What Does Barberton Community Foundation Have to Do with a Children’s Book?

What Does Barberton Community Foundation Have to Do with a Children’s Book?

What does the Foundation have to do with a Children’s Book?

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director

Since starting my role as Executive Director in mid-January I have received a lot of excellent questions from people! Thank you, and please keep them coming! 

To boil down one common theme of questions into a single one is challenging, but my observation so far is that the most important question I’ve been asked is this: What – exactly – is a Foundation?  

I will explain the answer to that question by first sharing what a Foundation is not. A Foundation is not a bank.  

A bank holds money, lends money with interest (and requires it to be paid back), provides savings accounts, checking accounts, credit cards, small investment opportunities for small amounts of money, and more. A bank is for profit. That means all its activities are designed to make the bank more money. 

A Foundation is nonprofit. That means a Foundation is a charity, which may sound obvious to you. But being a charity means that a Foundation is bound by law (federal law, IRS, and Ohio law) to only grant money toward a defined – and legally approved – charitable purpose. That means all our activities (grants and scholarships) are designed to support the Barberton community. Our community is our cause.  

Barberton Community Foundation currently has 116 funds that our talented team is the caretaker of.  

The 116 number includes our “Principal Fund” or “Main Fund” or endowment. For ease of conversation, let’s call it the Main Fund.  

Our Main Fund is the original gift that funded the Foundation, $86M, plus the income earned from investment. The original money was invested over the past 27 years, and it is only a fraction of the proceeds from those investments that we are allowed to spend in grants and scholarships and operations. In other words, we cannot spend the $86M – only the proceeds from the investments of that $86M. 

The other 115 funds our team manages and takes care of are created by donors, people who have created their own fund with a specific charitable purpose for Barberton. These range from scholarships to funds that support food insecurity of our residents to education programs like Destination Imagination, and more.  

None of the 115 funds is even close to the size of our Main Fund.  

Imagine the Foundation as an orchard of apple trees. Orchards have trees of all different sizes. They all bear fruit!  

Our “orchard” at Barberton Community Foundation has one larger tree – our Main Fund – and many baby trees. The baby trees create a small but important amount of fruit to eat.  

The larger tree creates a lot more fruit. But the tree isn’t big enough yet to feed everyone!  

It is in this orchard analogy that I think it is easiest to understand what a Foundation is.  

Have you ever read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein?  

If not, please do. I know, I know… it’s a kid’s book. 

Here’s why you should read it. 

This book is a cautionary tale for how our Foundation’s Main Fund could be destroyed if we aren’t wise. 

In it, a boy (our community) discovers a large tree (the Main Fund). The tree just wants to help and support the boy. As the boy grows up, he asks different things of the tree. First, it’s to eat the fruit the tree makes. Then it’s to carve his initials into the tree with his girlfriend. Then he asks the tree for its branches to build something. Then the trunk. At the end, all that is left is a stump. The tree has given all it can, and it offers to be a stump to rest on for the boy, who is now an old man. 

It’s a sad tale when you think about how the tree could have given fruit forever, supporting the boy’s children and grandchildren.  

To bring our analogy back around to the Foundation and our Main Fund, we are required – by law – to only let people eat the fruit of the tree. We cannot give our branches or trunk.  

Giving fruit forever is not just our obligation, it is our duty and great responsibility!  

I hope this analogy is helpful. And check out The Giving Tree from the Barberton Public Library. It’s a great book. Once you’ve read it, I hope you will understand how important it is not just to protect our Main Fund “tree,” but to make this tree as BIG as it can possibly be.  

More on that next time.  

In Community,  

Josh Gordon 

Executive Director 

Barberton Community Foundation 


Foundation Awards $138k in Grants, Continues Support for Economic Development of Barberton

Foundation Awards $138k in Grants, Continues Support for Economic Development of Barberton

Foundation Awards $138k in Grants, Continues Support for Economic Development of Barberton

(March 21, 2024 Barberton, Ohio) – Barberton Community Foundation’s Board of Directors met at the Foundation’s office for a regular meeting on March 21, 2024 to approve $138,847.68 in grant funding to 13 nonprofit partners, affirmed a land swap deal to enhance the marketability of the Newell Street Industrial property, and provided second-year funding to the successful Main Street Barberton project.

