The Burton D. Morgan Foundation has long been incredibly focused on entrepreneurship funding, which its president and CEO, Deborah Hoover, said allows the foundation to be a great advocate for the field as a whole.
Through its new strategic framework, dubbed Venture 2021, the foundation shifted from a regional approach to an Akron focus.
“We are still supporting some programs in Cleveland, ones that are reaching really across the whole region,” Hoover said. “But Akron just is showing a tremendous amount of potential and we thought our funding, our resources, our expertise could lend a good deal of strength and potential to what is going on in Akron.”
Mindful of the resources the Cleveland community has for its institutions, GAR Foundation also has doubled down in supporting organizations and people in Akron and, in some instances, the Greater Akron area.
The foundation also used to provide a little bit of funding in senior independence and housing, but “we felt the very small amounts we had to spend in those areas against really huge issues were not having the greatest impact,” said GAR president Christine Mayer. So the foundation no longer awards grants in those areas.
GAR Foundation has been interested in collective impact and delivering promising outcomes by creating change at the root-cause level rather than at a Band-Aid level, Mayer said.
She acknowledged that change is hard for the nonprofits the foundation no longer funds, but she and her team have tried to keep them informed, awarding phase-out grants and offering technical assistance to help grantees develop skills for raising funds elsewhere.
“There were people who certainly were disappointed that their organization or their subject matter was not going to receive funding anymore,” Mayer observed. “But by and large, they said, ‘We understand what you’re doing, and we understand why you’re doing it,’ in that our fiduciary obligation is to steer the funds in the best way possible, to have the greatest community impact.”