In 1973, the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine used the proceeds of the sale of Cleveland’s Saint Ann Hospital to endow the Saint Ann Foundation, the first health care conversion foundation in the United States. In 1996, hospital partnerships generated proceeds to endow The Sisters of Charity Foundations of Cleveland, Canton, and South Carolina. In 2006, the Saint Ann Foundation and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland (SOCF) merged and blended their missions and funding priorities. Their strategies focused on issues of homelessness; health and education disparities, with a special attention to the Central Neighborhood of Cleveland; and supporting Catholic sisters whose ministries have historically addressed these issues and so many more.
The foundation envisions an equitable community where opportunities for growth and quality of life are shared by all. In the spirit of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, the foundation increases the community’s ability to improve the lives of people living in poverty.
Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland (SOCF Cleveland) serves Cuyahoga County and the greater Cleveland, Ohio area, with specific focus on Cleveland’s Central neighborhood. Within the City of Cleveland, Central is a densely populated neighborhood, spanning 1.8 square miles. It has three elementary schools, one high school, two institutions of higher education, one hospital, and many nonprofits serving the community. It is also home to around 4,500 families. Two-thirds of these families live in public housing, with a median household income close to $12,000 and a child poverty rate of 80 percent, compared to a national average of 22 percent. Additionally, according to Environmental Health Watch, Central is a zone of food apartheid and “supermarket redlining,” where seven in 10 people live more than a half-mile drive from a full-service grocery store.
SOCF Cleveland’s grantmaking strategy involves setting specific goals; learning through research and evaluation; partnering with others to be change agents for new, innovative opportunities; and promoting equity, policy advocacy and systems change to deepen impact to those they serve. Strategic goals are focused: support Catholic sisters to carry out their commitment to the preferential option for the poor; end homelessness with stable and supportive housing; and promote health and education, particularly for families in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood, so that where a person lives does not predestine him or her for poor health status and poor educational outcomes. As a health care conversion foundation, SOCF Cleveland supports general health and basic needs, while maintaining support to family ministries and collaborative efforts.
Total Assets: $104,281,419 (Y21)
Amount Dedicated to Health-Related Grants: $1,703,785 (FY21)
Special Initiatives and/or Representative Health and Human Services Grants
Family Partners Initiative—SOCF Cleveland is a lead funder of the Family Partners Initiative, launched in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood in 2019 to strengthen health and education outcomes by focusing on a whole-family approach in families of preschool children. The Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, Starting Point, Family Connections-SPARK Ohio and Ohio Guidestone collaborate to help families with kindergarten prep, assist parents/caregivers in recognizing their power as learning partners, strengthen overall family relationships, and address issues of mental health and stability among families. Twenty-seven families completed year 1, and saw a 78 percent learning gain for parents/caregivers of skills for teaching children, and children had a 71 percent learning gain in pre-literacy. ($262,500 since 2019)
FreshLo: One Garden Valley—Environmental Health Watch’s One Garden Valley initiative centers residents to drive solutions to limited food access and economic instability in Cleveland’s Central and Kinsman neighborhoods. Resident-led work and community engagement is a long-term process leading to an increased representation of people of color and leadership in the local food movement, a reduction in health disparities and food deserts, and an increase in community access to healthy food and urban farms in Cleveland, Ohio. ($218,000 since 2016)
A Place 4 Me—A Place 4 Me was created through community partners to build a system response and advance a shared goal to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness in the community. In 2021, A Place 4 Me led advocacy and planning for the creation of a drop-in center for young people experiencing homelessness, engaging and centering young people through the REACH Youth Action Board to co-lead the movement. ($730,000 since 2013)
Improving Health Value in Ohio through Policy—SOCF was one of the founding members of the Health Policy Institute of Ohio and has provided operating funds since its inception in 2003. HPIO’s nonpartisan, collaborative, and evidence-focused approach to educating and informing policymakers and the public is critical to ensuring state resources and policy development is informed and advances the health of all Ohioans. ($905,000 since 2013)
Fueling Non-Violence—Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance’s Fueling Non-Violence program hires youth as Transitional Outreach Workers to interrupt and mediate violence in their neighborhoods. Investing in teams to respond to traumatic events in the community demonstrates how SOCF seeks to reimagine community partnerships to create a trauma-informed ecosystem in the Central neighborhood. ($30,000 in 2021)
Sisters of Charity Foundation Cleveland and GIH
SOCF Cleveland’s long partnership with Grantmakers In Health has provided the resources to constantly consider how its investments are affecting the communities it seeks to support. Because of many of these resources, SOCF Cleveland recognizes a necessary shift toward better understanding health equity, and the foundation has invested in a health equity program officer to help with this vision. Foundation staff look forward to continued collaboration with GIH to share what they learn and understand how others across the country are addressing social determinants of health in pursuit of equitable opportunities for all.
Strategic Changes in the Organization’s Orientation
“We deeply believe in the practice of authentic listening and engagement, and we are establishing a more focused emphasis on the social determinants of health – namely, structural racism and community safety – that affect so many neighborhoods in Cleveland. In 2021, we named a new program officer to develop a health equity focus area, intended to connect and uplift resident voices to share community influence and power. Our goal is to help residents challenge the policies and practices that continue to devastate the health and well-being of too many individuals in our communities. It is time for us to invest in building trust.”
– Susanna Krey, President, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland