We believe in community-led change rooted in research. Our data-informed research points to high child poverty rates, a high population of food-insecure people and an increased need for economic growth in Stark County.

Over the years, we've been addressing these local issues by bringing people and organizations together to discuss complex needs and explore opportunities for collaboration and investing in long-term solutions to community challenges. We're proud to work alongside many community partners to identify, invest in and advance these initiatives:

Childhood Poverty

Protecting Stark's Future is a Stark Community Foundation-led initiative to support collaborative, community-based solutions to reduce child poverty at the neighborhood level. This initiative grew from our data-driven work and eye-opening 2020 study of the child poverty challenges facing Stark County.

Our deep-dive revealed that in 2019, the child poverty rate in the City of Canton was 56.9%, tying with Youngstown as the second-worst child poverty rate of any city in the United States with a total population greater than 65,000. It's not just Canton children who are struggling either. In fact, 47% of Stark County children living below poverty lived outside Canton in 2018.

In partnership with United Way of Greater Stark County, Protecting Stark's Future planning and implementation grants have been awarded to local organizations combating child poverty.

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Economic Development

Stark Community Foundation has been investing in economic development for many years, and most recently has played a significant role in spearheading a county-wide economic development movement.

At the request of the Stark Civic Group, the Foundation commissioned and released the Strengthening Stark report in 2017. The data-driven report provided a clear-eyed assessment of the current economic and social health of Stark County and recommended specific actions to help reverse downward community trends.

The report spurred countless county-wide conversations that has since led to the creation of a community-wide movement of residents, businesses, government, nonprofits and philanthropy who share a vision for a vibrant, growing county. The movement's goal is to make Stark County a great place to start and grow a business, develop one’s talent, pursue a career and live and raise a family. Recent funding from Stark Community Foundation supports the ongoing work of Strengthening Stark.

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Food Insecurity

Since 2013, Stark Community Foundation has been leading an effort to fight food insecurity in Stark County. After receiving a high volume of grant requests focused on hunger relief, the Foundation commissioned and released a study (summary) in 2015 to understand the hunger issues facing individuals and families in our community. The report revealed that 15.3% of Stark County's population (57,730 people) and 23.8% of children (20,650) are considered "food insecure," meaning they lack regular access to enough food for an active healthy life.

In partnership with the Paul & Carol David Foundation and Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, more than $1.5 million has been invested in organizations finding long-term solutions to hunger.

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