FFEF Awards Nearly $2M to Support Regional Strategies

by | Jun 11, 2013

Philanthropic collaboration supports strategies to strengthen innovation, emerging clusters, entrepreneurship, business development and workforce


CLEVELAND–June 11, 2013–The Fund for Our Economic Future approved $1.99 million in grants to support regional strategies and initiatives to strengthen Northeast Ohio’s economy during its June 10 Funders Committee meeting at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron.


Members of the Fund for Our Economic Future (the Fund) voted to support strategies that strengthen innovation, emerging clusters, business development and workforce aligned with the Fund’s mission to support and sustain regional efforts to promote good jobs, vibrant cities and communities, and equitable access to opportunity for the people of Northeast Ohio.


The grants are the first major grants awarded by the philanthropic collaboration under its Phase 4 strategic plan. Formed in 2004, the Fund operates in three-year phases and the present phase (2013-2015) is focused on supporting strategies that will address the region’s economic competitiveness priorities.


“Advancing a growing opportunity-rich economy requires collaboration and a long-term commitment to strategic action,” said Deborah Hoover, chair of the Fund for Our Economic Future. “Our latest grants reflect a continuation of our commitment to strengthening the region’s economic competitiveness, as well as our desire to catalyze strategies that promise to accelerate our economic transformation.”


Regional strategies and the organizations awarded grants to implement those strategies include:



    • Workforce: WorkAdvance, led locally by Towards Employment and nationally by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, will receive $640,000 to coordinate the continued implementation of WorkAdvance, a collaborative effort among several partner organizations that is demonstrating the long-term value of an innovative approach to helping lower-skilled workers advance along career paths in healthcare and manufacturing. WorkAdvance was launched in collaboration with New York City, NY, and Tulsa, OK, through a competitively awarded White House Social Innovation Fund program and it is hoped that the program will shape policies and practices at the regional, state and national level.


    • Emerging Clusters: NorTech will receive $550,000 to coordinate the expansion of promising technology-based industries such as advanced energy, flexible electronic materials, and water technologies; and Ohio State University Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC) will receive $100,000 to coordinate the Agriculture-Bioscience Initiative, a collaboration working to strengthen the region’s ag-bio supply chain.


    • Innovation: MAGNET will receive $400,000 to continue expanding the Partnership for Regional Innovation Services (PRISM) program, a nationally recognized collaboration with area universities and research institutions to help small to mid-sized manufacturers innovate new products.


    • Business Development: Team NEO will receive $300,000 to continue coordinating the region’s business attraction strategy among local and metropolitan economic development organizations including cities, counties and chambers.



“The Fund’s grants are aligned with efforts by private sector funders to support these strategies and build a more competitive region,” said Fund president Brad Whitehead. “Over the next three years, we look forward to working even more closely with our private sector partners to support existing and new strategies that will result in good jobs, higher incomes and increased opportunity for the people of Northeast Ohio.”


Since 2004, philanthropic organizations and institutions have committed more than $92 million through the Fund, a collaboration of organized philanthropy rooted in the belief that philanthropy can and should play a vital role in leading and sustaining efforts to build a vibrant, globally competitive Northeast Ohio. Members of the Fund collectively determine how it will invest its resources. The Fund has raised $10.1 million to date in Phase 4 (2013-2015) of its work.