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 or follow us on Facebook at


Bringing the History of Barberton to Life

Bringing the History of Barberton to Life

Barberton Community Foundation funds grant to Schools for local author to write new book for third grade local history curriculum

Barberton is a town with a rich history and many stories. Some of those stories will soon be collected by local author Conrad Storad and shared in a new book with third grade students in Barberton City School District as part of their updated social studies and local history curriculum.

“Currently, our students are using a version of the History of Barberton that is 15 years old and no longer captures the depth of what our students need to learn,” explained Phil Hodanbosi, Instructional Coach for Barberton City Schools. “We needed an update.”

Dr. Shelly Habegger, Director of Curriculum, knew who to call. “The schools have a great relationship with Conrad Storad. We’re lucky to have such a gifted author in our community,” she said.

Conrad Storad, the self-proclaimed ‘edutainer,’ was thrilled to be awarded the contract. “I was all in from the very beginning,” he said. “In my books, I teach science and history through storytelling.”

Storad is the award-winning author or editor of more than 60 science and nature books for children and young adults. He received an IRWIN Award as Storyteller of the Year in 2018 from the Book Publicists of Southern California and a recent book, Story Monsters Among Us, won the Outstanding Creator Award as Best Children’s Book for 2023.

Storad grew up in Barberton, earned the nickname “Top,” and graduated from Barberton High School, class of 1975. He then earned a BA in mass media communication from the University of Akron and completed his master’s degree in in mass communication/science journalism from Arizona State University. Storad lived much of his career in Arizona, returning to Barberton with his wife, Laurie, to be closer to family.

“Kids can relate to someone who grew up here.” Hodanbosi said, “We’re really looking forward to working with him. He knows our history, but more than that, he has a passion for it. Conrad has always been successful in bringing scientific and historic information to kids in an engaging way.”

Conrad shared that he likes to write for third grade students because they’re just learning to read on their own. “Stories are fun, they resonate and stick in your mind. I want to do a fun story about Barberton that will stick with them better than a list of facts.”

“What I’ve done in past books is to create a narrator to tell the story. My narrators are usually animals,” he said. “So, I started thinking about what kind of animal I wanted to narrate this story. Bob Snyder showed me a photo of O.C. Barber with his dogs at the Wishing Well, and some of those trees are still there. I see all kinds of squirrels running around the wishing well. Fun squirrels. Wacky squirrels.”

“And so I decided on a squirrel as a narrator, telling the story of his 35 generations removed ancestor, that was around during O.C. Barber’s time,” he said.

The book will have to span numerous subjects. The overarching theme of Grade Three Social Studies is, ‘Communities: Past and Present, Near and Far’ with the curriculum outline reading: The local community serves as the focal point for third grade as students begin to understand how their communities have changed over time and to make comparisons with communities in other places. The study of local history comes alive through the use of artifacts and documents. They also learn how communities are governed and how the local economy is organized.

“There’s a lot to cover,” said Storad. “Geography and how Lake Anna was formed, for example. Local history is not just recent history. It’s the ice age and the native people that were here, then the founding of Barberton. It will be an overview of the prehistoric past, near past, present, and a little bit of the future, too.”

The book will be 40 pages, with an appendix that includes Barberton’s Walk of Fame and Academic Hall of Fame. “Let’s pique their curiosity,” Storad said. “Encourage them to find out about this person from Barberton, who were they and what did they do?”

Storad is working with the schools to have the book ready for printing in time for the 2024 fall school year. Barberton has about 250 third grade students each year. As an addition to the book and the curriculum, these students also take a bus tour of the city and visit O.C. Barber’s Piggery.  

“This will be something we can take pride in as a community and will impact our students for potentially the rest of their lives.” said Hodanbosi. “Thank you to Barberton Community Foundation for supporting this project and making this partnership possible.”

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.

Foundation Announces 2023 Health and Wellness Grants

Foundation Announces 2023 Health and Wellness Grants

 Barberton Community Foundation’s Board of Directors met on July 20, for their regular meeting. The board approved 14 grants to area nonprofits focusing on health and wellness initiatives for Barberton. Total funding for this cycle is $139,500.


1. Victim Assistance Program was awarded $25,000 to support their 2024 Barberton Advocacy Program. This program supports 300 Barberton residents who have been personally impacted by crime, violence and trauma, as well as 300 additional clients from surrounding communities who utilize the Barberton Municipal Court.  

2.  AxessPointe Community Health Centers received $25,000 to update equipment at the Barberton location on Robinson Ave and in the mobile unit. Equipment includes an EKG, vitals machine, scale and an otoscope. The mobile unit will receive portable equipment including an HbA1c test to measure blood sugar.

3. Habitat for Humanity of Summit County received $15,000 for their 2023 Barberton New Home Build project, which will be used to construct a home on Norman Street.

