The George Gund Foundation awarded $16.2 million at its June board meeting to organizations addressing the most pressing issues in Cleveland and Ohio, while also committing to an increased payout of 10 percent in 2021, double the legally-required five percent payout for private foundations. The Foundation’s focus on climate change, inequality and racial injustice, and democracy building, as outlined in its What We Believe statement, is emphasized in its grants, including these:
- $1.5 million to the Energy Foundation for the Ohio Climate Justice Fund, which invests in organizations in Ohio led by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color who work at the intersection of racial justice and climate action. The Fund was created to elevate a diverse coalition of advocates to influence policy change and help move toward a just and inclusive clean energy economy for Ohio.
- $800,000 to nonprofit developer, Community Builders, for the transformation of Woodhill Estates into a mixed-income housing community in the Woodhill/Buckeye area. This grant will complement the $35 million Choice Neighborhoods award that Cuyahoga Housing Metropolitan Authority received in May 2021. The Foundation’s investment will support resident engagement and supportive services during and after the completion of the new housing. Funding will also support the inclusion of solar energy in the development as well as community arts and greenspace.
- $500,000 to support the launch of a racial equity training series for Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) educators, with an eye toward building anti-racist perspectives, policies, and practices in schools. This work is a collaborative effort among the CMSD, Cleveland Teachers Union, Cleveland Council of Administrators, and Cleveland Foundation, and engages Third Space Action Lab, Racial Equity Institute, Teaching Cleveland, and Facing History and Ourselves.
- $17,500 to Ohio Voice for OPAWL, a grassroots community group that organizes for social justice and elevates the voices, visibility, and progressive leadership of Asian American and Pacific Islander women, nonbinary, queer, and trans people in Ohio. OPAWL builds collective power and progressive leadership through community building, art and storytelling, political education, and organizing campaigns.
- $150,000 to the Western Reserve Historical Society for the museum’s African American archives, which have been collected, preserved, and shared for 50 years. The grant will support plans in 2022 to present rigorous scholarship and experiences around African American history to a growing local and national audience and present a plan to develop a database of local African-American historical archived materials.
- $35,000 to the Museum of Creative Human Art (MOCHA), cofounded by artist Antwoine Washington and native Clevelander Michael C. Russell II, who are committed to changing the lives of historically excluded youth through art education and providing space for emerging local Black artists to exhibit work at a private gallery, many of whom do so for the first time through MOCHA.
- $1.5 million over two years to support the continued prototyping of the Say Yes Integrated Health initiative, which seeks to provide physical, mental, and behavioral health care to CMSD students through school-based services. Addressing student health and wellness is a key component of the Say Yes model, as it attends to the needs of the whole child and fosters effective learning.
- $250,000 to Case Western Reserve University for First Year Cleveland, which focuses on reducing racial inequities leading to infant mortality, particularly for Black women and babies in Cleveland. Efforts include providing evidence-based interventions that support healthy Black mothers and babies; providing Everyday Bias for Healthcare Professionals and Breaking Through Bias in Maternity Care workshops for health care providers; and growing the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Society to honor and engage grieving parents.
- $1.075 million in three grants to College Now, a key partner in Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools and the Say Yes Cleveland initiative. Grant funds will support college advisory services and post-secondary scholarships for CMSD students ($325,000); the Say Yes Scholars Program at Tri-C for efforts to keep CMSD graduates on track toward their degree ($250,000); and Say Yes Cleveland infrastructure needs, including website redesign, scholarship management system, and a post-secondary planning system ($500,000).
- $200,000 over two years to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) for operating support and a housing justice fellowship. Among its services, NEOCH brings together local organizations and volunteers to provide assistance and connections to social supports for individuals who sleep outside on the streets, and coordinates public policy advocacy opportunities for its members and allies at the city, county, and state. This grant will also support NEOCH’s expanding engagement in housing justice issues with a focus on tenants’ rights.
Further details on the June 2021 grants can be found at gundfoundation.org.
The George Gund Foundation was established in 1952 by George Gund, former chairman of the Cleveland Trust Company. The Foundation funds programs that enhance our understanding of the physical and social environment in which we live and increase our ability to cope with its changing requirements. Grants are made three times a year in the areas of climate and environmental justice, creative culture and arts, public education, thriving families and social justice, and vibrant neighborhoods and inclusive economy. Foundation commitments to date have totaled over $816 million.