The CENTER FOR COMMUNITY SOLUTIONS, among the earliest federated charities in the United States, organized in Cleveland on January 7, 1913 as the Federation for Charity & Philanthropy. The Cleveland Chamber of Commerce (see GREATER CLEVELAND GROWTH ASSN.) created the nonprofit, citizen-led federation to coordinate PHILANTHROPY in the city, to make charity more efficient, and to incorporate more citizens (not only the wealthy) into the donor pool.
The charity's founders included business and civic leaders: NEWTON DIEHL BAKER, Elizabeth Leopold Baker, CHESTER C. BOLTON, STARR CADWALLADER, SERENO PECK FENN, Francis Southworth Goff, ALEXANDER HADDEN, SR., SAMUEL MATHER, Cornelia Blakemore Warner (Mrs. WORCESTER REED WARNER), and MARTIN A. MARKS, the organization's first president (1913-1915). In March 1913 the group employed WHITING WILLIAMS as executive secretary (1913-1917). BELLE SHERWIN was among the earliest WOMEN to hold an office with the organization (Ann G. Ford, who served from 1984-1986, was its first woman president). The city's first coordinated fund drive, "Good Will Week," which took place from June 2-9, 1913, reached 2,000 givers by mail and raised $126,735. The charity distributed the monies to fifty-five approved agencies, with the stipulation that the agencies not solicit additional funds from contributors and allow the federation to oversee their finances.
In 1917 the Federation for Charity and Philanthropy merged with the Cleveland Welfare Council, organized by Mayor Newton Diehl Baker in April 1914 to advise the city's welfare department. The new Welfare Federation of Cleveland, made up of eighty-eight Protestant, Catholic and non-sectarian agencies, hired Sherman C. Kingsley as its first director. The Welfare Federation relied primarily upon mail solicitations until May 1918, when, inspired by successful local campaigns held by the AMERICAN RED CROSS, CLEVELAND CHAPTER and the YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSN., it conducted the Victory Chest (also called Victory Fund or War Chest) campaign. This campaign surpassed its six million dollar goal and set the pattern for future appeals, conducted under the auspices of the new Community Chest (or Community Fund), established in 1919. The Welfare Federation handled the distribution of Community Fund proceeds and required that participating agencies agree to raise no monies outside the central campaign. By 1957, the Community Chest evolved into the United Appeal (see UNITED WAY SERVICES). In 1971, the Welfare Federation transferred appeal and allocation functions to United Way and became the Federation for Community Planning (FCP).
As the Federation for Community Planning, the organization pursued numerous program and research efforts in areas as diverse as FAMILY PLANNING, Housing, and HOSPITALS AND HEALTH PLANNING. It studied the needs of crippled persons (1913), illegitimate children and unwed mothers (1914), improved the TREMONT and Central neighborhoods (1930s), and later focused on wartime CHILD CARE. It worked toward the prevention of juvenile CRIME (1943) and the abuse of CHILDREN AND YOUTH (1966). The FCP's leadership also helped establish such agencies as the Negro Welfare Association (see the URBAN LEAGUE OF CLEVELAND), BLUE CROSS OF NORTHEAST OHIO, the Cuyahoga County Receiving Home for Children (later the Metzenbaum Center), and the Neighborhood Settlement Association (see GREATER CLEVELAND NEIGHBORHOOD CENTERS ASSN.).
The FCP cooperated with many other entities, particularly Cuyahoga County, in the creation of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project (1987) and the establishment of the CUYAHOGA METROPOLITAN HOUSING AUTHORITY's first primary health services clinic (at the Outhwaite Estates in 1992). Begun in 1913, the FCP's newsletters and its Social Year Book kept the public apprised of attempts to resolve health and social problems. Since 1943, its annual Health and Human Services Institute one-day conference educated laypersons as well as professionals.
The Federation consistently encouraged public assistance for vulnerable populations. It supported a city ordinance outlawing substandard day nurseries in 1913. In the 1950s, the FCP pioneered the principle of government purchase of social services from voluntary agencies, when it arranged for the Cuyahoga County Commissioners to purchase care for emotionally disturbed children. Thirty years later, the Federation helped secure legislation to create the Cuyahoga County Community Mental Health Board and the Cuyahoga County Board of Mental Retardation (now the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities).
In 1996, the FCP altered its organizational structure and began to focus more strongly on specific issues of concern requiring long-term solutions, such as public health planning, housing, and youth development. Eight years later, this change in emphasis, as well as the organization's decision to no longer have member agencies, led the group to change its name to the Center for Community Solutions.
In 2006, the Center, located at 1226 Huron Road, concentrated on assisting community leaders, service providers, and policymaking organizations improve health and social conditions in the Greater Cleveland area through research, policy analysis, program development, and service coordination. The current executive director and president is Gregory L. Brown.