Youngstown Foundation’s Michael Kusalaba Fund Donates to Library for Branch on West Side

Youngstown Foundation donation to Michael Kusalaba Branch Library

Youngstown Foundation Executive Director Jan Strasfeld presented the donation to Library Trustee President Dr. David Ritchie and Library Executive Heidi Daniel.

Michael Kusalaba photo

Michael Kusalaba, 2009

YOUNGSTOWN (October 9, 2015) – The Youngstown Foundation today announced a donation of $1.68 million to the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County on behalf of The Michael Kusalaba Fund. The donation was specified for a library on the West Side, which will be named in his memory. Youngstown Foundation Executive Director Jan Strasfeld presented the donation to Library Executive Heidi Daniel, Library Trustee President Dr. David Ritchie and members of the Library’s Board of Trustees.The Library plans to demolish the current West Library on Mahoning Avenue and replace it with a new facility.

“This is the largest grant ever awarded in the 97-year history of the Foundation and is one of the most significant,” stated Jan Strasfeld. “The innovative concept for the new library will not only provide the local community with a vibrant space for learning, digital resources and state of the art services but will also create a strong anchor for the continued redevelopment of Youngstown’s West Side.”

Heidi Daniel expressed appreciation on behalf of the Library and it’s Trustees for the contribution. “I am touched by the generosity of this donation and by the acknowledgement that the Library was held in such esteem by Mr. Kusalaba and his family. We appreciate that The Youngstown Foundation and The Michael Kusalaba Fund reached out to the Library with an interest in being a part of providing a high quality of library service on the West Side of Youngstown. For some time, the Library has been considering options for library service on the West Side and had recently decided to remain at the current location and build a new facility on that site. Both the Library and our community are enriched by this generous gesture.”

Youngstown Foundation donation to Michael Kusalaba Branch LibraryPrior to his death in 2009, Michael Kusalaba established The Michael Kusalaba Fund under the umbrella of The Youngstown Foundation.  It was his wish to create a legacy that expressed his passion for the Youngstown area for generations to come. The son of Ukrainian immigrants, Michael and his family moved to Youngstown when he was a young child, and resided on North Maryland Avenue, just east of the original West Library.  His siblings, advisors to the Fund, recalled that as children, they walked to the library almost every day and what an important role it played in their lives.  Michael did his homework there and liked to spend his free time just looking things up.  He continued to frequent the branch throughout his adulthood using the internet and reading newspapers.  “The family couldn’t have come up with a more fitting tribute to Michael for this first grant award from the Fund,” says Strasfeld.

A 1964 graduate of Chaney High School, Michael earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from Youngstown State University, and was a board certified electrical engineer.  After serving in the U.S. Army, he worked for Ohio Edison/First Energy for over 30 years, starting in the engineering department and retiring as a national account executive.

Photo of TV Interview of Heidi DanielMichael was instrumental in the development of CASTLO Community Improvement Corporation including 21 years of distinguished service as a CASTLO Trustee and 10 years as Chairman and is credited with developing the Mahoning River Corridor of Opportunity concept, overseeing major improvements to buildings and the construction of new ones.

The Michael Kusalaba Fund is one of sixty similar funds housed at The Youngstown Foundation.  Distributions from each fund are recommended by the fund advisors for approval by the Foundation’s Distribution Committee.  Founded in 1918, The Youngstown Foundation is the 4th oldest community foundation in the world and the largest in the region with over $ 115 million in assets.  Over 400 distributions are awarded annually to local 501c3 organizations.

Michael Kusalaba Chaney High School, Senior Photo, Class of 1964

Michael Kusalaba / Senior Photo / Class of 1964 / Chaney High School


Photo of TV Interview of Jan Strasfeld

Photo TV Interview of Heidi Daniel

Photo of TV Interview of Jan Strasfeld