Dayton Foundation celebrates centennial with 100 gifts

“The foundation is a place where everyone can make a difference”

“People who plant olive trees don’t plan to harvest

the fruit. They plant them for future generations.”

– Estus Smith, Dayton Foundation donor and former Governing Board Member

Before she began working at the Dayton Foundation, Michelle Lovely assumed you had to be wealthy to become involved with such a prestigious community organization.

After all, we’re talking about major projects that range from launching a free store for teachers (Crayons to Classrooms) to funding annual free children’s concerts by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.

Now, as the vice president of development and donor services, Lovely knows better. “While we do often work with sophisticated estate plans and high net worth donors, there are an equal amount of donors who are just like you and me,” she explains. “They want to do good and do it in a more organized tax-efficient way.”

On Tuesday, the Dayton Foundation marked its 100th anniversary. When D. Frank Garland, John H. Patterson, Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell and Robert Patterson created the Foundation with an initial gift of $250,000, they envisioned a permanent financial resource to benefit the Greater Dayton community and stand the test of time for future generations.

It worked! Since its inception in 1921, the foundation has given away $1.04 billion, a total of 382,000 grants. It’s now the largest foundation in the Dayton region and one of 800 community foundations in the nation. Its motto: “We help you help others.”



Many of us are surprised to learn that:

  1. There’s no minimum balance required to open a foundation fund: you can start with as little as $100.
  2. If you start by establishing a charitable checking account, there’s no minimum deposit or balance and you can give online to charities of your choice — locally and around the world.
  3. The foundation services are all free.

Where does the money go?

Although the foundation exists primarily to service the Miami Valley area, gifts can go anywhere in the United States and around the world.

“You might have a donor who has a scholarship fund that helps kids go to Ohio State or someone who wants to make a donation to a church in the town where they grew up,” explains president Mike Parks. “It depends on the year, but normally 65 percent of all grants stay in the greater Miami Valley and 35 percent go to charities across America. “One hundred percent of the discretionary grants — those determined by the foundation board — stay in our area.”

Although the past year has been very difficult for nonprofit organizations, Parks says giving was up seven percent. “Despite the challenges of the past year, the foundation had its highest year ever,” Parks says. “We gave out nearly 20,000 grants totaling over $66 million, the largest amount of dollars going out in grants in our history and also the largest amount of new funds — 331! We have a caring community and, as a direct response to the pandemic, people who were in a position to give dug even deeper to help their friends and neighbors. The public support that came from the federal government through the CARES Act was also a godsend. There was no way private philanthropy could have addressed all of the issues our community faced last year, it was a godsend to have both.”

Marking a 100-year anniversary

When the foundation’s 100-year anniversary approached, the question was how to celebrate such a significant milestone?

The solution: Inviting 100 past supporters to make an additional gift to a charity they really care about in honor of the centennial.

The project launched in December and will continue through September. As of today, 40 gifts have been announced. “Every day we get to work with people that want to do good things,” says Parks, who has been with the foundation for 20 years and oversees a 43-member staff. “We work with the kindest, biggest-hearted people who want to make a difference and give back to their community.”

As for the next 100 years, Parks believes it’s important to to teach our children and grandchildren about philanthropy, to inspire them by role modeling and and demonstrating that we all can help our neighbors and our community in need.

“The foundation is a place where everyone can make a difference,” Parks concludes. “Regardless of what you may want to do, there’s a place for you. We work with you on whatever is in your heart.”

Want to learn more about the Dayton Foundation? Check out

Here are some of the gifts

Here’s a sampling of the 100 gifts that will benefit our community and are being given by generous donors in honor of the foundation’s 100-year anniversary.

Gift #6: Kettering resident Barbara O’Hara chose the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. The organization’s president Brian Weltge says money will go to help battle cat overpopulation by supporting the Trap-Neuter-Return program to spay or neuter thousands of stray cats each year. “Her support also helps us find animals loving, forever homes,” Weltge adds.

Gift #10: Lori Hausfeld of Springboro selected “Rustic Hope,” a nonprofit organization that offers free support to single mothers before, during and after delivery. “We are able to expand our current 1,500-square-foot building by 5,000 square feet more,” explains Connie McEldowney, founder and director of Rustic Hope. “This additional space will be used to offer more furniture, household items, diapers and clothing to the over 900 single parents that we serve. This would never be possible without this generous gift.”

Gift #13: For more than a decade, Flagel Huber Flagel (FHF), a Dayton accounting film, has partnered with The Dayton Foundation to help their clients help others. The firm’s special anniversary gift will benefit the Dakota Center, a nonprofit organization that provides a safe community atmosphere while engaging Dayton neighborhoods and people of all ages in programs that educate the whole person. According to Mike Miller, executive director, the gift will be used for a community garden to benefit West Dayton residents in need. “These funds will help to prepare, plant, maintain and harvest the produce we grow,” says Miller. “The fresh vegetables are then distributed to our clients, their families and to the community.”

GIFT #25: Judy McCormick of Kettering selected Dayton Contemporary Dance Company as the recipient of her special gift. Founded in 1968, DCDC was created to provide opportunities for dancers of color. Rooted in the African-American experience, years later the company has committed itself to diversity on a global stage. “With my $2,000 gift, I hope to raise awareness and renew support of DCDC, as well as reclaim it as one of the real jewels of our city,” McCormick says.

GIFT #31: Beavercreek residents Dr. Ratna Palakodeti and his wife, Jayashri, chose United Rehabilitation Services of Greater Dayton. “URS works relentlessly to bring physical independence to the courageous people of all ages struck by ability-limiting conditions,” says Dr. Palakodeti. “URS helps them to become emotionally strong, uplifts their self-confidence and builds their self-respect.”

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