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Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Honored for its Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Photo Credit: Bob Perkowski

Philanthropy Ohio’s annual awards recognize contributions to philanthropy

CLEVELAND – Cuyahoga Arts & Culture has received the Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in Philanthropy from Philanthropy Ohio for the agency’s efforts to implement equitable practices in organizational operations and its grantmaking.

Michael G. Shinn was the founder of the Shinn Family Foundation and served as secretary of Philanthropy Ohio’s Board of Trustees until his death in March 2015. CAC was nominated for the award by Treye Johnson, Program Director for Vibrant Neighborhoods & Inclusive Economies at The George Gund Foundation. Honorees for the Shinn Award:

  • Have made outstanding contributions to philanthropy by building bridges and connecting people dedicated to equity;
  • Champion the acceptance, respect and inclusion of all;
  • Promote justice, impartiality and fairness;
  • Forge genuine partnerships with diverse communities; and
  • Implement equitable practices in organizational operations, grantmaking and other areas.

Since 2016, CAC has led with the value of equity in its funding criteria, grantmaking practice, hiring and resident engagement. The agency has marked progress in the following areas:

  • Since 2016, the number of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)-led and serving organizations receiving grants from CAC has tripled.
  • From 2016 until 2022, funding to BIPOC-led and serving organizations increased by 222%.
  • Since CAC redesigned its Support for Artists grants in 2016, 88% of the artists awarded flexible funding identify as BIPOC.
  • 91% of CAC’s Cultural Heritage grant recipients are BIPOC-led and serving.
  • In 2021, 48% of the expert panelists who reviewed and scored all grant applications identified as BIPOC.
  • Three members of CAC’s current five-member Board of Trustees identify as women of color of color, including leadership – CAC's Board President and Vice President.
  • An internal committee of CAC staff members compose a “racial equity working group,” that centers racial equity in CAC’s grantmaking and operations.

CAC Executive Director Jill M. Paulsen said that receiving this award signals the important role public funders have in driving structural change. “At a time when it’s becoming increasingly difficult for public agencies like CAC to advocate for equity, it is vital to have organizations like Philanthropy Ohio standing up and being clear: philanthropy and public funders can and must be more equitable. We can’t just leave the work to our grant recipients,” she said. “Everything this award stands for serves as a call to action for all funders to do more – even when you get pushback.”

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) is the region’s largest funder for arts and culture, helping hundreds of organizations in Cuyahoga County connect millions of people to cultural experiences each year. Since 2006, CAC has invested more than $218 million in 445 organizations both large and small, making our community a more vibrant place to live, work and play. For more information, visit

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CAC Staff