Program Areas

Arts

The Foundation values and supports the role the arts play in making Cleveland and its region a more desirable place to live, fostering the growth of a creative workforce, catalyzing development in our neighborhoods and serving as a bridge between various segments of the community. The Foundation encourages a lively, diverse arts community in Greater Cleveland by funding local projects that emphasize artistic quality, innovative programming, reaching new audiences and organizational development. We also try to balance support for Cleveland’s long-standing institutions with funding for newer organizations that promise to reach different audiences and cultures and to expand the city’s artistic offerings. Arts education is a priority, with a focus on curriculum-related partnerships between arts organizations and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Economic Development and Community Revitalization

Sustaining uniquely urban assets such as vibrant neighborhoods and a thriving downtown is a key part of a successful regional strategy to promote economic growth. The Foundation devotes considerable attention to these dynamics, in particular by supporting collaborative efforts that leverage resources. As a result, the highest priority is given to initiatives that bolster the impact of Foundation-supported intermediary organizations working to improve the competitiveness of Cleveland’s neighborhoods and its metropolitan region. Examples of such initiatives include quality urban planning and design, improvements to urban parks and public spaces, promotion of equal opportunity and diversity in housing and the workplace and proposals to redevelop Cleveland’s downtown, neighborhoods and first-ring suburbs.

Education

Education is fundamental to success, and if Cleveland is to produce, attract and retain talent and be the thriving center of a robust regional economy, expectations about education must rise exponentially. Consequently, our Foundation’s focus is on the transformation of public education in Cleveland in order to equip children from early childhood onward with the skills they ultimately will need to meet the demands of college, the 21st-century workplace and international standards. Our primary area of interest is the creation and support of new, innovative, excellent schools in Cleveland that drive autonomy and accountability to the school level and create different teaching and learning conditions to ensure student success. We support statewide policy and advocacy efforts in furtherance of this work, particularly as it relates to the importance of high-quality teachers and principals in every classroom and school. We also maintain a desire to support disadvantaged students through key transitions, especially to higher education.

Environment

Human well-being is inextricably linked to the quality of the environment, and urban areas bring this fact into sharp focus as historic disregard for the environment and modern development pressures create great challenges. The Foundation responds to these challenges by making grants to organizations that address environmental issues in Northeast Ohio. In addition, we support efforts to restore and preserve the Lake Erie ecosystem. Within the broad range of environmental issues, the Foundation focuses on promoting alternatives to urban sprawl, decreasing energy consumption and waste, conserving ecosystems and biodiversity, reducing environmental health hazards, increasing public awareness of environmental issues and building the skills of nonprofit environmental leaders.

Human Services

Heightened focus on developing a more globally competitive city and region demands recognition that people are at the heart of this effort and that all segments of society can make constructive contributions. To maximize that contribution, direct attention must be paid to the needs of those most at risk of being left out of social and economic transformation. Building human capital begins at birth and the Foundation pays special attention to the needs of Greater Cleveland’s disadvantaged children through grants to support early childhood care and education, abuse prevention and improved foster care and adoption systems. In addition, the Foundation provides some support for the local “safety net” of food, clothing, shelter and access to health care. A closely related set of interests is reflected in the Foundation’s desire to help vulnerable populations achieve access to health insurance, the legal system, community support following release from prison and safe and affordable reproductive health services.

Special Commitments

Retinal Degenerative Diseases
The George Gund Foundation makes an annual commitment to the Foundation Fighting Blindness for research on the causes, nature and prevention of inherited retinal degenerative diseases.

Philanthropic Services
The Foundation supports organizations that strengthen the infrastructure of the nonprofit and philanthropic communities through philanthropic services grants.