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How one foundation supports the Oxford community

The front of the Oxford Community Foundation
The front of the Oxford Community Foundation

For more than 27 years, the Greater Oxford Community Foundation has supported various service projects and organizations that aim to improve life in Oxford.

Ray Mock, the Greater Oxford Community Foundation board president, said the mission of the Foundation is always at the forefront of all of their decisions.

“[The foundation] is an important organization that has, since its founding, worked to make sure that Oxford is a happy, healthy and well-served community,” Mock said.

The primary mechanism by which the Oxford Community Foundation supports the community is through allocating money, primarily through grants, for organizations wanting to start projects in Oxford.

Betsy Hope, the executive director of the foundation, said that giving these grants is one of the more noticeable ways that people can see the impact of the organization.

“We give out grants to nonprofits that serve our area, from Big Brothers [and] Big Sisters to our local food pantry and arts related organizations,” Hope said. “Just about anything that would help develop our community and make it better: the environment, the arts, health, beautification and recreation.”

The foundation has given away more than $7 million and has more than $13 million in assets. A lot of this money comes from donations from community members, which are given directly back to the Oxford community.

Photo by Sarah Frosch | The Miami Student
The Oxford Community Foundation pictured from High Street.

Stephanie Penrod, the operations director for the Oxford Community Foundation, said that donations go a long way in helping the foundation serve the Oxford community.

“[Donors] can specify what they want their donations to go towards,” Penrod said. “They can start funds for certain projects or organizations [and those] donations [go] back out to the community. So donating is important.”

Organizations that want a grant for their projects can apply to any of the three application dates that the Oxford Community Foundation offers. Grants are then awarded to various organizations, ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.

Some of the grants the foundation gives out include an annual $30,000 grant to Miami University’s Psychology Department for graduate students furthering their education and a $4,000 grant to the Three Valley Conservation Trust.

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In addition to awarding grants to various organizations, the Greater Oxford Community Foundation also awards multiple scholarships to graduating Talawanda High School seniors. This is also where Hope said she sees how much the scholarships from the foundation uplifts the community.

“[One of the] most satisfying ways that we see [the impact] is when we give our scholarships because it's always a fantastic investment,” Hope said. “I think it makes kids from this area know their community is behind that because all that money is donated from people in our area.”

Scholarships even allow people in the area to become involved with the Oxford Community Foundation.

“Our scholarship committee is a group of community volunteers that work really hard at reviewing all the scholarship applications from the high school seniors and making those decisions,” Hope said.

Right now, the foundation is processing both grant and scholarship applications.

“It's an exciting time here at the foundation, because it's spring and spring means scholarships,” Hope said. “We're getting ready right now for the April 15 deadline for grant applications.”