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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Minutes for the March 27th 'Think Tank' meeting

Hi everybody,


Determined that the path forward will require the proposed foundation proceeding as a legal entity that is distinctly separate from the DMBA.  The reason for this is because 501(c)(3) status requires the organization must exist for solely public purposes, and cannot in any way engage in activity that directly benefits or promotes an individual or business, and the DMBA exists to further its constituents' business interests. 

Discussed conception of the Foundation as an umbrella organization that will provide an avenue to motivated citizens and groups to apply for grant money to fund their Meadville betterment projects. The Foundation would provide applicants with grant-writing support, legal guidance, and financial oversight. All projects would be approved by the board only if the proposed project supports the Foundation's mission, which, broadly speaking, is to improve conditions in Meadville (see mission statement bullet points below)

We discussed names for this Foundation and after a few suggestions were tossed around, the group settled on "Meadville's Foundation".

We discussed what we know about the Conneaut Lake grant-writing group's experience, namely, that they apparently received another sizable ($665,000.00) grant for repair and maintenance of their town.  We have heard they are operating in their grant-writing capacity as a charter of the town of Conneaut Lake, this while they explore founding their own 501(c)(3) or attempt to get under the umbrella of the Western PA/Eastern OH Community Foundation. 

We discussed approaching our City Government with a similar proposal but would also like to talk with Conneaut Lake's Supervisor and the group's leaders to get a better idea of how they are functioning.

Mission Statement Bullet Points:   

        With regard to the City of Meadville, this organization aspires to do the following:
    •    Promote community pride
    •    Promote economic growth and prosperity
    •    Promote music and the arts
    •    Provide funds to improve Meadville's aesthetic appeal, improve facilities, and promote a healthful downtown environment
    •    Preserve Meadville's heritage
    •    Provide support for vulnerable or distressed citizens
    •    Engage the youth with mentoring, opportunities for civic involvement, scholarships and educational opportunities
    •    Provide resources, support and guidance to motivated citizens in their own efforts to improve Meadville
    •    Develop strategies to retain professionals and skilled workers in the city

Bylaw Brainstorming:

We determined that we must keep focus on Meadville but want to allow flexibility in pursuing attractive opportunities, recognizing that some grants will be available for projects taking place beyond city boundaries, but which benefit Meadville nonetheless.  The following ideas were suggested to be written into bylaw -
    •    We must define "Meadville" - Geographically, the downtown is the "epicenter" with the greatest importance, the City of Meadville as the second most important zone, beyond that 16335 area code range. 
    •    In order for the Board to approve an grant application and/or allocate funds for a given purpose, the requester must make a convincing case that the proposed plan furthers the Foundation's mission. If the Board is convinced that the proposal
    •    Proposed a pyramidal system to evaluate the strength of a given proposal, with greater weight given to positive effects that would be felt closer to the "epicenter" and less weight to effects that would be felt further beyond.

To do before next meeting:

    •    Make contact with Conneaut Lake's group and the town's Supervisor - attempt to discuss their experience and invite them to come to our next meeting in the hopes that they will share their knowledge.
    •    Request the Erie Community Foundation's IRS filings from the Erie Foundation and also the IRS in case Erie does not respond.  Also ask them if we might have a copy of their bylaws.
    •    Explore developing a charter relationship with the city government to allow us to pursue grants while 501(c)(3) status is pending.
    •    Develop mission statement into a coherent paragraph
    •    Continue to fill out IRS application paperwork
That's about it. 
If anybody would like to take a stab at bylaw and mission statement drafting, it would be appreciated.

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