Cleveland Foundation announces $8.9 million in September grants

Foundation awarded $23.3 million to area nonprofits in Q3 2015

RELEASE DATE: 9.29.2015

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation board of directors has approved $8.9 million in grants for the month of September, bringing the foundation’s third-quarter grantmaking total to $23.3 million and the 2015 total to $71.3 million.

The foundation’s support in September centers on the priority areas of education and economic development, highlighting the foundation’s newest strategy to better prepare and connect students and residents in Cleveland’s core neighborhoods with existing and future jobs.

“The Cleveland Foundation is helping our partners create pathways into the middle class for Cleveland students and residents,” said Robert E. Eckardt, executive vice president of the Cleveland Foundation. “We hope these programs will help lift people out of poverty and into sustainable careers, which will change the trajectory of their future and our city’s future for generations to come.”

Among the grants approved this month as part of the foundation’s effort to bolster career education and training programs:

  • $98,000 to Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) to continue the foundation’s key role in supporting the transformation of the district’s four career center high schools – Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Max Hayes and Washington Park – from traditional vocational education design into a comprehensive career academy model. A fifth CMSD school, Garrett Morgan School of Science will also transition to this model. Grant support includes school-based professional development, the onboarding of newly hired academy coordinators charged with developing business and higher education partnerships and the creation of career guides for the pathways offered across the five academies, detailing jobs and salaries, required postsecondary credentials and relevant high school courses. The Cleveland Foundation has provided more than $600,000 in grants to support this transformation effort.
  • $200,000 to Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network (MAGNET) to help launch a new program that aims to create an employer-driven advanced manufacturing career pathway for Cleveland’s youth. The program will allow students in high school to earn a high school diploma, a technical degree and additional college credits towards an associate’s degree. The coursework will also be combined with manufacturing experience that is partially- to fully-funded by the employer during part-time employment.
  • $169,000 to Westside Industrial Retention & Expansion Network (WIRE-Net) for the development of an apprenticeship consortium. Six employers have signed up thus far to participate in the consortium to provide apprenticeships which will allow individuals to “earn while they learn,” combining customized work experience with technical on-the-job training and classroom instruction.
  • $250,000 to University Hospitals Health System to expand the successful Step Up to UH program, which has focused on linking residents of the Greater University Circle neighborhoods to available entry-level jobs at the health system. The program includes neighborhood-based recruitment events, a 3-week job readiness training session and post-employment coaching. To date, the program’s graduates have a 75 to 80-percent retention rate, which far exceeds the average for these typically high-turnover positions. The Cleveland Foundation provided a $200,000 grant to support the pilot stage of this program.
  • $100,000 to the Spanish American Committee for a Better Community to assist with the development and implementation of the Families First program. The program will provide job readiness and placement for community members who only speak Spanish or limited English. In addition to the job readiness and placement services, the program will incorporate financial literacy workshops so that residents have the tools to manage their finances and build wealth once employed.

In addition, the foundation’s September grants include support for early childhood educational programs to create a strong foundation for Cleveland’s youth:

  • $260,911 to the Cuyahoga County Office of Early Childhood to establish the SPARK literacy program in East Cleveland. The program, first launched in Cleveland in 2010, aims to provide in-home kindergarten readiness activities to families with young children who are not currently enrolled in a quality-rated preschool. The East Cleveland school district identified a strong need for early school readiness interventions since only a fraction of the city’s preschool-aged children are enrolled in a quality-rated preschool program.
  • $300,000 to the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County to continue the foundation’s key support of PRE4CLE for a second year. The program to expand high-quality preschool opportunities in Cleveland was launched last August following a community-wide convening led by the CMSD, George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation. PRE4CLE created 1,000 new high-quality preschool slots in its first year with the support of a $300,000 Cleveland Foundation grant. This latest grant will support initiatives to help the program achieve its Year 2 goal of providing an additional 2,000 high-quality preschool slots by September 2016.


Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.2 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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