About Community Solutions

The Center for Community Solutions began as one of the earliest federated charities in the United States. A century later we operate as a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank focused on the health and human services sector in Ohio.

After decades of convening and facilitating, our focus moved toward specific social and economic issues in the 2000s. Prioritizing solutions to challenges in public health and policy brought a new name: The Center for Community Solutions.

Transforming data into progress

We help make connections between people and organizations working to improve community conditions and the quality of life of all Ohioans.

Policy Advocacy

Testimony at the Statehouse, educational events like the Medicaid Institute, and legislative relationships amplify community voice and help make sense of a complex system. Organizations in Northeast Ohio and across the state use our public policy analysis to understand policies that affect their work.


Surveys, narrative analysis, demographic research, and community needs reporting reveal changes in the health and human services space and inform next steps. Government, non-profits, foundations, associations, and other organizations use the research that we develop for the public good.

Data Analysis

Fact sheets, Census analysis, poverty trends, and social drivers of health research are among the most popular analysis that we produce. Direct service organizations, funders, and policymakers use our data analysis to develop actionable strategies to develop health, social, or economic support for Ohioans.

Keeping the think in think tank

Our staff are experts in policy, data analysis, community outreach, and communications, and more than 80 percent of our staff hold advanced degrees. Our Board is comprised of executives, educators, and health professionals in legacy institutions in Northeast Ohio.

Our History

Organizations in Northeast Ohio use our analysis to understand policies that affect their work and have for more than 100 years.

1910s—founding and early mergers

Founded in Cleveland on January 7, 1913 as the Federation for Charity & Philanthropy. The Cleveland Chamber of Commerce created the nonprofit, citizen-led federation to better coordinate the efforts of Cleveland charities.

In 1917, the Federation for Charity and Philanthropy merged with the Cleveland Welfare Council, which had advised the city's welfare department. The Federation for Charity and Philanthropy became the Welfare Federation of Cleveland.

1920s—advocacy for tax policy reforms

The Federation held the first Conference on the Care of the Aged with a focus on hunger, dementia, and will and inheritance taxes. This eventually led to the creation of the Council on Older Persons (COOP), which continues today.

The Federation urged increased tax support for the needy advocating for care for children with mental health needs. In response to population growth, The Federation established a welfare association for African-Americans.

1930s—legacy funding and pioneer programs

The Great Depression demanded more of the community’s human services agencies. The Federation advocated for a welfare levy in 1932, one of two general-purpose human services levies that continue to support health and human services today.

The Federation lent funds to form the Cleveland Hospital Service Association—later Blue Cross, then Medical Mutual—providing the first modern health care coverage in the country.

1940s—Celebration and race relations

The Federation held its first Health and Human Services Institute—later evolving into the Celebration of Human Services—an all-day conference on critical community problems for professionals and volunteers.

The Federation created a committee on race relations and collaborated with the Jewish Community Council and the NAACP to form the present day City of Cleveland’s Community Relations Board.

1950s—helpline and community resources

During the 1950s, a number of community information and referral services were consolidated into the Federation’s Community Information Services and eventually became an independent organization called First Call for Help. 

Accessed by over 100,000 Northeast Ohio residents annually the 2-1-1 Help Center responds to requests for help with nutrition, utilities and housing assistance, including rent and emergency shelter support.

1960s—mental health and policy advocacy

Deinstitutionalization from state psychiatric hospitals accelerated during the 1960s. The Federation established treatment and rehabilitation facilities while advocating for Boards for Mental Health now known as ADAMH Boards. 

The Federation led a project around behavioral health community services. The first specially designated tax issue, it passed with over 70 percent of the vote.

1970s—a new agency and a focus on children

Facilitating the merger of five agencies into one organization, Federation sparked The Centers for Families and Children, still serving Cleveland families.

In 1972, the Welfare Federation transferred philanthropic functions to United Way. A new focus on planning, research, community education and advocacy led to a community-wide plan in response to the support abused and neglected children.

1980s—growth to meet expanding needs

The Federation administered The AIDS Commission of Greater Cleveland, and created a database of new and potential AIDS cases, services, and unmet needs.

The Federation established clinics at two homeless shelters where acute care patients were also connected with social service resources, helped to expand the PASSPORT program to Cuyahoga County, and was instrumental in the creation of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project.

1990s—preventive health care and policy

The Federation helped create a community immunization registry implemented by the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to help ensure that all children in the county received preventive health care.

The Federation formed the Cuyahoga County Welfare Reform Council, and mobilized more than 1,000 professionals, volunteers, advocates and citizens to urge legislators to support policies that help families in need.

2000s—new name and new partnerships

Growth into a community engine for research and analysis, advocacy, and problem solving meant a new name. The Federation for Community Planning became The Center for Community Solutions in 2004.

While helping to establish Emergency Campaign to Protect Ohio’s Future—now Advocates for Ohio’s Future—Community Solutions partnered to advocate for health and human services funding.

2010s—data, policy, and strategy

As Community Solutions celebrated 100 years of service to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, we began reporting detailed health and social indicator data for neighborhoods, regions, and districts.

A new strategic plan prioritized solutions to poverty: the health and human services safety net; sound Medicaid policy; the wellbeing of older adults; maternal and infant health; and access to behavioral health services.

2020s—navigating a pandemic

COVID-19 took a toll on public health, but we saw policies tested and successes realized. It underscored a core belief: good ideas can come from anywhere. We evaluate policies and proposals based on their merits, not based on who puts it forward, or which political party champions them.

We are always seeking common ground, looking for intersections that can improve the quality of life for all Ohioans.

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Explore Topics

Wondering where to start? Check out these resources about what we do and why.


Our North Star values and racial equity commitment

Community Solutions Team
June 17, 2024

Welcome Philip Myers!

June 10, 2024
Poverty & Safety Net

My Experience with SNAP Employment & Training Requirements in Ohio

Community Solutions Team
June 10, 2024
Maternal & Infant Health
Public testimony

Maternal mental health: HCR 16 Proponent Testimony

Natasha Takyi-Micah
June 5, 2024

Organizational Reports

Learn more about Community Solutions policies, financials and other reports

2023 In Review Research

Annual Report

2021 Community Solutions 990

Financial Statement

2021 Community Solutions Audit Report

Audit Report