Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation

WVU Reed College of Media receives Benedum grant for community branding efforts

WVU Today
January 27, 2015

The West Virginia University Reed College of Media recently received a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum foundation to launch a new project aimed at revitalizing West Virginia communities. The grant, worth $130,000, will assemble strategic expertise from the College of Media and other partners to provide full-service, integrated branding efforts for West Virginia communities.

It will begin with three pilot projects, including the 2014 “Turn This Town Around” contest winners, Matewan and Grafton, and the 2015 winner, Ripley. Students and faculty will work with community leaders to develop a brand identity and creative strategy, with an integrated marketing communications campaign and a community branding tool-kit.

 “Turn This Town Around” is a joint effort between the West Virginia Community Development Hub, West Virginia Focus magazine and West Virginia Public Broadcasting to help revitalize towns in the state through facilitated projects and planning.

Dean Maryanne Reed says this project will give students valuable hands-on experience working with community members and regional leaders to help raise awareness of and promote each community’s unique story and marketable attributes.

“This project builds on our College’s longstanding commitment to empowering rural communities through digital and media tools and strategies,” said Reed. “It will also be a key program housed in our new Media Innovation Center to open later this year.”

In addition to providing community-driven integrated communications branding work, the community branding initiative will house and distribute research results, case studies, templates, training materials, and lessons learned from individual campaigns as resources for rural communities both state- and nation-wide.

During the spring and summer, faculty will work with the three pilot communities to identify the goals, objectives and time table for each project.

 New training program hopes to boost farmers markets

January 25, 2015
Charleston Gazette
By Caitlin Cook, Staff writer

The West Virginia Farmers Market Association is launching a program geared toward new vendors to help foster more access to local foods, more growers and more producers, project coordinator Adam Taylor said.

Vendors with less than two years of market experience are urged to apply for the training program by Feb. 15.

“Only about 10 percent of people look into what all is required,” Taylor said. “Many people think, ‘Hey, it’s a farmers market and I’ll just take what I grew there and sell it.’ But there’s a lot more to it than that.” The two-day training session will focus on a variety of topics including, post harvest handling, licensing and food safety requirements, marketing and customer service. Twenty vendors will participate in the program where experts from West Virginia University Extension Service, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the state Department of Health and Human Resources, the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition and others present vendors with strategies and information to better navigate their business. “Farmers already know how to farm,” Taylor said.

The program hopes to give vendors a better chance at being successful and meeting the growing demand for local foods. “We’re not only strengthening local food access but also the local economy,” Taylor said. It’s a great program to help build farmers markets in West Virginia, Taylor added. Kelly Crane, executive director of the farmers market association, said the program is a way to provide additional support to the existing farmers markets in the state. One of the largest barriers for more farmers becoming local vendors is licensing and food safety requirements, she said. “It’s a complicated process,” Crane said. “We want to have a one stop shop that they can learn all about what they need.”

Selected participants will be paired with experienced mentors. Both participants and mentors will receive funding to help offset travel costs and grow their business. The training program is funded for two years through a federal grant, as well as support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and MVB Bank. The WVFMA will collect data from participating farmers to gauge the impact of the program, Crane said.

The full program application may be found at For more information contact Adam Taylor at Applications are due Feb. 15.


Benedum and Farm Credit team to support young innovators at WVU

December 10, 2014

The West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design will build on its foundation as an innovation hub with the support of a $157,000 grant from The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and $100,000 from Farm Credit.

The combination of private and public funds will enable the creation of the WVU Davis College Young Innovators Fellowship Program, which will provide students motivated to bring innovation and entrepreneurship to rural environments and communities the skills to do so. The program will accept students from any of the College’s academic programs, from agriculture to housing and all forms of business and technology development.

Advancing the ways and means for WVU graduates to more quickly and successfully contribute to the region’s economic development is the goal. Measuring the success of graduates this way is a new approach.

“Enhancing and sustaining the rural economy of West Virginia is vitally important to the state, and there’s a clear need for innovation and entrepreneurship to support that,” said Dan Robison, dean of the Davis College. “Through the Young Innovators Fellowship Program, we’ll be able to build an even more fertile entrepreneurial environment among students, faculty, farmers, rural business and technology developers, and others who have a stake in these critical issues.”

