CLEVELAND -- You may have heard of The Cleveland Foundation, but not really understood what it is and how it has improved our community.
WKYC's Russ Mitchell had the opportunity to find out that Northeast Ohio would be a very different place if it wasn't for one man's ability to "see the possible" in Cleveland.
Fredrick Goff, a prominent Cleveland lawyer turned banker, was the first to create a community foundation and he named it The Cleveland Foundation.
The Cleveland Foundation will celebrate its centennial next year.
Now, just shy of celebrating their centennial, Mitchell sat down with the foundation's President and CEO Ronn Richard to explore the organization's impact on Cleveland's history and future.
"We allow anyone and everyone in Cleveland to help support this community, today and in the future, with their donations, whether they've got $100 or a hundred million dollars," Richard said.
"Now, if people were to come in here and say 'Ronn, give me some tenable evidence of what the Cleveland Foundation does, show me something or tell me something the Foundation has done that I can look at and put my figure on,' how would you answer that question?" Mitchell asked.
Richard replied, "If you had a giant magnet in the sky over Cleveland and you could suck up into the air all the things the Foundation had a major hand in, there wouldn't be a lot left. We helped save the theaters at Playhouse Square. We helped with the merger of CASE and Western to make Case Western Reserve University, played a major role in the formation of the Metroparks. And we have helped for 100 years improve the Cleveland public school system."
"How much money are we talking about here? How much money does the Foundation control?" Mitchell asked.
"Well, The Cleveland Foundation has just short of $2 billion today. We give out an average of about $80 million a year, but we gave out $92 million last year, our biggest amount of grant making ever," Richard said.
Mitchell asked "What's the most, I won't say difficult, most challenging part of your job?"
Richard replied "Change takes time. We have been working for seven straight years with the Cleveland Public School Transformation Plan, that we really helped to initiate, and it doesn't happen overnight. So, you have to be willing to stick with it."
How will The Cleveland Foundation help Cleveland in the next 100 years?
"We will always be a big player in every human service, social service need that exists. We are also a huge player in neighborhood revitalization and place-making. We will be helpful at the waterfront and riverfront as we hope to finally see some of the opportunity. This is the time to make those things happen," Richard said.