The Burton D. Morgan Foundation: connecting entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

by Deborah D. Hoover, president and CEO Published:

At least several times a week as I make the rounds at entrepreneurship events in Northeast Ohio, I meet people who knew Burt Morgan and have an amusing (sometimes incredible) story to share about time spent with our exuberant founder. When Mr. Morgan established the Foundation in 1967, he spent time experimenting with the right mission focus, but ultimately realized that he wanted to help others enjoy the satisfaction and freedom he experienced as an entrepreneur. He later transformed the resources he generated through entrepreneurship into the corpus of his private foundation and deployed those resources so that others could be guided in their startup journeys.

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation now resides in the center of Hudson in the old library building, the book depository still visible on the facade as a testament to the building's original function. We use every inch of the facility to carry out our mission fostering the growth of entrepreneurship in our region. The old reference area is our boardroom, a space used not only for trustee meetings, but also for regional meetings that advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Such gatherings include universities and colleges sharing information through the JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council, Lemonade Day NEO introducing program details to schools, and startup companies receiving training on managing summer interns.

The Foundation's grants raise awareness of the power of entrepreneurship to transform lives. The programs we support for young people help to instill the entrepreneurial mindset at a young age. Even though not every young person who learns the meaning of entrepreneurship through Lemonade Day, Junior Achievement or Camp Invention will grow up to become an entrepreneur, they will be better prepared to navigate the complexities of the world of business and make more informed choices about their future careers.

The Foundation is widely recognized regionally and nationally for its cutting edge work in the field of collegiate entrepreneurship on liberal arts campuses, working in collaboration with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. More recently, the Foundation entered into a partnership with New York-based Blackstone Charitable Foundation, focused on the development of the Blackstone LaunchPad program on four Northeast Ohio campuses. This experiential program developed at the University of Miami in Florida, provides mentoring to students as they work on their startup ideas. Regionally, nearly 900 student businesses are off the ground with support from Blackstone LaunchPad.

In the spirit of Burt Morgan, who counseled scores of aspiring entrepreneurs, the Foundation supports other structured mentoring programs such as JumpStart's Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program, pairing experienced mentors with promising startups. Over the last two years, more than 40 young businesses have received pivotal advice from mentors with a wide range of business experience.

The Foundation operates with a highly engaged seven-member Board of Trustees and a staff of eight professionals who review grant requests and proactively generate ideas based on foundation research. Pure grantmaking represents only a portion of our work. We also invest significant behind-the-scenes efforts to connect the people, ideas and opportunities that contribute to the impact of our Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem. This is the "special sauce" of our work that helps to ensure that our grants achieve their optimal impact and truly make a difference to our region.

The Foundation is also committed to projects that improve the quality of life in our own Hudson community, in recognition of the Morgan family's dedication to their adopted hometown. Foundation-supported projects have included the First & Main skating rink, the Hudson Library's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship Research and Lecture Series, Memorial Stadium, Hudson Community First, Hudson Job Search and Music from the Western Reserve.

Foundation staff members also play an integral role in national, statewide, and regional activities that support the philanthropic community and its involvement in advancing the economic competitiveness of Northeast Ohio. These relationships include service on the national and regional boards of the Foundation Center, Northeast Ohio's Fund for Our Economic Future, and Philanthropy Ohio.

The Foundation is a pioneer in exploring the full potential of wealth generated through entrepreneurship redeployed through philanthropy to support aspiring entrepreneurs. For more information on the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, visit www.bdmorganfdn.org, follow us on Twitter @bdmorganfdn or find us on Facebook.com/burtondmorgan.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.