The program will also provide a think-tank atmosphere, allowing students to interact with many organizations and governmental agencies that are focused on sustainable agriculture and rural development in the state, as well as potential funders for future entrepreneurial activities. The program will include internships, provide service opportunities for undergraduate students to give back to the state and develop networking and mentoring opportunities.

“Through this program, the college will continue to develop a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship with real economic value, by better enabling future generation of thinkers and doers,” Robison said. “That different but like-minded entities like the Benedum Foundation and Farm Credit have determined to support us in this venture speaks to their forward-looking commitment to all of West Virginia’s communities, and we are thrilled to partner with them, and seek additional collaborators, in this effort.”

As a first step, the WVU Davis College will assemble a Young Innovators Resource Team composed of faculty, practitioners, managers of working capital, business support and training organizations, and networking groups. The team will select ten sophomores annually as Fellows, who will be active in the program during their junior and senior years.

Each fellow will receive an annual scholarship, so long as they continue to meet program requirements and show good progress in moving toward developing their entrepreneurial and innovation skills. Each Fellow and a faculty advisor together develop a Young Entrepreneur Success (YES) Plan as a guide to their specific participation in the program. Matt Wilson, a professor and assistant director of the College’s experiment station, will serve as program coordinator.

“West Virginians spend more than $7 billion on food every year, but less than 10 percent of that is from in-state production. The markets exist for agribusiness growth, as well as all the other kinds of commercial activity that make rural communities vital,” Wilson said. “The Davis College intends to train students to tap into those markets and build West Virginia’s economy.”

The $157,000 Benedum grant and $100,000 Farm Credit gifts were made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.

Main Street Fairmont Hoping to Engage Community with IF Project

December 2, 2014

Main Street Fairmont recently got $85,000 in grant money from the Benedum Foundation for a project that's meant to get the community involved in revitalizing downtown. It's called the IF Project. IF stands for Invest, Impact, Invent Fairmont, and if it's successful it could be used as a model for revitalization across Appalachia.
Main Street advocates for historic preservation and adaptive reuse in the downtown, but up until now, they've had to rely on others to get the ball rolling.
"Instead of us always waiting, there's a lot of waiting, we're waiting for somebody else to come fix things, we're waiting for someone to come and create change, and this is a chance for us to do that," said Kate Greene, the executive director of Main Street Fairmont.
Main Street doesn't have to wait anymore, thanks to the grant from the Benedum Foundation that's going to let them build a model for residents to put their money into the buildings, ideas, and programs that they believe in to shape a more positive future for their city. They said this showing of good faith will help attract larger investors.
"Having that kind of a financial backing from your community, you're really demonstrating feasibility of your idea, you're showing community buy-in, and so that's a really significant piece to making something viable and realistic," Greene said.
Main Street will be working with everyone from volunteers and community partners to financial planners to target five large, unused buildings in the city and identify possible tenants and uses for them. Residents who invest in the projects will see a minimal financial return, but Main Street hopes the bigger reward will be seeing positive change in the community.
"Each time that we invest new dollars in an existing structure it's a catalyst for the next redevelopment," Greene said.
The success of a few small businesses in Fairmont is attracting more, but there is not enough move-in ready space for them. The IF Project should help with that. Main street is also undertaking some more manageable efforts themselves. They recently bought a building on Adams Street to rehab for businesses and affordable housing.
"It's really going to be a power year for Main Street, and that grant has given us that opportunity," Greene said.
The next step in the project will be building the team who will shape it and move it forward. If all goes well, we should be seeing Fairmont buildings transforming before our very eyes over the next few years.

Chevron makes $20 million investment to improve job training in region

October 22, 2014

By Joyce Gannon / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After Chevron Corp. spent $3.7 billion to buy Atlas Energy’s assets and gas reserves near Pittsburgh in 2011, the California company began contemplating how to establish a philanthropic presence in the region where it was poised to become a major player in the Marcellus Shale boom.

So officials from Chevron contacted the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, a long-established Pittsburgh-based charitable fund built on the fortunes of oil wildcatter Michael Benedum.

Chevron considered its connection with the nonprofit to be not so much the fact that both had a long history in the oil and gas industry, said Jim Denova, the foundation’s vice president, but that the Benedum Foundation’s grant-making focuses largely on education and workforce training in areas where Chevron would soon be doing business: southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The organizations began collaborating on projects in the region to advance education and training in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math, such as developing a hands-on science curriculum and teacher training.

On Tuesday, they formalized their efforts with Chevron’s announcement that it will invest $20 million over the next four years in the Appalachia Partnership Initiative. The initiative will focus on boosting STEM efforts and technical training in 27 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio, with the goal of better preparing students to work in the region’s energy and manufacturing sectors.

“This is a unique window to create economic prosperity,” said Nigel Hearne, president of Chevron Appalachia, which is based in Moon.

Besides Chevron and the Benedum Foundation, partners in the initiative include the Rand Corp., which will track the program’s progress; and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, which has conducted research on what skills and training are in highest demand among energy companies and other employers in the region.

Specifically, the initiative calls for Chevron to expand its investment in STEM education for K-12 public school districts, and to develop more post-secondary programs and certifications that focus on technical skills.

In the public schools, the initiative will expand Chevron’s Project Lead the Way program from five to 20 school districts by next year. That program includes developing STEM curriculum and training teachers in the subjects.

For post-secondary students, the initiative will work with ShaleNet, a workforce training project for the oil and natural gas industries, to develop scholarships at four community colleges and target technical training that will help students fill available jobs.

Also, Chevron will fund energy laboratories for the Elizabeth Forward and Bethlehem Center school districts through a collaboration with students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center.

Besides the financial commitment it’s making through the initiative, Chevron is encouraging its 700 employees in the region to mentor students and volunteer in other ways throughout the region’s communities to promote the significance of science and technical careers.

“It’s not just the dollars spent,” Mr. Hearne said. “That’s the easy part.”

When it detailed the initiative at a news conference Tuesday at the Sen. John Heinz History Center in the Strip District, Chevron used the museum setting to play heavily on its historic connections to Pittsburgh.

Chevron merged with longtime Pittsburgh industrial giant Gulf Oil Corp. in 1985, so placed strategically around the room were iconic Gulf gas station signs and photographs.

Farm Gathering to help farmers grow in North-Central W.Va

By CYNTHIA McCLOUD, West Virginia State Journal

October 21, 2014

Farming can really pay.

That's what one promoter of the first-ever North-Central West Virginia Farm Gathering and Local Foods Expo hopes farmers will take away from the event.

Christa Blais, owner of All Things Herbal Local Market in Fairmont, said many farmers leave agriculture to make a living elsewhere or become bivocational to have another source of income to afford to be able to farm.

“They need to think of farming as a business plan instead of a retirement plan,” Blais said.

She knows people who have inherited or purchased land with the plan of having a hobby farm after they retire from their non-agriculture jobs. They believe they can't live off what they earn at farmers markets. She said she hopes attendees will learn ways to increase production and make connections with restaurants, schools and other places that will buy their produce, in addition to farmers markets.

The North-Central WV Farm Gathering and Local Foods Expo is for farmers, food business owners, service providers and farming experts. It will be Oct. 29 at the I-79 Technology Park in Fairmont. 

The event starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs all day. The deadline to register is Wednesday, Oct. 22. To register for the Farm Gathering and Expo, visit, or call Garnet Bruell at (304) 877-7920. 

Folks who attend can choose from classes on subjects such as small fruits production, branding strategies for local foods businesses and farmers markets, among other topics. In addition to workshops, there will be a built-in local foods expo, where buyers and growers of local food can showcase their products and form business connections. 

Ritchie County Extension Agent Alexandria Straight and Extension Specialist Joe Moritz will teach a seminar on raising chickens for eggs and meat as a value-added product.

“Chickens in West Virginia can be slaughtered at home, up to 5,000 birds a year, without going to a slaughter facility for processing that can be far away and expensive and takes profit out of animal,” Straight said.

Raising chickens is a good enterprise for anyone, she said, but it's especially attractive to women and children because it doesn't require heavy lifting or specialized equipment and it's something kids can do with minimal help from adults.

Kelly Crane, executive director of the West Virginia Farmers Market Association, said the classes have been designed  by teams of local growers and community organizers, in addition to statewide service providers, so that the trainings will be directly determined by what area farmers want to learn — making this an event by growers, for growers, and customized for the North-Central West Virginia region.

“It's a really good opportunity for people to get really high-quality low-cost instruction that's really customized for their area,” Crane said. “That hasn't been happening in any concerted way around West Virginia.

“Also there's going to be really good food there."

Chef Dale Hawkins, owner of Fish Hawk Acres in Rock Cave, will serve meals.

