Burton D. Morgan Foundation: Ecosystem Builder, Grantmaker, Knowledge Sharer

By Deborah Hoover

In Northeast Ohio, Morgan Foundation serves as a diehard ecosystem builder enhancing the network of imaginative partners engaged in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education, including those seeking to educate the entrepreneurs of the future.  Over the last decade, Northeast Ohio has created a national model for how youth entrepreneurship programming in-school and out-of-school can be linked to generate an ecosystem that encourages collaborative relationships, inclusive programming, clear pathways, a no-wrong-door environment, and plenty of peer-to-peer learning opportunities. 

Grantmaking is at the core of Morgan Foundation’s mission.  In June, the Board approved grants that aim to strengthen the region’s youth entrepreneurship ecosystem through our backbone partner, Young Entrepreneur Institute (YEI), established with the bold goal of providing every child with the opportunity to explore their entrepreneurial potential.   YEI delivers educator consultation along with the region’s Enspire conference each November where educators can identify curricula and techniques that will help their students develop the entrepreneurial mindset (registration open at www.youngentrepreneurinstitute.org).  Western Reserve Historical Society received two years of funding to continue its museum-based program, now reaching more than 5,000 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District through entrepreneurship programming that capitalizes on the collections at Hale Farm & Village and the History Center.  Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship also received funding to provide enterprising teachers with training to implement entrepreneurship education in their classrooms.

Sharing what we learn from our successes and challenges is key to our mission of advancing the field of entrepreneurship education.   Our research arm, the Entrepreneurship Education  Experiment, has been busy this year analyzing stories illustrative of the Northeast Ohio youth entrepreneurship ecosystem.  Stay tuned this summer for the release of our new Intersections publication including four dynamic case studies on key elements in the region’s youth entrepreneurship ecosystem—Junior Achievement, Western Reserve Historical Society, Camp Invention, and Young Entrepreneur Institute.  These case studies chronicle the growth and evolution of components of our youth ecosystem documenting problems encountered and solutions crafted. 

Ecosystem building is a team sport and we thank our tireless partners for all they do to connect the people and opportunities that help entrepreneurs (present and future) thrive and grow!