The CLEVELAND FOUNDATION, the oldest and third largest community foundation in America, was established on January 2, 1914 by FREDERICK H. GOFF. Goff was concerned about wills and trust funds with no provision for changing circumstances. He based the community trust on Sir Arthur Hobhouse's philosophy (London, 1880) that property be managed by the "living hand" through public tribunal rather than by the "dead hand." The Cleveland Foundation was placed under the trusteeship of the Cleveland Trust Co. (later AMERITRUST), of which Goff was president. Four main principles have guided the foundation: funds represent the union of gifts of various sizes left at different times by different donors; the funds are placed with local financial institutions which invest the monies as trustees of the Cleveland Foundation; an 11-person distribution committee of rotating membership (five members appointed by trustee institutions, five by public officials, and one person with a philanthropy background selected by both trustees and officials) disburses the income; and contributors may designate a preferred charity, with their wishes observed unless changing conditions make such purposes unnecessary, undesirable, impractical, or impossible. The foundation also accepts undesignated gifts. Several changes have occurred in the foundation's operations over time. The trust inaugurated multiple trusteeships in 1931, expanding the pool of potential donors by adding other banks as trustees. In 1943 the foundation established a combined fund, to enable memorials and small gifts to retain their identity, though commingled for investment. In 1967 The Cleveland Foundation and the Greater Cleveland Associated Foundation combined staffs to increase the effectiveness of foundation philanthropy in the city. The organizations continue to exist as legally separate entities with differing purposes.
Pledges to the Cleveland Foundation during its first year totaled $40,000, but expendable funds were not generated until 1919. Goff's personal wealth and monies from the Cleveland Trust Co. underwrote the foundation's earliest activities. These consisted principally of a series of surveys, including the Ayres School Survey (1916, see EDUCATION) and the CLEVELAND SURVEY OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE (1921-23). By 1923 the assets of the fund were over $350,000, and over $7,500 was distributed. In 1979 the fund's total market value was over $200 million, with over $14 million distributed. In 1990 the fund's assets had topped a half million dollars, with more than $30 million spent for 869 grants—representing a 24 percent increase in giving over the previous year.
Several other large funds, including the Ford Foundation and the Hanna Fund, support the Cleveland Foundation. Thirteen trusts of over $1 million each enhance the foundation. The Cleveland Foundation distributes monies in Cuyahoga County, and on a smaller scale in Lake and Geauga Counties through the Lake-Geauga Fund. Foundation dollars have supported activities as diverse as the GREAT LAKES EXPOSITION and the CLEVELAND COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION. Cultural groups such as the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA, the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART, and the CLEVELAND OPERA have benefited, as well as many—if not most—Greater Cleveland educational organizations.
In an effort to respond to evolving business and demographic trends of the early twenty-first century, the foundation launched the "Civic Innovation Lab" and the "Successful Aging Initiative" in 2003. The goal of the "Civic Innovation Lab" is to financially foster the economic development ideas of Greater Cleveland entrepreneurs. The "Successful Aging Initiative" promotes the positive aspects of aging with the goal of creating a network to help support and educate senior citizens.
By 2003 the foundation had $1.52 billion in assets, with more than $80 million expended in 2003 for grants. A charitable corporation, The Cleveland Foundation, Inc., administers the community trust. After nearly twenty years of service, Steven A. Minter retired in June of 2003. Ronald B. Richard began his tenure as the foundation's executive director in August of the same year. In 2004 The Cleveland Foundation was located in the Hanna Building, 1422 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland Foundation Records, WRHS.
The Cleveland Foundation. Annual Report(2003).
Howard, Nathaniel R. Trust for All Time (1963).
Miggins, Edward M. "Businessmen, Pedagogues, and Progressive Reform: The Cleveland Foundation's 1915 School Survey" (Ph.D. diss., CWRU, 1975).
Tittle, Diana. Rebuilding Cleveland: The Cleveland Foundation and Its Evolving Urban Strategy (1992).