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Profile Last Updated: 10/22/2020 Grant Information Last Updated: 09/29/2020 eGrant

The Cleveland Foundation

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Purpose and Activities

Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world's first community foundation and one of the largest today. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community's priority areas - economic transformation, public school improvement, youth development, neighborhood revitalization, and arts advancement - and responds to the community's needs.


Established in OH, US; The Cleveland Foundation was established in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio as the first community foundation. A community foundation is a charitable organization created by and for a specific community of people. It is supported by donors and governed by a board of private citizens who work toward the greater good of the citizens in the community. Funds come from a variety of sources, including bequests and living trusts, and are invested in perpetuity. The investment earnings are then distributed to worthy organizations or causes. Today, more than 1,700 community foundations exist around the world. Banker and lawyer Frederick H. Goff was a "mover and shaker" in Cleveland long before that phrase became part of the American lexicon. Today, the moving and shaking that Goff began with his revolutionary idea have become a benevolent worldwide rumble. And its greatest reverberations are still here in his adopted home town. Goff was already an elite professional and the former mayor of what had been the city of Glenville when he hatched the idea of a community trust. His vision was to pool the charitable resources of Cleveland's philanthropists, living and dead, into a single, great, and permanent endowment for the betterment of the city. Community leaders would then forever distribute the interest that the trust's resources would accrue to fund "such charitable purposes as will best make for the mental, moral, and physical improvement of the inhabitants of Cleveland." From that revolutionary idea, the Cleveland Foundation was born on Jan. 2, 1914. Within weeks, the foundation began reshaping the way community members care for one another not just in Greater Cleveland, but around the nation and the world. By the end of that decade, a series of sweeping, reform-minded studies the foundation launched were bearing fruit. One laid the groundwork for the creation of the Emerald Necklace of the Cleveland Metroparks. Another shook up a corrupt and "Dickensian" justice system. Another spearheaded sweeping public school reforms and gave support to the radical notion that girls were worthy of equal education. The foundation had also spawned a global movement. Within five years, community foundations had sprung up in Chicago, Boston, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Buffalo, N.Y. Now, more than 750 community foundations in the United States collectively manage more than $48 billion in assets and distribute some $4.3 billion a year to community needs. Moreover, the idea has emigrated: Some 1,700 community foundations now exist worldwide. Here at home, Goff's dream has grown into a $1.8 billion civic-progress - an engine of collective betterment, collaborative partnerships, and courageous leadership. The foundation has evolved from an institution funded by the wealthy to one endowed by people of all income levels. It serves the region, not just the city. And it has firmly reinforced its commitment to serve as an active and visionary community agenda-setter, not a mere grantmaker. Along the way, the Cleveland Foundation has bestowed more than $1 billion in grants. The grants, and the expertise of the foundation's professional staff and partners, have touched millions of lives. Those resources have invigorated our region's health care, arts and culture communities, neighborhoods, schools, economic development programs, and more.


The Cleveland Foundation

Community foundation




1422 Euclid Ave., Ste. 1300 Cleveland, OH United States 44115-2063

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