Digital Excellence Initiative

Building a strong, equitable, and resilient digital community in Greater Cleveland


Our Digital Excellence Initiative aims to position Greater Cleveland as a leader in digital innovation and access by investing in efforts that align with five focus areas:  

Students listen to professor in computer science class

  • Creating a more connected community
  • Supporting digital skills development
  • Improving digital civic engagement
  • Elevating regional digital leadership 
  • Encouraging technology innovation for social good

We announced the launch of the Digital Excellence Initiative in 2017 with two major grants: $200,000 to Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University to establish an “Internet of Things” (IoT) collaborative, and $250,000 for Digital C’s ReStart program, which will provide digital literacy skills leading to in-demand jobs for Cleveland’s underemployed residents. Learn more about these grants here


Building on a History of Support 


The 2017 launch of the Digital Excellence Initiative builds on the foundation’s history of support for technology, innovation and connectivity in Greater Cleveland, including: 


  • The 2002 launch of BioEnterprise, an initiative aimed at fostering the growth of biomedical startups and companies in northeast Ohio. Most recent support has allowed BioEnterprise to address the talent gap in health IT, and create a Health IT CEO-in-Residence position charged with launching a health IT company in Cleveland and mentoring Cleveland residents in launching health IT companies.

  • The 2010 launch of the Health Tech Corridor, a business district fostering Cleveland’s growing community of health-tech and high-tech enterprises.

  • The Northeast Ohio CyberConsortium, a collaborative effort supported in 2015 by Cleveland Foundation President & CEO Ronn Richard and Chief Technology & Information Officer Leon Wilson to address and mitigate escalating cyber threats across regional industries.

  • More than $380,000 in grants to support CS4All, a partnership launched in 2016 between CSU, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and the foundation to provide computer science classes to all students in the CMSD. The foundation also supported the opening of CMSD’s John Marshall School of Information Technology, one of three new high schools on the John Marshall Campus.

  • Support for the Center on Urban Poverty at CWRU in the promotion, use, access and sharing of public and community-level data for more effective neighborhood decision making.

  • Intergenerational computer literacy training to reduce the digital divide between affluent and underserved populations piloting in 2017 through our MyCom initiative, funded by Microsoft’s YouthSpark program.