ELYRIA, OH--Sept. 11, 2014--The Fund for Our Economic Future (the Fund), a collaboration of 50 funders, including foundations, higher education institutions, health care systems, businesses, and others, has approved up to $1.9 million of grants to support the job creation efforts of regional economic development organizations BioEnterprise, JumpStart and MAGNET. These grants further the mission of the Fund, which is committed to advancing economic growth that can be shared by all people of Northeast Ohio.
BioEnterprise, which is dedicated to growing the region's health care and bioscience companies, will receive up to $550,000 for core operations and future planning; JumpStart, which supports the region's entrepreneurs through mentoring, funding and other services, will receive up to $850,000 for core operations, as well as for expanded services in Akron and the operations of its proposed Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI); MAGNET, an organization that supports manufacturing innovation, will receive up to $500,000 for its PRISM (Partnership for Regional Innovation Services to Manufacturers) program, which provides technical expertise, research and development facilities and capabilities, talent, and funding opportunities, among other services, to small and mid-size manufacturers. All of the awards are pending on conditions to be reviewed and approved by the Fund's Evaluation & Grantmaking Committee.
"These grants represent the Fund's commitment to supporting our region's economy and advancing our goals of increased jobs, payroll and capital in Northeast Ohio," said Mark Samolczyk, President of the Stark Community Foundation and a member of the Fund's executive committee. "In addition to these job creation grants, we continue to support and promote efforts that better prepare our region's workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow and ensure greater connectivity between jobs and workers so that we build and sustain a strong economy full of opportunities for all people. For our efforts to be successful in the long term, growth must be combined with opportunity."
This round of grantmaking is the result of more than 250 hours of civic leaders' volunteered time and thoughtful contribution, Samolczyk added.
Over the last several weeks, the Fund engaged 40 of its members and invited guests in a new due diligence process, focusing on strategic priorities. Four sub-teams reviewed proposals through the lens of a particular Fund priority: growth strategies, racial and economic inclusion, local and regional networks, or financial sustainability. The individual teams then came together to share their findings and develop recommendations for consideration by the Funders Committee, the Fund's governing board.
"The Fund revamped its due diligence process to allocate its resources more effectively and influence regional economic strategies, while nurturing civic leadership among its members," said Fund Vice President Robert Jaquay, Associate Director of The George Gund Foundation. "It was an immensely enriching experience, with such a diverse, accomplished group of people coming together to discuss how we can best address the most critical issues facing our economy."
The Funders Committee, which meets quarterly to consider grants and review the Fund's efforts to promote economic growth and equitable access to opportunity in Northeast Ohio, approved the grant awards at a meeting Thursday at Lorain County Community College.
Since its founding in 2004, the Fund has raised $100 million for improving regional economic competitiveness through pooled grantmaking, research and convening. The Fund's efforts have helped attract and retain nearly 16,000 jobs, more than $600 million in payroll and more than $3 billion in capital to Northeast Ohio. Since 2010, Fund investments have directly or indirectly leveraged an additional $170 million from federal, state and national philanthropic grants to the region.