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The George Gund Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-06-06

At A Glance

The George Gund Foundation

1845 Guildhall Bldg., 45 Prospect Ave. W.

Cleveland, OH United States 44115-1018

Telephone: (216) 241-3114


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Celebrity: Business
  • Family foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $537,441,352

Total giving: $25,054,605






Incorporated in 1952 in OH - Founded by the late George Gund, who was a businessman and philanthropist. Mr. Gund's early career included banking and real estate in Seattle, WA, serving in Army intelligence during World War I, developing the Kaffee-Hag Corporation in Cleveland, OH. His interest in banking culminated in his becoming President of The Cleveland Trust Company in 1941. At his death in 1966, he was Chairman of the Board. The George Gund Foundation was established in 1952 as a private, nonprofit institution with the sole purpose of contributing to human well-being and the progress of society. Over the years, program objectives and priorities have been modified to meet the changing opportunities and challenges of our society, but the foundation's basic goal of advancing human welfare remains constant.

Purpose and Activities

Priority to education projects, with emphasis on new concepts and methods of teaching and learning, and on increasing educational opportunities for the disadvantaged; programs advancing economic revitalization and job creation; projects promoting neighborhood development; projects for improving human services, employment opportunities, housing for minority and low-income groups; support also for ecology, civic affairs, and the arts. Preference is given to pilot projects and innovative programs which present prospects for broad replication.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:


The foundation values and supports the role the arts play in making Cleveland and its region a more desirable place to live, fostering the growth of a creative workforce, catalyzing development in our neighborhoods and serving as a bridge between various segments of the community. The foundation encourages a lively, diverse arts community in Greater Cleveland by funding projects in the city and its inner ring suburbs that contribute to Cleveland's urban vitality, attract new audiences, expand artistic offerings and increase organizational capacity. The foundation also tries to balance continuing support that insures the stability of Cleveland's arts institutions with funding for new initiatives, programs and organizations that foster creativity in our community. Arts education continues to be a priority, with a focus on curriculum-related partnerships between arts organizations and the Cleveland Municipal School District.

Economic Development and Community Revitalization

Sustaining uniquely urban assets such as vibrant neighborhoods and a thriving downtown is a key part of a successful regional strategy to promote economic growth. The foundation devotes considerable attention to these dynamics, in particular by supporting collaborative efforts that leverage resources. As a result, the highest priority is given to initiatives that bolster the impact of foundation supported intermediary organizations working to improve the competitiveness of Cleveland's neighborhoods and its metropolitan region. Examples of such initiatives include quality urban planning and design, improvements to urban parks and public spaces, promotion of equal opportunity and diversity in housing and the workplace, and proposals to redevelop Cleveland's downtown, neighborhoods and first-ring suburbs.


Education is fundamental to success, and if Cleveland is to produce, attract and retain talent and be the thriving center of a robust regional economy, expectations about education must rise exponentially. Consequently, the foundation’s focus is on the transformation of public education in Cleveland in order to equip children from early childhood onward with the skills they ultimately will need to meet the demands of college, the 21st-century workplace and international standards. The foundation's primary area of interest is the creation and support of new, innovative, excellent schools in Cleveland that drive autonomy and accountability to the school level and create different teaching and learning conditions to ensure student success. The foundation supports statewide policy and advocacy efforts in furtherance of this work, particularly as it relates to the importance of high-quality teachers and principals in every classroom and school. The foundation also maintains a desire to support disadvantaged students through key transitions, especially to higher education.


The foundation believes that human well-being is inextricably linked to the quality of the environment. Urban areas bring this fact into sharp focus as historic disregard for the environment and modern development pressures create great challenges. The foundation responds to these challenges by making grants to organizations that address environmental issues in Northeast Ohio. In addition, the foundation supports efforts to restore and preserve the Lake Erie ecosystem. Within the broad range of environmental issues, the foundation focuses on promoting alternatives to urban sprawl, decreasing energy consumption and waste, conserving ecosystems and biodiversity, reducing environmental health hazards, increasing public awareness of environmental issues and building the skills of nonprofit environmental leaders .

Foundation Fellowship Positions

The Foundation Fellowship provides an opportunity for promising professionals to work inside the foundation, a philanthropic organization that plays a vital role in supporting the civic life of Greater Cleveland and in various national policy deliberations that impact our community. The fellowship is a two-year, full-time commitment beginning in Summer, requiring residence in Northeast Ohio during the term of engagement. The fellowship experience will be tailored to the foundation's needs and will include a wide range of substantive assignments including reviewing grant proposals, organizing and conducting site visits, and researching topics related to the foundation's grantmaking interests. Each George Gund Foundation Fellow will receive a stipend of $45,000 per year. A full benefits package during the term of the Fellowship will also be provided by the Foundation. Housing, transportation and other living arrangements are the responsibility of the Fellow. Successful candidates for this fellowship will have a graduate degree and/or several years work experience in the nonprofit sector. Excellent writing skills and sufficient computer competency to carry out assigned projects are essential. A demonstrated desire to work in public service or the nonprofit sector is also important, as the foundation views the fellowship to be a valuable early career opportunity. The selection process is anticipated to be highly competitive. To be considered for the fellowship, each candidate must submit a cover letter, a detailed resume, two letters of recommendation and a short essay discussing why the fellowship opportunity is appealing.

Human Services

Heightened focus on developing a more globally competitive city and region demands recognition that people are at the heart of this effort and that all segments of society can make constructive contributions. To maximize that contribution, the foundation believes that direct attention must be paid to the needs of those most at risk of being left out of social and economic transformation. Building human capital begins at birth and the foundation pays special attention to the needs of Greater Cleveland's disadvantaged children through grants to support early childhood care and education, abuse prevention and improved foster care and adoption systems. In addition, the foundation provides some support for the local "safety net" of food, clothing, shelter and access to health care. A closely related set of interests is reflected in the foundation's desire to help vulnerable populations achieve access to health insurance, the legal system, community support following release from prison and safe and affordable reproductive health services .

Program-Related Investment

The foundation has made a PRI on the form of a loan to a credit union to it can expand its loan program for artists. The foundation has made PRIs for the revitalization and stabilization of economically challenged neighborhoods in Cleveland, OH, and to promote land conservation and the planning, design and construction of energy-efficient "green" housing in those neighborhoods. Historically, the foundation has made PRIs in the form of loans to support housing, economic development, and community revitalization. PRIs have generally funded nonprofit intermediaries (e.g., loan funds and venture capital funds) but have also provided for the direct capitalization of housing developments. In recent years, the foundation has made efforts to alert program staff from all areas to use of PRIs. .

Special Projects

The foundation makes an annual commitment to the Foundation Fighting Blindness for research on the causes, nature and prevention of inherited retinal degenerative diseases. The foundation supports organizations that strengthen the infrastructure of the nonprofit and philanthropic communities through philanthropic services grants.

Fields of Interest

  • Arts and culture
  • Child welfare
  • Community and economic development
  • Diversity and intergroup relations
  • Early childhood education
  • Education
  • Elementary education
  • Employment
  • Environment
  • Higher education
  • Housing development
  • Human services
  • Natural resources
  • Public affairs
  • Public works
  • Secondary education
  • Urban development
  • Urban planning
  • Urban renewal
  • Urban sprawl
  • Women's services
Population Groups
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Ethnic and racial groups
  • Females
  • Low-income and poor people

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $537,441,352 (market value)

Expenditures: $34,394,731

Total giving: $25,054,605

Qualifying distributions: $27,651,685