Julie McCready and Jessica Gribben

Richland County Board of Trustees Julie McCready and Jessica Gribben. 

The Richland County Foundation (RCF) started 75 years ago to enhance the lives of people living in Richland County through strategic leadership and philanthropy.

Since it was founded in 1945, the Foundation has been fostering philanthropy, accepting applications for funding from local nonprofits and awarding grants totaling almost $96 million. The Foundation is committed to continuing its support of nonprofit organizations.  

Some of the many initiatives RCF has worked on in the last five years include Osborne Meese Academy and Richland Gives, both fostering sustainability and strategy within the nonprofit community, and Economic Development and Mansfield Rising, aimed at creating an environment within the county that could respond quickly and successfully to economic development opportunities, while also providing community development to both attract and retain talent.

Foundation Chairwoman Julie McCready has served on the board of trustees since 2015. She has worked on several projects to ensure a bright future for Richland County. One of those projects is the Foundation’s Economic Development Strategy. 

“This was a big, bold step forward by the Foundation.” McCready said. “This time we proactively decided how to invest $1.1 million in economic development.” 

The plan addresses local business retention and expansion, workforce development and entrepreneurship.

Jessica Gribben will become the next chairwoman in May of 2021. Since becoming a member of the board, the most exciting thing for her has been contributing to the good work the Foundation has done. 

“I think a lot of community foundations are getting on board now with proactive grant making, but the Richland County Foundation was a pioneer in that,” Gribben said in reference to both the Economic Development and Mansfield Rising initiatives.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board redirected its Unrestricted/Community Fund to meet emerging needs. Whether seeking ways to expand current services or to minimize the consequences of curtailing services to reduce health risks to our community, the Foundation wants to alleviate financial burden in this current environment. 

To date, a total of $714,032 has been awarded for COVID-19 Relief in the community. That total includes the funding from the Foundation's Community Fund, Donor-Advised Funds, $100,000 from Richland County Job and Family Services, and $37,742 raised online via a special COVID-19 Relief edition of Richland Gives in early May.

“We want to be thoughtful about where the unrestricted money is going because we know we’re only scratching the surface of what this pandemic is going to be all about,” McCready said. “As the pandemic continues, we need to be ready to help.”

“There's a lot of work left to do, but the Foundation has already proven that when rubber meets the road, we find ways to adapt what we're doing—to what this community needs,” Gribben said. 

All expressed appreciation to the donors that make the work of the Foundation possible. 

“Many people have a philanthropic heart. Their generosity makes it possible for the Foundation to deliver on its mission of improving the lives of people living in Richland County,” said McCready.

To learn more about the Richland County Foundation’s initiatives and paving the way to better the community, visit their website.

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Thrive Reporter

Tierra Thomas is the Thrive Reporter for Richland Source and Content Specialist for Source Brand Solutions. She graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Journalism. When she's not writing news, she's writing fiction or taking photos.