“Between our various ongoing projects for economic development designed to improve our commercial building stock, and our continued grant investments in early childhood education resources and services, we are so excited to continue building momentum in the Barberton community,” said Josh Gordon, Executive Director of Barberton Community Foundation.

Guest Sheila McGhee, Director of Barberton Preschool, spoke at the beginning of the meeting as the “mission moment.” Barberton Preschool has grown significantly since its beginning in 2017 with 60 students. Today, 240 students attend Barberton Preschool, and these students test higher and are more prepared for kindergarten than their peers who do not attend Barberton Preschool.

Highlighted committee reports include the Foundation’s economic development. The Foundation is currently accepting applications for a Director of Economic Development, with an anticipated start date in May.

Updates for Newell Street Industrial Park

Work continues on the Newell Street Industrial Complex, also known as the old Rockwell site. The Board authorized Executive Director Josh Gordon to enter into an agreement with Barberton City Schools and the City of Barberton regarding a portion of land owned by the District on Norton Ave. The Foundation and the Schools agreed to a swap of the property, allowing for a road for industrial access off Norton, and keeping heavier traffic off Newell Street, where the Middle School utilizes their drop off and pick up locations.

Supporting Downtown Businesses through Main Street Barberton

The Board approved $50,000 in operating funding for Main Street Barberton. This funding is part of a three-year commitment and partnership with the City of Barberton to fund the startup of Main Street Barberton. The organization is working to revitalize downtown by promoting current businesses, hosting events to bring visitors to experience the Magic City, and serving as a key strategist for new development.

Continuing the Foundation’s partnership with Main Street Barberton, the organization will launch a new sign design program beginning April 1, 2024, and the application period closes May 15, 2024. Businesses’ signs that are out of compliance will now have an opportunity to update their signage through a 50% matching grant program in partnership with BCDC.

First Cycle Grants Awarded

The main business of the meeting was to approve requests from the first grant cycle of the year. The Foundation awarded $138,847.68 to 13 nonprofits focused on Education and Workforce & Economic Development programs.

Barberton City School District was awarded four different grants totaling $46,847.68. Those grants include:

  • $24,000 to Barberton Preschool’s Summer Learning Program, offering a 3-week learning experience in July to better prepare students for their kindergarten year. The program prioritizes Barberton resident children entering kindergarten in the fall. Through the Foundation’s support, this program is free to attend, and transportation will be provided. For more information, contact the Preschool.

  • $9,846.68 to support services provided to families in AMHA housing from Barberton City School District. For this program, the District will match funds from the Foundation to increase (from 2 days to 4 days per week) on-site after-school tutoring for resident students at AMHA homes, provide bimonthly parent meetings, transportation to open houses and conferences, as well as student transportation for Upward Bound programs. Special note: we recognize Phil Hodanbosi for writing this grant on behalf of the District.

  • $9,000 for Improving Attendance at Barberton Primary and Intermediate Schools. Funding for this program is used for parent education, postcards, and student incentives. Chronic absenteeism is a hidden problem in schools because students can miss days for many different reasons. In the 2022-2023 school year, 284 primary students missed 18 or more days and 230 intermediate students missed 18 or more days. When students miss school, they miss important foundational skills and lessons which can never be made up. The district is hoping to close the attendance gap.

  • $4,000 to Barberton Middle School for STEM Supplies. In 2023, the School District expanded its STEM offerings to all 6-8 grade students. The District purchased $120,000 of equipment in technology-based career areas so students can explore areas that fit their interests and skills. This funding provides support for the cost of consumables used throughout the year in these labs. Examples include wood, glue guns and glue, and small hand tools for the energy lab, suturing materials for the nursing lab, and electrical wiring materials for the home maintenance lab.

