Cleveland Foundation Grants Nearly $13 Million

Funds directed toward youth development, capital grants, arts and culture

Release Date: 06.20.2008

The board of directors of the Cleveland Foundation today authorized $12.9 million in grants to provide solutions to some of Greater Cleveland’s most pressing problems and to seize opportunities to move the community forward. Grants were made in such areas as youth development, education, and arts and culture.

Among the nonprofit organizations receiving funding this quarter are:

Youth Development

The Cleveland Foundation is working with a broad coalition of public and private funders to launch a comprehensive Youth Development Initiative for Cuyahoga County. Its purpose is to create a safe, stable environment in which youth can live, learn and connect with positive supports and wholesome opportunities.

As part of the Youth Development Initiative, the board authorized four grants to local nonprofits totaling almost $770,000. That includes $270,000 to the Cuyahoga County Family and Children First Council. The council will work closely with the Cleveland Foundation to handle day-to-day management of the initiative.

Also authorized was a $250,000 grant to the Cuyahoga County Department of Workforce Development for the SmartStart summer youth employment project. SmartStart will provide summer jobs in the nonprofit and private sectors for young people ages 14 to 18. Similarly, Youth Opportunities Unlimited was granted $50,000 to support its own teen summer job program, which will offer positions at more than 100 work sites around Cleveland.

The Cuyahoga County District Board of Health will receive $198,958 to implement programs that help Cuyahoga County children more easily make a variety of crucial transitions, such as the transition from home or child care to kindergarten, elementary to middle school, middle to high school, and the yearly transition between school and the summer months.

Major Capital Grants

Each year, the Cleveland Foundation makes large grants to nonprofit organizations undertaking major capital projects. These funds are awarded through a competitive review process. Grants support construction, renovation, refurbishment or purchase of buildings, acquisition of land, or creation or improvement of public spaces. Projects must also be central to the organization’s mission and likely to have a long-term effect on its success.

In the previous eight years, the foundation awarded 23 major capital grants totaling $13 million. This year, $1.5 million in capital grants was authorized to the following three groups:

  • Cleveland Society for the Blind ($750,000): The Society for the Blind is the only agency in Northeast Ohio providing comprehensive services to people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired. It serves 31,000 people annually, with estimates that the number of Americans experiencing low vision or blindness will increase 70 percent by 2020. The Society’s Fund for the Future campaign aims to build the infrastructure and facilities necessary to meet this increasing demand.
  • Cleveland Zoological Society ($500,000): A significant portion of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will be transformed as part of the African Elephant Crossing, a project that will help visitors understand the complexity involved when people and animals share resources. The African Village at the center of the exhibit will illustrate the role of elephants in African culture, and showcase green technology and alternative energy as well.
  • Cogswell Hall ($250,000): Cleveland’s Cogswell Hall is undergoing a major renovation so it can better serve extremely low-income adult women by increasing the supply of affordable rental housing and providing support services for those facing such issues as mental illness, addiction and physical disabilities.

Arts and Culture

Through its Sustaining Excellence initiative, the Cleveland Foundation has helped to strengthen and maintain a group of important, mid-sized arts organizations in Greater Cleveland. Eight of those organizations are receiving strategic sustaining support (totaling $1.45 million) from the foundation this quarter. Those are:

  • Cleveland Orchestra, $500,000
  • Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, $300,000
  • Cleveland Play House, $150,000
  • Great Lakes Theater Festival, $150,000
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, $100,000
  • Playhouse Square Foundation, $100,000
  • Apollo’s Fire, $75,000
  • Cleveland Public Theatre, $75,000 


Programs of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District are recipients of two grants. One, for $500,000, is to help the district launch the new Metropolitan Cleveland Consortium Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (MC2STEM) school this fall. The school will open with about 100 ninth-graders, who will be housed at different sites around Cleveland each year of high school as they acquire and refine STEM-related skills. The Cleveland and Gund foundations have been working with the school district to create a portfolio of new, excellent and innovative schools in Cleveland.

The board also authorized a $200,000 grant for the district’s Reading Achievement project. The district will implement the Accelerated Reader program across all 120 of its schools to maximize student reading ability.

Cleveland’s Entrepreneurship Preparatory (E Prep) School will receive $200,000. The highly regarded charter school works to get 100 percent of its students into college through a rigorous curriculum and high expectations. Beginning with the 2009-10 school year, E Prep will offer a complete middle school, serving students in grades 6 through 8.

“We’re very excited about the impact this round of grants will have on Greater Cleveland,” said Robert Eckardt, senior vice president for programs and evaluation at the Cleveland Foundation. “The Youth Development Initiative has the potential to transform the lives of young people in Cuyahoga County, while the capital campaigns we’re supporting hold great promise for the citizens served by those nonprofit organizations. As these grants illustrate, we also have a strong belief in the importance of the arts to the region’s future and the need for innovation in creating new schools for our children.”

Economic Development

The board awarded $750,000 to the Shorebank Enterprise Group Cleveland in support of economic inclusion in Greater University Circle. Shorebank’s vision is to create a network of employee-owned businesses in the neighborhoods surrounding Cleveland’s University Circle. These businesses would create jobs, make profits and follow principles of sustainability. The first such enterprise proposed is the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, which will fully integrate green technology and practices into its business model.

Civic Leadership

The Cleveland Leadership Center received $700,000. Part of the grant will fund the Cleveland Executive Fellowship, a program that helps to accelerate the professional development of promising civic leaders in the city. During the year-long fellowship, participants gain hands-on experience through executive-level placements in the business, education, nonprofit and public sectors. The grant also will support the merger of the Center’s four main programs: Leadership Cleveland, Cleveland Bridge Builders, (i)Cleveland, and Look Up to Cleveland.


Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and the nation’s third-largest today, with assets of $1.9 billion and 2006 grants surpassing $85 million. The foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders in perpetuity by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. Currently the foundation proactively directs two-thirds of its flexible grant dollars to the community’s greatest needs: economic transformation (including advanced energy and globalization), public school improvement, early childhood and youth development, neighborhoods and housing, and arts advancement.

For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, please visit