Cleveland Foundation Approves Grant to Support Cuyahoga County’s Innovation Efforts

RELEASE DATE: 4.30.2015

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation board of directors has approved a $200,000 grant to Cuyahoga County to support the creation of  a Chief Innovation Officer position, a senior role in the leadership of Cuyahoga County.

Modeled after similar positions in Austin, San Francisco, and private sector businesses across the nation, this role will be responsible for assessing the most significant aspects of County government and ensuring that the best tools and strategies are being used to perform County work. The Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) will inform the vision of the County by researching successful practices in industries of all types and identifying those that have the most potential to streamline County processes, save taxpayer dollars, and increase the government’s responsiveness. The CINO will also look outward to identify external opportunities to enhance innovation in job creation, economic development, human services, public safety, and other services and policies.

“I’d like to thank the Cleveland Foundation for being such a strong partner in our mission of innovation,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Budish. “They, like me, understand that in order to accomplish areas of impact and to move the entire region forward for all residents, the County must think out of the box, break down those silos that have held us back, and do business in a different way than we have in the past. This is exactly what Chief Innovation Officers across the country do, and it is exactly what one will do for Cuyahoga County. The leader will be a key driver and resource to our entire 4,700-member County team as we create together our culture of innovation and improvement.”

The CINO will lead public and private sector collaborations and innovations that extend beyond government and address community challenges in the areas of human services, economic development, public safety, and sustainable public policies.

“The Cleveland Foundation is proud to support Cuyahoga County’s new ‘culture of innovation,’ as County Executive Budish looks for opportunities to improve the efficiency of our county government, for the benefit of all county residents,” said Cleveland Foundation President and CEO Ronn Richard. “As evidenced by our recent partnership with the County on a first-of-its-kind Pay for Success model to help homeless families, the foundation is committed to supporting modern approaches to long-standing systems and issues.”  

Budish referenced this grant award in his recent State of the County address, where he mentioned the county was developing an “innovation partnership” with the Cleveland Foundation.During that address, Budish outlined six specific initiatives, all part of an Innovation Agenda, that the CINO will be responsible, in part, for directing. The CINO will also:

  • Work with staff at all levels and across all departments to empower employees to take an active role in suggesting and initiating improvements to customer service and daily operations.
  • Develop enterprise-wide “innovation plans” measured by performance metrics that include actionable information and Lean Six Sigma methodology.  
  • Identify and implement the best opportunities available to modernize, professionalize, and improve the operations of county government. 
  • Focus the priorities of County government – job growth and opportunity, fairness and equity, and a government that gets results – to develop action plans and performance metrics for implementing change.
  • Identify external opportunities where the County can enhance innovation in cross-section policies and services.

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Cleveland Foundation

Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.1 billion and 2014 grants of $98 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community’s priority areas – economic transformation, public-school improvement, youth development, neighborhood revitalization, and arts advancement – and responds to the community’s needs. 

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