Limitless Ambition received $20,000 for their program Purposely Chosen Teen Programming in Barberton City Schools. Limitless Ambition works with young women to overcome boundaries to their success. This program will work with 50 girls ages 13-18 throughout the school year, highlighting social-emotional learning, demonstrating leadership, and providing strong role models to help these girls build confidence, dream big, and achieve their goals.

National Inventors Hall of Fame, Inc. received $15,000 for 2024 Camp Invention in Barberton. Camp Invention is a summer enrichment program for Barberton Primary and Intermediate students (grades K-6) with curricula focused on developing creativity, inventive thinking, and problem-solving skills through hands-on STEM content. Funding supports 185 Barberton students by underwriting costs for children to attend based on financial need.

Child Guidance & Family Solutions received $10,000 for their program Toddlers & Preschoolers Succeeding (TAPS) in Barberton. TAPS provides on-site training for preschool and childcare staff on how best to respond to challenging classroom behaviors and improve kindergarten readiness. The organization anticipates serving 262 preschoolers with this funding.

Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio received $10,000 to support its Troops in Low-Income Communities program. This grant supports operating expenses, memberships, uniforms, and supplies for 20 girls in grades K-8 to engage in 20-week after-school STEM-based programming through the Girl Scouts.

Great Trail Council of Boy Scouts of America was awarded $10,000 to support The Exploring Program for middle and high school students. The Exploring Program is a workforce development program focusing on 12 career path exploration opportunities through a partnership with Barberton community partners (local businesses, organizations, and occupational professionals) during the school day.

United Way of Summit & Medina received $10,000 for support of their Financial Empowerment Center. The Center estimates serving 200 residents through free financial empowerment programming, including one-on-one financial coaching, tax preparation and banking assistance.

Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio received $7,000 for its program called Inspiring Barberton Students through JA Programming. Program funding directly supports financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness programming for K-12th grade students in Barberton. These programs are designed to teach students how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs that make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to a workplace.

Service Corps of Retired Executives Association – SCORE Akron received $5,000 for community and workforce development programs. We know small businesses are essential to the economic health of our community, but finding support can be hard. Services through SCORE include mentoring and workshop programs for Barberton entrepreneurs interested in starting their own business or expanding their existing business.

Project Learn of Summit County was awarded $5,000 for providing GED classes at the Barberton Public Library and estimates they will support 25 Barberton residents studying for the GED exam. Project Learn provides literacy and lifelong learning services that help adults achieve their goals as family members, workers, community members and lifelong learners. Since 1981, it has provided free classes to more than 27,400 adults throughout Summit County.


About Barberton Community Foundation

Established in 1996, Barberton Community Foundation has awarded over 8,500 grants and scholarships totaling more than $109 million since its inception. The Foundation strives to improve, now and forever, the quality of life for Barberton residents by providing leadership on vital issues, fostering collaboration, and creating a legacy of giving to do good. The Foundation strengthens the community for current and future generations by proactively directing its grant dollars to the community’s greatest needs. To read more about Barberton Community Foundation visit www.barbertoncf.org or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/barbertoncommunityfoundation.


Community Found – How Executive Director Josh Gordon found his sense of Community in Barberton.

Community Found – How Executive Director Josh Gordon found his sense of Community in Barberton.

Community Found

New Leadership at Barberton Community Foundation

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director


A close up photo of Josh Gordon in a gray suit.

Josh Gordon, Executive Director

It is an honor to write my first article as the new Executive Director of Barberton Community Foundation.  

For those of you who I have not yet connected with, let me share with you why I love being in Barberton.  

Born in Columbus, Ohio, I moved 13 times before finally moving to my adopted hometown, Barberton. I grew up as a “corporate gypsy,” traveling from community to community while my father was in pursuit of the next rung on the corporate ladder. I lived in communities outside Columbus, Chicago, Atlanta, Chicago (again), Charlotte, and more.  

I’m actually thankful for having moved so much now that I’m an adult. But my gratitude mindset would not be possible without having discovered how incredible  Barberton is over 20 years ago. 

Here’s why. 

Growing up, I didn’t know what a “community” was. I was moving every 1-3 years from the time I was born! I never felt the benefit of having a long-time group of friends, or living in the same neighborhood, or even having teachers who all knew me and my family. I never understood what a gift that is!  

