A Message from The Distribution Committee


January 2015

Dear Friends and Partners:

Over the last two years, the Distribution Committee of the Bruening Foundation has worked to strategically narrow its focus in an attempt to have a greater impact through its grantmaking with our limited resources.  Our proactive Strong Start Strategy, launched in 2014, was the result of this strategic planning effort. The goal of this initiative is to reduce poverty and expand economic prosperity in Cuyahoga County by investing in efforts that help disadvantaged families ensure that every child gets a strong start in life. We are developing partnerships with organizations and programs that meet several attributes for leveraged impact, including delivering interventions to the youngest children, ages 0-3, and their families; working to facilitate language and social-emotional development; and recognizing that parents/primary caregivers are key to all outcomes and that the parent-child relationship is central to any intervention.

This new direction has resulted in changes to our responsive grantmaking strategy, as well. While the Foundation remains committed to alleviating the roots of poverty, we have narrowed our grantmaking focus to the categories of Learning and Safety Net Services.  The Foundation's primary focus within these categories is programming that serves families with young children living in poverty. In addition, the Foundation hopes to fund organizations in our program areas that implement best practices or evidence-based programming.

If you have questions about the new priorities, please call staff at Foundation Management Services at 216-621-2901.

Best wishes in this New Year.


William R. Plato, Chair
Marilyn A. Cunin
Diane Downing
Jane M. Harris
Tom Wagner



The Founders

Joseph M. Bruening was a classic American success story. He began his Cleveland business career in 1922 as branch manager of a small company that he built into Bearings, Inc., a nationally prominent distributor of anti-friction bearings, which continues today under its new name, Applied Industrial Technologies. Mr. Bruening retired as president of the company in 1980 and became its honorary chairman in 1983. During his career, Mr. Bruening acquired significant personal wealth. He and his wife, Eva L. Bruening, were committed to charitable, community and philanthropic endeavors throughout their long and productive lives. They strongly believed in the importance of education for youth, in providing comfort for the elderly and disabled, and in programs that provided hope for the poor. Their support for numerous Catholic, educational, health care and social service organizations during their lives reflected these beliefs. The Bruening Foundation, set up from the proceeds of their estates after their deaths in 1987, carries forward their vision of a better society.

The Mission

The mission of the Eva L. and Joseph M. Bruening Foundation is to reduce the impact of poverty and enhance the quality of life of those most in need in Cuyahoga County. The Foundation invests in effective programs that serve the economically disadvantaged by meeting their educational, employment, and basic human needs.


To improve the overall quality of life in Cuyahoga County, by empowering economically disadvantaged individuals to navigate through life with dignity and to gain greater personal and economic security and self sufficiency.

Guiding Principles

  1. Honor the philanthropic legacy of Joseph M. and Eva L. Bruening, including but not limited to the elderly, education and Catholic charities.
  2. Put individuals first, by funding proposals focused on assisting men, women and children who are economically disadvantaged, including the elderly and the physically and mentally impaired.
  3. Exercise leadership that seeks and supports effective and innovative solutions to complex problems.
  4. Support community-wide efforts to make Cuyahoga County a place where those most in need can thrive.
  5. Leverage the Foundation's grant-making capacity by collaborating to effect positive change.
  6. Base grant-making decisions on thorough knowledge and careful analysis of grant-seeking organizations and their specific grant requests.
  7. Document the effectiveness of grants and use that information to enhance future grant-making decisions.
  8. Interact with our partners in the non-profit community with respect, openness, consistency and fairness.
  9. Protect the Bruenings' desire for the Foundation's permanency and lasting impact.