A plaque at the Boys & Girls Club on South Water Street commemorates the important role played by the Steinman foundations. James Hale Steinman was a founder of the club.

Lancaster businessman Dennis F. Cox has a unique view of the role the Steinman Foundation has played in Lancaster city and the county. As a newspaper carrier and son of the late Jim Cox, the first news director at WGAL-TV, which was then a Steinman company, he received a James Hale Steinman Scholarship to continue his studies at Penn State University in 1965.

Years later, he served as president and board chairman of the Boys and Girls Club of Lancaster, which has served at-risk youth in the city since 1939. He also was involved in the Lancaster Crime Commission, which received foundation support.

“There isn’t much that the Steinman Foundation didn’t play a role in,” Cox says.

In 1951, James Hale and John Frederick Steinman — the sons of A.J. Steinman, who first got involved with the Intelligencer in 1866 — created separate foundations to benefit the greater Lancaster community.

Over the course of nearly 70 years, the foundations, which were merged into a single Steinman Foundation in 2014, have continued to fund programs and offer scholarships to improve the quality of life in Lancaster County.

Hundreds of organizations have received grants to innovate, expand and operate. Ranging from one-time gifts of several hundred dollars to cumulative donations of millions, the foundation has funneled nearly $100 million into the community since its inception.

“There are over 400 not-for-profits in our database that we’ve worked with in one way, shape or form over the history of the foundation,” says Shane Zimmerman, president of the Steinman Foundation.

Top recipients include the following:

The United Way of Lancaster County, $4.6 million.

The Boys Club & Girls Club of Lancaster, $3.8 million.

Franklin & Marshall College, $3.8 million.

Elizabethtown College, $2.5 million.

Spanish American Civic Association, $1.2 million.

The foundation also has provided more than $2.77 million since 1964 to 257 students through the James Hale Steinman Memorial Scholarship fund. An additional 352 students have shared $1.89 million from the John Frederick Steinman Fellowship Fund, which aids students in the fields of mental health and nursing.

“We think (the scholarships are) a minor part of what the foundation does, but you look at the impact over its term, it has been enormously impactful for this company,” says Robert Krasne, chairman and CEO of Steinman Communications, chairman and publisher of LNP Media Group and co-chair of the Steinman Foundation.

Merging rather than splitting

Krasne says that many family foundations split apart over time. Instead, this one came together.

“Think of the James Hale Steinman side of the foundation,” Krasne says. “He had three kids, and each of the three kids may have interests that don’t align with the other two. So, as it goes down the family tree you often see (foundations) breaking up.”

The issue was further complicated by the fact that in the 1980s, the John Frederick Steinman side of the family sold its interest in the business to the James Hale Steinman side.

“They could have moved their foundation out of town, and basically somewhere between $40 million and $50 million could have just walked away,” Krasne says.

Instead, the families agreed to pool their foundations’ money, creating a single Steinman Foundation on Jan. 1, 2014.

“They’ve merged two family foundations together, which is pretty unusual,” Zimmerman says, “and they reaffirmed the commitment to Lancaster County.”

Soon after, the foundation’s board reorganized how it prioritizes and awards money.

Before 2014, Zimmerman says, grants “were very general in nature, and it was very predicated around making charitable donations in Lancaster County. I don’t think it was very specific in terms of mission” but, instead, followed the individual interests of the foundation’s board members.

Now, Krasne says, it’s “philanthropy, focused and directed with greater intent” toward three goals: early childhood education, stewardship and STEM education.

Focus on STEM

That final focus, on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, “really is a key component to workforce development,” Zimmerman says. And it represents a transition toward “looking at systemic challenges or opportunities and trying to address” them.

Conversations around the adaptability of the local workforce, and its readiness for 21st-century jobs, led to the Steinman Foundation’s most wide-reaching effort in recent years: the STEM Alliance.

That Alliance, a separate entity within the local community, is funded primarily by the Steinman Foundation. Its activities are wide, Krasne says, from developing mentor and internship relationships between schools and businesses to funding pipelines between K-12 education and higher education.

“The idea is to fulfill a future workforce,” says Lancaster Chamber President Tom Baldrige, who is a member of the Lancaster STEM Alliance advisory board.

To meet that demand, the Lancaster County STEM Alliance and the Lancaster Chamber have teamed to jump-start a work-based learning network for local schools.

The program, called Inspire, allows students to be matched with local employers for an array of networking opportunities, including company tours, interviews, job shadowing, internships and other temporary employment.

It also supports externships for teachers and counselors at Lancaster County companies, so they can tailor curricula with real-world business applications.

The STEM Alliance has committed to funding the first two years of Inspire at 16 Lancaster County school districts, beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

While local companies do attract talent from outside the area, Baldrige says, “it is imperative that we do all we can to grow our own.”

Krasne points out that in today’s competitive environment, Lancaster doesn’t just face competition for jobs from regional cities but from locales around the country.

Before the foundations

In 1939, more than a decade before the Steinman foundations were established, James Hale Steinman joined a group of local citizens who wanted to give Lancaster’s boys something to keep them busy — and to open doors to opportunity.

This Steinman brother, longtime president and co-publisher of Lancaster Newspapers Inc., became a founding member and strong financial supporter of what became the Boys Club of Lancaster.

Since then, through the years of two Steinman foundations, and now the combined family organization, that legacy continues. Boys Club & Girls Club of Lancaster Inc. is one of the top five recipients of Steinman foundation dollars.

While the STEM Alliance bears the mark of the Steinman Foundation’s new goals, the Boys & Girls Club’s long-standing relationship is testimony to how foundation money has impacted generations of Lancaster youth.

Much of the foundation money granted to the club over the years, says club CEO Karen Schloer, has gone toward ongoing programming, such as the summer camp, as well as day-to-day programs at the soon-to-be six clubhouses in Lancaster and Columbia.

The Steinman Foundation, Schloer says, “has made sure the barrier to joining (the Boys Club & Girls Club) is never money. So membership remains a dollar. Every kid pays a dollar, or their parents pay a dollar, for an entire year of after-school programs.”

That means homework help and tutoring, gym time, enrichment programs, leadership and service clubs, computers and hot meals, all underwritten by a Steinman-funded “scholarship” available to every child.

Summer camp, at Camp Hogan in Millersville, keeps the kids busy for six weeks every summer. Its $10-a-week fee also is supplemented by Steinman Foundation funding.

And conversations between the club and the foundation resulted in a $1 million challenge gift, helping to establish the club’s own endowment during its most recent $13.3 million campaign, Schloer says, “and allowing us to move to the future and sustain us.”

It’s practically impossible, Schloer says, to measure the impact that support has had “on, literally, tens of thousands” of former Boys Club & Girls Club members.

The support, and the (Steinman Foundation’s) belief in our outcomes, has made it possible.”

Cox says the Steinman Foundation has followed through with its vision to benefit the community.

“They valued the people and the essence of the city,” he says. “It’s kind of remarkable for cities to have that kind of stewardship from a single organization.”