“The neat thing about Dale is he's like a little aggregator himself,” Crane said. “When we're sourcing meals from Dale, he's sourcing different components from other growers, so we're supporting many local producers at once.”

Attendees are invited to share their own recipes for a chance to win prizes.

“The American Heart Association is doing a soft launch of its WV Farmers Market Recipe Challenge program at the event,” Crane said. “Three attendees will receive monetary prizes for their recipe submissions and one farmers market will win an outdoor kitchen. 

“This is going to be a big statewide project and a recipe book is going to come out of it,” she said. “It's really exciting. Farmers markets are a good place where health and agriculture come together.” 

To learn about the recipe challenge, contact Earnestine Walker, (215) 575-5217.

The gathering and expo is hosted by the West Virginia Farmers Market Association, the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, Change the Future West Virginia and the Value Chain Cluster Initiative. 

It's the fourth in a series of regional gatherings that started last December.

“We have funding from our organization, the Farmers Market Association, to continue these through 2016,” Crane said. “We want these to be annual conferences that keep happening, something that has longevity beyond the life of the grant dollars funding them right now.”

Crane said the hope is local entities will continue sponsorship of the conference, holding future events.

The gatherings are made possible by support from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and Farm Credit of the Virginias.

Charleston Area Alliance

5/8/2014: The Charleston Area Alliance has been awarded a major grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to promote entrepreneurship in the Kanawha Valley.

The $189,000 grant will support two strategic entrepreneurial initiatives, GROW and “Neural Networking,” over a two year period.

GROW is a six month boot camp to help burgeoning entrepreneurs gain skills and connectivity to take their business venture to the next level. The funding will support programming for four GROW cohorts of 15-20 entrepreneurs each, or up to 80 students.

“Neural Networking” is a new initiative designed to recruit entrepreneurs to the Kanawha Valley. The program will leverage the networks of local community and business leaders to connect and share the West Virginia story with entrepreneurs in other parts of the country.

“Neural Networking” will also help redefine the perception of Kanawha Valley and West Virginia through personal relationships.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Benedum and drive entrepreneurial development in the Kanawha Valley,” said Alliance President and CEO Matthew Ballard.

“Neural Networking will address one of our strategic gaps in filling our tech-based entrepreneurial pipeline. We will be communicating the strategic opportunities that the Kanawha Valley holds to entrepreneurs nationally.”

The partnership will also allow the Alliance to hire an additional staff person to manage both initiatives. The Alliance hopes to have this person on-board by early-June.

“Entrepreneurs are critical to a strong and vibrant West Virginia economy,” said Mary Hunt, senior program officer with the Benedum Foundation. “The programs funded through this grant will enable the Alliance to support entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses in the Kanawha Valley.”

Carlow University to become lab satellite school

Pittsburgh  Business Times – March 26, 2014

Carlow University announced Wednesday that the university has received a $205,000 grant commitment from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to establish a satellite campus of Carnegie Mellon University's Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab.

The satellite, which will focus on interdisciplinary practices in education and high performing learning, is being established collaboratively with Carlow's School of Education and The Campus School of Carlow University.

The Campus School will implement two projects, Arts & Bots and Gigapan. The School of Education will serve as the lead for another initiative, the Children's Innovation Project, which will be implemented at Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5.

CMU has established similar satellite programs at Marshall University, West Virginia University and West Liberty University.

“The CREATE Lab Satellite model is a great approach to innovation in learning. We have learned in West Virginia that combining CMU’s robotics and computer science talent with progressive centers of professional development leads to measurable advances in the classroom,” James Denova, vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation said in a prepared statement. “Carlow University’s Campus School and teacher preparation program provide the right ingredients for expanding this partnership model into Pennsylvania."

Foundation awarded grant to study best ways to treat pain, combat drug abuse

Mar. 23, 2014 - Huntington Herald Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- The Family Medicine Foundation of West Virginia has been awarded a three-year Benedum Foundation grant to develop a model of treating pain, based on the most effective practices from throughout the state.

It's all in an effort to decrease opioid and prescription drug abuse in West Virginia, and will be created under the leadership of consultant Dr. Jeannie Sperry, who was recently named pain psychologist and clinical director at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, a world-leading pain center.

Sperry, who previously worked at West Virginia University, has become a national expert in pain management and the integration of primary care and behavioral health care, said Matt Walker, director of the Family Medicine Foundation of West Virginia and program coordinator.

