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Impact Stories

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The Pleasant Litchford Fund

The Upper Arlington Education Foundation is proud to partner with the School District to create a community where every student and staff member feels welcome and safe.

The Upper Arlington Education Foundation’s Pleasant Litchford Endowment Fund to support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our Schools.

The Upper Arlington Education Foundation, with the support of Equal Upper Arlington, announced a newly established endowment fund to honor Pleasant Litchford in 2020.

Mr. Litchford was an African-American, master blacksmith who had been enslaved in Virginia. After buying his own freedom sometime before 1842, he settled in Perry Township, the area that is now Upper Arlington. He built a successful business and purchased the land that is now home to the high school as well as Northam Park and Tremont Elementary School. Among his many contributions to the area were establishing a school for African American children and being a founding member of the historic Second Baptist Church, which provided an important voice in the anti-slavery movement. Mr. Litchford died in 1879 at the age of 89.

The Upper Arlington Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization that provides resources, beyond the budget of the school district, to support the district’s mission and goals. 

“Creating this UA+Ed fund will further our shared mission to create a welcoming community and nurture a sense of belonging. Students and staff in our schools will have additional resources for programs that embrace differences that make us unique,” Michelle Montgomery, Equal UA Board Member. “We are thankful to Pleasant Litchford’s descendants who have graciously given their permission for us to name this fund in his honor."

There were many donors who made gifts to seed this fund. Just before the end of 2020, Upper Arlington School Board member, Carol Mohr, made an extremely generous donation that fully endowed this fund. 

As of June 2024, the fund has received more than 140 gifts and has funded more than 10 programs to benefit students.

All community members, alumni, and friends who share a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Upper Arlington Schools are invited to continue growing the Pleasant Litchford Fund so it can fund even more initiatives in the future.

Examples of programs funded by UA+Ed’s Pleasant Litchford Fund:


The Upper Arlington High School “Ambassadors of Change”, a group of 80 passionate students and the first to receive a grant from the Pleasant Litchford Fund, are inspired to build a connected community where everyone is embraced for their unique differences. Four professional storytellers and social activists, Lyn Ford, Tripp Fontane, Erin O’Neill, and Donte Woods-Spikes, mentored these students. “There are people who do not think racism exists in Upper Arlington. These students want to craft and share their personal stories in ways that will allow them to be heard and empower positive change,” Trisha Fellinger, Advisor of Ambassadors of Change.


“Change Makers”, a group of 56 fourth and fifth grade students from Greensview and Windermere elementary schools, are teaming together to make our School District and community more welcoming and inclusive. Led by school counselors, this group (including students in EDL/Hybrid model and Online Academy) meet virtually each week to get to know each other and share their diverse cultural experiences. A grant from the Pleasant Litchford Fund is providing resources for these students to design masks that will share a message of belonging, and keep community members safe throughout Upper Arlington.


The Longest Table event brought together 300 Upper Arlington community members for a shared meal and meaningful conversation about our community experiences. The program honored community values, such as diversity, inclusion, connection, innovation, and generosity.


The Buddy Benches were created to help all kids find someone to play with. Shy children use them to signal that they want to be included. The benches offer a place for kids to reconnect, especially important after the isolation of COVID and remote learning.


This event offers the Upper Arlington High School community a chance to explore diverse environments, hear various perspectives, and build new relationships, aligning with Upper Arlington's Strategic Plan that emphasizes well-being as essential for a safe learning environment. It provides meaningful opportunities for students to engage with diversity, fostering inclusiveness, empathy, compassion, and civility within and beyond the school community. By creating authentic connections between student groups, staff, and community members, the event promotes mentorships and lasting friendships. Evolving annually, it celebrates differences, enhances understanding, and strengthens relationships among students and the UA community.


Inspired by a teacher and Breast Cancer survivor who was greeted with Kindness Rocks each time she went to get chemo, this project taught students at Wickliffe the value of being welcoming, cheering each other on and reminding ourselves that we can all do hard things. The messages on the rocks, painted by students and staff at the start of the school year, are sending the same messages for the Wickliffe community and guests every day.


A series of three sessions were planned for families with new students. The intention was to engage our newest families and help establish a sense of trust, belonging, and connection throughout our district. 

A history of UA+Ed funding for DEI programs in our School District

Over the years, UA+Ed has funded many grants supporting authentic learning experiences for students as they learn the history of injustices in our country and the world. Between 2012 and 2013 Jones and Hastings Middle Schools welcomed Eva Kor, a Holocaust survivor, who spoke to students about the importance of forgiveness of injustices. Soon after, Ruby Bridges, the first African American student integrated into an all-white school in 1960, visited the middle schools.

In support of teachers and staff, UA+Ed partnered with the school district in 2019 to fund books for SEED - Seeking Equity and Equality for Students, a staff book club initiated by two teachers, Warren Orloff and Star Simpson.


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