"We invite the community in to the meeting and try to give them a report of how the foundation has done," said Dr. Wayne Wheeler, chairman of the Scioto Foundation board of directors. "We try to tell them what projects we have taken on, and how we are distributing the money that the community has entrusted to us."
Wheeler said a community exists to better its community. The foundation holds monies people give by gift, by legacy, by will - however they choose to do it and for whatever cause they desire.
"We (The Scioto Foundation) hold the money and invest it and use the income to support whatever organization that people have decided they in their charitable impulses to support," he said.
There are about 160 funds managed by the Scioto Foundation. The foundation gives away about $750,000 a year to the community, Wheeler said. Total assets for the foundation as of Dec. 31, 2007, was $21 million.
"We are 12th or 13th in the state of Ohio, out of 77 foundations," Wheeler said. "I look to the Cleveland fund as the one I would like to be like. They have more than a billion in their community foundation. We are not that big yet, I would certainly hope some day that we could give away a million dollars a year."
Wheeler said the foundation has been reporting its actions to the community for the past four to five years. The foundation has started looking at how it gives its money out. He said it is trying to balance the grants that are awarded between the arts, community building and community networks and a variety of other activities in the community.
"We are doing a much better job recently of looking at that and trying to see that all sectors of our community get some benefit out of the foundation," Wheeler said.
He said the foundation awards it scholarships in part because of donations of community donors.
"We looked around, and we give out around $180,000 in scholarships each year. This last year, we have had some very kind and generous donors who have set up some larger scholarships. We said with the cost of college what it was, why don't we look to see if the foundation could do more to help develop these scholarships," Wheeler said.
UCan was created by the foundation's executive director, Kim Cutlip. The program is a four-pronged project and would have the foundation creating funds in all of the school districts and have those districts support them.
The foundation also will promote use of the 529K program, which allows parents to set back money now to save for their children's college education tax free. The foundation wants to support the development of Advanced Placement opportunities in local schools. Students would get college credit for the courses they complete in high school.
"By getting students in the position where they can take Advanced Placement courses in their own high school, taught by their own teachers, they can not only get college credit, but they can get a leg up on scholarship applications," Wheeler said.
The fourth component, he said, is to develop a database so students can receive help in finding scholarships and grants that are available to help them go to college.
"We believe that one day, this is a vision. It's not tomorrow," Wheeler said. "One day, we would like to see every kid in Scioto County who graduates from high school and has the capability of going to college to get there without regard of finances."
There were a few other programs that were announced at the meeting.
"We have up until now restricted ourselves to accepting gifts of stock, cash and negotiable instruments," he said. "We are launching a real-estate foundation as an adjunct to our activities so that we can accept certain kind of real estate into the foundation. This becomes important to people who are property-rich and cash-poor."
For more information about the Scioto Foundation and its activities, call (740) 354-4612 or visit 303 Chillicothe St.