Scioto Foundation Celebrate its 50th Anniversary May 14, 2024

Written by Kay Bouyack

Today, May 14, the Scioto Foundation, Portsmouth’s local foundation, celebrates its 50th anniversary of philanthropy and service to the area highlighting its mission to improve and enrich the quality of life for the community.

For five decades the Scioto Foundation has carried out that mission in multiple ways by providing a stream of income to meet community needs and the intent of its donors, by demonstrating leadership through collaborative partnerships with community organizations, by maximizing the outcomes of grant-making and practicing wise and careful investment of assets.

“Happy 50th anniversary to the Scioto Foundation,” SF Executive Director Kim Cutlip has proclaimed.” I am so proud to have been part of the Scioto Foundation for the past 25 years. It has been an honor and a privilege to work for a dedicated and enthusiastic board and to work with an amazing team of co-workers, caring donors, community and nonprofit leaders, all committed to making our community a better place to live.”

Sallie Schisler recalls the early days of the Scioto Foundation when she was the first employee.

“It was 1976; after being a stay-at-home mom, I was ready to re-enter the work force. Someone told me that the new Scioto County Area Foundation was looking for an administrative assistant to manage grant applications, send out mailings and write thank-you letters. I thought that sounded like something I could do. I interviewed in the old National Bank Building. I was greeted warmly by the trustees, but the office area was a bit bleak. After all, the Foundation was just getting started,” said Schisler.

“The trustees were administering funds from the estate of Bertha Truehart Johnson, a charitable woman who left a $200,000 gift to start a community foundation. A community foundation was a new idea for Portsmouth; applications were few and grant awards were small, but I felt excitement and hope as time went by that this “foundation” would play an important role in community development,” Schisler continued.

“Years later I became a Foundation Trustee and still serve on the Donor Services Committee,” she said. “I have always been proud to say that I worked for the Scioto Foundation and still believe 50 years later in its limitless possibilities to build community.”

The Scioto Foundation had been established in 1974 with Mrs. Johnson’s gift of $200,000. Today the Scioto Foundation is recognized as a qualified 501 (c)(3) nonprofit community foundation with a collection of over 350 separate component funds endowed in perpetuity. They are wisely invested, and earnings are used to provide financial support to local charities, nonprofit agencies and schools, as well as scholarships for area youth.

“For 50 years the combination of generous donors and dedicated, professional staff have provided a tremendous benefit to the people of southern Ohio. Everyone associated with the Scioto Foundation should be proud in the part they have played to benefit our area,” said former Foundation Board Member Lee Powell, who served on the board for nine years before recently retiring.

At the close of 2023, the Scioto Foundation had assets of 57.5 million and, according to SF records, since 1975, the Foundation has given approximately $31,000,579.60 million back to the community in the form of grants and scholarships. Also in 2023 the Scioto Foundation received a record-breaking total of $7.25 million in contributions and awarded $489,000 in grants as well as 481 scholarships in the amount of $600,000.

The Foundation’s scholarship program is one of the most remarkable expansions in its history.

Phyllis Fried, chairwoman of the Foundation’s volunteer scholarship committee, said the program started around the early 1980’s. “We didn’t have much money to give away.”

“The scholarship program has had amazing growth. Who would have ever thought that we would ever have as much money to give as we do now? It has changed a lot to the good and I give all credit to the Foundation staff for that.”

“The group that started the scholarship program had a lot of vision,” Fried said. “I never dreamed how much money is available and can be awarded now. The Foundation can be counted on to grow the funds. Our job is to pick good scholarships for the students and I think the committee does a good job of it.”

“I have loved every second of being on the Foundation Scholarship Committee, Fried closed. “I love to read about the kids, where they go and how they thrive and how the scholarships help them. It has been an honor to be on the committee. It is a labor of love.”

The Foundation has seen several other major developments during its 50-year history. In 2008 the Scioto Foundation founded the University/College Access Network (UCAN) to help local students play, prepare and pay for college. The Foundation has become a regional scholarship provider to students from neighboring high schools across south-central, southeastern Ohio and north-central Kentucky. In 2013 the Foundation launched Scioto Gives, a one-day online matching gift program to assist nonprofit organizations in building their long-term endowment funds. SF began Scioto 365 in 2018 as a participatory grant-making program focused upon creating and sustaining vibrant, healthy and safe neighborhoods.

This year the Foundation will offer three remaining competitive grant rounds with deadlines on June 30, September 30 and December 31. It anticipates awarding over $800,000 in scholarships and plans to present $15,000 to the Scioto 365 grantees under the year’s theme of “Helping Those in Need.”

“Even though I have been away from the Scioto Foundation for three years, my wife and I continue to be impressed with the many contributions that the Scioto Foundation makes to the Portsmouth area,” said former long-time SF Board Member Dr. Wayne Wheeler. “We are most impressed about the increasing number of scholarships being awarded to deserving students who might not otherwise be able to afford going to college, and thus, improving their quality of life.”

“I am proud to have played a small part in the growth and success of the Scioto Foundation and look forward to following the good work of the current Board and staff,” Dr. Wheeler closed his salute to the Scioto Foundation’s 50-year history.

Additional information about the Scioto Foundation’s history, programs, or various opportunities in planned giving is available by contacting Patty Tennant, Program Officer – Donor Services or Kim Cutlip, Executive Director, at (740) 354-4612.

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