Deaconess Foundation was formed from the sale, in December 1994, of Deaconess Health Systems, which operated, among other things, Deaconess Hospital of Cleveland. For 71 years, the hospital was a significant community asset located at 4229 Pearl Road in the old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland. The proceeds of the sale were used to establish Deaconess Foundation in February 1997.
At the time of its sale, Deaconess Hospital of Cleveland had strong ties with the United Church of Christ due to the fact that its founding father was one of the predecessor denominations of the United Church of Christ, the German Evangelical Church. Today, we continue to honor and sustain our relationship with the United Church of Christ through a Mission Outreach Fund that supports mission outreach activities of United Church of Christ churches located in Cuyahoga County.
In our first 16 years, our grantmaking focused on empowering people to become self-sufficient. In 2013, responding to shifts in philanthropy and the human service environment, we embarked on a strategic plan, which resulted in a new Mission, Vision, and Values.
Deaconess Foundation’s entry into the employment space in 2014 was guided by a Learning Plan that helped us focus on specific areas within the broad employment space, such as job preparation, barrier removal and longer-term supports. Each of these areas positioned us to leverage our established relationships with and understanding of the human services sector.
In 2016, we began implementing a strategic framework for our employment work. Our work is now guided by the understanding that the best way to help individuals exit poverty is to support efforts that not only help them find employment, but also enable them to enter into and advance along career pathways – established, progressive routes to family-sustaining wages.
In 2020, supported by our mission, vision and values, Deaconess Foundation developed a new strategic plan that outlines how we will work and what we want to achieve.