An Idea Whose Time Had Come
A wise person once said: “How fine it would be,” if an individual who was “about to make a will could go to a permanently established organization…and say, ‘Here is a large sum of money. I want to leave it to be used for the good of the community, but I have no way of knowing what will be the greatest need 50 years from now. Therefore, I place it in your hands to determine what should be done.’” That person was Frederick Harris Goff, lawyer, banker and founder of the Cleveland Foundation.
Frederick H. Goff
National Intellectual Treasure
During the first few decades of the 20th century, Frederick Harris Goff was one of Cleveland’s most prominent and beloved citizens. He was also a national intellectual treasure but, sadly, his name is not well known among most 21st-century Americans or even among Clevelanders. This lack of recognition is unfortunate because Goff, like his better-known contemporaries Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, changed philanthropy forever, here and around the world. As the American philosopher William James has stated, “The great use of a life is to spend it for something that outlives it.” As more and more citizens across the globe adopt and adapt Goff’s concept of pooling their charitable assets to create a permanent vehicle for addressing pressing local needs, his humanitarian legacy burns ever brighter. For this reason Goff’s life and career merit reconsideration here.
The World’s First Permanent but Flexible “Community Savings Account”
The Cleveland Foundation was an entirely new concept in philanthropy. Captains of business and industry such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie had conceived of creating private foundations to channel their immense wealth into philanthropic activities. Goff envisioned an alternative mechanism for ensuring the honorable and productive use of monies accumulated over and above one’s immediate needs. Endowing such a foundation was a simple and affordable way for individuals of modest to comfortable means to leave a charitable legacy.
Mary Coit Sanford
Donor of the Foundation’s First Bequest
On January 29, 1914, Mary Coit Sanford signed a last will and testament containing a bequest to establish five funds at the Cleveland Foundation. Her confidence in the new community trust, which was less than a month old, undoubtedly stemmed from the fact that Mary knew Fred Goff, if only by his sterling reputation. Mary grew up in Bratenahl, the Cleveland suburb where Goff had once served as mayor.
Descended from one of Cleveland’s founding families, Mary was notably civic-minded. She would help to found the Women’s City Club in 1916 and later chaired the Cleveland branch of the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense, a volunteer organization that sought to address local shortages of housing, fuel and food during World War I. Mary’s husband, surgeon Henry L. Sanford, would also participate in the war effort as a member of Cleveland’s famed Lakeside Hospital Unit, the first U.S. Army detachment to arrive in France in 1917.
Mary Coit Sanford died unexpectedly in 1926, less than a year into her tenure as a member of the board of the Cleveland public schools. Twelve years later, after the death of Mary’s husband, the Cleveland Foundation received her bequest of $40,000 (the equivalent of more than $650,000 today), to be divided among five designated funds. The beneficiaries of three of the funds were the Associated Charities, a philanthropic organization that provided direct relief to Cleveland families, and University Hospitals of Cleveland, the successor to Lakeside Hospital. Mary named the Harriet Fairfield Coit Fund and the William Henry Coit Fund in honor of her parents, who had nurtured her aspirations of earning a college degree. These latter funds provided scholarship monies in perpetuity to enable other young women to achieve their dreams by attending the College for Women of Western Reserve University.
The Community Foundation Movement
How Goff’s Idea Has Enriched the World’s Social Capital
Cleveland banker Fred Goff did not rest on his laurels once his idea for a community trust had become a reality. He worked hard to spread the concept as broadly as possible. Even before the Cleveland Foundation was incorporated on January 2, 1914, the publicity department of Goff’s bank sent out a national press release describing the foundation’s structure, purpose and expectations of financial support. Before the month was out, articles announcing the birth of a new kind of philanthropy had appeared in the New York Times, Saturday Evening Post and two progressive journals, Outlook and The Survey. Goff also authored an article about the Cleveland Foundation for the January 1914 issue of Trust Companies magazine.
“To Uncover the Causes of Poverty and Crime and Point Out the Cure”
Fred Goff obeyed the dictum of Cleveland civic architecture designer Daniel Burnham to “make no little plans” as they have “no magic to stir men’s blood.” Less than six weeks after the Cleveland Foundation’s creation, Goff publicly announced that the community trust would undertake as its first act “a great social and economic survey of Cleveland, to uncover the causes of poverty and crime and point out the cure.” The research project, which Goff expected would take two years to complete, would be a way for the foundation, which had no endowment as yet, to make an immediate contribution—by increasing public awareness of the problems facing a community in the throes of rapid urbanization. It would also be an indispensable blueprint to guide grantmaking at that future date when income would be available for distribution.
Harry Coulby Funds
Much-Needed Support for Core Grantmaking
A $3 million bequest from Harry Coulby (see video), received in 1931, may have prevented the Cleveland Foundation’s demise during the Great Depression. There is no question that it gave the foundation the means to aggressively promote child welfare.
