The History of The Dayton Foundation

In 1921, visionary thinking and caring individuals took one big idea – to help individuals find a way to have their charitable wishes stand the test of time – and made it a reality.

The idea blossomed into The Dayton Foundation. The individual behind the idea was D. Frank Garland. The family with the means to realize the dream was the Pattersons.

D. Frank Garland, John H. Patterson, Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell, Robert Patterson photos

The mission of The Dayton Foundation: We help you help others℠ through philanthropy and community leadership.

John H. Patterson was the founding president of National Cash Register Company (NCR). Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell was Dayton’s leading businesswoman and, later, a major underwriter of The Dayton Art Institute. Robert Patterson was a noted civic leader.

From an initial $250,000 donation by the Patterson family, to $1.04 million in assets as of 2022, The Dayton Foundation is upholding the idea and the dream that D. Frank Garland and John H. Patterson laid forth. That dream was to help individuals achieve their charitable goals and make our region a better place to live, now and in the future.

For more about the founders of The Dayton Foundation, click here.

What’s your charitable dream? Click here to find out how we can make this dream a reality.


Over the last 30 years, a diverse Governing Board, knowledgeable staff and caring donors and volunteers have lead us to extraordinary growth, resulting in a substantial impact on the community we now serve.

Fred Bartenstein III and Frederick C. Smith

At the forefront of this growth was former Governing Board Chair Frederick C. Smith (1979-1989) and the Foundation’s first full-time director, Fred Bartenstein III, who served the organization from 1983 to 1992. Along with such Governing Board members as Richard F. Glennon, Sr., Anne S. Greene, John E. Moore and Jesse Philips, they began a new legacy of great accomplishment for The Dayton Foundation.

They brought the Foundation from relatively low-key beginnings to a full-service, modern community foundation that is highly regarded locally and nationally. The Foundation undertook leadership initiatives to provide new service options and programs that would fully engage and benefit the entire Greater Dayton Region.

Click here for key accomplishments during the Bartenstein and Smith years.


Burnell R. Roberts and Darrell L. Murphy

In 1991, Darrell L. Murphy joined the Foundation as its second president and served until his retirement in 2001. With the support of the Governing Board, Murphy helped The Dayton Foundation become one of the more progressive and innovative community foundations in the country.

Click here for key accomplishments during 1991-2001.


Michael M. Parks

Leading The Dayton Foundation in its current phase of service to the Greater Dayton community is Michael M. Parks, president of The Dayton Foundation since 2002. Through a comprehensive strategic planning process completed by the Governing Board and Parks, three primary goals have been identified for the Foundation. These goals include:

  • providing community leadership/impact, by working with area not-for-profit organizations in direct partnership programs or services and identifying one major community initiative;
  • increasing donor development and financial stewardship, by continuing to grow overall assets and increasing the number of funds and legacy commitments; and
  • developing and strengthening the organization to be more responsive to the needs of the Foundation’s donors, financial and estate planning advisors, and not-for-profit organizations.

Under Mike Parks’ leadership, The Dayton Foundation:

  • created first-in-the-nation donor services, including Family Foundation Plus℠ and Family Foundation Plus℠-Advised;
  • engaged more than 160 neighborhood and regional leaders in the planning phase of the Neighborhood School Centers Program to help improve the lives of children and families in four Dayton neighborhoods;
  • launched a leadership initiative with the Mathile Family Foundation to provide free educational supplies to teachers and students in need (read more about Crayons to Classrooms;)
  • facilitated the formation of the Commission on Minority Inclusion and the Minority Economic Development Council to promote greater participation and inclusion by the region’s minority community in the economic fortunes of our region;
  • formed a partnership with the Dayton-Montgomery County Scholarship Program to better serve students seeking college scholarships;
  • facilitated NCR Corporation’s gift of the Wright Brothers’ 1914 home in Oakwood – Hawthorn Hill – to The Wright Family Foundation of The Dayton Foundation. This gift appears to be the first National Historic Landmark donated through a community foundation; and
  • facilitated the merger of Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra into the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, a first-in-the-nation merger representing three performing arts groups.
  • oversaw the acceptance and distribution of charitable gifts totaling more than $8.2 million in response to the 2019 Memorial Day tornados, Oregon District mass shooting and COVID-19 response.

The Dayton Foundation ranks 42nd among nearly 800 community foundation nationwide for assets under management and 39th for new gifts received. Read more Foundation facts and recent accomplishments.

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File date: 02.24.23


Chris Smith

“We’re here to help you help others in the Dayton Region and beyond.” Chris Smith, vice president, Marketing and Public Relations, (937) 225-9958

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