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African American Community Fund

Father and son, Ernest E. and Ernest A. Bynum, have long been passionate about supporting African Americans and other minority communities in Appalachian Ohio. The pair co-founded the Minority Business Resource Network of Southeast Ohio to increase the diversity of the region’s business community. Now, they are continuing their advocacy with a new effort to grow resources dedicated to serving Appalachian Ohio’s African American communities, founding the African American Community Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.

As of 2017, over 86,000 African American individuals were living in communities throughout Appalachian Ohio. Appalachian Ohio’s history has been shaped in significant ways by its African American population. Among countless examples, African Americans played a critical role in making Appalachian Ohio a major hub of the Underground Railroad, and also shaped the region’s musical and cultural history, including through the development of bluegrass music.

Now, the African American Community Fund has been established at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) to serve African American communities throughout Appalachian Ohio’s 32 counties.

The Fund will serve as a vehicle for African American individuals throughout the region to invest in and support their communities by promoting dialogue and connections to create racial harmony, and by supporting and enhancing initiatives in Appalachian Ohio’s African American communities that strengthen not only African American populations in the region, but entire communities.


Grant Opportunities

The African American Community Fund (AACF), in partnership with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO), invites nonprofit and public organizations seeking funding for a project or program serving African American communities throughout Appalachian Ohio’s 32 counties to apply for a grant beginning September 7.

AACF and FAO’s I’m a Child of Appalachia® Fund will award up to $10,000 in grants to projects or programs benefitting African American communities throughout Appalachian Ohio’s 32 counties. Projects should increase quality of life, create access to opportunities, or implement a solution to a need.

Preference for grant awards is given to organizations that meet at least two of the following criteria: the organization’s executive director identifies as Black; 50% of the board is Black; and the organization serves the Black community.

Click here to apply. The deadline for applications is October 12. Interested in other grants? Visit our opportunities page!


Recent Projects

Six grant awards were awarded through the African American Community Fund’s inaugural grant round.

The Alliance for Congregational Transformation In Our Neighborhoods (ACTION) received funding to combat food insecurity in Mahoning County by providing fresh and organic food from local farmers in the Youngstown area through a pop-up market model.

The Carver Community Center received funding to assist Ross County students and families as they face the challenges of remote learning. With parents and other family caregivers often working during the school day, the center provides childcare, supports children in their online schoolwork, and provides them with meals.

GO Community Development Corporation received funding to stock a shoe and coat closet, providing Ashtabula County children with needed clothing for the winter season.

The John Gee Black Historical Center in Gallia County received funding to provide virtual programming while increasing the reach of the organization beyond Gallia County.

The Underground Railroad Museum received funding to conduct extensive research and create a virtual map of the Underground Railroad stations in Belmont County. This virtual platform will allow the museum to reach patrons who cannot attend in-person tours.

United Returning Citizens received funding to create baskets of essential items such as facemasks, gloves, and hand sanitizers to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 among those released from prison, including those released early due to COVID transmission within prisons. Baskets will also be provided to those working or incarcerated in prisons and to other vulnerable communities in Mahoning County.

These grants were awarded through the inaugural grant round of the African American Community Fund. The Fund was established at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) earlier this year by Ernest E. and Ernest A. Bynum, who have both long been passionate about supporting minority communities in Appalachian Ohio. The Fund is one way to create opportunities for African Americans in Appalachian Ohio.

For the Fund’s first grant round, preference for grant awards was given to organizations that meet at least two of the following criteria: the organization’s executive director identifies as Black; 50% of the board is Black; and the organization serves the Black community.


AACF Committee Members

• Ernest A. Bynum
• Ernest E. Bynum
• Rosetta Carter
• Ken Mason
• Dr. Michele Reynolds
• Ralph Smithers


Support AACF

To help the African American Community Fund grow its ability to support Appalachian Ohio’s African American communities with grants each and every year, mail your donation to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, PO Box 456, Nelsonville, OH 45764 and designate the African American Community Fund. Gifts can also be made online here by selecting the African American Community Fund when donating.

For more information about the African American Community Fund and how you can give to support the Fund, contact the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio at 740.753.1111 or info@ffao.org.