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 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.
- Honor the philanthropic legacy of Joseph M. and Eva L. Bruening, including but not limited to the elderly, education and Catholic charities.
- 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.
- Exercise leadership that seeks and supports effective and innovative solutions to complex problems.
- Support community-wide efforts to make Cuyahoga County a place where those most in need can thrive.
- Leverage the Foundation's grant-making capacity by collaborating to effect positive change.
- Base grant-making decisions on thorough knowledge and careful analysis of grant-seeking organizations and their specific grant requests.
- Document the effectiveness of grants and use that information to enhance future grant-making decisions.
- Interact with our partners in the non-profit community with respect, openness, consistency and fairness.
- Protect the Bruenings' desire for the Foundation's permanency and lasting impact.
A Message from The Distribution Committee
Dear Friends and Partners:
In 2008, the Bruening Foundation celebrated its 20th anniversary. It seemed a good time for those of us who serve on the Distribution Committee to take stock of what we have done, where we have been successful and what we have learned in the first two decades since Mr. and Mrs. Bruening died, leaving their entire estate for the permanent benefit of Greater Cleveland and its residents. We have recently analyzed the more than 1,900 grants totaling over $60.5 million, which the Foundation has awarded over the past 20 years, and considered not only whether they were aligned with the Bruenings' stated purposes, but also whether they had addressed the community's most pressing needs.
Our conclusion was that the Foundation has, for the most part, stayed true to its mission and become a trusted partner to many nonprofit organizations that serve our community so well. We agreed, however, that going forward, in this time of diminished resources and heightened need, we and those we serve will benefit from greater clarity on our part about our interests and priorities.
You may note above, the Foundation has revised its vision and mission statements and adopted guiding principles by which we do our work. They do not reflect a dramatic departure from what we have been doing for more than 20 years, but they do make clear that poverty is our highest priority. The degree to which a project or program will directly serve those individuals most in need will be the standard by which all grant requests will be measured. Programs in education, for the elderly and for the physically or mentally impaired will continue to be important to us, in keeping with the Bruenings' interests, but only as they strive to raise people out of, or mitigate the effects of, poverty.
We have also redesigned our website to reflect our new philosophy and to further highlight the work of the organizations with which we partner. We encourage you to look through the site for further clarification of the Bruening Foundation's focus areas, to better understand what the Foundation has funded in the past, and for specific information about submitting a proposal
For many years we have distributed well above the Federal requirements and we will continue to do so. Due to the sharp erosion of our assets, however, total grantmaking has decreased from previous years. As a result, we will be looking to make grants to programs and projects that most closely align with our focus areas and our mission. We hope you find this information useful, but please do not hesitate to contact any of the staff at Foundation Management Services with questions and concerns.
Karen Nestor, Chair
Marilyn A. Cunin
Jane M. Harris
William R. Plato