Cleveland Foundation Strategic Assessment

Mass Economics was retained by the Cleveland Foundation, a large community foundation, to perform a strategic assessment of its economic development initiatives and provide recommendations on future strategic direction. As part of the assessment, Mass Economics engaged with the foundation’s board members and senior program staff to understand the breadth and depth of the foundation’s current work and to review proposed recommendations. The Mass Economics team also interviewed key foundation grantees, local stakeholders and community leaders using both roundtable settings and one-on-one interviews. Fieldwork and interviews were focused on understanding the existing framework and initiatives, identifying what had and had not worked, and discussing the feasibility of potential future strategies. This fieldwork was complemented with multiple quantitative analyses, including a comprehensive examination of city and regional employment, industries, and clusters; demographic analyses covering population, poverty, and employment; analysis of select city statistics (e.g., finances, tax rates, bond ratings, and vacancy data); and an analysis of educational attainment and labor market outcomes by demographic group.

Final recommendations were developed in conjunction with a national strategic advisory committee comprised of academic experts and some of the country’s leading practitioners. The Mass Economics team synthesized the findings into an economic growth framework strategy inclusive of a wide range of places, people and clusters. The foundation staff and board went on to approve a new framework implementing our recommendations.


The Cleveland Foundation,





Project Type:

Inclusion + Opportunity,