The Burton D. Morgan Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of the free enterprise system, which Mr. Morgan touted as America’s “number one advantage over the rest of the world.” Morgan established the Foundation in 1967 with a donation of $20,300 in stock from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, stock he had acquired earlier that year when a small company he had invested in was purchased by the tobacco giant.
Initially, Morgan planned for his Foundation to be modest. It was his intention to put about $80,000 annually into the Foundation for five years – or a total of $400,000. He intended the earnings to be used for prizes or awards for advancement of world understanding. It took nearly nine years for the Foundation to reach that $400,000 mark, and Morgan’s vision of improving world understanding through grantmaking never materialized. Instead, Foundation grants initially helped institutions closer to home, including Blossom Music Center, the First Congregational Church of Hudson, and Kent State University. In 1972, the Foundation provided the initial grant to launch a community campaign to build the picturesque bandstand on Hudson’s town green.
Almost a decade later, when Morgan was in his 80s, he began urging the Foundation Trustees to provide large grants for buildings. Thus began a multi-year program that included buildings at four colleges: The College of Wooster, Denison University, Ashland University, and Purdue University. All are dedicated to the study and promotion of entrepreneurship. The Foundation also made grants for administration buildings at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson and Old Trail School in Bath. More recently, the Foundation supported the construction of a residential learning community dedicated to entrepreneurship at Hiram College.
Today, the Foundation focuses its entrepreneurship grantmaking in three areas: youth, collegiate, and adult. At the youth level, the Foundation actively promotes classroom-based and experiential entrepreneurship activities ranging from business plan competitions to lemonade stands to student trade shows.
In 2007, the Foundation began a collaboration with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City, Mo., a partnership that has provided nearly $7 million to establish a culture of entrepreneurship on five Northeast Ohio liberal arts campuses. Idea competitions, entrepreneurship internships, mentor programs, and boot camps all strengthen the regional collegiate network for student entrepreneurs. In 2009, the Foundation also helped to establish the JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council, connecting colleges and universities to commercialization opportunities.
Economic development grants in recent years have included support for three Cleveland venture and cluster-building organizations dedicated to growing jobs in Northeast Ohio: JumpStart, BioEnterprise, and NorTech. All grants are bolstered by the Foundation’s daily work to build networks, convene grantees, promote collaboration, disseminate information, and connect people, ideas, and opportunities.
In 2006, the Foundation moved to Hudson, where it purchased and renovated a brick building formerly owned by the Hudson Library & Historical Society. The Foundation provides grant support to a variety of Hudson civic, cultural, and educational programs.