In 2004, philanthropy of all stripes came together with the goal of transforming the regional economy. We believed that for too long philanthropy had focused on addressing the social symptoms of our region’s declining economy without getting to the underlying factors that drove this decline. Together, our founding members forged a new role for philanthropy in advancing our region’s economic competitiveness. Together, we laid out the following principles:
- We’re all in this together.
- The economy isn’t going to fix itself.
- Philanthropy has a role.
- Every voice matters.
- This is long-term, messy—but critical—work.
Since then, our Fund has grown to include private, community and corporate foundations, businesses, health care systems, higher education institutions, government, business and civic associations, individuals, and others. Together, we’ve established a sense of regionalism throughout Northeast Ohio that works for local communities; we’ve built an interconnected network of economic development organizations and initiatives that have created and retained jobs, increased payrolls and attracted capital to the region; we’ve increased investment in Northeast Ohio; and we’ve created a respected network of civic leaders, working effectively and collaboratively to address economic issues and opportunity.
Today, we can take pride in our progress and our Fund’s role in our region’s improving economy. But our economic transformation is still well short of complete. Too many people have been left out of our recovery; economic polarization is a growing issue that limits our overall competitiveness. We remain ever mindful that this is long-term work that requires us to build on our successes, learn from our failures, and remain resolute in our purpose.