Challenging health care providers in West Virginia is the issue of how to treat chronic pain without leading to prescription drug abuse. Once a person has been on chronic pain medication for three months, he or she is technically a chronic pain medication user, and is likely to have a difficult time ending their medication use, Walker said.

"We don't want everyone to be chronic pain medication users," Walker said. "That's not going to work for everybody, but some people can come off of it, and we want to help them do that."

While many legitimate chronic pain sufferers exist, West Virginia has become a state plagued by epidemic levels of prescription drug abuse, and the Family Medicine Foundation of West Virginia and the Benedum Foundation will work to develop a solution and support to allow health care providers to treat their patients effectively through a new chronic pain model replicable in most, if not all, medical settings in West Virginia.

Also developed through this project will be a training program for the implementation of the chronic pain model, tailored for providers of various types and training levels.

"There are some organizations around the state that have put together their own models, and some are successful and some are not," Walker said. "What we want to do is to have almost a sharing network where we can share best practices. A lot is done in-house and what works in one clinic might not work in another. Some clinics might not know what is working at other clinics. We'll go to large and small institutions and say, 'Would you like to try this in your facility and cater it to meet the needs of your patients and your provider mix?' "

Sperry has made a career of putting together models and theories of how to treat chronic pain, he said.

"We're going to accumulate best practices from around the state and she's going to put together the best possible model for chronic pain," Walker said. "What we hope to achieve is the development of a chronic pain model -- and training to implement the model -- that will fit in every practice in the state, whether large or small. We want it to be affordable to implement and easily replicable, whether you have a small practice or a huge practice."

With the new model, physicians can follow patients' medication history through their electronic medical record, so doctors will get alerts when they see a patient has been on chronic pain medication for three months, Walker said. As long as they can effectively share data between providers, they hope to prevent doctor shopping to get more pain meds. Doctors also can check the pharmacy data base, Walker said.

"This isn't something that is a silver bullet, but it will be another tool in the tool box," he said. Physicians say that chronic pain treatment and prescription drug abuse is something that, aside from harming patients and communities, is sucking up time in their practices.

"They want to get back to seeing patients and doing a good job with that, and to do that, they need to get help with chronic pain management," Walker said.

Dr. Ron Stollings, a practicing physician and West Virginia state Senator from Madison, also plans to be involved in the project, according to a release from the foundation.

As small-town health care provider and chairman of the Senate Health Committee, Stollings said he has seen the effects of the prescription drug epidemic from several different angles.

"This is an important project. An effective chronic pain model is desperately needed in our state," Stollings said in the news release. "Prescription drug abuse is a major issue and we need to take the proper action to prevent abuse."

The Family Medicine Foundation of West Virginia was founded in1982 as a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, with a mission to enhance the health care delivered to the people of West Virginia. The Benedum Foundation was created in 1944 by Michael and Sarah Benedum and has authorized grants totaling more than $410 million throughout its history.

8 W.Va. communities get abandoned buildings grants

Associated Press - 2/14/2014
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - A program based at West Virginia University has awarded technical assistance grants to eight communities aimed at redeveloping abandoned and dilapidated buildings.

The Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center awarded the $10,000 grants to efforts in Fairmont, Kenova, Middleway, Point Pleasant, Ronceverte, Wellsburg, Weston and Wheeling.

Funding for the assistance center's BAD Buildings Program is provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation through the WVU Foundation.

Program manager Luke Elser says the grants will provide expertise to help communities identify and research abandoned buildings, create redevelopment plans and overcome major obstacles in turning problem properties into community resources.


City Theatre Receives $118,000 Grant from Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation (July 30, 2013)
City Theatre ( has received an $118,500 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to fund arts education outreach in West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania schools.  This grant, along with a new partnership with West Liberty University's Center for Arts and Education, will facilitate the theatre's Young Playwrights Program, which features professional development workshops, in-class playwriting workshops, and field trips to City Theatre's South Side location to experience live, professional, high-caliber theatre.

City Theatre Young Playwrights is a comprehensive, dynamic approach to arts education that has been serving teachers, students, and the Pittsburgh community for nearly fifteen years.  In the Young Playwrights model, a City Theatre teaching artist is paired with the classroom teacher-creating the artistic team for an exciting partnership that guides students through the playwriting process during classroom workshops.

The workshops are student-centered, involving young people in hands-on activities that incorporate the class as a whole and stress the idea of an ensemble environment.  The artistic team engages students in writing and revising activities, including writing conferences and theatre techniques such as improvisation and performance.  All subject areas and life experiences are material the students can shape artistically to create an original one-act play.