Having conceived a fascination for the Great Lakes as a boy growing up in Lincolnshire, England, Coulby stowed away to America as a young man of 19. He arrived in New York City in 1884 with experience as a railroad telegrapher under his belt, then made his way to Cleveland on foot, working odd jobs for his meals or a little cash. Finding it impossible to secure a job on a Great Lakes steamship, he became a stenographer for the Lake Shore and Michigan Railroad. An advertisement placed by John Hay, who had served as a private assistant to President Lincoln and U.S. Secretary of State under President McKinley, subsequently caught Coulby’s eye. Hay was looking for a secretarial assistant to help him complete work on a biography of Lincoln, and Coulby fit the bill.
With the 10-volume biography finished in 1886, Coulby accepted an offer from Hay’s brother-in-law, Samuel Mather, to become a clerk at Pickands, Mather & Company, a recently formed Cleveland-based partnership that supplied raw materials to the steel industry. Within a decade, Coulby had assumed command of the company’s fleet of lake freighters and been promoted to the position of partner, assembling a personal fortune in the process.
Upon his death in 1929 at the age of 64, the “Czar of the Great Lakes” left an estate of more than $4 million, the equivalent of about $62 million today. The Cleveland Foundation’s receipt of the bulk of the estate catapulted the foundation into the ranks of the country’s five largest community trusts. More important, it cushioned the foundation from the impact of the Depression, which put several modestly endowed counterparts in other cities out of business.
The Coulby bequest divided his gift equally between two named funds, which have a combined value of more than $90 million today. The first fund was designated for the support of a favored charity of Samuel Mather, Cleveland’s Lakeside Hospital (the predecessor of University Hospitals of Cleveland). The envisioned purposes of the second fund significantly influenced the direction of the foundation’s grantmaking. Perhaps motivated by his own childlessness, Coulby specified that half of the annual income from his gift should benefit “sick, crippled and needy children.” With these broadly restricted dollars, the Cleveland Foundation has commanded the resources to support innovative child welfare programs ever since.
Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards
Focusing Attention on Social Justice and Cultural Diversity
Those who knew Edith Anisfield Wolf (see video), the beloved only child of John and Daniela Anisfield, called her reserved and self-effacing. Yet this unassuming native Clevelander, born in 1889, left a unique mark on the world because of her quiet commitment to social justice. Years ahead of her era in promoting this cause, Edith was influenced by her father, an Austrian immigrant who earned an early fortune in real estate and the garment industry. He put his wealth toward health care for the disadvantaged and improved recreation and education in Cleveland.
In 1901, when Edith was 12, her father welcomed her into his philanthropic work, where she learned to help administer his charitable affairs. Edith studied at Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University and at the Cleveland School of Art, becoming a published poet. She was one of the first women to be appointed a trustee of the Cleveland Public Library. When she determined to honor her father with a prize, she chose literature—a universally popular vehicle—to bring national attention to the causes they both embraced.
So in 1934, Edith established the Anisfield Prize to honor a scholarly work on race relations. The first prize of $1,000 went to a book published in 1935. Following the 1944 death of her husband, Eugene Everett Wolf, Edith established a second $1,000 prize to honor creative works focused on race and cultural diversity. Today, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards are presented annually to the authors of three or four distinguished books that address racism and foster appreciation of diversity. Since 1996, the awards also have honored a literary artist for a lifetime of achievement.
With each passing year the book awards have grown more prestigious. The jury—presently chaired by scholar, educator, writer and editor Henry Louis Gates Jr.—has worked hard to broaden the scope. In recent years, Edwidge Danticat, Chimananda Nogozi Adichie, Junot Diaz, Mohsin Hamid and Ayaan Hirsi Ali have joined the ranks of such past honorees as Zora Neale Hurston (1943), Langston Hughes (1954), Martin Luther King Jr. (1959), Toni Morrison (1988) and Ralph Ellison (1992).
Originally, the Saturday Review presented the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Edith’s prescient decision to transfer stewardship to the Cleveland Foundation in 1963 ensured the prizes’ continuance. For the foundation, the awards have become an increasingly effective tool for championing racial tolerance, equality and diversity.
Asset Transfer That Carried on the Work of a Shuttered Home for Young Unmarried Mothers
The Retreat, Cleveland’s oldest home for unmarried mothers, faced a difficult decision in 1936. Because parents whose daughters became pregnant out of wedlock were adopting a more tolerant attitude toward the predicament, the need for a residential facility to care for unwed mothers until they gave birth had dramatically declined. The occupancy rate had fallen below 50 percent at the 18-bed Retreat house at 2697 Woodhill Road, prompting The Retreat board’s reluctant decision to close the institution, which had been in operation at various locations since 1868. But what should be done with the organization’s real property and portfolio of stocks and bonds?
Board president Carlotta Creech undoubtedly influenced the transfer of The Retreat’s assets to the Cleveland Foundation. Her husband, Harris, was president of the Cleveland Trust bank and Fred Goff’s successor. In 1937, the foundation received nearly $70,000 from The Retreat, to be invested for the designated purpose of protecting the health and well-being of “unfortunate women and their children.” The Cleveland Foundation was now able to help promote maternal health—the broad cause to which Sarah Elizabeth Fitch, who could rightfully be considered the progenitor of the new endowment fund, was devoted. Coming upon an unwed mother who was about to leap into Lake Erie, Fitch had intervened to prevent the young woman’s suicide and went on to found The Retreat.
A Laundress’s Generous Endowment Gift
Katherine Bohm was only 16 when she and her mother emigrated from Germany to the United States around 1872. Following in the footsteps of thousands of other Germans, mother and daughter settled in Cleveland, but the fact that the Bohms were members of the largest group of immigrants in the city gave them no special advantage. They eventually found work as a cook and a laundress in the homes of some of Cleveland’s most prominent industrialists: Fred Beckwith, Ralph King and Samuel Mather.
Fred Goff and Samuel Mather were neighbors, and, as the subject of philanthropy was of immense interest to both men—Mather helped to found the Welfare Federation of Cleveland’s Community Chest fund-raising campaign in 1919—it would have been natural for them to discuss the Cleveland Foundation whenever they visited each other’s homes in Bratenahl, Ohio. Clevelanders could not have been very surprised to learn after Mather’s death in 1931 that he had left a generous bequest to the foundation.
But no one was prepared for the touching news, reported in January 1941 in the city’s morning and afternoon dailies, that Goff’s vision had inspired Katherine Bohm to leave nearly her entire life savings (after providing for a number of distant relatives) to the Cleveland Foundation. During 60 years of unremitting toil—later in life she had cleaned offices in downtown Cleveland and washed laundry in her three rented rooms—she had accumulated well over $10,000. Prudently invested in blue-chip stocks, Bohm’s nest egg would be worth more than $150,000 today.
Bohm had been almost completely blind as a result of inoperable cataracts when she died, just a few days before her 80th birthday, in 1936. She had lost a leg to diabetes, but had retained her independent spirit. The gift of $6,500 that established the Katherine Bohm Fund was free of any restrictions; income from the fund was to be used, at the foundation’s discretion, to improve the quality of life in her adopted community. Fittingly, the first grant of Bohm Fund monies was awarded to the Cleveland Society for the Blind to pay for clients’ eyeglasses and prosthetic eyes.
Lynn J. and Eva D. Hammond
Donors of the First Funds to Help the Aging
The first funds received by the Cleveland Foundation in the field of aging came from the nearly $1 million estate of Lynn J. and Eva D. Hammond in 1942. Lynn Hammond, who was predeceased by his wife, stipulated that the income from their estate should ultimately fund modest pensions for elderly men and women selected by the foundation as “worthy and deserving.” The monies were to be used first to provide annuities for 33 of the couple’s distant relatives, friends, servants and, most significantly, the retirees of Strong, Carlisle & Hammond, a maker of machine tools and steel mill supplies that Hammond had helped to build into a successful enterprise. Before the principal was transferred to the Cleveland Foundation, the estate also had to fulfill bequests of $5,000 to a number of charitable organizations, including the Masonic Home in Springfield, Ohio.
The source of the Hammonds’ concern for the dignity and comfort of the elderly is not precisely clear, but hints may be found in Lynn’s life story. Born in Cleveland in 1864, he was orphaned around the age of 10 upon the untimely death of his father, Horace, a paymaster at the Cleveland Rolling Mills. An uncle took the boy in. As a young man, Hammond clerked at the rolling mill before hiring on as a bookkeeper and the first employee of the predecessor firm to Strong, Carlisle & Hammond. At his death in 1940, Hammond was the company’s chairman. Did his appreciation of the misfortune that can befall even the meritorious and his gratitude for the hard work of his employees contribute to his keen desire to help seniors who had lived productive lives, but due to socioeconomic realities or unforeseen calamity had found themselves in need?
Whatever the motivation for its creation, the Lynn J. and Eva D. Hammond Memorial Fund helped to propel the Cleveland Foundation into the field of aging, where it would assemble a nationally recognized record of supporting innovation and excellence. (Click on the following links to learn more about model geriatric programs launched with foundation support, such as the Golden Age Centers, Judson Park and the Successful Aging Initiative.)
A. E. Convers Fund
Endowment Monies with Infinite Flexibility
Albert E. Convers was the chairman of Dow Chemical Company and one of the company’s largest shareholders at the time of his death in 1935. The Massachusetts native had formed a lasting attachment to Cleveland, however, during the 30 years he operated a tack manufacturing company here. Believing that the community in which he laid the foundation for his fortune should share in his wealth, he bequeathed almost $4 million to the Cleveland Foundation—with no strings attached.
This was the largest gift received to that point for unrestricted purposes. Demonstrating rare humility in addition to admirable generosity, Convers wanted to provide the community with the means in perpetuity to launch important projects and address critical problems that he himself could never have imagined.
Ever since the first income from the A. E. Convers Fund was realized in 1951, it has generated millions of dollars for grants and supported projects in virtually every program area. Today, the Convers Fund is valued at more than $171 million. The fund’s annual income represents fully 20 percent of the foundation’s unrestricted dollars, allowing flexibility to meet the changing needs of Greater Cleveland.
Kenneth W. Clement, M.D.
Rewarding Community Service with a College Scholarship
Kenneth W. Clement, a pioneering African-American physician, returned the hand-up that he himself had received by establishing a college scholarship fund at the Cleveland Foundation in 1966, a year before he became the first African American appointed to serve on the foundation’s board.
Having graduated from Cleveland’s Central High School in 1938 as class valedictorian, Clement earned a full scholarship to Oberlin College. He attended medical school at Howard University on a W. K. Kellogg Scholarship. Setting up a private practice in Cleveland in 1951, he had to fight to gain staff privileges at area hospitals. The physician refused to give in to racial discrimination and ultimately gained admitting powers at four institutions.
Dr. Clement, who died in 1974, was a devoted volunteer leader of numerous nonprofit organizations in Cleveland. He also served on two presidentially appointed federal councils that helped to create and implement Medicare legislation. After being honored for his record of public service by the Cleveland chapter of the Urban League in 1966, he and his wife, Ruth, decided to partner with the Cleveland Foundation to award a college scholarship annually to a graduating Cleveland Municipal School District student who had performed laudable community service.
Since its establishment with the Clements’ initial gift of $10,000, the Inez and Harry Clement Award Fund (named in honor of the doctor’s parents) has provided scholarship awards to more than 50 Cleveland public school students, enabling them to study at colleges and universities in Ohio and beyond.
Philanthropy’s Pioneering Supporting Organization
John Sherwin Sr. and his wife, Frances Wick Sherwin, came from long family traditions of philanthropy and community service. John’s cousin, Belle Sherwin, was a member of the young Cleveland Foundation’s first governing committee. The Wicks were early settlers of Youngstown, and Frances’s maternal uncle, Dr. Frank E. Bunts, was a founder of the Cleveland Clinic. With their 1953 establishment of the Sherwick Fund to serve the general charitable needs of metropolitan Cleveland, John, a banker like his father, and Frances became philanthropists in their own right.
Recognized for his active commitment to the community’s betterment, Sherwin was appointed to the board of the Cleveland Foundation in 1961. As the foundation’s chairman from 1963 to 1971, he was open to new ideas and willing to experiment. “I’ve always felt that the unique role of the foundation is to provide risk capital,” he once explained. “If somebody has an idea worth backing, then we ought to back it until it gets on its feet and can carry itself.”
In response to the new provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 1969, the Sherwins advanced a bold idea of their own. In 1973, after 20 years of operation as a family foundation, the Sherwick Fund became a supporting organization of the Cleveland Foundation. Under this precedent-setting arrangement, the Sherwick Fund maintained both a separate corporate identity and the direct participation of its donors in determining policy, while gaining the assistance of the foundation’s professional staff in identifying programs and institutions whose efforts were likely to result in the greatest civic benefit. The Cleveland Foundation gained the ability to help target additional financial resources to the more pressing needs of the community.
As the first private foundation in the country to form such a partnership with a community trust, the Sherwick Fund inspired the creation of a host of supporting organizations. Today, with assets of about $20 million, the Sherwick Fund is the largest of the Cleveland Foundation’s 10 supporting organizations. In 2012, the Sherwick Fund awarded more than $1 million in grants. Helping to perpetuate his family’s distinguished philanthropic heritage, John (Jack) Sherwin Jr. has chaired the fund’s five-person board since 1987. (From 2003 to 2006 Jack Sherwin also chaired the Cleveland Foundation.) His eldest daughter, Heather, was the first female family appointee to the Sherwick board. Heather’s sister, Laura, succeeded her.
L. Dale Dorney Fund
Seeding a Community Foundation for Hancock County
Businessman Leland Dale Dorney (see video), a native and longtime resident of Findlay, Ohio, turned over his life savings to the Cleveland Foundation upon his death in 1976. The disposition, as well as the size, of Dorney’s $5 million estate — the equivalent of $20 million today — no doubt surprised those of his neighbors and associates who mistook for stinginess this bachelor’s frugality.
Dorney, who was born in 1866, had no television or refrigerator. He preferred to spend his free time gardening and canning the fruits of his labor for storage in his root cellar. He racked up only 5,000 miles on his one and only car, a 1951 Buick, opting to walk to the Hancock Brick and Tile, a company founded by his father, where L. Dale worked as an accountant after he left his position as the comptroller of an abrasives manufacturing company in Worcester, Massachusetts. Dorney’s first career, in combination with his inheritance, had left him financially secure, and his thrift and wise money management turned these resources into a fortune.
Dorney already knew about the benefits of giving back through a community foundation when he showed up unannounced at the Cleveland Foundation’s offices in the early 1970s. Lacking an appointment, Dorney was nonetheless seen by foundation director Homer Wadsworth, who enjoyed their initial chat and subsequent discussions about law, finance and philanthropy. As a result, Dorney decided to establish a fund at the foundation whose purposes would be to improve the quality of life in his hometown of Findlay and to strengthen business education programs at Ohio colleges and universities.
The Cleveland Foundation set up a Findlay Distribution Committee, which awarded nearly $3 million in grants from the L. Dale Dorney Fund and its successor supporting organization, the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation, between 1977 and 1999. Forty-five percent of these monies went to support projects in Hancock County, located 40 miles south of Toledo, and Findlay (pop. 41,000), the county seat. The Cleveland Foundation ultimately recognized that the supporting organization that had been created in 1992 could be of even greater benefit to the Findlay area if it were granted independence. In 1999, the Cleveland Foundation spun off the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation and approved a one-time distribution of $18 million from Dorney principal to the new trust.
Since its inception, the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation has awarded $25 million in grants. The cumulative impact of its grantmaking can be seen in Findlay’s 2012 ranking by Site Selection magazine as the second-best “micropolitan” area for business expansion. Just as important, the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation has fanned the flame of philanthropy, receiving donations from literally thousands of individuals. The foundation’s endowment now exceeds $70 million. Leland Dale Dorney would be thrilled by the realization of his dream—that his estate might one day form the nucleus of an ever-growing endowment dedicated to the good of his hometown.
Philanthropy’s First Collaboratively Managed Endowment Monies
Since its establishment in 1980, the Treu-Mart Fund of the Cleveland Foundation and the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland has strived to focus its grantmaking on underserved populations or new areas of need. “We believe we can make a difference with that strategy,” explains fund president Arthur W. Treuhaft. However, the fund’s most impactful gift may well be to the field of philanthropy. Treu-Mart is believed to be the first fund in the country to have been set up under the auspices of a community foundation and a major sectarian philanthropic organization to support activities that a jointly appointed board of trustees deems to be in the best interest of the broad community.
This long, productive partnership has accomplished all the objectives of the fund’s creators, William C. and Elizabeth M. Treuhaft. The uncle and aunt of Art Treuhaft, Bill and Libby were each revered for their devoted and wise leadership of a range of civic organizations. When working in concert, they were a powerhouse team whose actions carried immense weight.
The Treuhafts had astutely perceived that the Cleveland Foundation would benefit from exposure to the federation’s exemplary work with living donors. Within a few short years, the foundation had wholeheartedly embraced the concept of donor-advised funds and established a program to provide this philanthropic service. Similarly, the Treuhafts believed the Jewish Community Federation, which relied heavily on volunteer leaders to carry out its planning and programs, would benefit from access to the foundation’s staff-produced analyses. Finally, the Treuhafts wanted to demonstrate to large, independent public charities the power of working together. The concept of collaboration, modeled so effectively over the years by Treu-Mart’s seven-member governing board, has become a key component of the region’s redevelopment strategy.
The name the Treuhafts chose for their fund—a combination of Treuhaft and Libby’s maiden name, Marting—aptly reflected the vibrant linking of two strong personalities and two rich philanthropic traditions. Elizabeth’s grandfather, John C. Marting (after whom Baldwin Wallace University’s Marting Hall is named), was a Methodist minister and educator with a deep commitment to the humanities. Bill Treuhaft, the founder and chairman of a multinational manufacturing company, Tremco International, spent his formative college summers as a counselor at Camp Wise, a training ground for Cleveland’s Jewish leadership for more than a century. In appreciation of Bill’s wide-ranging civic contributions, the Jewish Community Federation named him an honorary trustee for life.
Bill and Libby’s life partnership, which ended with his death in 1981, often found them working on different aspects of the same causes and projects. While he was busy in the 1970s helping to shape the future of the city’s educational and cultural center as the first chairman of the newly federated Case Western Reserve University and founding chairman of University Circle Inc., she was chairing the new University Circle Center for Community Programs, which organized museum field trips for thousands of schoolchildren. Libby also helped to establish the Cleveland Orchestra’s children’s concerts. “Here were these great cultural riches available,” observed Libby before her death in 1998, “but perhaps a little intimidating.”
Children remain central to the mission of the Treu-Mart Fund, which annually awards about $1 million in grants. In recent years, the board—consisting of three donor-appointed directors, two directors appointed by the Jewish Community Federation and two directors appointed by the Cleveland Foundation—has coalesced around a vision of a Greater Cleveland where every child receives the means to thrive. To that end, the Treu-Mart Fund has supported several promising collaborations covering a broad spectrum of youth development efforts. These initiatives include two new public-private partnerships conceived by the Cleveland Foundation: Invest in Children, a county-wide early childhood development initiative, and MyCom, a community-wide mobilization campaign to connect young people with enriching experiences and caring adults. The Treu-Mart Youth Development Fellowship, a professional development program initiated in 2004 by the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and now housed at the university’s Weatherhead School of Management, strengthens the community’s capacity to produce positive outcomes for its youth. The program has introduced dozens of area agencies that work with middle-school children to best-practices research in an intensive training program at CWRU, where Libby Treuhaft earned a master’s degree in French literature in 1933.
