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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

FOUNDATIONS - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

FOUNDATIONS have shaped culture, social welfare, criminal justice, GOVERNMENT, and EDUCATION in Cleveland since 1914. Cleveland represented one national locus of early 20th century foundation activity, pioneering such concepts as the community foundation in 1914 (see CLEVELAND FOUNDATION) to avoid the dead hand of the past. In the early 1990s Cleveland was the third-largest city in the U.S. in distribution of foundation dollars, with 502 local foundations granting over $173 million (1991). Although established in part to preserve, protect, and shelter the old money of individuals, families, or INDUSTRY, foundations often promoted fresh ideas and initiated new services. Historically, foundation giving--locally and nationally--has represented less than 10% of the total support of charitable causes; most dollars have derived from individual PHILANTHROPY. Yet local foundations have provided the financial backbone for many cultural, educational, and social service institutions in Cleveland and elsewhere. Since 1978 the city has hosted one of the libraries of the Foundation Center of New York City, at the FOUNDATION CENTER-CLEVELAND.

A foundation represents a nongovernmental trust or not-for-profit entity, supported by individual, group, or corporate donations, which grants monies for charitable purposes. The grantmaking function usually distinguishes foundation from nonprofit WELFARE/RELIEF or social service groups which offer programs and services. However, some foundations, designated as operating foundations, do utilize their monies for research or service instead of grants. Other types of foundations include community (a union of separate gifts held in trust to benefit one locale and distributed by community leaders), independent (established with family funds or bequests), and corporate (established by corporations to stabilize their tax-deductible charitable giving). Foundations of large corporations, which often hold the most financial assets, typically support the most traditional causes. Some foundations are created after the sale or dissolution of a corporation or institution, such as the SAINT ANN FOUNDATION (1973).

Predictably, the area's 35 largest foundations (including the Cleveland Foundation, the GEORGE GUND FOUNDATION, the MILDRED ANDREWS FOUNDATION†, the TRW Foundation, the Eaton Charitable Fund, and the Republic Steel Corp. Education and Charitable Trust) have provided the largest portion of local grantmaking dollars (about 77% in 1991). Smaller entities have had significant impact in certain areas, however--for example, the MARTHA HOLDEN JENNINGS FOUNDATION in EDUCATION and the KULAS FOUNDATION in MUSIC., Generally foundations have accepted applications for grants according to prescribed guidelines, with allocation committees or trustees making funding decisions. Some foundations only grant to pre-selected causes or institutions, however, often those favored by a founder. Most local foundations have limited their giving to Cleveland or Ohio while a few serve a broader geography. The plethora of independent and corporate foundations have provided a means for the local elite to influence Cleveland's development. Some prominent families (the Humphreys, Hannas, Blossoms, Grieses, Daubys, Irelands, Smiths, and Kulases, among others) have served more than one charity as donors and/or trustees. For example, MAY CO. OF CLEVELAND founder NATHAN DAUBY† created the DAUBY CHARITY FUND and served as a trustee of the LOUIS D. BEAUMONT FOUNDATION; his daughter's estate continued the family tradition in the LUCILE DAUBY AND ROBERT HAYS GRIES CHARITY FUND.

The functions performed by local foundations have changed over time. In the earliest period of foundation activity in Cleveland (1913-49), foundations generally created cultural and educational institutions and instigated and regulated social services. The Cleveland Foundation's early surveys in such areas as recreation, education, immigration (see IMMIGRATION AND MIGRATION) and LAW (see CLEVELAND SURVEY OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE) attempted to accomplish social change (interpreted by some as social control) through scientific research and social science methodology. These efforts greatly influenced other foundations. In a local example, inventor CHARLES FRANCIS BRUSH† created the BRUSH FOUNDATION (1929) to address what he saw as the decline of the Anglo-Saxon race, by promoting the study of genetics and birth control (see FAMILY PLANNING). Foundations elsewhere in the U.S., such as the Russell Sage and the Rockefeller foundations, shared this emphasis on improving society through research and efficiency. Other early local foundations focused on one cause rather than on broad social change. Two such entities, the HORACE KELLEY ART FOUNDATION (1899) and the JOHN HUNTINGTON FUND FOR EDUCATION (1916), each earmarked funds which eventually helped establish the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART.

During the 1950s, while existing entities worked to maintain the status quo in the institutions and services they had helped establish, new foundations multiplied in Cleveland, as they did nationwide. The bulk of Cleveland's foundations organized during this period, after new federal tax laws (1949) which regulated undue accrual of monies, for example, and before Congressional revelations of abuses in foundation philanthropy, (1960s) led to further restrictions. Some local charitable entities created during the decade were the BOLTON FOUNDATION (1952), the George Gund Foundation (1952), the KELVIN & ELEANOR SMITH FOUNDATION (1955), and the LAUB FOUNDATION (1958).

Beginning in 1961 with the creation of the Greater Cleveland Associated Foundation (GCAF), local foundation philanthropy again attempted to solve social ills. The GCAF represented a formal manifestation of a common informal phenomenon: the cooperation of foundations in fund distribution. With the help of the Cleveland Foundation, the Ford Foundation (Michigan) and the Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund (then Cleveland's largest foundation) created this joint entity to attack local urban problems "too extensive and too costly" for other organizations. Founders also hoped GCAF would spur philanthropic innovation. GCAF spawned demonstration projects, often of a cooperative nature, which explored experimental solutions to urban dilemmas (e.g. the PACE ASSN.). Most active during the 1960s, GCAF merged with the Cleveland Foundation in 1967 and later evolved into Cleveland Foundation, Inc.

During the 1980s, despite the dissolution of some entities, the number of Cleveland-area foundations again climbed, from 423 in 1980 to 502 in 1991. Specialized entities focused on underfunded causes, such as the WOLPERT FUND (1980) and multiculturalism, and the WOMEN'S PROJECT FOUNDATION (1986) and efforts to benefit WOMEN and CHILDREN AND YOUTH. Traditional causes such as HIGHER EDUCATION and health care still attracted large foundation grants from such entities as the 1525 FOUNDATION, SECOND FOUNDATION, the JOHN P. MURPHY FOUNDATION, and the ELISABETH SEVERANCE PRENTISS FOUNDATION, among many others. Some foundations, such as the WILLIAM BINGHAM FOUNDATION, broadened their scope to include atypical causes such as peace and justice, while others cut support from programs funded by government monies or sources such as UNITED WAY SERVICES. The establishment of the Grantmakers' Forum in 1985 (with operating support from a Cleveland Foundation grant) formalized the traditional cooperation and idea exchange among Cleveland-area foundations. After almost a century these foundations continued to apply firm living hands in molding Cleveland's future.

Jimmy E. W. Meyer

Foundations in Cleveland ( 4 Kbytes ) Last Modified: 16 Mar 1998 10:28:11 AM

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