"An integral part of Young Playwrights' mission is to provide middle and high school students with a new outlet in which to establish their voices and express themselves creatively," says Kristen Link, Director of Education & Accessibility.  "Through our playwriting program, young people not only learn a new craft, but also discover different ways to think critically and connect to their fellow peers."

"Receiving this grant from the Benedum Foundation will afford us the opportunity to expand our educational programming to regions that currently lack the resources to provide meaningful experiences within the crafts of theatre and playwriting.  We look forward to connecting with many new schools, teachers, and students," says Kristen Link.

The mission of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation is to encourage human development in West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania through strategically placed charitable resources.

City Theatre's 39th season begins this fall.  Located on Pittsburgh's historic South Side, City Theatre specializes in new plays, commissioning and producing work by playwrights including Adam Rapp, Jeffrey Hatcher, Theresa Rebeck, and Christopher Durang.  Under the leadership of Artistic Director Tracy Brigden, Managing Director Mark R. Power, and a 45-member Board of Directors, City Theatre's mission is to provide an artistic home for the development and production of contemporary plays of substance and ideas that engage and challenge a diverse audience.

Benedum Foundation Announces Election of New Chair and Addition of Two New Trustees

PITTSBURGH (June 13, 2013) - The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation announced that Paul G. Benedum, Jr., has stepped down as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation.  At its meeting on June 11, 2013, the Trustees elected Senator Lloyd G. Jackson II to that position.  Mr. Benedum will continue to serve as a Trustee of the Foundation, a position he has held for 36 years, including 22 as Chair.

Mr. Jackson, President of Jackson Gas Company, a natural gas production firm in Hamlin, West Virginia, has a long record of service.  A former West Virginia State Senator, he served as Chair of the Senate’s Education Committee for eight years, and is currently a member of the West Virginia Board of Education.

Senator Jackson’s five-year term as Chair of the Board of Trustees of West Virginia Wesleyan College concluded in 2012.  He also has served as a board member of the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta, the College Board in New York, the College Summit and Kids Count in Charleston, and currently serves on the Board of the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston, and West Virginia: A Vision Shared, the State’s economic development collaborative.

In addition, the Benedum Foundation added two new Trustees: Greg Babe, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Parween Sultany Mascari, of Morgantown, West Virginia.

Mr. Babe retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of Bayer Corporation, and President and CEO of Bayer MaterialScience LLC, in 2012.  He has served as Chair of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, and as a member of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development’s Executive Committee, as well as its Board of Directors.  Mr. Babe was a co-chair of the Environmental Team during the planning phase of Power of 32, the 32‑county four‑state economic development effort, and continues as a member of its Implementation Committee.  He is currently a director of Matthews International and serves on the West Virginia University Foundation’s Board of Directors and the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy Advisory Council.  A native of West Virginia, Mr. Babe holds a Bachelor of Science degree from West Virginia University and an honorary doctorate of science from WVU’s Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

Ms. Mascari is an attorney with Farmer Cline & Campbell PLLC in Morgantown.  In addition, she is the owner of WV Market stores in Morgantown and at Snowshoe Mountain Resort, which feature West Virginia‑made products, and co-owner with her husband of Madeleine’s Restaurant in Morgantown, specializing in locally‑grown food and local music.  Her commitment to the region includes service on the Boards of the Snowshoe Foundation, the West Virginia Economic Development Authority, and the I-79 Development Council.  She is a member of the Monongalia County Bar Association and the Visiting Committee of the West Virginia University College of Law.  She was a founding member of both Generation West Virginia and Generation Morgantown, young professional organizations serving the State.  Ms. Mascari is a graduate of West Virginia University’s College of Law and holds MBA and Bachelor of Arts degrees from WVU.

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation was established in 1944 by Michael and Sarah Benedum, natives of West Virginia, as a memorial to their only child, Claude Worthington Benedum, who died in 1918 at the age of 20.  The Foundation is a regional foundation focusing primarily on West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania.  For more information on the Foundation, please see:

Schools to use grants to create 'colorful, interesting spaces'

June 27, 2013 6:01 am
By Debra Duncan /Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Two foundations are giving $500,000 to 25 school districts in southwestern Pennsylvania, and most of the schools will use the money to create places where students can employ the latest technology to learn.

