Stark Community Foundation Experiences a Year of Unparalleled Generosity

In the face of hardship, a global pandemic and civil unrest, residents rallied together last year to show their support for one another, spurring an unparalleled year of generosity in Stark County. A record $27.8 million in outright and planned gifts were raised through Stark Community Foundation and $15.3 million in grants were awarded – making 2020 the largest fundraising and grantmaking year in Foundation history.

“When faced with the challenges of COVID-19, our family of donors responded quickly to meet the needs of their neighbors,” said Mark J. Samolczyk, president and CEO of Stark Community Foundation. “Our milestone year is a true reflection of our community’s generosity.”

The Foundation and its family of donors granted a record-breaking $15.3 million to the community in 2020, providing vital support to nearly 650 organizations and scholarship assistance to 315 students. Donors granted to a myriad of causes they care about, including the arts, mental health, education, affordable housing and economic opportunity. Since inception in 1963, $200 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded to charitable causes across the region, state and country.

Of the all-time-high $27.8 million raised in 2020, $14.9 million was in outright gifts and $12.9 million was in planned gifts. These gifts established a record 42 new charitable funds, bringing the total number of charitable funds managed by the Foundation to nearly 850.

“The desire to help others and make a difference continues to fuel the thoughtful individuals, families, businesses, organizations and foundations we work with,” said Bridgette L. Neisel, vice president of advancement. “We are fortunate to help them every step of the way on their path of philanthropy.”

The Foundation’s well-diversified portfolio of investments finished the year with a net investment return of 7.9%. For the first time ever, Stark Community Foundation surpassed $300 million in assets, which ranks the Foundation in the top 10 percent of community foundations in the United States today.

“2020 was a powerful reminder of why Stark Community Foundation’s role in the community is necessary, and we’re honored that people have chosen the Foundation to help them support their passions in good times and bad,” added Samolczyk. “We hope that the resiliency and generosity our family of donors displayed over the last year brings a greater sense of hope and optimism to our community moving forward.”

Other highlights from 2020 include:

  • Joined forces with the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton and other local foundations to mobilize $1.46 million in emergency relief to area organizations over the course of nine weeks, supporting more than 30 organizations providing food, childcare, mental health services, shelter and homebound senior assistance.
  • Worked in partnership with a group of local faith-based leaders, Strengthening Stark and community partners to launch Faith in Stark, a community-wide effort that raised and distributed more than $500,000 to support 148 small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19.
  • Partnered with United Way of Greater Stark County and The Center for Community Solutions to release Protecting Stark’s Future: A Call to Coordinate Child Poverty Strategies, a research-based report outlining why Stark County needs to intentionally work together to coordinate efforts and target resources to reduce child poverty.
  • Hosted nearly 50 THINKBIG conversations centered on improving racial equity and inclusion in Stark County.
  • Launched Straight from Stark, a video series that uplifts local organizations that are creatively continuing their services during the pandemic.

About Stark Community Foundation
Stark Community Foundation is the community’s trusted partner in giving to nearly 850 individuals, families, businesses and organizations that have created charitable funds to impact the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. Ranked in the top 10 percent of community foundations in the United States today, Stark Community Foundation is committed to serving donor needs and strategically addressing local issues. The Foundation and its family of donors have granted $200 million to nonprofits since 1963. Learn how you can simplify your giving and amplify your impact through our Center for Partners in Philanthropy at

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