Knight Foundation provided $6.6 million in grants to the Fund for Our Economic Future, an effort by more than 100 philanthropic organizations to transform Northeast Ohio (Canton, Cleveland, Youngstown, Akron) into a 21st century knowledge economy. The article reviews the work of the Fund and its efforts to create a cohesive, regional collaboration.
Approach: The reporter analysis involved interviews with grantees of the Fund for Our Economic Future, local foundation representatives, community leaders and Knight Foundation staff.
Report Partners: The report was produced by John Dorshner for Knight Foundation.
In its first three years, the Fund raised $25 million and gave out $24 million. In its second three-year phase, starting in February 2007, it has raised another $28 million that it plans to spend through early 2010. About $5.3 million of that has been spent.
The biggest challenge has been maintaining regional cohesion, particularly with groups outside of Cleveland and others who feel they are on the outside.
The key successes have been Fund grantees JumpStart and BioEnterprise, which are helping dozens of start-up high-tech and biomedical businesses. Those efforts have generated or supported about 900 high-tech jobs in the region so far.
Efforts to attract outside businesses to the area, the role of Fund grantee Team NEO, have been less successful.
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Knight Foundation commissions independent journalists to write occasional articles reviewing its grant making and program strategies. Veteran reporters examine grant documents, conduct interviews and offer their perspective on the lessons learned and impact of Knight-supported projects in stories published online and in print.