Each district will receive a $20,000 grant from the Grable and Benedum foundations. Many will use the grants to redesign an area of the library or a classroom where students can gather to focus on projects related to what is called STEAM -- science, technology, engineering, art and math.

The emphasis on gathering spaces in this year's awards will foster collaborative 21st century learning, said Gregg Behr, executive director of the Grable Foundation.

"There's a new focus in education on creating colorful, interesting spaces where teens can hang out, mess around and geek out," he said. "You create a space where they can go with their friends and peers and make it cool and attractive.

"Maybe the students are using smartphones, tablets or laptops. And there are mentors there, whether they are librarians or teachers, to help foster the learning process," Mr. Behr said.

He said research shows that this generation of students is wired differently to learn. They love the newest technology gadgets, no matter what they are, so educators are finding ways to take advantage of that.

"Technology is just the tool to learning," he said.

"I remember watching Fred Rogers as a child," he said. "On the one hand, he was the nice grandfather, but he was really a 1950s geek. He saw that children were attracted to TV, so he was just taking advantage of the newest technology -- TV -- to help use it for a good purpose.

"It's a mistake just to focus on providing our schools with technology; the focus needs to be on learning," he said.

Elizabeth Forward High School, for example, has used a Grable Foundation grant to repurpose an area of the library where students can gather.

It's the same concept as the YOUmedia labs at several Carnegie Library branches, where new technology is available for teens, Mr. Behr noted. Students can access a TV studio or sound studio to create their own segments or music videos.

"It's become the hub of activity at the Elizabeth Forward High this year," he said.

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit is administering the STEAM grants. Eighty school districts in the region applied for them for the coming year.

The overall goal is to support innovative learning ideas and encourage students to use technology in cross-discipline projects.

"We really fund what the superintendents tell us they need," Mr. Behr said.

James Denova, vice president of the Benedum Foundation, said the STEAM grants "seed the inspiration and creativity of classroom teachers. Too often, the innovative ideas of frontline educators are overlooked by large scale, top down initiatives. Grant programs like this allow fresh ideas to be tested at the classroom or building level."

Rosanne Javorsky, assistant director at the AIU, said, "We could have easily funded 50 districts this year. Early in the STEAM grants, schools applied to buy things, such as iPads. But now many applicants have the vision to use them to engage and motivate learning."

The AIU had seven criteria for rating the grants, including how they would engage students in learning and also embody a STEAM component.

"In most cases, an English teacher, a biology teacher, or a librarian will facilitate the learning in these spaces," she said. "Sometimes the high school will be open for the kids before or after school. Oftentimes, the kids want to access these spaces long after the school day is over, which is the great thing."

Collaboration is a big part of the new learning style and the creative learning spaces, Mr. Behr said.

"We want layers of learning," he said. "We want students working with students, maybe a writer working with a programmer, or an engineer working with an artist on a project. And we want teachers working among themselves, and with the students in reverse mentoring. Then we have school districts working with universities, such as Carnegie Mellon University, or their local library on a project."

For example, Elizabeth Forward this past year partnered with the Arts & Bots Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University, to establish an all-girls robotics club. Girls were taught the basics of computer programming, such as how to control LED lights, motors and sensors. Then, they combined those skills with art and design to construct robots.

Education trends also focus on helping students make a product, Mr. Behr said.

He attended a recent education conference in Washington, D.C., and said President Barack Obama has a "maker" education initiative, in which students learn to produce products. That might include designing, creating and manufacturing a product on a three-dimensional printer or making a film about the history of their neighborhood.

At the MAKESHOP at the Children's Museum in Pittsburgh, for example, parents and children sit at long tables together to make wood products, animation or circuitry or to use sewing machines. Experienced "makers" and artists are on hand to help.

This is the fifth year for the STEAM grants from the two foundations, which have totaled more than $1 million.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 22, 2013-- Wall Street Journal

The Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center (, has received a grant from the Benedum Foundation that will allow the 2013-2014 Innovation Competition to expand to include West Virginia.

The Shale Gas Innovation Contest has become a popular annual event. In May, 71 applicants participated from across Pennsylvania, vying for a total of $75,000 in prizes. The next contest will cover both Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and the SGICC has lined up three key partners to assist with marketing and helping identify applicants: TechConnectWV; INNOVA Commercialization Group; and the West Virginia University Office of Research & Economic Development.

