Letter from the Director: Suzanne Allen, Ph.D. Discusses Needs Assessment

Letter from the Director: Suzanne Allen, Ph.D. Discusses Needs Assessment

A Note on the Needs Assessment

From Suzanne Allen Ph.D., executive director of Barberton Community Foundation

By now you have heard about, or participated in, the needs assessment that Barberton Community Foundation and our partners facilitated at the beginning of the year. In the coming weeks, we are releasing the executive summary of those findings and considering how the assessment informs our strategic planning for the future.

I want to thank our board of directors for supporting the survey, along with our three partners, Jeff Ramnytz at Barberton City Schools, Dr. Michael Hughes at Summa Health – Barberton Campus, and Mayor Bill Judge with the City of Barberton for their collaboration on this effort.

I would also like to thank Measurement Resources Company (MRC), who conducted the community-wide survey, held focus groups and produced the final report and recommendations.

Why did we facilitate this survey and what do we hope to accomplish with the data we have received?

At the conclusion of 2021, Barberton Community Foundation completed our final payment on the construction of Barberton High School. For the past 20 years, the majority of our granting capacity has been tied to the high school’s debt payment. Now that this responsibility has concluded, we can turn our attention to other needs in the community. In order to do that, our plan is to identify what those needs really are.

The Foundation had three key questions for the needs assessment to examine. What strengths and challenges exist in Barberton? How do different elements of the community influence each other and contribute to the broader story of need? Where is the City of Barberton and the Foundation best positioned to make a real impact on quality of life in Barberton?

We found that Barberton community members value Barberton as a small-town and a family-oriented community with history and opportunity. However, adults and youth reported challenges with the social climate in Barberton, some difficulty in finding adequate opportunities for employment and voiced concerns over the condition of roads and sidewalks. Despite these concerns, there is a strong desire to see, and assist with, growth and improvements in Barberton.

One focus group participant said, “People who grew up here, live here, work here, take pride in being from here. There are a lot of people who step up and want to see the city get better due to that hometown pride.”

The Foundation is going to utilize this data to help us build our strategic framework for 2023 and in the future. The executive summary of this needs assessment report lists the strengths and top needs identified by the research and will be available on our website (www.barbertoncf.org) in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in a deeper conversation about the findings in the needs assessment, please contact me at (330) 745-5995.

Partners Discuss Barberton Community Needs Assessment Report

Partners Discuss Barberton Community Needs Assessment Report

Partners Discuss Needs Assessment Report

At the start of the year, four agencies – Barberton Community Foundation, the City of Barberton, Barberton City School District and Summa Health System – commissioned a community needs assessment for Barberton. Now, they are set to release the report’s executive summary to the public in the coming weeks.

Barberton Community Foundation introduced the needs assessment as an important piece in future planning. “As a collective, we wanted to know Barberton’s top needs at the community and individual levels,” said Dr. Suzanne Allen, executive director of Barberton Community Foundation. “The Foundation is assessing our strategic goals for the next several years, and we need reliable data to help us make informed decisions.”

Measurement Resources Company (MRC), an organizational development and research firm headquartered in Powell, Ohio, was selected to conduct a city-wide survey, engage focus groups and deliver data-driven results to questions designed to identify needs, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities within the city.

“MRC partners with nonprofit organizations and government agencies in leading community-level data collection efforts, and then synthesizes and analyzes that data,” said Sheri Chaney Jones, president, MRC. “We used a mixed methods approach for this community needs assessment so that we could engage and incorporate the voices of more than 1,100 individuals throughout the Barberton community. By providing community members a mechanism to offer confidential and structured feedback about their perceptions of Barberton, the community helped to identify the greatest challenges that Barberton faces, as well as its top opportunities and attributes.”

Barberton residents and workers identified their top strengths and values as “high appreciation” for parks and natural resources; a sense of shared history and culture; a high degree of pro-social attitudes emphasizing community, support and a high valuation of family; a stable population with large numbers of mid-life and work-age adults; strong K-12 school system with perceived high attendance; and a perception that healthcare services are useful for children and mothers along with recent improvements in mental health treatment resources.

Identified challenges were condensed into four top categories such as improvements to road conditions and sidewalks; a need for increased financial stability; greater collaboration and trust between residents, current or prospective business owners and city leadership; and greater diversity and inclusion for people of color, single mothers and individuals of different ages and abilities with respect to Barberton’s social dynamics and recreational opportunities.

