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Greater Toledo Community Foundation and The Blade, in partnership with The Center for Nonprofit Resources, The Andersons, Waterford Bank, Eidi Family Foundation and WTVG-13abc, are happy to announce the 13th Annual Northwest Ohio Nonprofit Excellence Award winners, recognizing local nonprofit organizations that stand out for their contributions to our community. 

The 2023 Northwest Ohio Nonprofit Excellence Awards presentation took place at The Pinnacle in Maumee on Thursday, October 26th.  

 A panel of judges selected the following three organizations to receive recognition at this year’s ceremony:

  • Excellence in Collaborative Programming: So All May Eat Café (SAME Café)
  • Excellence in Organizational Operations: Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo
  • Excellence in Strategic Action: TutorSmart

In addition to being recognized as a leader among northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan’s nonprofits, these winning organizations receive a $7,500 unrestricted grant from Greater Toledo Community Foundation; a $1,000 unrestricted grant from The Andersons; free half-page ad in The Blade; and a one-of-a-kind blown glass art creation by local glass artist Shawn Messenger.

Pictured L-R, Kurt Franck, President/General Manager and Executive Editor, The Toledo Blade; Tiffany Adamski, Executive Director, TutorSmart; Rori Quinonez, Executive Director, SAME Café; Stephen A. Rothschild, Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Federation of Toledo; Rick Russell, President and CEO, Hospice of Northwest; and Keith Burwell, President and CEO, Greater Toledo Community Foundation

In recognition of Greater Toledo Community Foundation’s 50th Anniversary, a new award was announced for this year only – the 2023 Golden Anniversary Nonprofit Excellence Award. All previous innovation and excellence award winners since this program’s inception (covering 12 years) were invited to apply for a chance to win a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Six finalists for this award were chosen by a committee of GTCF board and staff, and all present at this year’s ceremony voted for the organization that exhibited the most impact and innovation in their programming and partnerships in the community. 

The winner of the 2023 Golden Anniversary Nonprofit Excellence Award is Hospice of Northwest Ohio. Receiving the award on behalf of the organization was President and CEO, Rick Russell. In the forty years since Hospice of Northwest Ohio began operations, the organization has increased its annual number of patients served from 90 to more than 2,300. Two inpatient hospice units, the first of their kind in northwest Ohio, offer a home-like setting with wooded views, family rooms and comfortable places for families to gather and spend their final hours with loved ones, while staff and volunteers provide around the clock medical care. 

About Our 2023 Nonprofit Excellence Award Winners

(These are the three finalists in each category; the winner of each is in bold)

  • Excellence in Collaborative Programming
    • So All May Eat Café (SAME Café)
    • Stroke Life Center
    • Zepf Center
  • Excellence in Organizational Operations
    • Avenues for Autism
    • The 577 Foundation
    • Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo 
  • Excellence in Strategic Action
    • Autism Model School
    • The Fair Housing Center
    • TutorSmart

Excellence in Collaborative Programming

So All May Eat Café’
SAME Café opened in 2022 in collaboration with the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. SAME Café is an innovative participation-based restaurant located in the downtown main library, providing access to healthy food in a community setting where people can be nourished with dignity while contributing what they can — such as time, money or produce — to the operation of the café.

SAME Café’s supportive approach helps people overcome the financial and logistical challenges of accessing healthful food and, for some, through job training, achieve housing and employment stability.

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Excellence in Organizational Operations

The Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo. This organization creates programs within the Jewish community between and among congregations including interfaith efforts, social action and meeting broad community needs. Their programs and services aim to enhance the health, welfare, education and cultural awareness of the entire Jewish community.  Since 2022, it has made over 65 grants totaling nearly $85,000 to local secular charities. They support the communities in which they live.   

                                                                                                               * * *

Excellence in Strategic Action

TutorSmart Toledo was founded based on research by Greater Toledo Community Foundation, Toledo Public Schools and Lourdes University.  TutorSmart’s goal was to find out why Toledo was not seeing a rise in education scores despite more than 120 organizations reporting to tutor across the city.

The study showed that most of what was being called tutoring was really homework help. Although that is beneficial to kids and families, it does not address the underlying skill deficits in a strategic way that promotes mastery. TutorSmart’s goals are to change this to lift the scores and improve tutoring of students in Greater Toledo.

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About Greater Toledo Community Foundation

Greater Toledo Community Foundation is a public charitable organization created by citizens of our community to enrich the quality of life for individuals and families in our area. In existence since 1973, the Foundation has more than 950 funds with assets of approximately $379 million. The Foundation provides philanthropic services for individuals, families, businesses and corporations to meet their charitable giving needs. For more information about Greater Toledo Community Foundation, visit or follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

The mission of The Center for Nonprofit Resources is to ensure nonprofit organizations in our region have the information and resources required to operate in an efficient and effective manner. For further information about The Center, visit  or contact Milva Valenzuela Wagner, Director, at [email protected].

Background on Awards

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.

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.

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 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. 

Past Award Recipients

Note: Award Categories Changed in 2022:

Excellence in Collaborative Programming
Connecting Kids to Meals (2022)

Excellence in Organizational Operations
Adopt America Network (2022)

Excellence in Strategic Action
Children’s Theatre Workshop of Toledo (2022)

 Awards Prior to 2022:

Nonprofit Innovation
Unison Behavioral Health Group (2011)
Bittersweet Farms (2012)  
The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo (2013) 
Shared Lives Studio / Lott Industries (2014)
Imagination Station (2015)
Advocating Opportunity, Inc. (2016)
A Renewed Mind (2017)
Center of Hope Family Services (2018)
Neighborhood Properties (2019)
Midstory (2020)
Valentine Theatre (2021)

Nonprofit Excellence – Small Organization
Read for Literacy, Inc. (2011)
Beach House Family Shelter (2012)
Toledo/Lucas County CareNet (2013)
Water for Ishmael (2014)
Black Swamp Conservancy (2015)
Diabetes Youth Services (2016)
Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism (2017)
Leadership Toledo (2018)
Lucas County CASA (2019)
Baby University (2020)
Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (2021)

Nonprofit Excellence – Large Organization
Hospice of Northwest Ohio (2011)                             
Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. and
Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc.  (2012)
East Toledo Family Center (2013)
Cherry Street Mission Ministries (2014)
Family & Child Abuse Prevention Center (2015)
Catholic Club (2016)
Thomas M. Wernert Center (2017)
Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo (2018)
Habitat for Humanity-Maumee Valley (2019)
Bittersweet Farms (2020)
The Victory Center (2021)

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