The George Gund Foundation awarded more than $14.4 million in grants at its summer board meeting to organizations addressing the most pressing issues in Cleveland and Ohio, many exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foundation committed to increase its giving to help meet the unique challenges and opportunities of 2020, including the COVID-19 pandemic while also focusing on racial justice, climate change and democracy building. These three issues are called out in What We Believe, a declaration that can be found on the Foundation’s website.
Several grants were in support of collaborative funds created expressly to address these issues. “At this moment in history, action to advance racial justice, to fight climate change and to repel threats to democracy is the most important work we can undertake,” said David Abbott, the Foundation’s president. These grants include:
$1 million to support technology needs for Cleveland Metropolitan School District students and Say Yes scholars whose lack of digital access makes distance learning difficult or impossible during the COVID-19 outbreak and hinders their learning at all times. This grant is aligned with the Greater Cleveland Digital Equity Coalition, an initiative with the goal of increasing Cleveland’s digital divide.
$1.5 million to support statewide democracy building efforts. The funding will help accelerate ongoing efforts to ensure a fair and accurate count for the census as well as significant voter education, voter outreach work, and voter protection work targeting historically marginalized populations in advance of the November election.
$2.1 million to support Energy Foundation, with $1 million to create a new fund to embed racial justice in Ohio climate and clean energy work and $1.1 million over two years to support statewide collaborative work on climate and energy initiatives that will help dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
Additional grants of note include:
- $1.25 million for the launch and continued startup of new and innovative CMSD high schools including the new Garrett Morgan School of Engineering and Innovation and the Garrett Morgan School of Leadership & Innovation.
- A three-year grant of $300,000 to Esperanza to build its capacity and outreach in the community.
- A two-year grant of $320,000 to The Center for Community Solutions and a three-year grant of $240,000 to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio for their public policy analysis and advocacy efforts, with a particular emphasis on the impact of COVID-19 and future recovery efforts at both the state and local levels.
- A $57,000 grant to Greater Cleveland Congregations for its work advancing the creation of Cuyahoga County mental health crisis diversion centers to provide crisis services as alternatives to arrest and booking into the criminal justice system.
- A $75,000 grant to the Urban League to support a coordinated effort of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and the Fund for Our Economic Future aimed at advocating for equitable policy solutions to support community rebuilding efforts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
- $500,000 over two years to ideastream to support community issues programming, including the launch this fall of its Statewide News Collaborative with anchor public radio stations in Columbus and Cincinnati.
Further details on the summer 2020 grant awardees can be found at www.gundfoundation.org.
The George Gund Foundation was established in 1952 by George Gund, former chairman of the Cleveland Trust Company. Grants are made three times a year in the areas of public education, thriving families and social justice, vibrant neighborhoods and inclusive economy, climate and environmental justice, and creative culture and arts. Foundation commitments to date have totaled over $775 million.