100 Years of Helping You Help Others: Everyday Donors Who Care Are the Fabric of The Dayton Foundation


Over the past 100 years, thousands of charitable individuals have joined with The Dayton Foundation to help it become one of the oldest and most respected community foundations in the country. As Greater Dayton’s leading grant-awarding foundation, The Dayton Foundation has distributed nearly $1.1 billion in grants since 1921 and manages nearly 4,000 charitable funds with assets totaling $653 million as of June 30, 2020.

“The Foundation is second among the nation’s community foundations for the number of charitable funds under management, more than community foundations in some of our nation’s largest cities. This disproportionate giving from a community our size says so much about the generosity of our region’s people,” said Michael M. Parks, CFRE, president of The Dayton Foundation. “Much good has been accomplished in our community, thanks to individuals, families and organizations that have established funds for the betterment of Greater Dayton.”

It is the impact of the thousands of Foundation funds – both large and small – that will keep the Foundation thriving for the next 100 years.
– Michael M. Parks, president of The Dayton Foundation

Though a good portion of the Foundation’s success has been built on the shoulders of some of Greater Dayton’s most prominent citizens, the impact from everyday donors who care about their community – and the world – and simply want to help others, has blossomed The Dayton Foundation into what it is today.

One of the earliest examples on record of how even modest giving can make a difference is Nathan Myer Stanley, who, during the depths of the Great Depression, contributed the Foundation’s fourth donation – a $10 gift. A native of England and resident of Dayton for more than 50 years, Nathan was an inventor. According to a 1939 Dayton Journal article, “Out of his interests as a citizen and as a patron of music, Stanley has helped create significant civic movements which endure.” Gifts like Nathan’s have helped the Foundation endure for the last century and will carry it into the next 100 years.

More than $1.4 million in grants has been awarded from the Francis Crosthwaite Fund to area nonprofit organizations, such as Daybreak. The emergency shelter and service provider for homeless and runaway youth has received more than $213,000 from the fund, including a $5,000 grant to support Lindy’s Bakery, where Daybreak youth develop the skills of commercial-scale food preparation.

Another storied Foundation gift came 60 years later from a retired railroad worker. Francis (Frank) Crosthwaite often was described as someone who dressed and lived like a street person but had a heart as big as Dayton. While he chose to live a simple life with few possessions, he did amass a large investment portfolio thanks to his investment advisors. When Frank passed away in 1998, he left nearly $2 million to establish a discretionary endowment fund to help people from all walks of life in perpetuity. Thanks to the sound investment policies of The Dayton Foundation, his fund’s balance has grown to more than $2.5 million, despite awarding more than $1.4 million to area nonprofit organizations since 2000.

The important story about Frank (Crosthwaite) is that if someone like him can be so hugely generous, then those of us who live less simply can be too.
– Fred Bartenstein, Dayton Foundation donor and former president

“The way Frank chose to live his life proved that you can make an important contribution and bring sunshine into people’s lives without being in the rat race, provided you’re willing to live simply enough,” said Fred Bartenstein, a former Dayton Foundation president, in 1999. “The important story about Frank is that if someone like him can be so hugely generous, then those of us who live less simply can be too.”

Foundation donors come from all walks of life, but a common thread between them often is a desire to give back for the blessings they’ve received in their own lives. Longtime Dayton Public Schools educators Orlando and Leonora Brown believed that giving was a part of practicing their faith. They felt it was their responsibility to help others become successful, contributing members of society. They also wished to support their place of worship. The Browns established a designated fund through the African-American Community Fund of The Dayton Foundation in 2000. Though they have since passed away, The Orlando V. and Leanora D. Brown Endowment Fund continues to provide financial assistance to The Piney Woods School in Mississippi for students in need and to Central Chapel AME Church, where the Browns were tithing members for more than 50 years.

“Mr. and Mrs. Brown instilled excellence in all of their students. They taught us self-respect and the importance of pursuing higher education,” said Regina Dixon, receptionist for The Dayton Foundation for the past 34 years and a former student of the Browns. “Their Dayton Foundation fund carries on their legacy of helping youth for future generations.”

Longtime Dayton Public Schools educators Orlando and Leonora Brown

Perhaps the true value of a community foundation is its ability to join individuals, families and organizations together in times of greatest community need. In the past two years, the Foundation, for the first time in its 100-year history, established charitable funds to help people help others affected by a natural disaster, a mass shooting and a pandemic. The Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund, the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund and the COVID-19 Response Fund for Greater Dayton, which was created in collaboration with the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area and other community partners, collectively received more than 10,000 gifts totaling nearly $9 million. Thanks to these funds, victims of these life-changing events are receiving the assistance they need to begin rebuilding their lives.

“It’s hard to imagine what Greater Dayton’s landscape might look like today if D. Frank Garland and the Patterson family had not had the foresight 100 years ago to create The Dayton Foundation. Community foundations, like The Dayton Foundation, are a powerful resource to spread good, particularly in times of critical need,” Mike Parks said. “The initial $250,000 investment from the Pattersons laid the groundwork for our region’s first community foundation, but it is the impact of the thousands of Foundation funds – both large and small – that will keep the Foundation thriving for the next 100 years.”