“For the benefit of the inhabitants of Lake and Geauga counties”

Lake-Geauga Fund Request for Proposal

Submission Deadline: September 18, 2019



The Lake-Geauga Fund (the “Fund”), an advised fund of the Cleveland Foundation, was established in 1988 primarily for the benefit of the inhabitants of Lake and Geauga counties. Over the past 30 years – utilizing the advice of its committee – the Fund has distributed over $17 million. Since its inception, the Fund has been a critical resource to the Lake and Geauga county communities as it has provided funding to jumpstart new ideas, guide organizational strategy, leverage additional dollars, and address high priority program needs.

In 2015, the foundation conducted an assessment of the Fund. After several months of evaluation, the foundation’s board adopted an integrated approach whereby Lake and Geauga counties have access to the foundation’s monthly grantmaking opportunities. Therefore, the Lake-Geauga Fund will now serve as an additional resource and is moving to a more strategic grantmaking focus. To inform this new focus, the Cleveland Foundation convened two community listening sessions followed by facilitated roundtable discussions. Nonprofit leaders across sectors as well as community stakeholders participated in facilitated discussions that emphasized six areas: Education & Youth Development, Environment, Health, Housing & Neighborhoods, Inclusion, and Jobs & Economy.

Participants brought with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise as well as broad perspectives to the facilitated discussions. This generated engaged dialogue among cross sector stakeholders, highlighting the importance of collaboration to address community issues. While it was difficult to narrow creative ideas into succinct priorities, the community successfully developed priorities under each area for both Lake and Geauga County. For example, Lake County stakeholders identified water preservation as one of its priorities (i.e. improve the protection, restoration, and access to the waters of Lake County for future generations). Geauga County stakeholders developed one of its priorities around a more holistic approach to education and youth development (i.e. coordinated, integrated approaches to create relevant, pertinent and diverse experiences to build better family, community and career-building opportunities with schools as a hub). The complete list of community priorities can be found at the bottom of this page. 

Proposal Framework

The Lake-Geauga Fund is seeking grant proposals from organizations within the Cleveland Foundation’s footprint (Lake, Geauga, and Cuyahoga counties) that serve Lake and Geauga residents. Strong submissions will introduce a collaborative mission that addresses at least one of the priorities developed during the community listening sessions, identifies key public and/or private organizations actively involved with collaboration, and outlines a coordinated approach that moves the needle in the identified priority area(s). While only non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for this grant opportunity, successful collaborations will likely include elements of strong public-private partnership.

The Lake-Geauga Fund of the Cleveland Foundation encourages innovative, yet practical, research-based project proposals. Examples of projects that have been funded include; United Way Services of Geauga County – a collaborative project addressing the rising number of individuals in Geauga County re-entering the community from jail – and Lake County Educational Services Center – a collaborative project that targets K-12 students in both Lake and Geauga counties, forms a partnership with the manufacturing community, and has a goal of providing students the exposure, training, and life skills critical to being successful in a manufacturing environment.

Approximately $170,000 is available for grantmaking this year for projects beginning in 2020. The Fund will consider multi-year requests, but reserves the right to limit funding to one year. In preparing your budget, please be aware the requested amount should be realistic and align with the size and scope of the project. It is strongly encouraged to demonstrate that there are other resources being contributed toward the proposed project.

The following questions can serve as a guide as you develop your application to the Lake Geauga Fund of the Cleveland Foundation. While it is not a requirement to directly respond to each of these questions, reviewing them before proceeding with the application will ensure your project meets the established grant criteria. Strong consideration will be given to applicants that articulate how projects will be sustained beyond Cleveland Foundation funding:

  • Why was this opportunity selected? How was the focus area determined? (i.e. existing/emerging community issue and underlying data behind it)
  • How will this opportunity improve the lives of Lake and/or Geauga County residents (in the short-term and/or long-term)?
  • What will be different as a result of the work being done?
  • How is research and/or best practices driving the approach?
  • What organizations are you partnering with? (government, other nonprofits, corporate/business)? How will these partners help address your priority?
  • How will you ensure all voices in the community are included as part of the solution? (i.e. gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual preference, socio-economic)
  • How are you going to leverage Cleveland Foundation dollars to raise additional funding and/or in-kind support?
  • What is the timeline for the planning process? (One year or multi-year)
  • If your request is for planning, what milestones need to be achieved before this collaborative knows it’s ready for project implementation?

Please feel free to provide any other information in the online application that you and your partners believe will help the Cleveland Foundation better understand your proposal.


Grants are awarded to 501(c)3 tax-exempt organizations that provide programs and services that benefit the inhabitants of Lake and Geauga counties. All nonprofit organizations located in Cuyahoga, Lake, and Geauga counties and providing services in Lake and Geauga are eligible to apply. Groups or organizations that do not have, or are awaiting, tax-exempt status must partner with a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization in order for the project to be considered for funding. The tax-exempt organization must initiate the application process and will be considered the Fund applicant.

Submission of Application

All applications must be submitted online through Grants Gateway.  If you do not have access to our online system, please complete a Grantee Request Form on our website   

To begin the application, login to Grants Gateway

  1. Establish or update your organization profile
  2. Click on the Apply for a Grant link
  3. Scroll down to find the Lake-Geauga Fund application
  4. Complete the online application questions
  5. Upload the Required Attachments, which include:
    • Applying organization’s Board List
    • Letters of support from partner institutions/agencies
    • Project Budget Form (Excel document)
    • Financial Audit

Questions? Please refer to these FAQs.

For additional questions about eligibility, the application process, or technical assistance with Grants Gateway, contact:

Grants Management

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. 

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. 

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. 

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