More than $115.4 million granted by Cleveland Foundation and its donors in 2020

Foundation approves $34 million in Q4 grantmaking

Release Date: 12.16.2020

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation board of directors today announced $34 million in grants approved in the final quarter of 2020. Supporting residents in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties, the foundation has invested more than $115.4 million in the community year-to-date.

The preliminary total for 2020 represents a nearly 5% increase in grantmaking as compared to the same period last year. This growth was due in part to nearly $51 million from donor-advised grantmaking and supporting organizations, and when combined with more than $64 million in board-directed grants from the foundation’s endowment, this reflects both proactive and responsive community investment by the foundation and its donors during one of Greater Cleveland’s most urgent times of need.

“It is impossible to convey how proud I am of our community, our donors, our nonprofit partners, our board and our staff, who together have kept a laser focus on the health and well-being of Greater Cleveland, despite unimaginable challenges that we have yet to fully overcome as a nation and world,” said Ronn Richard, Cleveland Foundation president & CEO. “The twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice have shown why place-based philanthropy is so important to the fabric of communities across the country, and I hope that we can continue to work together in the coming months and years to support our neighbors in need.”

Highlights of grants approved in the fourth quarter of 2020 by the foundation’s board of directors include:

Arts & Culture

  • East Cleveland Public Library ($33,100) – For community virtual concerts to be presented by the Greg L. Reese Performing Arts Center
  • Literary Cleveland ($10,000) – To pair essential workers (delivery people, cashiers, janitors, nursing home attendants, etc.) with two writers to capture their stories from the pandemic in order to create an online anthology and podcast
  • Writers in Residence ($47,930) – To expand the creative writing program to additional incarcerated youth in order to increase literacy rates, build self-esteem, provide peer mentorship and decrease recidivism

Digital Excellence

  • Cleveland Public Library ($148,242) – To purchase 30 solar-powered portable charging units to allow patrons greater mobility in using library WiFi alongside 200 laptops for checkout among the library’s 27 branches and the Main Library downtown
  • DigitalC ($500,000) – To support the complete deployment of fixed-wireless internet access in the Fairfax neighborhood by building infrastructure to support capacity for the western half of Fairfax
  • Evergreen Cooperative Corporation ($70,500) – To pilot a wireless mesh network (similar to public WiFi) in the Glenville neighborhood that would allow residents to access the internet through a pay-by-the-minute model

Economic & Workforce Development


  • Esperanza ($400,000) – To continue to ensure Latinx students receive the culturally-competent supports they need to overcome academic and nonacademic barriers to success at eight Cleveland Metropolitan School District campuses, while also utilizing mentoring programs to improve graduation rates and postsecondary success


  • Bike Cleveland ($25,000) – To work with Neighborhood Connections to establish Mobility Committees in two Cleveland neighborhoods to advocate for equitable transportation and pedestrian access, while also working with Clevelanders for Public Transit to coordinate city-wide transportation policy and advocacy goals
  • National Wildlife Federation ($120,000) – Two-year funding to work with the Greater Cleveland Interfaith Alliance (GCIA) to launch a Sacred Grounds Cleveland initiative; a program of NWF, Sacred Grounds is designed to increase resources and knowledge of sustainable habitat practices that manage stormwater (e.g. rain gardens), improve water quality, increase wildlife/pollinator habitat and inspire congregations, communities and individuals to become conservation leaders and stewards

Leadership Development

  • Community Partnership on Aging ($85,120) – To provide balanced healthy meals to seniors in need while also lessening the impact of isolation; and to connect seniors aging in place with Communities Assisting Residential Elders (CARE) services ranging from small home repairs to larger scale projects provided by volunteers or corporate teams

Neighborhood Revitalization

  • HFLA of Northeast Ohio ($195,000) – To continue to provide interest-free loans to address the financial challenges faced by residents of Northeast Ohio during the pandemic, with an emphasis on Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and low- to middle-income residents
  • LegalWorks Inc. ($120,000) – Two-year support to continue to provide free legal support for Cleveland residents, including vacating warrants, motions to seal records, securing driving privileges, and simple wills and real estate transactions

Racial Equity

  • PolicyBridge ($200,000) – To support organizational capacity of a nonpartisan, African American led public policy think engaged in producing data-informed solutions to issues facing Northeast Ohio’s communities of color

Youth, Health & Human Services

  • Cleveland Rape Crisis Center ($100,000) – To support the organization’s Advocacy Team, which works with survivors of human trafficking and other sexual violence as they navigate the criminal justice system
  • Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Inc. ($350,000) – To connect more than 90,000 older adults with resources to address food insecurity, including providing groceries and prepared meals

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