At a moment when the fabulously wealthy Americans of the Gilded Age were creating private foundations, something unprecedented happened to revolutionize philanthropy. In 1914, Frederick Goff, a community-minded banker, was determined to solve the persistent problems of poverty in Cleveland. "Enduring Trust: The History and Aspirations of The Cleveland Foundation" explores Goff’s philanthropic innovation which sought to address the needs of coming generations by pooling numerous individual bequests into a community foundation.
The future-focused community foundation was groundbreaking, optimistic and contained what Goff himself described as a “nut radical” idea. It was only through the urging and persistence of his liberally-minded wife, Frances, that the additional innovation of a public board was included in his original concept. Goff’s pragmatic and studied approach, an enduring hallmark of the Progressive Era, led to a series of pioneering philanthropic practices, while also adapting to the community’s ever-changing social and economic challenges.
"Enduring Trust", through in-depth interviews with nationally recognized scholars and historians, tells the story of The Cleveland Foundation; interwoven with the history of the city and nation. The essence of the Foundation, according to its current CEO, is courage. This program explores the Foundation’s dramatic and radical early history as it rose to the challenges of urban America in the Progressive Era. Then, for a period of about twenty years, the Foundation lost its edge. It became more a part of the status quo, responsive to the established community’s needs but absent its social activism. In the early 1960's, through the commitment of a new generation of leadership, the Foundation made a dynamic turn around. It rediscovered its true purpose and returned to the original courageous spirit of its founders. Today, its history stands as a model to address the ever changing needs of communities everywhere.