‘Historic day’ sees Middletown community center receive $100,000 in cryptocurrency

A nearly 100-year-old building in Middletown that houses numerous youth programs received a boost from the newest financial crave.

On Giving Tuesday, for one of the first times in U.S. history, an endowment fund was jump-started by cryptocurrency, said Matt King, a local businessman and entrepreneur.

“This is an historic day,” King said during a press conference outside the center.

King made a $100,000 commitment to the Robert “Sonny” Hill Jr. Community Center endowment fund that will help to sustain its ongoing operational expenses, he said.

The goal of the endowment fund is $5 million and the Northern Cincinnati Foundation will serve as the fiscal agency, said Stephen Hightower II, chief operating officer from Hightower Petroleum.

“For nearly a century, this center has been a place where families and children play, socialize, and utilize invaluable services,” King said. “The backbone of this center will never change, but in order to grow and innovate, we need to change the way we do business.”

Hightower said he and his family grew up in the center so he understands its importance in shaping the lives of young people.

“If we want to make an impact for our future, we have to start with our youth,” he said.

King will be donating various cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Cardano to fund the initial investment needed to launch the fund, he said.

Erin Clemons, president and CEO of the Northern Cincinnati Foundation, said with cryptocurrency becoming “more prevalent” the foundation decided to put it to use in the philanthropic sphere. Adding this service, she said, gives donors another way to make an impact for their causes.

The City of Middletown has earmarked about $2.1 million of its nearly $19 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to expand the blueprint and the services offered at the center, said City Manager Jim Palenick.

He called the $100,000 endowment “an incredible way” to honor Giving Tuesday.

“We look forward to great things,” he said.

The Middletown City School District has earmarked $4 million to assist the center and the city has requested $6 million from Butler County. A committee of two city council members, two school board members and community stakeholders are meeting to determine the plans for the center.

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