Eras, Barberton Community Foundation Edition

Eras, Barberton Community Foundation Edition

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

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director

Another question I get a lot right now is about the Foundation’s endowment – our Main Fund, or the “tree” in The Giving Tree analogy I used in my last column. How big is it, how much can we spend (not as much as you think), etc.

I’m still new in my leadership role at the Foundation, so I love to hear these questions. I also love to research and work on how to answer them well. Part of my initial work overall is to analyze the Foundation, its history and future.

What I discovered is that understanding the Main Fund is the same as understanding the Foundation itself.

The best way to understand most things is to put numbers to them. Since the Main Fund is – by law – to last “in perpetuity,” a timeline seemed like a smart starting point. Rather than generate a timeline designed to capture the past and the unknown of “forever” I chose to focus on what’s happened so far, and what the next 2 stages of the Foundation are.

While still a young 27 years old, Barberton Community Foundation has experienced two clear “eras” so far – an era being a period of history with a particular feature or characteristic.  

Start Up Era

Like anything new, there is always a “start-up” era. The Foundation’s Start Up Era was 1996 – 1999. This era was defined by determining the first board of directors, trying to find a leader and staff, finding a building, and more. It is hard to start up any type of organization as there is a great deal to coordinate. Having been part of 2 start-up organizations, I can vouch for the long hours and grit needed to solve surprise challenges. In addition to typical start-up challenges, determining how to fulfill the initial promises of the Foundation (building a new high school, creating an Active Adult Center) were also mapped out in this era.

Spending Era

The next era in our timeline is the Spending Era, from 2000 (post-Start Up Era) to now, ending this year. The Spending Era is defined by literally paying for the promises that were made to create the Foundation – including the grand total of $58M for the new Barberton High School and $4.7M for the Active Adult Center. A small sample of some additional projects include Foundation Fields, the YMCA, the Barberton Sports Complex, over $2M in grants to Barberton Parks and Recreation, and more. Plus, the Foundation provides funding for a total of 36 scholarships now, most of which are multi-year awards. This is all work the Foundation has done, not even including the funds and scholarships that donors have set up to help with other Foundation-aligned, community-specific needs.

In total, the Foundation has 116 total funds currently and has granted $109M+ since the beginning – so far.

All of that is “part 1” of the Spending Era. Part 2 is about establishing stricter spending constraints.

You may be wondering “why would there be any constraints on spending?”

Because the tough truth is, while all of the spending was worthwhile, it was also very hard to accomplish. The Foundation is not a bottomless pit of money, forever! Though, I’m sure we’d all agree that would be nice. By law the Foundation must have an impact in Barberton “in perpetuity” – meaning, forever.

The result of the Spending Era is the Foundation maximized what was possible to spend on a variety of amazing projects – the tradeoff was not saving any money to build our Main Fund for big, future projects.

The consequence of the Spending Era is the Foundation must spend years building our main endowment back up. And until it is built up, the Board will face hard choices about which projects it is able to support in the community.

What does that mean for the future of the Foundation?

I envision two new eras on the horizon.

The second era is exciting – the Transformational Impact Era! What does that mean? It means this era will have the Foundation positioned to put as much as $7M into the community every single year! That amount of money to grant exclusively in Barberton means we can transform our community in big and exciting ways.

It means it is possible to take on large projects again, to transform what is possible with scholarships (imagine full tuition scholarships!), help the business community (through our partnerships) so businesses can easily expand and grow, support the incredible work of our school district in workforce development, attract more amazing businesses to town, and more. I’m personally excited for the day when these ideas can be the basis of strategic planning. 

To have that much money available to grant and invest in the community, our Main Fund would need to be around $250M. This is the price of becoming transformational.

As of Q1 2024, we are only at $94M. We can only spend a small percent of that.

Based on the numbers, it is clear that we aren’t ready for the Transformational Impact Era to begin. We need to prepare for it.

That means our next era is the Build Up Era. To be in a position to be transformational, we need to build our Main Fund up to the level required to do that job. There is still money to grant, scholarships to be handed out, and plenty of good to be done. We will deliver as much as we can.

We must also understand that the Build Up Era will be defined by doing as much as we can, which may not be as much as everyone hopes for. We may face some hard, unpopular choices.

The possible criticism is worthwhile to endure if transformational impact is possible on the other side. It will take discipline, grit, and creativity to ensure that the Foundation continues to make a difference in the lives of our residents now, and forever. It is a challenge. But our team, and our board, is ready.

Please keep these questions coming to me! Or tell me what transformational projects you’re excited about – I’m keeping a list. Email me at

In Community,  

Josh Gordon 

Executive Director 

Barberton Community Foundation 

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 


Eras, Barberton Community Foundation Edition

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!

