Cuyahoga Arts & Culture honored for its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging


Philanthropy Ohio awarded Cuyahoga Arts & Culture the Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in Philanthropy for the nonprofit arts and culture organization’s efforts to implement equitable practices in organizational operations and in its grantmaking.

Michael G. Shinn was the founder of the Shinn Family Foundation and served as secretary of philanthropy, Ohio’s Board of Trustees until his death in March 2015.

CAC was nominated for the award by Treye Johnson, program director for Vibrant Neighborhoods and Inclusive Economy at the George Gund Foundation.

Those honorees with the Shinn Award have made outstanding contributions to philanthropy by building bridges and connecting people dedicated to equity; champion the acceptance, respect and inclusion of all; promote justice, impartiality and fairness; forge genuine partnerships with diverse communities; and implement equitable practices in organizational operations, grantmaking and other areas.

CAC executive director Jill M. Paulsen says that receiving this award signals the important role public funders have in driving structural change. 

“At a time when it’s becoming increasingly difficult for public agencies like CAC to advocate for equity, it is vital to have organizations like Philanthropy Ohio standing up and being clear: philanthropy and public funders can and must be more equitable,” she says. We can’t just leave the work to our grant recipients, Everything this award stands for serves as a call to action for all funders to do more—even when you get pushback.”

Since 2016, CAC has led with the value of equity in its funding criteria, grantmaking practice, hiring and resident engagement.  CAC has marked progress in the following areas:

  • Since 2016, the number of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)-led and serving organizations receiving grants from CAC has tripled.
  • From 2016 until 2022, funding to BIPOC-led and serving organizations increased by 222%. 
  • Since CAC redesigned its Support for Artists grants in 2016, 88% of the artists awarded flexible funding identify as BIPOC. 
  • 91% of CAC’s Cultural Heritage grant recipients are BIPOC-led.
  • In 2021, 48% of the expert panelists who reviewed and scored all grant applications identified as BIPOC.
  • Three members of CAC’s current five-member Board of Trustees identify as women of color of color, including CAC's board president Nancy Mendez and vice president Michele Scott Taylor.
  • An internal committee of CAC staff members compose a “racial equity working group,” that centers racial equity in CAC’s grantmaking and operations.