Grants in Action

Grants in Action recognizes the results of notable grant awards, whether large or small, and the significant impact they have on strengthening Greater Dayton and beyond.

Grant Gives Trees Downed by the Tornadoes a New Life

A young patron poses with a bear at Dayton Metro Library’s new Nature Play Area at the Trotwood branch.

When devastating tornadoes struck the Trotwood area two years ago, as many as 1,000 trees were lost in the destruction. Thanks to a unique project by the Dayton Metro Library, some of those trees were put to good use at the library’s Trotwood branch with the creation of a Nature Play Area for young patrons.

The play area was supported with a generous $8,000 grant from the Mark Andrew Kreusch Fund of The Dayton Foundation.

“The Mark Andrew Kreusch Fund grant was vital for the success of this project, as it provided the necessary funds to take the Nature Play Area above and beyond what we otherwise would have envisioned,” said Megan Cooper, development manager for Dayton Metro Library. “The initial project called for climbing structures made from the timber of trees downed by the Memorial Day tornadoes, but it wasn’t until the partnership with the fund that the project became even more meaningful, with whimsical carvings such as animals, books and seating areas. It’s that extra something special, only possible with the grant, which makes the location a true destination for imaginative learning and play.”

The project was particularly timely during the pandemic, as many families sought safe outdoor play for their children. Studies have shown the many benefits of outdoor play, especially as a counterpoint to the often-excessive indoor screen time children experience today.

“Children who play in nature enjoy physical, emotional and social benefits ranging from improved coordination and muscle development to increased levels of kindness and empathy, supporting their overall development,” Megan said.

The response from library patrons has been overwhelmingly positive. As restrictions ease, Trotwood Children’s Librarian Dani Gustavich plans to host many events and programs in the space, including story times and STEM experiments.

Said one young child as he eagerly explored the wooded area while his older sister sat reading on a bench with carved books and an owl, “It’s like a mini-playground. I gave the bear a high five!”

Outdoor Theatre Brings the History of Ohio to Virtual Audiences, Thanks to Grant

Talon Silverhorn stars as Blue Jacket and Vince Moorman as Caesar in Caesar: An American Maroon, a film produced by Caesar’s Ford Theatre, Inc., with the help of a grant from the Allegro Fund of The Dayton Foundation.

Like most entertainment venues over the last 18 months, Caesar’s Ford Theatre, Inc., adapted its performing arts and educational programs to continue its mission of educating the public about the history of Ohio. Early on in the pandemic, the Theatre transitioned from its traditional outdoor theatre offerings to film.

To support its efforts, the Allegro Fund of The Dayton Foundation awarded Caesar’s Ford Theatre with a $4,300 grant in 2020 for its Virtual Performances Project, which consists of three short films that tell the stories of famous Ohioans.

“Theaters in Ohio were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Income from programming was eradicated and the need to secure contributed income was paramount to ensure their existence for the future,” said Timothy Haney, president/executive producer for Caesar’s Ford Theatre, Inc. “The grant from the Allegro Fund of The Dayton Foundation helped Caesar’s Ford Theatre thrive during what was probably the worst time for Ohio theaters.”

The first virtual performance, Caesar: An American Maroon, has been released and already viewed by several thousand individuals. Members of the Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma worked with Theatre staff to make the film, which led to a strong friendship and potential collaboration for developing an outdoor drama. A second short film, Paul Laurence Dunbar: An American Poet, will be featured in a local celebration of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s life on what would be his 150th birthday in June 2022. And finally, Col. Charles Young: An American Patriot will be filmed at the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Wilberforce, Ohio.

“Greene County, Ohio, has a long and wonderful history of outdoor theatre, and Caesar’s Ford Theatre, Inc., is dedicated to bringing that tradition back,” Timothy said. “Thanks to the grant provided by the Allegro Fund of The Dayton Foundation, the project has led to new relationships that will help us in our journey to restore histor-ical outdoor drama to our community.”