Dayton Book Fair Chooses New Beneficiaries

The Dayton Book Fair announced on Wednesday that they have chosen this year’s three beneficiaries to receive proceeds from their 50th anniversary Book Sale in November 2020. Each beneficiary will receive a grant of around ten thousand dollars.

This year the three beneficiaries are the Dayton International Peace Museum, the Xenia Area Community Theater and WYSO’s Center for Community Voices project.

The Dayton International Peace Museum is the only brick and mortar Peace Museum in North or South America and the houses the only interactive exhibit on the Dayton Peace Accords in the world. They are the official repository for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and run a very successful Peace Camp for children ages 5-12. They maintain changing exhibits on the many challenges to peace and peacemaking including the effects of violence and war, gun culture, poverty, bullying, the environment, and international cooperation.

The Xenia Area Community Theater is an all-volunteer theater and gallery space established in 2005 to serve area interests in performing and fine arts and stimulate community involvement in those areas. They produce eight fully staged plays during their regular season (to date more than 100 productions) along with several summer shows and youth camps. Their plans for the grant from the Book Fair Foundation include a week-long Special Needs Children’s Initiative workshop and performance for children on the Autism Spectrum, and to improve theatre accessibility to a variety of groups whose ability to attend live theater is hampered by ticket cost.

WYSO, the public radio station long-associated with Antioch College has recently separated their university relationship to become an independent entity. While much of their budget pays for nationally syndicated public radio programming, the grant from the Dayton Book Fair will enable them to fund grassroots programming in the Center for Community Voices, for the documentary and story-telling segments produced by Dayton Youth Radio, Women’s Voices (produced by female inmates at a Dayton correctional facility) and County Lines, focusing on the rural populations in our community.

“It is challenging to choose just three,” said Dayton Book Fair Executive Director Larkin Vonalt. “It is a multi-day project for the Foundation’s board to winnow down from dozens of excellent organizations all doing important work to just three.”

Asked about criteria that the board might consider in choosing the finalists, Ms. Vonalt noted that they examine the size of the organization, the need for funding, and how the board feels that the year-long partnership will work.

“There are so many intangibles,” she added, “and at the very end when we’ve narrowed it to just a few, it often comes down to what kind of fit it will be for all of us.”

The Dayton Book Fair board handles grant-making a little differently than other foundations, requiring a year-long informal partnership with the beneficiaries. Organizations chosen are asked to promote the sale through a variety of means, they are encouraged to hold a book drive and required to volunteer at least 40 hours over the year.

Since 2015 the Foundation has made grants to 16 different organizations in the Dayton Community, giving away more than $130,000 over the last five years. The Dayton
Book Fair is Ohio’s largest used book sale and each year rehomes about 40 tons of books, records, puzzles, and games.

“While the grant-making is an essential part of our existence, and we are delighted to be able to support so many exceptional Dayton-area non-profits, we have discovered that we have another remarkably important mission in providing a meaningful and purposeful venue where people can donate their beloved books,” Ms. Vonalt commented, noting that they collect books all year round at their office at 2181 Embury Park Rd as well as offering a free pick up service for those who need it and collaborating twice a year with all the Dayton area Grismer Tire Stores for book “round-ups” the last week of May and August.

Those donated books are then sorted, priced and packed for the sale held each year the second weekend in November at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, and the proceeds from that sale used in making grants to community non-profit organizations working in the areas of arts, education, social welfare, literacy and community development.

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