An immersive experience for future leaders presented by the Cleveland Foundation Center for Philanthropy

Foundations for Philanthropy is an interactive cohort experience designed to launch emerging leaders into lifelong charitable giving. Supporting a pipeline of diverse, rising philanthropists, the program shares the critical skills and strategies necessary to leverage time, talent and treasure into meaningful impact for Greater Cleveland, the nation and the world.

First cohort class picture 2020

Foundations for Philanthropy 2020 cohort

Participant involvement

Foundations for Philanthropy seeks to educate emerging professionals on the most effective ways to create meaningful community change through exposure to the nonprofit sector. Participants learn about the history of philanthropy in Cleveland, meet with community leaders and actively partake in the philanthropic process – from exploring values to evaluating nonprofit organizations and making funding decisions.

“After participating in Foundations for Philanthropy, my approach to philanthropy going forward will be more objective and compassionate. I have learned how to evaluate and understand the opportunities and challenges in our community so I can assess an organization’s goals and impact.”

– Foundations for Philanthropy Participant

Foundations for Philanthropy logo

Program structure

Each selected cohort meets consistently over several months through interactive workshops to explore community needs and learn about philanthropic approaches to address various issues affecting the community. Experienced Cleveland Foundation staff facilitate the workshops, which include presentations from community partners and site visits. Together, the cohort chooses a focus area for deeper understanding and learns how to research and analyze relevant nonprofit organizations. After a thorough analysis, participants make grant recommendations to support one or more organizations.

Key Dates

Application Period: Aug. 1 – Sept. 2, 2022

Participants Notified: Early October 2022

Cohort Begins: January 2023

Cohort Ends: June 2023

How to apply

To apply, please use our portal to submit the following:

  • Contact information, including name, address, email, phone number, and preferred pronouns and professional title
  • Current resume
  • Brief bio
  • Headshot photo
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Brief video of yourself answering the question: If you had $1,000 to give to any nonprofit in Cleveland, which would you choose and why?

Apply via the Cleveland Foundation portal under the scholarships/internships/fellowships category. 

Apply Now

If you have any questions, please contact Kristen Grabenstein, Philanthropy Officer, at

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Foundations for Philanthropy?

Foundations for Philanthropy is an interactive cohort experience presented by the Cleveland Foundation that is designed to launch individuals into lifelong philanthropy by teaching the skills and strategies to leverage time, talent and treasure into meaningful impact for our region. The 2023 cohort of the program will meet for six monthly day-long sessions beginning in January 2023.  The program is planned to take place in-person but may move to a virtual or hybrid format if needed.

What to Expect

As a participant in Foundations for Philanthropy, you will have the opportunity to participate in a program that explores philanthropic approaches to problem solving. With approximately 20 community-minded peers, you will engage in six full-day interactive workshops led by experienced Cleveland Foundation staff. Together, the cohort will explore community issues, choose an area of focus and provide grant support to impactful nonprofit organizations at the conclusion of the program.

2023 workshop dates:

  • Jan. 12
  • Feb. 16
  • March 16
  • April 20
  • May 11
  • June 8
Who Should Participate?

Leaders ages 25-40ish who are interested in learning more about philanthropy, grantmaking and local nonprofits.

Applicants must not be a relative of a member of Cleveland Foundation staff or Board of Directors.

What Topics Will We Discuss?
  • How philanthropy addresses key community issues in Northeast Ohio
  • Ways to identify and address root causes
  • How to source and evaluate effective programs
  • Exploring your own mission, vision and values related to philanthropy
What Are My Commitments During the Program?
  • Ability to attend six full-day in-person sessions once a month from January through June in at various locations around Cleveland
  • Willingness to remain engaged and participate throughout the duration of the program
  • A financial contribution of $250 (tax deductible). Participant contributions will be granted out to nonprofits as part of the program.*
  • Matching funds from your employer, if applicable

*Participants in Foundations for Philanthropy are asked to make a tax-deductible contribution of $250, which will be pooled and granted out at the end of the program. However, the ability to make this financial contribution is not a requirement of the program, and scholarships are available. Contact if you would like to be considered for a scholarship.


Lifelong benefits

Foundations for Philanthropy provides participants with a host of benefits beyond the initial hands-on experience of grantmaking. By networking with community leaders, participant voices are amplified as they seek to expand their impact in the nonprofit sector. Additionally, strong bonds are formed among members of the cohort through shared philanthropic leadership goals. Foundations for Philanthropy is an experience that participants will take with them as they become engaged philanthropists and civic leaders driving positive change in the community for years to come.

“I would recommend Foundations for Philanthropy because it really opens your eyes to issues in your community and how you can be an agent for change. It’s a great way to learn about giving and network with other young professionals.”  

– Foundations for Philanthropy Participant

Members of the 2022 Foundations for Philanthropy cohort pose in front of a mural that says "dream big"

Foundations for Philanthropy 2022 Cohort

  • Lauretta Y. Amanour, Executive Assistant to the President & CEO, Northern Ohio Recovery Association
  • Alana Bandos, Education Director, Anti-Defamation League
  • Kate Bennett, Crisis Intervention Specialist, FrontLine Service, and Psychotherapist, KTB Counseling, LLC
  • David Davis II, President, Shadowbox Media Co.
  • Jack FitzGerald, Project Manager, Gradient, a Human Equity Think Tank
  • Juan Carlos Gamarra, Project Controls Analyst, NV5
  • Spencer Krebs, Associate Attorney, Cavitch, Familo, & Durkin
  • Holly Little, Attorney
  • Tory Mateo, Full-time Parent
  • Pete Mazzeo, Senior Manager, Apple
  • Leta Obertacz, Director of Advancement, Cleveland Zoological Society
  • Maria Paparella, Founder and Executive Director, Chair-ity
  • Allison Peltz, VP, Social & Content Marketing, KeyBank
  • Jordan Rodriguez, Certified Financial Planner, Wernick Spear Wealth Managers
  • Jeff Ryder, Associate Managing Director, Cleveland Play House
  • Supriya Tamang, Global Research Associate, Global Cleveland
  • Brendan Trewella, Founder & President, Small Organization Solutions
  • Kim Walrod, Vice President & Senior Relationship Strategist, PNC Wealth Management
  • Le’Priya White, Program Manager, Plexus LGBT and Allied Chamber of Commerce
  • McKinley Wiley, Photographer & Founder, The Dark Room Co.
  • Dameyonna Willis, Founder, Queen I Am

This program is led by the Advancement Department under the direction of Philanthropy Officer Kristen Grabenstein.

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