Thanks to living in Barberton, and the amazing people in this community, I now have the perspective to appreciate how lucky I am to be in the Magic City.

Who are some of those amazing people?  

I could give a long list – but I’ll start with my neighbors. 

The neighbors on my left built a pool a few years ago and are kind enough to invite my family – including all 4 of my kids – over to swim whenever we want. How nice is that?  

My two neighbors across the street are also awesome. One is the teacher who has taught English language arts to two of my four kids (so far). Her husband is super smart, kind, and really good at disc golf. My other neighbor is a helpful man with a wonderful family… I often joke that he is “the man of the house” at my house because he can fix anything. He also teaches me a lot without even knowing it, like how to be a great neighbor by shoveling someone else’s driveway when they get busy with life. How kind and caring are these folks?  

On the other side is a family who has a daughter the same age as my youngest and they play together when it’s warm. Her parents are so kind when my daughter hangs out with them, giving her snacks. Why? Because they are loving people!  

During COVID, we talked a lot, (at a distance, of course!) as our lives weren’t as busy . Somehow keeping our distance in the world at that time managed to make us all closer as neighbors.  

I know if I ever need help or support, these folks would rally around me and my family.  

Plus, my in-laws live three blocks away. My family of six has eaten more of their food than is fair. But they welcome it. 

My best friends live six blocks away. Their backyard is our family’s oasis in the summer. Our kids are growing up together and are close friends, too.  

With all of my moves, I never once experienced the type of kindness and caring and connection that Barberton just “does” naturally.  

And all I had to do to “earn” everyone’s kindness and friendship was simply to live in Barberton!  

Here we root for each other. And we shrug off the doubters who make fun of our community,because we know how special it is. If only those doubters had the humility to come experience how great Barberton is.  

Again, I’ve moved 13 times. I’ve experienced a lot of communities and neighbors. The Barberton experiences I describe here are NOT common in the world. These neighbors, these friends, this magic – is rare. My experiences have taught me that Barberton is the exception, not the rule, as a community.  

In history class, my kids learned the “Magic City” got its name from its tremendous economic growth in the early 20th Century.  

But I know the real truth behind our nickname. The “Magic” in our city is the people and how much they care for and look out for one another.

How fortunate are we to be here?  

Barberton has another amazing gift – a Foundation that received an original gift of $86 million in 1996.  

In my new role as Executive Director of Barberton Community Foundation, I get to work with others to take care of this gift and grow it to make sure it is providing as many opportunities as possible for our residents. Those opportunities come in the form of supporting nonprofits that serve our community, our School District, our City government, and our business community.  

Our team and board will continue to work hard to create the most positive impact for the most people here. 

I have been described as someone who has “a lot of energy” and passion for Barberton. Why? Because I know how special it is. My job now is to work hard to help make it a place where everyone feels lucky enough to live, learn, work, play, visit, and experience the Magic City.  

And I will need your help.  

To start – I’d like to connect! I have heard people have questions about the Foundation, and I’m happy to answer them all. I’d love to meet you at our upcoming Meet and Greet event on March 8 from 4-6pm at Kave.  

If you ask a question I don’t yet have the answer to, I’ll find the answer and follow up with you. That’s what we do for each other here in Barberton!  

I look forward to meeting you, serving you, and building Barberton together!  

In community, 

Josh Gordon


Meet & Greet

Like what you read about Josh? The Foundation is hosting a Meet & Greet with Josh Gordon on Friday, March 8 from 4-6pm at Kave Coffee Bar. Join us!

Community Found – How Executive Director Josh Gordon found his sense of Community in Barberton.

Welcome from the Director

Welcome From the Director


A close up photo of Josh Gordon in a gray suit.

Josh Gordon, Executive Director

I write this having recently completed my first week serving as the Foundation’s Executive Director. This position comes with many responsibilities – and opportunities. Rather than listing them all for you, I’d like to publicly extend the commitment I’ve already made to our Board of Directors.

To the city, school district, nonprofit community of Barberton, fund holders, donors, grant partners, business community, and residents of Barberton: my door is open to you!