Eras, Barberton Community Foundation Edition

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 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 


Job Posting for Main Street Barberton

Job Posting for Main Street Barberton

Barberton Community Foundation Logo

Job Posting for Main Street Barberton

Main Street Barberton was established in late 2022 through Heritage Ohio’s flagship Main Street programming. This position will be the first executive director for this organization, and we are very excited to bring new energy to downtown Barberton. Read the press release about the creation of Main Street Barberton to learn more about the organization.

Title: Executive Director

Reports to: Board of Directors

Status: Full Time, Salary $50-60,000 commensurate with experience, health insurance stipend available. Availability for evening meetings as required and off hours, including weekends.

How to Apply

Applications are due by Friday, March 31 at 4:00pm. Send your cover letter, resume and references to and address your letter to Denny Liddle, Main Street Barberton Board Chair.

For questions, please contact Barberton Community Foundation at 330-745-5995.


Download this job description.

Job Summary

The Executive Director is the principal on-site staff person charged with developing, organizing, implementing, and documenting the Main Street approach in downtown Barberton, OH. The Executive Director will be responsible for reinvigorating downtown through managing relations with and focusing the work of business owners, property owners, committee members, and volunteers to accomplish the goals and objectives of the annual work plan.

Essential Duties

Coordinate activity of the Main Street program committees.

  • ensuring that communication between committees is well established
  • assist committees with implementation of work plan items (i.e., membership development, fundraising, etc.)
  • and communicate outcomes to the community

Manage all administrative aspects of the Main Street program.

  • including maintaining an appropriate data system for record keeping, purchasing, budget development and some bookkeeping
  • preparing all reports required by the state Main Street program on a monthly basis
  • assisting with the preparation of reports to funding agencies
  • and supervising interns, volunteers, and/or consultants when appropriate

Develop, in conjunction with the Main Street program’s committees, strategies for downtown economic development utilizing the community’s human and economic resources.

  • become familiar with all persons and groups directly or indirectly involved in the downtown area and encourage involvement
  • act as the liaison between the downtown constituency and all entities involved with downtown issues and solutions
  • mindful of the roles of various downtown interest groups, assist the Main Street committees in executing an annual action plan for implementing a downtown development program focused on four areas: design, promotion, organization, and economic restructuring
  • become knowledgeable with all programs available through other local agencies (City of Barberton, BCDC, Barberton Community Foundation) to maximize the impact of the main street program for its members.

Develop and conduct ongoing public awareness and education programs designed to enhance appreciation of the downtown’s architecture and other assets and to foster an understanding of the Main Street program’s goals and objectives.

  • through speaking engagements, media interviews, and appearances keep the program highly visible in the community

Assess the management capacity of major downtown organizations.

  • encourage improvements in the downtown community’s ability to undertake joint activities such as promotional events, advertising, uniform store hours, special events, business recruitment, parking management and so on
  • provide advice and information on successful downtown management
  • encourage a cooperative climate between downtown interests and local public officials

Help build strong and productive working relationships with appropriate public agencies at the local and state levels.

Utilizing the Main Street program format, develop and maintain data systems to track the process and progress of the local Main Street program.

  • these systems should include economic monitoring, individual building files, thorough photographic documentation of all physical changes and information on job creation and business retention

Represent the community at the local, state, and national levels to important constituencies.

  • speak effectively on the program’s directions and findings, always mindful of the need to improve state and national economic development policies as they relate to smaller communities

Other duties as assigned.

Job Knowledge and Skills Required

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The Executive Director should have education and/or experience in one or more of the following areas: nonprofit administration, marketing, fundraising, economics, finance, public relations, design, journalism, planning, business administration, public administration, retailing, volunteer coordination, or small business development. The Executive Director must be sensitive to design and preservation issues. The Executive Director must understand the issues confronting downtown businesspeople, property owners, public agencies, and community organizations. The Executive Director must be entrepreneurial, energetic, imaginative, well organized, and capable of functioning effectively in a very independent situation. Basic mathematical and computer skills are essential. Supervisory skills are desirable. Excellent communication skills, including verbal, written, and public speaking are desired as well as interpersonal skills, including coalition building, ability to build relationships with diverse populations.

Physical Demands

The Executive Director will be expected to represent the organization at functions, meetings, events, and programs at the local, state, and national levels. Must be able to work some evenings and weekends. The employee must have a valid driver’s license.

Work Environment

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • General office environment

This job description does not list all duties of the job. You may be asked by the leadership team to perform other instructions and duties. You will be evaluated in part based on your performance of the tasks listed in this job description.

The Board of Directors has the right to revise this job description at any time. The job description is not a contract for employment, and either you or the employer may terminate employment at any time, for any reason.

How to Apply

Applications are due by Friday, March 31 at 4:00pm.

Send your cover letter, resume and references to and address your letter to Denny Liddle, Main Street Barberton Board Chair.

For questions, please contact Barberton Community Foundation at 330-745-5995.

Additional Information:

It is Main Street Barberton’s  policy that, as required by law, equal employment opportunities be available to all persons without regard to race, sex, age, color, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, citizenship status, genetic information, veteran status, or any other category protected under state or local law.