Dave, Sr. had an unexpected health crisis. “Dad had COVID-19 in July of last year and came through it like a champ,” said Stephanie. “Then shortly after that, while I was out in Wyoming for business, I got a call from him saying ‘I just got diagnosed with esophageal cancer.’”

Dave, Sr., Stephanie and her brother Dave, Jr., headed at once to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for Dave’s treatment. After a number of weeks undergoing out-of-town treatment, Dave decided to continue his treatment back in Toledo where he could enjoy the end of duck-hunting season and time with his brothers and family.

Sadly, Dave, Sr. lost his battle with cancer in January of this year. “My dad would have been 84 on February 1 this year, and you would never have known it. He was an active sportsman and only four weeks before he passed away, he was duck hunting. My mom, Dana, had traveled to Kenya less than a year before she passed from cancer. That’s one reason why we’ve been avid supporters of the American Cancer Society.”

Now Stephanie and her brother, Dave, are the successor advisors to their parents’ fund. “Our plan is to continue doing what we’ve always been doing. Our entire family has had a history of generosity. I think Mom and Dad would trust us to make sure it was ‘done right’ and honor the family traditions.”

Start A Fund

To inquire about starting a fund at the Foundation, please contact Mike Greer, Vice President, Philanthropic Services & Advancement, at 419-241-5049 or [email protected]

TOLEDO, OHIO, July 2, 2021 – The Board of Trustees of The Andersons Fund Supporting Organization of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation recently awarded grants totaling $213,361 to 11 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 deadline for receipt of proposals is April 15th. 

Organizations receiving grants include:

  • American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio Chapter – $9,978 to support the blood collection scales replacement project.
  • Cherry Street Mission Ministries – $27,614 to replace the windows in the Mac Café at the Life Revitalization Center.
  • Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife – $14,800 to support the Fox Unit Trail improvement project.
  • Habitat for Humanity – Maumee Valley – $15,000 to purchase a box truck.
  • Hospice of Northwest Ohio – $6,114 to replace the gas range at the Toledo Center.  
  • Lutheran Social Services of Northwest Ohio – $10,855 to support the furnace replacement project.
  • Open Door Ministry – $14,000 to support the bathroom renovation project.
  • Sunshine Foundation, Inc. – $5,000 to support the Sunshine Homes renovation project.
  • The Cocoon – $25,000 to support the shelter renovation project.
  • The Victory Center – $10,000 to replace the HVAC system.
  • YWCA of Northwest Ohio – $75,000 to upgrade the facility’s electrical system.  
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