Bowl of hot soup

Soup’s On! Creative funding ideas

This month, $10 buys you soup and salad—and a very special vote for your favorite innovative grant–seeker. Cast wisely.

This month, $10 buys you soup and salad—and a very special vote for your favorite innovative grant–seeker. Cast wisely. A bowl of soup might help launch Stark County’s next big idea. Cassie Ausperk, account manager for United Way of Greater Stark County, is helping to present Stark SOUP, a new program designed to award microgrants to people with plans to make Stark County better.

Here’s the idea: Anyone who is interested in receiving a grant fills out an online application, and four of those people or agencies will be selected to present their ideas at a dinner. United Way’s Young Leaders Society hosts “brain dumps” during the application process to help people refine their pitches.

The dinners are open to the community. Attendees pay $10 to receive a bowl of soup from Basil Asian Bistro, a salad from Deli Ohio and bread from Hazel and Rye Artisan Baking Company and then listen to four pitches from the grant seekers. Everyone in the audience gets to vote on what project should be funded.

The winner gets all the money raised that evening and is invited back to the next dinner to share the success of his or her project.

Basil Asian Bistro will host the three 2016 dinners, the first of which is scheduled for January 24. The venue holds up to 130 people, which could total a $1,300 grant for the top pitch.

“We think we’re going to have to turn people away at the door,” Ausperk said.

Other plans for the program include creating and selling bowls to increase the grant amount and delivering invites to the dinners on cans of soup.

Here’s how to apply:

April 17 dinner: health
Application window is February 1 to March 11

August 14 dinner: education
Application window is April 25 to July 1

The application and more information are available at

—Alison Matas

The Stark Community Foundation is comprised of more than 600 separate funds, created by charitable donors interested in everything from helping to cure diseases to educating students.

One of the more innovative and recent causes is the Lake Academic Boosters Club Endowment Fund. Bridgette Neisel, vice president of advancement for the foundation, said the fund was created in 2013 by a dynamic group of entrepreneurs and business people in the Lake community.

“They recognized that students might miss out on opportunities to expand their horizons and stretch their creativity due to the state funding reductions,” Neisel said in an email. “This fund will provide the financial support to student generated project ideas.”

She said Ken Brott, vice president of marketing at DRB Systems, spearheaded the program, aimed at providing funds to pursue creative and entrepreneurial educational projects.

The Lake Academic Boosters gave out the first educational grants for creative ideas in 2014. Along with some school funds, they handed out more than $20,000 of funds for 17 grants.

Here are a handful of not-so-well-known local funds—within the Stark Community Foundation’s $225 million portfolio—that have and do provide charitable assistance:

• Parke K. and Josephine B. Allensworth Memorial Fund, benefits programs in Stark County for neglected and abused children, the homeless and hungry, and the care and protection of animals.

• Hieronimus Trust, established in 1975 was funded by remaining trust assets of Alfred F. Hieronimus and his wife, Edna May. Designated for “the benefit of developmentally disabled children and for research in the field of children’s diseases.”

• Joshua Potts Foundation, established in 1999 by Jill and Larry Potts to honor the memory of their deceased son, who suffered a rare disease known as Hypothalamic Hamartoma. It provides education and research on this disease and provides medication and assistance for those afflicted.

• Brian C. Roshong Memorial Fund, established in 1996 to honor Brian C. Roshong, a Canton police officer killed in the line of duty on July 22, 1996, at age 24. Funds are to provide continuing support for new Canton police officers for the purchase of protective equipment.

• Edward P. and Julia E. Sigler Charitable Fund, established primarily for placement of pilot dogs with blind and/or physically handicapped Stark County residents.

—Tim Botos

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass