Cleveland Foundation


Cleveland, OH

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2021):

Revenue: $179,374,020
Expenses: $144,962,005
Assets: $2,806,690,965


Community Foundation

President and CEO:

Ronn Richard

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The Cleveland Foundation is a grantmaking foundation based in Cleveland, Ohio. Founded in the 1910s, the foundation is among the largest grantmaking institutions in the United States with over $3.2 billion in assets under management and over $120 million in annual grants distributed. The foundation bills itself as the “world’s first community foundation.” 1 It was among the first to utilize donor-advised funds to create a large grantmaking institution source from the fortunes of many wealthy families, though much of the funds controlled by the foundation are now unrestricted and can be distributed at the discretion of the foundation’s staff and board.

The foundation has embraced many left-leaning social issues including diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and has funded many notable left-of-center advocacy groups, such as Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. 2 3


The Cleveland Foundation was founded in 1914 by Fred Goff as a subsidiary of Cleveland Trust Bank. The foundation bills itself as the first community foundation in the United States and credits Goff’s desire to control bequests of the estates of individuals across Cleveland with the goal of bypassing irrevocable wills and distributing funds directed by the foundation’s trustees towards community issues and projects. Twelve years later, there were over 55 community foundations across the United States and Canada; there now exist over 1,700. In 2001, the Chronicle of Philanthropy cited Goff’s creation of the Cleveland Foundation as one of “10 seminal events that shaped the nonprofit world in the 20th century.” 4

In the early decades of the Cleveland Foundation’s history, the foundation was known for funding local parks, providing aid during the Great Depression and World War II, and supporting revitalization efforts in downtown Cleveland in the 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s, the foundation funded public television, a new local jail, and a local community college. By 1995, the foundation’s assets had surpassed $1 billion and the organization was funding over $35 million in projects annually in areas including public land preservation, libraries, medicine, and colleges. Since 2000, the foundation has funded the Cleveland Green Building Coalition and wind-reliant energy projects, and it has partnered with the left-of-center Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to launch the Community Foundation Atlas, an informational resource on community foundation funding activity. 5

The Cleveland Foundation has thousands of annual donors who set up funds with the foundation. Many of these funds require at least $10,000 to be pledged as a bequest or $100,000 for funds given while the donor is alive. Several types of funds available to donors give the staff and board of the foundation full or partial discretion to disperse the funds to preferred programs. The foundation will allow “supporting organizations” with their own advisory boards under the foundation’s umbrella with a $5 million minimum gift. 6


The Cleveland Foundation operates dozens of grant programs across multiple giving categories such as education, environment, neighborhoods, social services, health, arts, and economic development. 7


In its environmental programming area, the foundation states that it lobbies for “more green energy,” and hopes to position Cleveland as “the epicenter of offshore wind energy production in the Great Lakes.” 8

Black Futures Fund

In 2020, the foundation founded a program called the Black Futures Fund to respond to support among mainstream foundations for the Black Lives Matter movement. The fund has distributed over $4.6 million to community advocacy groups since September 2020. Groups supported by the foundation’s fund include the 1000 Ties, Beat the Streets Cleveland, the Black Environmental Leaders Association, the Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation, Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists, Greater Cleveland Neighborhood Centers Association, Greater Cleveland Urban Film Foundation, Inner City Baseball Academy of Greater Cleveland, Leading Ladies, Black Lives Matter Cleveland, Black Lives Matter Lake County, Cleveland Votes, LGBTQ Community Center of Greater Cleveland, NAACP Cleveland Branch, and Shooting Without Bullets. 9

Election Advocacy

Following the 2020 election, the Cleveland Foundation joined many other left-of-center foundations and organizations such as the Ford Foundation in publicly opposing Republican-backed state-level election integrity legislation. The foundation stated that its president Ronn Richard had “proudly” signed on to a letter organized by the Ford Foundation and signed onto by many left-of-center organizations that opposed such legislation and calling it “discriminatory.” 10

In 2021, the foundation also publicized its election-advocacy grantmaking by highlighting the work of its Black Futures Fund, a program of the foundation highlighting racial issues and left-of-center social justice and racial equity topics. The foundation stated that it gave $1.9 million to 49 Black-led organizations that the foundation stated were “pushing to ensure marginalized voters are represented at the ballot box.” The same statement highlighted the work of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) on pushing for left-of-center election administration policy. 11

Among the groups supported by the Cleveland Foundation’s Black Futures Fund are Cleveland Votes, a left-of-center get out the vote advocacy organization founded by Black Lives Matter organizers Erika Anthony and Crystal Bryant. The foundations supported allowed Cleveland Votes to create the Equitable Civic Engagement Fund intended to provide funds to nonprofits to create get-out-the-vote campaigns in the greater Cleveland area. The foundation also funded the Promise of Democracy Foundation, a left-of-center Cleveland based voter project directed by activist Greg Moore. 12 13

Funding Activity

The Cleveland foundation holds over $3.2 billion in assets and has authorizes over $120 million in annual grants, authorizing over 5,400 individual grants annually. The foundation also reports over $16.2 million in annual operating expenses, supporting a staff of over 90 employees and a central headquarters building. 14

While the foundation provides funds to many non-ideological charities and community organizations, the group also provides significant funding to left-of-center causes and advocacy groups. Organizations that receive funds from the Cleveland Foundation include the ACLU of Ohio, Action for the Climate Emergency, the Anti-Defamation League, the Cville Immigrant Freedom Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, Equality Ohio Education Fund, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, J Street Education Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Surfrider Foundation. 15

The foundation also operates a nonprofit organization called Suite 1300 Services Inc, which receives several million dollars from the Cleveland Foundation annually in exchange for providing administrative support for the Cleveland Foundation’s neighborhood connections program. 16 17


Ronn Richard is the president and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation. He previously was the COO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was an executive at Panasonic and a career Foreign Service Officer earlier in his career. He was appointed by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (D) as infrastructure czar and served on Governor John Kasich’s (R) Jobs Ohio oversight board. He also is on the boards of the Unify Project, the United Way of Greater Cleveland, and the Partnership for American Democracy. He received $686,007 in reportable compensation from the Cleveland Foundation in 2020. 18 19


  1. “Cleveland Foundation.” LinkedIn. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  2. “Cleveland Foundation 2020 Form 990.” Cleveland Foundation. 2020. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  3. “Quick Facts.” Cleveland Foundation. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  4. “Introduction.” Cleveland Foundation 100th Anniversary. 2014. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  5. “Introduction.” Cleveland Foundation 100th Anniversary. 2014. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  6. “Fund Types.” Cleveland Foundation. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  7. “Impact Areas.” Cleveland Foundation. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  8. “Environment.” Cleveland Foundation. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  9. “Black Futures Fund.” Cleveland Foundation. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  10.  “Defending Democracy and Voting Rights.” Cleveland Foundation. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  11. “#BLACKFUTURESFUND: Grantees Fighting for Civic Participation and Representation.” Cleveland Foundation. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  12. “#BLACKFUTURESFUND: Grantees Fighting for Civic Participation and Representation.” Cleveland Foundation. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  13. “Greg Moore.” LinkedIn Profile. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  14. “Quick Facts.” Cleveland Foundation. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  15. “Cleveland Foundation 2020 Form 990.” Cleveland Foundation. 2020. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  16. “Cleveland Foundation 2020 Form 990.” Cleveland Foundation. 2020. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  17. “IRS Form 990.” Suite 1300 Services Inc. 2019. Accessed May 11, 2022.
  18. “Cleveland Foundation 2020 Form 990.” Cleveland Foundation. 2020. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  19. “Staff.” Cleveland Foundation. Accessed May 13, 2022.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 1945

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2021 Dec Form 990 $179,374,020 $144,962,005 $2,806,690,965 $327,837,058 Y $92,318,821 $294,404 $25,852,369 $3,283,285
    2020 Dec Form 990 $116,704,950 $147,398,382 $2,462,394,752 $260,331,373 Y $86,280,565 $378,921 $25,287,679 $3,231,610
    2019 Dec Form 990 $120,009,767 $176,182,289 $2,266,165,971 $216,516,430 Y $78,163,615 $267,933 $29,557,294 $2,804,421 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $142,432,596 $120,523,232 $2,008,984,578 $134,041,094 Y $81,996,657 $335,860 $28,005,853 $2,731,420 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $132,226,569 $119,642,415 $2,118,894,711 $131,451,664 Y $77,444,826 $439,197 $21,194,883 $2,445,027 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $87,489,777 $104,350,367 $1,831,355,436 $74,914,529 Y $49,794,905 $273,312 $21,123,404 $2,507,562 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $123,231,914 $114,600,877 $1,800,067,216 $104,087,834 Y $66,690,267 $209,405 $24,680,823 $2,148,688 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $87,102,997 $115,359,074 $1,852,111,449 $103,988,440 Y $43,324,109 $582,682 $22,082,139 $1,745,696 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $90,734,443 $98,827,499 $1,813,423,102 $94,524,805 Y $43,475,166 $624,100 $20,984,760 $1,880,909 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $81,336,204 $94,576,253 $1,599,236,848 $69,986,336 Y $53,665,229 $397,872 $19,026,709 $1,885,859 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $82,264,681 $89,845,636 $1,496,182,265 $79,778,425 Y $49,349,232 $319,080 $18,296,760 $1,605,102 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Cleveland Foundation

    Cleveland, OH