The data was collected from February 15 to April 30, 2022 and was targeted toward people who live and/or work in Barberton. More than 1,100 surveys were completed using both online and paper survey formats. Twelve focus groups met representing local business owners, community members of minority race and/or ethnicity groups, low-income households, social services providers, Fire/EMS personnel, parents of children with disabilities, older adults and others. Secondary data from additional sources like the American Community Survey, County Health Rankings and the U.S. Census supplemented MRC’s methodology.

Mayor Bill Judge, City of Barberton, said that the top needs did not come as a surprise, and thanked MRC for the report. “I’m grateful to have a third party review our biggest needs as a city,” he said. “It comes as no surprise to residents that road conditions and infrastructure are top concerns, and we already have plans underway as we continue to work to address these concerns.”  Mayor Judge concluded that the strengths found in the study reflect what makes Barberton unique. “The people of Barberton really believe in and value this community. Barberton pride is real. Seeing that reflected in the survey gives me hope we can overcome our challenges.”

Dr. Michael Hughes, president of the Summa Health System – Barberton Campus, said it is encouraging to see the strengths of the community reflected in the study. “There are many qualities that make our city great, and the needs assessment is an important tool to help us better understand how to continue to grow our community,” he said. “At Summa, we are very focused on providing not only outstanding healthcare, but also opportunities for meaningful employment on our Barberton campus and across the organization.”

Since the beginning of his tenure as president of the campus, Dr. Hughes has prioritized keeping the Barberton campus engaged and active within the community. “It’s part of our commitment to being a good community partner,” he said. “From the individual level, where each of our employees is encouraged to volunteer in the community, to the organizational level where we are at the table supporting City initiatives, we are focused on collaboration and building on the many attributes that attract people who want to live, work and raise a family here.” He hopes his approach will contribute to a growing population that puts roots in Barberton.

Barberton City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ramnytz shared the sentiments of many regarding the partnership of four Barberton entities, saying, “The needs assessment is a very important baseline to gauge how our citizens feel about our community.  Barberton is a very special place. I’ve never seen in any other place a greater collaborative and supportive nature between the city, the schools, the local hospital, the Foundation, the business community and our citizens.”

He added, “In the Barberton City Schools, we have many opportunities for our children and families. We have amazing staff members, programming, support systems, and connections with businesses that provide good paying career pathways.  Our hope, as always, is for our students and families to take advantage of what we have to offer.”

Barberton Community Foundation, the City of Barberton, Barberton City School District and Summa Health System will take this survey results into consideration for each organization’s strategic planning.

Foundation Welcomes First Director of Economic Development

Foundation Welcomes First Director of Economic Development

Ted Herncane joins Barberton Community Foundation in June 

Dr. Suzanne Allen, Executive Director of Barberton Community Foundation, announced the Foundation will be welcoming Ted Herncane as the Foundation’s first Director of Economic Development.

“This is quite unique in the community foundation world,” Suzanne said. “This new position is possible because of the strength of the Foundation and the needs of the community. It presents an opportunity to work in greater partnership with BCDC and the City of Barberton to better focus on the challenges and possibilities with Barberton businesses.”

As the new Director of Economic Development, Ted Herncane will help the Foundation support current businesses, welcome new business, convene and facilitate conversations that leverage partnerships and investments in downtown Barberton and its corridors.

The duties outlined for the new role include:

  • planning and coordination of community and economic development projects
  • work with regional economic development associations to enhance the viability of Barberton
  • assist in the creation of economic development plans, gather research, and make recommendations to Foundation partners.

Building stronger economic development partnerships was the focus of the Foundation’s Board of Directors most recent strategic plan.

Josh Gordon, Board Chair of Barberton Community Foundation, shared that the Foundation recognizes there are real economic needs in the community, including strengthening Barberton’s tax base and attracting successful businesses. 

“The Foundation hopes this needed role will put resources and talent behind our broader goals for developing the City’s economy and will supercharge our collaborations with the City of Barberton and BCDC. Our desire is to foster partnerships that result in impactful projects, and helping a variety of businesses to discover the great culture and community we have here in Barberton.”

Ted Herncane brings almost 10 years of public and private sector economic development experience working for the City of Massillon as Community Development Director, Executive Director of the Massillon Development Foundation, and President of the Massillon WestStark Chamber of Commerce. He currently works as the Director of Business Development for CIVPRO Engineering, a civil engineering firm located in Canton.

Suzanne added, “Ted brings the professional expertise and focus necessary to this new position, and we look forward to him joining our team.”

Ted will begin his new role at Barberton Community Foundation this June.