Cleveland’s Greatest Gift

What comes to mind when you think of Cleveland, Ohio? Perhaps you know that it’s home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the 2016 NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Maybe you’re familiar with the city’s rich legacy of business development, such as John D. Rockefeller’s establishment of Standard Oil in Cleveland in 1870. While the cultural and business accomplishments of this beautiful Midwestern city are impressive, Cleveland is also the birthplace to what may be one of the greatest gifts to the civilized world – and it all began with an inspired idea.

Cleveland as seen from Cleveland Metroparks Whiskey Island

More than 100 years ago, Frederick H. Goff, a successful lawyer and banker, envisioned an organization that would focus on developing Cleveland’s community by pulling together and harnessing the resources – the wealth – of the city’s philanthropists. That idea grew into the world’s first community foundation: The Cleveland Foundation. Within five years, Goff’s strategic idea inspired other cities, such as Chicago, Boston and Minneapolis, to establish their own community foundations. But the first – in the world – was born in Cleveland!

Today the Cleveland Foundation serves not only Cleveland, but counties nearby as well. With nearly $2 billion in assets, the organization has touched millions of lives by providing funding and by partnering with other organizations to strengthen the region’s schools and neighborhoods, health and wellness activities, cultural endeavors, and economic development.

Merwin’s Wharf in the Flats – Owned and operated by Cleveland Metroparks

One of the recipients of the many grants and scholarships offered through the foundation is the Cleveland Metroparks. This expansive area encompassing more than 23,000 acres includes 300 miles of trails, eight golf courses, eight lakefront parks, and the Cleveland Zoo. The Metroparks offers a myriad of outdoor activities focusing on education, recreation, conservation and sustainability – all within and surrounding this bustling, revitalized city. Perched on the southern shore of Lake Erie, the Metroparks provide urban residents and visitors opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing (and ice fishing – Cleveland is a northern city, after all), dining, sledding, horseback riding, paddle boarding, swimming, and much more. This park system is funded by a variety of donations and grants, and presents tangible evidence of Frederick Goff’s idea to harness the wealth of the community for the benefit of all.

Cleveland Metroparks – Edgewater Park

Today, community foundations find ways to tap into the generosity of individuals from all economic levels. If it’s not in your budget to donate money to a charity of your choice, think about offering your time or expertise to help with their community outreach efforts. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” What an incredible gift Frederick Goff has given to the world – the idea that lying deep within the seed of generosity we plant today is the promise of a better tomorrow.

To learn more about OSU Extension’s educational programs focused on community development, visit


Becky Nesbitt is an Assistant Professor and Extension Educator in Community Development with OSU Extension.

Conveying a Tradition of Philanthropy

“Service is the rent we pay for living.” -Marian Wright Edelman, 1993

Traditions – every person and every family has them. Most of us think of a tradition as something that we do during the holidays or special events. What if one of those traditions was philanthropy? What if philanthropy was something that not only occurred with families during a holiday but also was a part of our lifestyle? As adults, we can teach the children in our lives a tradition that will become a part of their lifestyle and a part of their value system.

There are a variety of ways to teach children to respect the needs of others and do kind things. Children need to know that it is important to give of ourselves to others. As adults, we can teach philanthropy every time we talk to children and by demonstrating compassionate behavior through giving. We can demonstrate how to give our time, talent, or treasure.

How can adults be philanthropic role models for children? One way is through volunteering one’s service in a community. Volunteering or providing a service is one of the best ways an adult can be a role model for lifelong philanthropic giving.

Character and self-esteem are enhanced when children are engaged in volunteering. Many times when children volunteer they acquire new skills, develop confidence and maturity. Helping others helps children put their own problems in perspective. Children also meet people from other backgrounds and learn teamwork and civic responsibility. Research shows that youth who volunteer early in life learn that service or philanthropic giving is a part of their lifestyle.

Remember philanthropic traditions do not have to be elaborate. Volunteering with young children can be singing at a nursing home or as simple as putting spoons in a container at a soup kitchen. It is the basic idea of seeing philanthropic giving as a tradition that adults are teaching children.

Cindy Bond is an Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator in Guernsey County (Crossroads EERA).

Making a life by what you give

You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give. As Director of Development for Ohio State University Extension, this notion is in the forefront of my mind daily as I match philanthropic passions with Extension initiatives. In my work, I foster conversations with individuals and organizations with a desire to impact the future through their contributions to Extension. Carrying out this mission since coming to OSU last June, I have found my work to support the “Give to CD” Campaign to be very rewarding.

