YSU symposium gets $500,000

YOUNGSTOWN — A symposium and speaker series at Youngstown State University received a $500,000 boost from the James and Coralie Centofanti Charitable Foundation.

This is an addition to the $1 million the Centofanti Foundation provided the school in 2012 to establish the James and Coralie Centofanti Center of Health and Welfare for Vulnerable Populations at the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services.

The center focuses on providing support for educational initiatives, student scholarships, research, and workforce development that promotes the well-being of individuals affected by debilitating illness, poverty, disability and discrimination.

The symposium has brought an array of nationally and internationally recognized speakers to Youngstown over the last five years, including women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, political satirist W. Kamau Bell, Medal of Honor recipient Sal Giunta and Ben Carson, former presidential candidate and current U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

“The Centofanti Symposium has attracted thousands from across the region to YSU and to Youngstown to hear some of the most intriguing, influential and entertaining people in the country today,” YSU President Jim Tressel said.

The gift, announced Monday, is part of YSU’s $100 million “We See Tomorrow” fundraising campaign.

“This gift provides support to further the Centofanti Symposium’s mission of increasing our community’s awareness of the diverse challenges facing society and their impact on vulnerable populations,” said Mark Graham, executive vice president of Farmers National Bank and chair of the Distribution Committee of the Centofanti Foundation.

Since its inception, the center has provided $150,000 in student scholarships, offered more than 20 continuing education workshops to more than 150 community human service professionals, provided monetary support for numerous community educational initiatives directed at quality of life issues affecting vulnerable populations, and sponsored five symposiums.

James Centofanti of Canfield, a successful business owner, philanthropist and horseman, died in 2010. His wife, Coralie, died in 1999. Centofanti was a longtime member of the Board of Directors of Farmers National Bank in Canfield, a supporter of numerous educational and community-based activities in and around the Canfield area, and the recipient of numerous awards for his humanitarian efforts.