4. Embracing Futures received $10,000 for their Orthodontic Care Program, which provides braces for children with low-income families.

5. CareStar Community Services received $10,000 for Community-Based Wraparound Services to Barberton students and families. CareStar Community Health Workers provide home visits, services and resources, including health screenings, as part of their wraparound program.

6. Humane Society of Summit County was awarded $10,000 to support the MABEL Mobile Veterinary Clinic visits to Barberton. The MABEL bus provides veterinary services such as spay and neuter for dogs and cats, as well as vaccines. Funding allows low-income Barberton residents to utilize the clinic for free. Funding is expected to cover spay/neuter services for 172 cats and dogs and vaccines for 80 cats and dogs.

7. Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank received $7,500 the Barberton Direct Distribution program provides food and groceries monthly at Barberton’s Salvation Army on Wooster Rd. The program’s goal is to serve 85-100 families each month and distributing an average of 18,000 lbs. of food.

8. Greenleaf Family Center was awarded $7,000 for their Adolescent Suicide Prevention Program (ASPP) which will provide suicide prevention programming for Barberton Students from July 2023 to June 2024. The programming is for approximately 1800 Barberton Middle and High School students, along with training for school staff.

9. Ben Curtis Family Foundation was awarded $6,500 to support their Birdie Bag Program. Each bag contains six meals, four snacks and toiletries for students on long weekends.

10. Stewarts Caring Place received $5,000 for cancer wellness and support services. Stewart’s Caring Place provides wigs, fittings and supplies, family and legal counseling, and assists with advocacy.

11. Family and Community Services received $5,000 to support Mobile Meals which provides hot and frozen meals and supplements to elderly, disabled or low-income residents.

12. Rape Crisis Center received $5,000 to support 150 Barberton residents in 2023 with outreach and education, support groups, crisis intervention, advocacy, therapy and other services.

13. CASA Board Volunteer Association received $5,000 for Barberton volunteer recruitment. CASA, or court appointed special advocates, are trained community volunteers appointed by a juvenile court judge to speak for a child’s best interest.

14. United Way of Summit and Medina received $3,500 to support 2-1-1 Information and Referral Services. 2-1-1 is a free, 24/7 helpline and database for health and social services available in Summit County. The helpline serves about 2,500 Barberton residents each year.

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

Foundation Board Awards 2023 Education and Workforce & Economic Development Grants

Foundation Board Approves First Grant Cycle of 2023, Awards $73,000 to Education and Workforce & Economic Development Programs

Barberton Community Foundation’s Board of Directors met for their regular meeting on Thursday, March 16, at the Active Adult Center. The board approved eight grants totaling $73,009.04. The board also approved Renea Macko and Rob Pursley as new Friends of the Foundation, and thanked Dr. Suzanne Allen, who is retiring from her role as executive director of Barberton Community Foundation on March 31. Tiffany Peters, director of finance, has been named as interim executive director.


Barberton City School District was awarded $22,975.32 for their partnership with AMHA to expand support for families and students. The grant supports more on-site tutoring days, bussing to parent/teacher conferences, and bi-monthly resident meetings to educate parents about school services and opportunities. AMHA expects to serve 800 individuals through these programs.

National Inventors Hall of Fame received $15,000 for 2023 Camp Invention financial support for 120 students who would like to attend. Camp Invention is a summer enrichment program led by Barberton teachers with STEM-based curricula.

Child Guidance & Family Solutions received $10,000 for their Toddlers and Preschoolers Succeeding (TAPS) program. TAPS provides on-site training for preschool and childcare staff on how best to respond to challenging classroom behaviors and improve kindergarten readiness. Child Guidance anticipates serving 380 preschoolers with this funding.

Barberton City School District was awarded $6,533.72 to support the primary school’s Magical Reading program, which teaches parents how to read to their children in creative, educational and engaging ways. Funding supports the purchase of books for families to read together, crafts and operations for the event.

United Way of Summit & Medina received $5,000 to support Financial Empowerment Center services provided to Barberton residents. The Center estimates they will serve 215 residents through free financial empowerment programming, including financial coaching, tax preparation and banking assistance.

Junior Achievement was awarded $5,000 to provide programming within Barberton City Schools to 320 students in middle and high school. Programs include JA Personal Finance, JA Inspire, JA Company Program and JA Economics for Success.

The International Soap Box Derby received $5,000 for programs and field trips for Barberton City School students, including their popular Gravity Racing Challenge program. Funding supports the purchase of derby car parts, supplies and program books for 180 students.

SCORE Akron received $3,500 for their Barberton Community Workforce Development programs which include mentoring and workshop programs for entrepreneurs interested in starting their own business or expanding their existing business.