But for Ohio StateMy thoughts and opinions about CD were formed at an early age; growing up with parents actively engaged in their community in Perry County (my mother a school administrator and father a community development practitioner). When I think about Community Development, “self-help” and “collaboration” come to mind. In the past and still today, community members cooperate in building schools, churches, parks and other community institutions. They believe that working together is necessary to make community improvements. Then and now, folks invest in their own community to improve infrastructure, address gaps in services and meet local needs. And since its earliest beginnings, OSU Extension has been a key component of these community partnerships.

In the future, the success of our Ohio communities can and will coincide with the investments made in Extension by a variety of partners willing and able to give of their time, money, assets, expertise and other resources. Specifically in Extension CD, we look to gifts that help to offset the costs of professional development and recognition for our employees and retirees. Thanks to foresight by CD professionals a number of years ago, Extension CD endowment and support funds are in place to accept donations for this purpose.

If you are interested in learning more about our development initiatives, please feel free to contact me ( or 614-247-7606) or visit the CD Web page to learn more about the “Give to CD” Campaign.

(Submitted by Emily Winnenberg, Director of Development for Ohio State University Extension, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences)

The Power of One

As populations shift, government resources turn to other initiatives, and economies continually change, many rural places in Appalachian Ohio are challenged with sustaining their communities. One of the positive trends in rural Appalachian Ohio is growing philanthropy for long term sustainability in the community. Building community-based philanthropy can organize a community around its assets and connect long-term vision to concrete action. While community-based philanthropy is only one component of social and economic sustainability, it can create positive community dialogue toward a common vision of the future. In addition, established community foundations can play a visible role in charitable giving.

For many rural communities, giving has been there for a long time. Rural communities have contributed hours of service and volunteering to help others in need. Now rural communities are being recognized for their giving and contributions by individuals. Many people may say one person or one act of giving does not make a difference. Giving by individuals, or the “power of one,” is not a unique phenomenon to rural communities.

Power of One 2014-11-20The majority of philanthropic giving, about 80%, comes from individuals. Another trend in philanthropic giving that may also surprise some people is who gives. According to Ohio Gives, 68% of individual contributors had an income level of $50K-$200K. It is not just wealthy individuals who give.

A model recently noted for the power of one is the Guernsey County Foundation. In December 2004, the Guernsey County Foundation partnered with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. The Guernsey County Foundation began with one fund of $100,000. Fast forward to 2014, ten years later the Guernsey County Foundation has grown from one to 32 individual funds totaling more than $4.3 million serving the rural community.

In Guernsey County, the community-based philanthropy is helping to foster social and economic sustainability and community dialogue toward a common vision of the future.

(Submitted by Cindy Bond, Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Guernsey County & Crossroads EERA)

The changing face of philanthropy in Eastern Ohio

Eastern Ohioans have always been generous. Disaster or illness strikes, we give generously of our time and resources. But the concept of organized philanthropy strikes many residents in this part of the state as foreign . . . something that the Rockefellers or Bill Gates do . . . but not us!!

Historically, southeastern Ohio which includes 26 of the 32 Ohio Appalachian counties has been underrepresented in charitable assets. This region represents 29.5 percent of the state’s counties, 10.5 percent of the state’s population, but only 2.5 percent of the charitable assets and 2.7 percent of giving in the state. For illustration, Ohio’s largest community foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, had approximately 4.8 times the assets and made about 2.6 times the gifts of all 132 foundations in southeast Ohio combined.

closeup of blank checkOil and gas development in the region may be a catalyst for the growth of organized giving in this part of the state where shale development is occurring. New community foundation funds have been established in Harrison and Monroe Counties, and the Guernsey County family of funds all have been consolidated under the umbrella of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. In Noble County, a local community fund, under the Marietta Community Foundation umbrella, has distributed nearly $15,000 in grants to local non-profits and $7,000 in scholarships since its creation in 2005.

These “baby-steps” in some of Ohio’s smallest counties are long overdue and represent a positive sign in the region. The creation and maintenance of these local funds provide a seed from which long term growth in charitable giving may result. Hopefully some small portion of the region’s new found oil and gas wealth will make its way into these funds to assure that the current gas wealth will help the region thrive for years to come.

(Submitted by Mike Lloyd, Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Noble County & Buckeye Hills EERA)