The Troy Foundation celebrates 100 years!


By Kathleen Leese

For Miami Valley Today

TROY — Augustus Stouder was ahead of his time when it came to paying it forward. The young man who came to Troy in 1887 had no idea that his generosity would change the face of charitable giving in Troy and today, as The Troy Foundation celebrates its 100th anniversary, his legacy of giving is being celebrated.

Stouder, who had $300 in his pocket when he came to Troy, in 1904 became the president of Hobart Electric Manufacturing Company, later known as The Hobart Corporation and now known as PMI Food Equipment Group. He would remain president until his death in 1929.

Known as “Uncle Gus” to those around him, Stouder was described as a grateful man by those in the Troy community and he wanted to give back to Troy for helping to make him successful. It was a conversation with his friend, John K. DeFrees, of The First National Bank and Trust Company, who told him about how he could create a foundation that would benefit Troy for years to come. Together, they created The Troy Foundation on April 15, 1924.

The Troy Foundation was created to receive gifts and bequests for educational, benevolent, religious or charitable use that would benefit those in the community. Stouder’s bequest of $151,640 was received in 1930 and 100 years later, the Troy Foundation has assets of over $140 million distributed over 400 funds.

According to Melissa Kleptz, president and CEO of the Troy Foundation, “The generosity of our community has allowed The Troy Foundation to support a variety of projects and programs that better the quality of life for those who live here.”

The Troy Foundation, which had its beginnings in a donated office space at The First National Bank and Trust Company, now operates from its permanent home at 216 W. Franklin St., Troy, where it has been since November 2006. Currently, The Troy Foundation has six full-time employees and one part-time employee.

Kleptz, who began with the Foundation in March 1996, was the first paid employee.

“There have been many changes over the past 28 years including adding nearly 400 charitable funds under our administration and increasing our grant-making from under $1 million annually to almost $9.8 million in 2023. In addition, contributions to the foundation, through the establishment of permanent charitable funds by community members, nonprofit organizations and corporations also grew to over $7 million in 2023,” she noted,

According to Kleptz, the foundation has awarded on average $7.5 million each year for the past five years to the community. They also contribute by sponsoring nonprofit fundraising events and donating items to help nonprofits raise money during their fundraising events.

Kleptz explained the quarterly grant process used by The Troy Foundation allows for quick responses to community needs.

“Being nimble was particularly needed during the pandemic as we were quickly able to set aside funds to create the Troy emergency response fund. This process allowed the foundation to award grants on a daily basis using a much (more) simplified process for the nonprofits and helped to put nearly $240,000 into the hands of our local nonprofits very quickly. After conducting a community needs study in 2020, the foundation then created the priority needs fund to support grants to organizations outside of our regular grant process that are providing solutions to take on the community’s most pressing needs.”

As the foundation celebrates its 100th anniversary, Kleptz noted they are looking to the future and all of the ways they can help the community.

“The Troy Foundation is looking forward to continuing our work to meet the most pressing needs in our community through our priority needs fund. The needs identified by our needs assessment are often costly to address and it will be the foundation’s goal to continue to find partners to work with to help us solve these issues for our residents,” she said.

“There are many tried and true solutions across the state working well in other communities to help address housing, childcare (and) transportation, for example and it would be beneficial for our community to work on these solutions together, utilizing the expertise of the organizations already working on the issues. We will also continue to support all of the things we have funded in the past that help to make Troy such a great place to live,” Kleptz said.

In honor of their 100th anniversary celebration, The Troy Foundation is planning to partner with several organizations to bring entertainment opportunities to Troy for residents.

Kleptz said, “We will be working with the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center and Troy Main Street and the Friday’s on Prouty series by sponsoring the first and last concert of the season. The first concert, the Cleveland Keys, will be held in June and will bring the community’s first dueling piano band to the downtown. The last concert will feature the Deron Bell Band and will feature their full horn section. Both concerts will feature the addition of a dance floor and the first concert will include a surprise to kick off the concert.”

“Other concerts will be happening on June 8, when ‘Come Together, a Beatles Tribute Band’ will perform on the rooftop of the Mayflower. On July 4, the foundation will partner with the city of Troy and the Troy Rotary Club to bring ‘Dogs of Society: The Ultimate Elton John Tribute’ to Treasure Island,” Kleptz added.

The Troy Foundation will be featured through the painted piano program in downtown Troy in a partnership with Troy Main Street and the city of Troy. Five pianos will be painted to show The Troy Foundation’s history and four areas of grant making to include The Troy Foundation History – Arts, Culture, Recreation, Health and Human Services, Education, Community and Economic Development. Four other pianos will be downtown and reflect the Foundation’s 100th logos.

Kleptz noted that watching The Troy Foundation grow over the past 28 years has “been nothing short of amazing.”

She added, “For a community the size of Troy to have a foundation worth more than $140 million is not common and I am thrilled that I have had a hand in getting the foundation to this point. It has been a pleasure for me to work with so many charitable minded individuals who want to give back to the community they call home and who have trusted the foundation with their gifts to carry on their legacy. Being able to connect donors to causes that are near to their hearts doesn’t often feel like work and it is truly an honor to be able to work with so many individuals who feel so passionate about helping others. I have one of the easiest jobs. I get to ‘sell’ philanthropy that in turn makes our community a better place for all who live here.”

Those who would like to support the work of The Troy Foundation have many ways to become involved through supporting specific organizations and causes in perpetuity or through donations to any of the other funds such as the foundation’s priority needs fund that helps those in greatest need.

Those interested can contact The Troy Foundation for more information at 937-335-8513.

“The vision for the Foundation remains the same as the vision of Augustus Stouder when he started the Foundation in 1924, which was and is to inspire a spirit of giving throughout our community. Gifts of any size to the Foundation help us to continue to improve the quality of life of all residents,” Kleptz stated.

“I think if Mr. Stouder could see The Troy Foundation today, he would be proud that his vision not only has continued 100 years later, but has grown to the size it is today,” Kleptz noted. “I think he would be amazed that his initial gift of $151,680 helped to spur a spirit of giving in our residents that continues to make Troy a special place in the hearts of its residents.”

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