Bill Hall, Director of SGICC, commented, "I want to thank the Benedum Foundation for providing us the support to expand the next competition to include innovators located in West Virginia. Applications for the 2013-2014 contest will be made available in November."

Anne Barth, Executive Director of TechConnectWV noted, "We are really excited to partner with SGICC to make this contest a regional enterprise."

Guy Peduto, Director of the INNOVA Commercialization Group, an initiative of the WV High Technology Consortium Foundation, also voiced his support. "I attended the recent Innovation Contest and was impressed by the technologies displayed. I know we have entrepreneurs in West Virginia exploring ideas that can impact the shale gas play, and INNOVA wants to help identify the opportunities and advance the most promising ones."

Lindsay Emery, Business Development Manager at West Virginia University noted, "There are researchers at the University that have been exploring many aspects of the shale gas process. This contest may offer some of them an opportunity to have their ideas vetted."

Sponsors are already lining up to support the 2013-2014 Contest including: Ben Franklin Technology Partners (, Acorn Energy (, CONSOL Energy (, First National Bank (, Little Pine Resources (, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (, and Praxair ( SGICC welcomes the interest of other potential sponsors.

The Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center is funded in part by the Department of Community & Economic Development and the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority. SGICC supports and commercializes early-stage technologies that enhance responsible stewardship of the environment while properly utilizing this energy asset.

New grants spur STEAM education in the region

Justine Coyne Reporter- Pittsburgh Business Times, June 4, 2013

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Center for Creativity announced Monday it will be distributing $500,000 in grants to 25 school districts throughout the region to improve science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics education.

Each grant, worth $20,000, will be used to redesign and create spaces to engage students in STEAM subjects and projects. Some of the proposed plans include a robotics laboratory, a digital communications station, a media studio, a metal fabrication lab and several music centers.

James Denova, vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, said in a statement that these STEAM grants allow public educators to develop the resources students need to succeed in the 21st century workplace. This is the fifth year the Benedum and Grable foundations have provided financial support for STEAM projects in the Pittsburgh region.

“STEAM grants are exciting because they seed the inspiration and creativity of classroom teachers, many of whom have great relationships with arts organizations and institutions of higher education," Denova said. "Too often, the innovative ideas of frontline educators are overlooked by large-scale, top-down initiatives."

More than 80 grant applications were submitted. Proposals were rated by categories including sustainability, implementation, relevance and STEAM integration.

“STEAM grants will give districts the opportunity to provide innovative programs that will engage students in activities that enhance learning and promote the 21st century skills that employers want and need," Linda Hippert, executive director of AIU said in a statement. "Because of these grants, our region's schools are becoming the models for others across the country to follow."

Grant recipients include schools from Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Two community gardens planned in Beverly
Foundation, DHHR provide funding for plots
By Beth Christian Broschart - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain, May 14, 2013

Beverly residents will have the opportunity to share in the work and bounty of two community gardens this season, thanks to funding provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

The Beverly ON TRAC community garden has been established with assistance from a Healthy Community Grant made possible through the West Virginia Development Office and the Benedum Foundation.

The gardens will feature raised beds, built by the community garden group, which will be located behind the Collett House and Goff House in Beverly.

"Interested parties gathered Thursday at the Beverly Heritage Center to make some initial plans for the gardens," said Beverly Heritage Center Executive Director Darryl DeGripp. "The group is working out the particulars regarding the planting and care of the garden and how crops will be divided."

The $3,000 grant will help with supplies to build the gardens, buy equipment and purchase plants. The total estimated cost for the entire project, including donated items and labor, is $8,000.

"The great thing about the garden is that it will be able to be self-sufficient," DeGripp said. "We can harvest seeds from this year to plant next year in the gardens."

The gardens will total 500 square feet, with raised beds built by the members. The idea is to keep the gardens in the style of the traditional 19th century and use heirloom and historic plants.

"During the process, we will also sponsor workshops on planting, caring for the garden and some cooking techniques," DeGripp said. "We also have Hannah Fincham from the West Virginia University Extension Service, who will be talking about safe food preservation."

DeGripp said he wrote the grant as a way to help neighbors become more involved.

"I thought it would be a great way to get the community together and working," DeGripp said. "Work scheduling will be on a monthly basis, and each member will be required to participate in the upkeep of the gardens. By working together, each member will reap the rewards of a successful harvest."

Additional information about the community garden is available by emailing