If the newly formed Prairie Township Community Foundation has a slogan, it is "revitalization and reinvestment."

Township trustees last month unanimously approved creating the charitable foundation, charged with helping raise money for community projects.

Trustees also approved $10,000 in seed money to get it started.

The Prairie Township entity will be a fund established through the Columbus Foundation, an organization that manages charitable funds, trusts and endowments for organizations throughout central Ohio.

"The primary purpose of such a foundation will be to help raise money to help fund major capital projects to help relieve using taxpayer dollars as the only source," township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said. "We hope this seed money will multiply many times over."

Eight township residents were appointed to serve three-year terms on the foundation's oversight board: Stefanie and Kenny Jackson, Troy Walton, Ryan Bush, Lisa Jones, Mike Corsi, Alexandra Fisher and Bill Raines.

Stefanie Jackson grew up in Prairie Township and moved back to raise a family with her husband, Kenny.

The township "has changed a lot," she said.

"When I grew up, a good majority of it was cornfields," Jackson said. "So it's a little bit nostalgic for me, but we have a vested interest in the community and we want to help it prosper and grow."

Jackson said the community center has been an "enormous" addition to the area and something she hopes to help foster as part of the new foundation.

"There was never a big community element outside of the schools; once you're out of high school, you lost that component a little bit," she said. "I grew up here and I'm still meeting new people at the community center. I see people I recognize at the grocery store now and people start talking to each other because they recognize one another."

Fisher moved to Prairie Township 14 years ago after living in Delaware County.

An internship initially brought Fisher and her husband, David, to central Ohio from Tennessee. The couple stayed and have raised two teenage daughters.

As a foundation board member, Fisher said she hopes to work on projects that will help make the area safe and inviting for young families.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to work on something that will affect so many people in a positive way," she said. "These are the types of things that make a community -- otherwise, it is just a bunch of streets and houses."

Walton owns and manages Murray Hill Dental along with his wife, Dr. Melissa Brown, DDS.

As a foundation board member, he said he hopes to help attract small businesses.

Walton was raised in Grandview Heights and shopped at Westland Mall growing up.

"I had always been accustomed to going to the Prairie Township area for entertainment and the like, so when we started a business here, I felt at home," he said. "The area needs champions who can help replace those businesses."

Ultimately, the foundation board will decide on bylaws and how it wants to pursue projects. It is expected to hold its first meeting this spring.

As its first project, the foundation is expected to tackle funding for the township sports complex, a portion of which currently is under construction at 1503 Galloway Road. After that, goals could range from capital- improvement projects, expansion of the community center or neighborhood-based initiatives such as grants for residential improvement, just as examples.

"The primary aim will be any community-service-oriented use," Hatmaker said. "The township is at a crossroads. We're making progress but tax dollars can only do so much.

"We hope this (foundation) will allow us to go to the next level for building a community."

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