Serving the Community: A Timeline of Philanthropy, Charity, and Non-profit Organizations in Cleveland, Ohio




Before the Civil War, most philanthropic efforts in Cleveland were organized by religious groups that provided services to persons and communities sharing the same beliefs. These efforts promoted moral values and provided health and social services. This religious basis eventually led to both complementary and competing efforts among Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish Groups.

1826 Western Reserve College founded in Hudson, Ohio

1827 Cuyahoga County Colonization Society established to end slavery by advocating the purchase of slaves by the United States government and transporting freed slaves to Africa

1830 Western Seamen’s Friend Society founded by Benjamin Rouse to evangelize and serve the needs of sailors

1833 Cleveland Anti-Slavery Society founded by David Long

1835 School Fund Society established to ensure educational opportunities for African American children in Ohio

1837 Cuyahoga County Anti-Slavery Society founded through the efforts of John Mercer Langston

1843 Martha Washington and Dorcas Society founded to relieve poverty, retard intemperance, and care for poor children

1848 Folson’s Merchantile College established; later merged with Dyke School of Commerce to become Dyke College/David M. Meyers University

1850 Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland begin to provide Catholic education in Cleveland

1850 Society for the Relief of the Poor founded to urge government and churches to provide relief for the poor

1851 St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum for Females founded by Bishop Amadeus Rappe and the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; closed 1926

1851 Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine arrive in Cleveland to care for the poor and sick

1852 St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum for Boys founded by Bishop Amadeus Rappe of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

1852 St. Joseph Hospital established by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine to care for indigent patients and orphans; closed in 1856

1852 Cleveland Protestant Orphan Asylum (later known as Beech Brook) founded by the Society for Relief of the Poor through the efforts of Rebecca Rouse

1853 B’nai B’rith established in Cleveland by Simson Thorman, Benjamin Franklin Beixotto, and Dr. Jason Horwitz to provide services and aid to a variety of Jewish causes

1854 Young Men’s Christian Association established to serve the physical and spiritual needs of men in Cleveland

1855 Hebrew Benevolent Society established

1857 Children’s Aid Society founded to care for and educate poor children; second children’s aid society in the United States

1859 Cuyahoga Anti-Slavery Society established by Cleveland-area African American community

1859 Cleveland Freedman’s Aid Society founded as the Fugatives’ Aid Society; initially took a stand against slavery, assisted with the underground railroad, and gave aid to escaped slaves in safe territory; after the Emancipation Proclamation it sent aid to former slaves in the South and emphasized educational efforts

1861 Soldiers’ Aid Society of Northern Ohio founded by Rebecca Cromwell Rouse – raised nearly $1 million to meet medical needs of Union soldiers and support social and moral discipline advocated by U. S. Sanitary Commission

1863 St. Joseph’s Orphanage for Girls established by the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to house Catholic orphans; closed 1947

1864 German Methodist Orphan Asylum founded

1865 St. Vincent’s Charity Hospital founded by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine

1865 St. Vincent DePaul Society of Cleveland established to serve the poor by Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Bishop Amadeus Rappe

Benjamin Rouse
Benjamin Rouse
Dr. David Long
Dr. David Long
St. Vincent's Orphanage
St. Vincent’s Orphanage
Protestant Orphan Asylum
Protestant Orphan Asylum
Downtown Cleveland YMCA
Downtown Cleveland YMCA

St. Vincent's Charity Hospital
St. Vincent’s Charity Hospital