Impact Stories

Foundation for Appalachian Ohio

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) is a regional community foundation serving Appalachian Ohio’s 32 counties, with a mission to create opportunities for Appalachian Ohio’s citizens and communities by inspiring and supporting philanthropy.

Through FAO’s I’m a Child of Appalachia® Fund, FAO grows philanthropic resources to invest in meeting the most pressing needs and opportunities in Appalachian Ohio across five areas essential to growing quality of life and opportunities across the region. These program investments are focused across FAO’s five Pillars of Prosperity: Arts and Culture, Community and Economic Development, Environmental Stewardship, Education and Health and Human Services.

Appalachian Ohio’s young people are the future leaders and innovators of our communities. We are excited to partner with the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville in funding visionary organizations serving our region’s youth.”

Cara Dingus Brook,
President and CEO, Foundation for Appalachian Ohio

Photos provided by artists engaged with the Athens Photographic Project.

Foundation Support for FAO

Recognizing young people as assets to and critical members of Appalachian Ohio communities, FAO adopted youth resiliency as a strategy to support its Health and Human Services Pillar. In 2019, with a shared interest in providing support to youth in the region, the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville (OHFN) began to discuss opportunities for a funding partnership with FAO to address social, economic, educational and health challenges faced by youth, which can lead to lasting trauma.

Childhood trauma, also known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), can have a significant and long-term impact on social and emotional development. ACEs include poverty, parental separation, exposure to behavioral health and substance use disorders within households, abuse, neglect, violence or the loss of a family member. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research indicates ACEs put young people at higher risk of chronic health conditions, risky behaviors, and can affect brain development resulting in difficulty maintaining stable relationships, career opportunities and behavioral health issues throughout life.

In response to the growing number of children experiencing ACEs, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) promotes a resilience-oriented mental health system for youth. A key component of this methodology is to provide places in the community where youth are part of programming focused on basic needs, safety, coping skills, linkages to essential services, exploration of interests, increased sense of belonging and developing trust.

To address issues related to ACEs among youth in the region, FAO and OHFN launched an initial request for proposals (RFP) in 2020. During development of the RFP, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in priority being placed on proposals filling time-sensitive needs and gaps for young people, such as food access, technology support, mobile outreach programs and evidence-based training for staff of youth-serving organizations to address childhood trauma.

Through the RFP, FAO and OHFN each awarded $175,000 ($350,000 total to 19 organizations). The foundations also provided additional support to agencies in the region through organizational capacity training sessions, in partnership with the Ohio University College of Health Sciences and Professions,  related to trauma-informed care, creating a positive organizational culture and seeking grant funds.

OHFN funding was directed to organizations serving Athens, Hocking, Jackson, Meigs, Morgan, Perry and Vinton counties, while FAO directed support to organizations throughout Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties.

Partners Supported by OHFN:

  • Athens-Meigs Educational Service Center
  • Athens Photographic Project
  • Integrated Services for Behavioral Health
  • Live Healthy Appalachia
  • Morgan Local School District
  • New Lexington Schools
  • Perry County Juvenile Court
  • Rural Action
  • Southeastern Ohio Legal Services
  • Southern Local School District

For a full listing of organizations supported through the partnership, click here.


Informed by outcomes and evolving needs reported by the organizations funded in 2020,
FAO and OHFN released a second RFP in early 2022.

Please see the Funding Opportunities page for more information.

Funded agencies served more than 2,000 youth and 76 educators, with the impact across the region being far greater. One program supporting paid internships for high school students trained them to lead programming for summer camps serving younger children, making an even greater difference for young people in these communities.

Program reports demonstrated relief of acute stress in students and families, resulting in improved behavioral health. A summer photography program for adolescents in treatment for substance use disorders found more than 90% of participants reported increased social connectedness and improved daily functioning ability due to the program.

Training in trauma-informed care played an important role. In one district, elementary educators in Meigs County now have ongoing support of a Trauma and Resilience Trainer certified through Starr Commonwealth’s evidence-based curriculum to guide ongoing professional development for school staff.
35 Public Square, Nelsonville, Ohio 45764
(740) 753-1111

317 Board

The Athens Hocking Vinton Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board (317 Board) is part of Ohio’s county and regional network of agencies responsible for planning, developing, funding and evaluating a community-based system of care for individuals in need of behavioral health and substance use disorder services.

Appalachia Accessible Food Network

In 2013, the Appalachia Accessible Food Network (AAFN) was created to expand and diversify coordinated efforts to measurably increase the availability, affordability and consumption of healthy food among low-income, vulnerable populations in southeastern Ohio.

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) is a regional community foundation serving Appalachian Ohio’s 32 counties, with a mission to create opportunities for Appalachian Ohio’s citizens and communities by inspiring and supporting philanthropy.

CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence

CHOICES is committed to excellence in serving domestic violence victims and survivors in Central Ohio and has served as the sole resource for those seeking shelter in Franklin County for more than four decades.

Hopewell Health Centers

Hopewell Health Centers, Inc. (Hopewell) provides access to affordable, high quality integrated healthcare for all. Designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center, Hopewell provides comprehensive health services throughout southeastern Ohio, regardless of a patient's ability to pay.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Center

Our Lady of Guadalupe Center (OLGC) is a program of Catholic Social Services, which evolved from an immigrant woman’s desire to give back to the Hispanic community in Columbus.

Athens Photographic Project

Athens Photographic Project (APP) is a vibrant community of artists dedicated to using photography as a tool for self-expression, personal growth and community contribution within the journey of mental health recovery.


For more than a decade, the Foundation has partnered with Maryhaven, one of Ohio’s most respected substance use recovery organizations, to continue to improve access to recovery services in Central Ohio.

Dr. Robert Nagele

Development of blood-based diagnostic tests for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Breast Cancer.

Dr. Elizabeth A. Beverly

Pioneering the use of virtual reality to improve the lives of patients with diabetes.

Dr. Andrea Amalfitano

Developing technology to turn viruses into safe, effective and scalable gene therapies.

Dr. Brian Degenhardt

Demonstrating the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative medicine in patient care

Dr. Nathaniel Szewczyk

Impacting patient care through the study of muscle health

Dr. Brian Clark

Prevention and treatment of age-related muscle weakness and bone fractures.