Takeaways from our Fred Talks in Lake and Geauga Counties

Ronn at Lake Fred Talk

Many people associate the Cleveland Foundation with the city of Cleveland, but our support stretches far beyond the city limits and beyond the Cuyahoga County line. In addition to Cuyahoga County, we have supported nonprofit organizations in Lake and Geauga counties for nearly 25 years, working with our donors to enhance the lives of residents in these communities. In December 2015, our board of directors reiterated our commitment to Lake and Geauga counties by approving an enhanced process for grantmaking across our entire three-county footprint.

Last month, we hosted two Fred Talks events focused on our promising future in Lake and Geauga counties. More than 100 individuals representing more than 50 local organizations joined us at the talks, where we shared information about our longstanding support and future grantmaking plans in Lake and Geauga counties, and heard from attendees about the unique priorities and needs in these communities.

Fred Talks in Lake & Geauga

At our April 21 Fred Talk, our President & CEO Ronn Richard joined Beacon Health CEO Spence Kline at Mentor Public Library in a conversation focused on our long-standing commitment to Lake County.

At our April 27 Fred Talk at Kent State University’s Geauga Campus, Cleveland Foundation Executive Vice President Bob Eckardt spoke with Kimm Leininger, executive director of United Way Services of Geauga County.

After listening to the conversations, attendees at both events shared their ideas during the “Fred Thinks” breakout brainstorm session.  

We are particularly excited about their ideas in six topic areas:

  • Education & Youth Development
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Housing & Neighborhoods
  • Inclusion: Population & Demographics, and
  • Jobs & Economy

In these groups, attendees generated community priorities for the future of Lake and Geauga counties. By the end of the Fred Thinks session, each group united on a single priority for their topic to share. Check out the priorities generated at each event:

Group Priorities from Fred Talks: Cleveland Foundation in Lake County

Education & Youth Development – Create an anchor institution task force in Lake County across healthcare, education and economic development to break down silos and focus on the needs of the whole child.  

Environment – Improve the protection, restoration and access to the waters of Lake County for future generations.

Health – Enhance opportunities for collaboration and communication among nonprofit organizations to meet and address unmet physical and behavioral health needs of the community.

Housing & Neighborhoods – Promote movement from homelessness to home ownership through social and supportive services and housing rehabilitation, to drive economic and neighborhood development for healthy communities.  

Jobs & Economy – Break down silos in economic development, entrepreneurship fostering and the K-12 education system to promote an environment of collaboration.

Inclusion – End the isolation of vulnerable populations through transportation reform, outreach by social services agencies, addressing the wealth gap in Lake County, conducting better needs assessments and publicizing needs so the whole community understands.


Group Priorities from Fred Talks: Cleveland Foundation in Geauga County

Education & Youth Development – Coordinated, integrated approaches to create relevant, pertinent and diverse experiences to build better family, community and career-building opportunities with schools as a hub.

Environment – Preservation of the natural assets that make Geauga County unique with an emphasis on water resources and strategic, conservation-minded land planning.

Health – Early and inclusive access to innovative, holistic and comprehensive healthcare.

Housing & Neighborhoods – Connect all generations through affordable common spaces where people can live, interact and support one another.

Inclusion – Address factors such as culture, attitudes and lack of understanding, that reinforce different types of exclusion including economic exclusion, age exclusion and exclusion of individuals with disabilities.

Jobs & Economy – Launch an innovative education model that embeds contemporary skills building and engages business and community.


These ideas and priorities will serve as guideposts for future grantmaking needs across our three-county footprint. Thank you to everyone who attended these events and contributed to the conversation about our role in Lake and Geauga counties!

If you are a nonprofit organization in Lake or Geauga County, you can learn more about our grantmaking and how to apply for a grant here.