Fund Awards Grants to Advance Growth & Opportunity

by | Jun 12, 2018

Awards include up to $300,000 for worker mobility pilots to improve job access in Northeast Ohio


CLEVELAND–June 12, 2018–The members of the Fund for Our Economic Future have approved a number of grants to support the philanthropic collaborative’s mission of advancing Growth & Opportunity, including a two-year award of up to $300,000 for worker mobility pilots to improve access to jobs in Northeast Ohio.

“There is a growing geographic divide between workers and jobs in our region as development expands outward without an increase in the number of people or jobs,” said Director of Civic Innovation and Insight Peter Truog. “This makes it harder for businesses to access talent and for residents to access jobs. Indeed, the number of jobs within a reasonable commute distance has significantly declined across the region for all residents, but most especially for those living in economically distressed areas.”

Northeast Ohio residents spend between 24 percent and 29 percent of their income on transportation, a large part of which is the cost of commuting to work. Further, workers without cars face untenable commutes on public transportation because the region’s jobs are no longer concentrated along fixed transportation routes. Employment opportunities for job seekers unable to bear the expense or time of such long commutes are limited as proximate jobs have significantly declined. This is a missed opportunity: Evidence suggests that job seekers living in isolated neighborhoods have the competencies relevant to a variety of jobs.

“This spatial mismatch is inefficient, ineffective, and amounts to distance discrimination that undermines our region’s long-term economic competitiveness,” Truog added.

Innovations in mobility, including peer-to-peer services, ride-sharing and micro-transit, could radically change the way residents connect to work.

“Northeast Ohio must capitalize on these rapid transportation innovations so residents are not limited by a false choice between car ownership or fixed-route, large buses,” said Fund President Brad Whitehead. “Done right, mobility solutions have the potential to dramatically increase prospects for economic advancement for Northeast Ohio’s un- and underemployed residents and improve the ability for area businesses to fill thousands of open jobs across the region. We welcome other funders to join us in supporting this important work.”

Funding will, among other things, enable the hiring of a Director of Mobility Innovation to co-design, implement and evaluate innovations that can demonstrably improve access to jobs for all residents. For a description of the Director of Mobility Innovation role and information on how to apply, see here.

Fund members also approved a one-year award of up to $550,000 to regional economic development organization Team NEO to support continued progress of the region’s business development system, an inclusive job hub strategy, and a commitment to systemic racial inclusion.

“This grant will enable us to focus more on job hubs, those places of concentrated, well-paying jobs within our region,” said Robert Jaquay, associate director of The George Gund Foundation and leader of the Fund’s job creation initiatives. “Vibrant job hubs are foundational to not only job creation efforts, but also to ensuring residents can access jobs.”

Fund voting members, those who contribute $100,000 or more over three years, approved the above awards at a quarterly board meeting at Kent State University at Stark on June 7.

Earlier this quarter, the Fund’s Executive Committee approved a $50,000 grant to Policy Matters Ohio to fund research to estimate the number of Northeast Ohioans with a criminal record, document the implications a criminal record poses to job seekers, and quantify the economic cost of collateral sanctions. The Fund anticipates releasing this research later this summer.

For more on the Fund’s Growth & Opportunity framework and its three-fold emphasis on job creation, job preparation and job access, see its recent report, The Two Tomorrows, which includes recommendations for how to move toward a more competitive and inclusive tomorrow.

About the Fund for Our Economic Future

The Fund for Our Economic Future is an alliance of funders — foundations, corporations, universities, health care systems, business and civic associations, government entities, and individuals — who pool their resources and know-how to advance economic growth and increased access to opportunity for the people of Northeast Ohio through improved job creation, job preparation and job access, an approach called Growth & Opportunity. The Fund advances its Growth & Opportunity mission by building shared community commitment, supporting high-impact collaborations and marshalling strategic funding. Since its founding in 2004, the Fund has raised nearly $100 million for its efforts, which have helped retain or create 33,900 jobs, add $1.5 billion in payroll, and attract $8.4 billion in capital to Northeast Ohio.

Media Contact

Sara McCarthy

Director of Communications

Fund for Our Economic Future