UC Community Foundation Annual Report Looks Back, Ahead

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Looking back to 2019 while looking forward to 2021, Union City Community Foundation’s Annual Report has been produced much later than usual this year because of the difficulties presented by 2020.

The 2019 annual foundation report would typically have been released in mid-2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic upset the foundation’s 2020 schedule just as it has most everything else.

That annual report, which is being distributed to the community as an insert in the Union City Journal Express, touts a new program to financially incentivize the creation of new endowment funds within the foundation through the end of 2021, and looks back to the establishment of three new such funds in 2019.

The foundation’s board of trustees in November approved a 10 percent match to new family, individual or organizational funds created through the end of 2021, up to a $2,000 match. A newly created minimum $10,000 permanent endowment fund, for example, would receive an additional $1,000 from the foundation. A new $20,000 permanent endowment fund would generate a maximum $2,000 match.

The foundation has committed up to $10,000 for the matching program, with more matching funds potentially available if the commitment gets used up.

“We encourage individuals, families and organizations that have considered creating a fund to take the action now, while the match incentive period exists,” said foundation board chairman Steve Jones. “It would be a beautiful testament to have five to 10 new funds created before the end of 2021.

“Your mission starts now,” he continued. “Let us help you design a named endowment fund that can be tailored to fit each particular circumstance. The beauty of endowment funds is they are gift vehicles that can be created now, and benefit the community long after we are gone.

“It’s an incredible feeling to know that a newly created endowment fund will benefit the Union City area in perpetuity, for generations to come,” Jones added.

Three new named funds were created in 2019. They include the Joanne Homa Patterson Memorial Fund. Patterson was the longtime director of the Union City Senior Center, and the fund was created by the Union City Senior Center Cooperative with proceeds from the sale of the senior center to the Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC).

Partial proceeds of that sale were distributed to Union City-area nonprofits, with the remainder used to create the new fund. Annual distributions from the Homa Patterson Fund will be divided between community impact needs, and adult college scholarships for Union City-area residents.

The other two funds created in 2019 were the Sally M. Jones Memorial Fund, and the Earl M. Shreve Family Fund.

On the funding distribution side of 2019, the foundation awarded $96,589 in grants and scholarships. Organizations receiving grants included the Canadohta Lake Business Association for late-season fireworks, the Union City Alumni Association for the alumni parade, the Historical Society for new museum lighting, community development organization Union City Pride for the French Creek Festival, the Senior Center Co-op for air conditioning, and the Erie Free Taxes program for services delivered to Union City.

Also receiving grants were the Union City Area School District Foundation to help create an outdoor sports facility plan, Union City Borough-Union City Pride for the community sidewalk installation program, the borough and UC Pride for a borough parks comprehensive plan, and Union City Pride to purchase the former Union City Dinor and an adjacent building to kick-start improvements to the downtown’s “gateway.”

Jasper Drake Scholarships and LaRue Ottaway-Saint Vincent Health Center Scholarships totaling $12,800 were part of that total award.

Despite distributing those funds throughout the community, the foundation still saw a meaningful uptick to its total invested assets – from $4,219,348 at the end of 2018, to $4,882,816 at the end of 2019, for a 15.7 percent increase.

Of particular note for 2019 was the foundation’s decision to become more proactive in terms of community development, rather than just reactively awarding grants to applicants. Jones said foundation trustees in 2019 agreed to try to “move the dial,” primarily through greater collaboration with Union City Borough and Union City Pride.

“These goals have been met with exuberance and passion for continued progress and change,” he said. “We now have detailed goals that will take time, talent, volunteerism and money. We are making incredibly large strides by working together on shared visions and goals.

“Our mission of transformation continues,” Jones added. “We are just at the beginning of a remarkable turnaround story, yet there is so much more that needs to be done.

“We need to recognize that we all need to work together,” Jones concluded. “We encourage residents to take even more pride in their properties, businesses, buildings, homes, and in their hometown.”