F. James and Rita Rechin Fund
Pacesetting Partnership with Living Donors
The F. James and Rita Rechin Fund was the first donor-advised fund established at the Cleveland Foundation. “Our fund is modest in the worldly scheme of things,” said Jim Rechin, a retired TRW Inc. group vice president, at the time of the fund’s creation in 1985, “but to those on the receiving end, it’s very significant. And that makes us feel wonderful.”
Natives of New York, the Rechins began creating a lasting philanthropic legacy as a young married couple. Busy rearing four children, they nonetheless opened their Buffalo home and their hearts to orphans at Christmas. In 1955, Jim, a mechanical engineer with experience designing jet engines, accepted a job with TRW, and the Rechins moved to Cleveland. Rita made what turned into long-term commitments to volunteer at Hillcrest Hospital and the Western Reserve Christ Child Society. Jim volunteered, too, notably as a board member of Vocational Guidance Services, a job training agency for people with barriers to employment. Whenever the Rechins bought a new car, they donated their old vehicle to the Salvation Army.
The Rechins’ collaboration with the Cleveland Foundation, facilitated by attorney Michael Horvitz, reflected a zest for tackling tough community issues and promoting innovation. Hoping to build what Jim termed “another focal point for addressing Cleveland’s needs,” the Rechins decided the best use of their fund’s income was as socioeconomic “R&D money.”
Rita passed away in 2012, six years after the death of her husband. But the Rechins’ philanthropic legacy endures, most visibly in the blossoming of the foundation’s donor-advised program. Today, the Cleveland Foundation works with about 440 donor-advised funds, each allowing an individual, family or corporation active involvement in grantmaking, as well as access to the foundation’s programmatic, management and investment expertise.
George and Janet Voinovich
Memorializing a Departed Child
The Cleveland Foundation has long served as a steward of gifts made in memory of a recently departed loved one. During World War II, the foundation even started a memorial fund to provide Clevelanders with a significant way to honor the sacrifice of relatives lost in combat. Retired U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich and his wife, Janet, are among the bereaved parents who have found solace in this form of philanthropy. After the tragic death of their nine-year-old daughter just days after Voinovich won the Republican primary for Cleveland mayor in 1979, the couple created the Molly Agnes Voinovich Memorial Fund to “share Molly’s love with people,” as Voinovich, who won the mayor’s race and went on to serve as Ohio governor and in the U.S. Senate, had simply explained.
Molly Agnes, the youngest of four siblings, was killed when a van that had run a red light struck her while she was walking back after lunch to her fourth-grade classroom at Oliver Hazard Perry School in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood. Fittingly, her parents decided that income from Molly’s memorial fund, which the Cleveland Foundation has administered since 1989, should help to pay for special academic programs, unbudgeted materials and equipment, and enrichment activities for students at Oliver Hazard Perry and other schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
Grantmaking Expanded to Adjacent Counties
The year 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the start of grantmaking by the Lake-Geauga Fund, an initiative, supported by the Cleveland Foundation, to meet the often unique needs of communities to the east of Cuyahoga County. By the mid-1980s, when the idea for the fund was conceived, nearby Lorain and Summit Counties had started community foundations, but neither Lake nor Geauga County had such philanthropic support for social services, arts, health care, education and economic development.
Lake County philanthropists John Sherwin Jr. and his father, who were directors of the Cleveland Foundation’s Sherwick Fund supporting organization, approached the foundation with the suggestion that a new fund be created to provide Lake and Geauga County residents with a means to address local needs. Both rural jurisdictions had pockets of poverty (as well as wealth) and faced the onrush of exurban development. Recognizing the idea’s merit, the foundation contributed a $500,000 challenge grant to launch the Lake-Geauga Fund.
With a leadership gift of $250,000 in hand from the Sherwick Fund toward the 3-to-1 match, the Sherwins, assisted by Arthur S. Holden Jr., a patron of Lake County’s Holden Arboretum and a founder of Lakeland Community College, spearheaded a successful fund-raising campaign. By 1989 a seven-member advisory committee of local leaders had been assembled to recommend grants.
In the fund’s first three years alone, more than $1 million was awarded. The list of recipients was wide-ranging, from a new birthing center in Geauga’s Amish community of Middlefield to the new Farmpark of Lake Metroparks. With the fund’s subsequent support of the innovative plans, programs and projects of nearly every local institution and agency of note, the lives of the people of Lake and Geauga Counties have been immeasurably improved by the fund’s grantmaking, which approaches $15 million to date.
The fund’s presence also has helped to promote private interest in giving. Witness the timing of the Lake-Geauga Fund’s grant of $100,000 (matched by a Cleveland Foundation grant of $100,000) toward the renovation of the Nassau Astronomical Observing Station at Observatory Park in Montville Township. When the twin grants were announced in late summer 2013, the Geauga Park District had already raised from private sources more than half of the needed $1.175 million for the project, which will make the observatory even more useful and welcoming to teachers, students and amateur astronomers. The $590,000 that private donors had contributed as of August 2013 came on top of $2.1 million previously raised by the park district to cover the purchase of the observatory from Case Western Reserve University and the acquisition of more than 200 acres of surrounding land.
As its founders intended, the Lake-Geauga Fund has helped the residents of these counties recognize they have the means to take care of their own.
African-American Philanthropy Committee
Raising Awareness of a Rich Tradition of Giving
Beginning with the period before the Civil War, when their charitable focus was on abolishing slavery and securing aid for ex-slaves, through today, when their giving is likely to be combinations of individual and organization voluntarism and monetary or material support of beneficiaries well known to the donor, African Americans have a rich philanthropic history, according to Adrienne Lash Jones, associate professor emerita of African-American studies at Oberlin College.
Dr. Jones, who became a member of the Cleveland Foundation board in 1988, had made scholarly studies of African-American philanthropy, an area of history underappreciated by the larger society and perhaps even by some African Americans themselves. She recognized that the Cleveland Foundation was well positioned to help raise awareness among African-American Clevelanders about the societal impact and personal rewards of philanthropic engagement.
In 1993, Dr. Jones, several other current or former members of the foundation’s board, including the Reverend Elmo A. Bean (upper left), pastor of St. James A.M.E. Church, Doris A. Evans, M.D. (upper right), and businessman David G. Hill (bottom right), and a select number of other African-American civic leaders, including Cleveland Municipal Court judge Lillian W. Burke (bottom left), accepted the foundation’s invitation to form an African-American outreach advisory committee.
The group, which was renamed the African-American Philanthropy Committee in 2001, has sought, through a variety of educational activities, to nurture and broaden the charitable pursuits of African Americans who are generous supporters of their churches or active in fraternal or sororal organizations devoted to community service, and to inspire others who have yet to find a personally meaningful way to give back to their community.
The African-American Philanthropy Committee has recently begun to sponsor biannual summits on the use of wealth for charitable purposes. The 2010 and 2012 summits were open to members of the public and attracted a broad range of attendees, including young adults who were encouraged to perpetuate African-American traditions of philanthropy that can be traced back to (among other antecedents) the Free African Society, a mutual aid society founded by free blacks in Philadelphia in 1787.
Holsey Gates Handyside
Donor of the First Historic Preservation Funds
Cleveland native Holsey Gates Handyside spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, working primarily in the Middle East. The highlight of his career, which began in 1955 and took him to Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Libya, was his appointment to serve as ambassador of the West African nation of Mauritania.
Having traveled the world, Ambassador Handyside decided upon his retirement in 1985 to return to his hometown and devote himself to the preservation of his family home in the Cleveland suburb of Bedford. The Queen Anne Revival home, which stands at 762 Broadway Avenue and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1894 by his great-grandfather, Washington Gates, a member of the family that originally settled Gates Mills, Ohio, and later operated a mill near Bedford at the Great Falls of Tinker’s Creek.
In order to enable the maintenance of the Victorian-era residence by the Western Reserve Historical Society, Ambassador Handyside embraced the pioneering idea of using life insurance as a vehicle to establish a preservation fund at the Cleveland Foundation. With the foundation as the owner and permanent beneficiary of the policy, the insurance premiums paid by the donor are tax-deductible. Established in 1993, the Holsey Gates Handyside Charitable Remainder Trust supplemented a smaller historic preservation fund—the foundation’s first so-designated fund—that Handyside had previously created in 1988. A gift of life insurance, the former diplomat had recognized, was a “problem-free way to produce substantial dollars for a desired charitable enterprise.”
Reinhold W. Erickson, D.D.S.
Turning Church Spires into Glorious Nighttime Landmarks
Reinhold W. (Ray) Erickson (see video) had an unusual dream. He wanted to light up the church steeples of Cleveland that can be seen from Interstate 71. Erickson wasn’t particularly religious, according to his attorney. He simply found the spires charming and thought it was a shame they couldn’t be enjoyed at night.
A dentist who practiced in East Cleveland, Ohio, for 40 years after his graduation from the dental school of Western Reserve University, Erickson died without kin in 1992 at the age of 87. Counting on the Cleveland Foundation to help him realize his dream, he directed that income from his life savings of $370,000 should first be used to illuminate as many of the 21 towers visible from the interstate as possible. (Thereafter, the monies were to be used to advance health education.) The Cleveland Foundation honored the last wishes of this quiet-living retiree, establishing the Reinhold W. Erickson Fund in 1993 to pay for the lighting and installation costs. The Cleveland Restoration Society oversaw the work.
The imposing Romanesque spire of the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Tremont became the first “Beacon of Hope,” as the lighting program was named. To date, 17 churches have received Erickson’s gift of light, ranging from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral (the downtown Cleveland home of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio) to Tremont’s Zion United Church of Christ, founded by German immigrants in 1867.
Frank H. and Nancy L. Porter Fund
Foresighted Gift of Discretionary Monies
Nancy Beth Lyon gave up her plans to earn a master’s degree in social work in 1943 when she married Frank H. Porter, whom she had known since their Cleveland Heights High School days. But she never abandoned her commitment to helping others. After Frank completed his wartime service in the army, the couple moved to Russell Township on the outskirts of Cuyahoga County, where they brought up four sons and a daughter. With energy to spare, Nancy gave generously of her time and talents to nonprofit agencies that touched thousands of lives.
Committed to connecting as many people as possible to effective health care, educational opportunities and essential human services, she volunteered at the Welfare Federation of Cleveland, served as a board president of the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and was a founder and board president of the Centers for Families and Children. Nancy also served on the visiting committee for the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University.
Nancy’s volunteerism introduced her to a young Cuyahoga County welfare department employee named Steven A. Minter, a fast-rising public servant destined to become a chief executive of the Cleveland Foundation. Their common interest in helping low-income families escape poverty and their membership in Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, where the Porters and the Minters would all serve as elders, cemented Nancy and Steve’s lifelong friendship.
Nancy Porter passed away in 1996 at the age of 75, leaving her husband to carry on their charitable endeavors. Frank Porter, the owner of Central Cadillac, a luxury car dealership started by his father-in-law, had pursued his love of contemporary art and sculpture with a passionate spirit equal to that of his late wife’s. With Nancy’s enthusiastic support Frank had built an extensive art collection, commissioned internationally renowned architect Walter Gropius to design the landmark Tower East in Shaker Heights (the first of several buildings Porter developed in Cleveland’s suburbs), and avidly supported the Cleveland Museum of Art.
As Porter considered how to perpetuate the charitable and cultural interests that had enriched his and Nancy’s lives, he initially thought of setting up a private family foundation. Reflecting on his wife’s admiration and affection for Steve Minter, Porter also investigated the possibility of bequeathing the couple’s estate to the Cleveland Foundation. He ultimately decided that establishing an endowment fund at the foundation would be far simpler and also more beneficial to Greater Cleveland.
In 2003, a year after Frank H. Porter died at the age of 82, the Cleveland Foundation announced the Porters’ bequest, which had an estimated value of between $60 and $70 million. This extraordinary gift was the largest in the foundation’s history at the time. In contrast to national trends in giving to community foundations, which tended toward donations to designated causes, the Frank H. and Nancy L. Porter Fund was an unrestricted endowment. Porter had displayed remarkable foresight in giving the foundation’s board of directors the discretion to make grants from the fund for priority community concerns.
Gratefully considering the bequest a gift from the entire Porter family, the foundation’s directors approved the use of a portion of the endowment as a donor-advised fund so that the Porter children—Frank Jr., George, Frederick, Elizabeth and Steven—can recommend awards in their parents’ names to organizations and causes the couple cared about during their lifetimes.
Donald and Ruth Weber Goodman
Perpetuating Life-Saving Medical Care
In October 2000, Donald Goodman, a retired dentist, returned to his Pepper Pike home after his morning exercise and abruptly collapsed on the floor. After being rushed to University Hospitals of Cleveland, he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a rare and particularly aggressive form of cancer. Instead of chemotherapy, doctors at UH’s Ireland Cancer Center decided to treat Dr. Goodman with Mylotarg, a drug that had received Federal Drug Administration approval only five months prior. After 30 days of grueling treatment, during which time he received 19 transfusions of whole blood, Donald Goodman was declared cancer free.
While hospitalized, Dr. Goodman had been prohibited from receiving visitors, leaving him with time for reflection. One thing he naturally found himself thinking about was his estate plan. The Goodmans had already planned a gift to the community through the Cleveland Foundation. Indeed, after Dr. Goodman recovered, he and his wife sought an appointment with the foundation’s new CEO, Ronald B. Richard.
Richard’s calendar was booked for a solid month, but he offered to meet with the “dentist from Beachwood” (as Donald had modestly identified himself) after work or on a weekend. Although unwilling to inconvenience the foundation’s CEO, Goodman was so impressed by Richard’s courtesy that he drew up the couple’s bequests to the foundation in advance of his subsequently scheduled workday meeting with Richard. In 2004, the Donald and Ruth Weber Goodman Fund was established at the foundation.
As a result of Dr. Goodman’s hospitalization, the couple knew exactly how they wanted the fund’s income to be used. It was designated for the advancement of medical research and education at a number of favored institutions, including UH, the Ireland Cancer Center (now the Seidman Cancer Center), the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine and the CWRU School of Dental Medicine, of which Dr. Goodman was a graduate. The support of medical programming on public broadcast stations in northeastern Ohio was also stipulated as an objective.
The bequest to the fund from the estate of Dr. Goodman, who died in 2007, totaled more than $9 million. Ruth Weber Goodman, the daughter of the founder of Cleveland’s Triplex Screw Corporation and Dr. Goodman’s second wife, died in 2008. Her bequests brought the total value of the fund to nearly $70 million, making the Goodmans’ gift the largest in the foundation’s history to date.