My experiences in business, government, and nonprofit leadership have taught me that trust is earned through transparency and a sincere willingness to listen and learn. I have always believed in being persistently curious and asking questions (without a fear of looking silly)! I encourage everyone to share their curiosities with me.

I am interested in learning what you’re curious about when it comes to the Foundation. What have you heard about us but would like to verify? What are you curious about, but never asked? What is your question about how the Foundation works? Ask away! Please email me at jgordon@barbertoncf.org. Or, if you see me around town at a Magics’ Basketball games, Kave getting a cup of coffee, leaving a movie at Lake 8, getting a bite to eat at Remarkable Diner – or anywhere – stop and say hi and tell me what you’d like to know. If I don’t have an answer on the spot, I’ll get one and follow up with you.

Something I learned about the Foundation in my first week as Executive Director is that I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many people who care deeply about building our community. The kindness and warmth of the team, the Board, the Friends of the Foundation group, officials from the City and school district, have all made me feel welcome and supported.

Their kindness is appreciated, as we have a lot of important work to do together.

This year will continue our focus in economic development, building on the work that has begun in that area. The Foundation has many projects either actively underway or under consideration right now.

We also have work to do in how we share what we do with the community. I believe that the more everyone understands about how the Foundation gets money, how we grow the money we have, and how we give it away to charitable organizations and important projects, the more impact our resources will have.

We are all about impact here at BCF. The question we ask ourselves is: What can we do to have the most positive impact for the most people in Barberton?

Whether you have questions or ideas, I’d love to hear them.



Josh Gordon

Executive Director 


Foundation announces 2023 Arts and Community Grants

Foundation announces 2023 Arts and Community Grants

Barberton Community Foundation’s Board of Directors met at Summa Health – Barberton Campus on Thursday, November 17, 2023, for a regular meeting of the board. The focus of the meeting was approving the last grant cycle of 2023, featuring arts and community programs. The Foundation approved funding $93,375 to five area organizations including the Barberton City School District and the City of Barberton Parks and Recreation.

Barberton City School District received funding for two programs totaling $33,375. Bringing Barberton History to Life received $19,375. Barberton 3rd-grade students receive local history lessons as part of their social studies class. The school is working to update their curriculum with a new book on Barberton history and aligning it with Ohio’s Learning Standards. Students also receive a bus tour of the city and a tour of O.C. Barber’s Piggery as part of their class.

The school’s second program, called Refining Music Skills, received $14,000. The program requests support for funding skilled performance musicians to work with student percussion instrumentalists and advanced ensemble students at Barberton Middle School and Barberton High School. Their goal is to provide additional expert instruction to music students to improve skills and performance at band competitions and to inspire middle school students to continue with the orchestra once they enter high school.

The City of Barberton’s Parks and Recreation department received $15,000 to provide support toward the city’s programming, festivals and events including: “Day at the Park” youth programs, the senior fair and senior van trips, movie nights in the park and summer concert series.

Magical Theatre Company received $25,000 for their program called PACT (Performing Arts Can Teach). PACT provides meaningful live theatre experiences for Barberton students in grades 1,3,5,7,9, and 12. Students in these grades will take field trips to Magical Theatre Company performances. The program provides Teacher-Student Study Guides that tie into their current curriculum. Additionally, all grades in Barberton Primary and Barberton Intermediate will have professional theatre experiences at their school via touring productions.

Habitat for Humanity received $10,000 toward their 2024 Neighborhood Reborn event, which works to clean up, revitalize and transform a neighborhood in Barberton over the course of two days. This program expects to work with 45 residents, who will see direct impact on their neighborhood through tangible home and yard improvements as well as increased civic pride, improved public amenities, and an improved neighborhood perception of safety.

Barberton Diamond Sports received $10,000 to overhaul one of their baseball/softball fields and to assist in scholarships for players to alleviate expenses for families. Barberton Diamond Sports offers spring and fall baseball and softball seasons with 7 baseball teams, 4 softball teams and 4 tee ball teams, serving Barberton youth 5-14 years old and their families.