With the help of her three daughters, Beth K. Stocker established The Stocker Foundation in 1979 as a way to formalize the philanthropy she and her husband, Paul, practiced during their life together. Mrs. Stocker remained an active and highly influential member of the Board until her death at age 97 in 2005.
Between 1979 and 2009, The Stocker Foundation awarded more than $46 million to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations in the fields of arts and culture, community needs, education, health, social services, women’s issues as well as other discretionary grant making programs. Then, in 2009, The Stocker Foundation announced a significant shift in competitive grant making. This change resulted from a multi-year strategic planning process that began a few years earlier. The Stocker Foundation’s Board decided unanimously to focus competitive grant making on early education. Specifically, lessening the reading achievement gap for under-resourced prekindergarten through third grade public school students. Focus areas included preschool emerging literacy, book distribution, student reading enrichment and/or tutoring programs, parental engagement, whole school improvement, and some limited other services for students that remove barriers to academic achievement (i.e., childhood hunger programs offered by food banks). An expansion of the existing competitive grant making strategy to include a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) approach occurred in spring 2019. Note: Total amount awarded 1979-2018 is $60 million.
The Stocker Foundation remains an all-family board, headquartered in Lorain County, Ohio. The Foundation’s office is location on the campus of Lorain County Community College in the Spitzer Center. Annual grant distributions focus first on Lorain County the place where assets were generated. Then, in communities where other trustees reside (Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Pima County, Arizona; King County, Washington; Alameda and San Francisco counties, California; and Hartford, County Connecticut). Over the years, The Stocker Foundation’s grantmaking has been chronicled in articles by the Smithsonian magazine, U.S. News and World Report, and Philanthropy Ohio, The State of Philanthropy. All of the articles were written to highlight how modest-sized grants improve the quality of life for individuals and systems.
Paul Stocker, an electrical engineer and inventor, co-founded Lorain Products Corporation in 1936. Stocker was a prolific inventor best known for the Sub-Cycle static frequency converter, a revolutionary design for the telephone industry.
Under Mr. Stocker’s leadership, Lorain Products grew from a one-room operation to a multi-plant manufacturing facility of telecommunications equipment with facilities in Lorain, Ohio, Mexico City, and St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. Lorain Products maintained a worldwide reputation for quality products, service, and dependability in the telephone industry. Upon Mr. Stocker’s retirement in 1973, Lorain Products became a subsidiary of Reliance Electric. During the past 37 years, the company has experienced several mergers, acquisitions and name changes.
The Stocker Foundation awarded $18,000 to Lorain County Community College Foundation toward a performance of The Cleveland Orchestra. The performance was related to the grand opening celebration of the C. Paul Stocker Humanities and Fine Arts Center, and took place on September 30, 1980. During its first year, The Stocker Center sponsored 20 major performances of music, theater, and dance for an audience of 15,400 individuals and families.