American Endowment Foundation (AEF) Awards Inaugural Grants of $200,000 to Providence House, Inc., and Akron Children’s 

Grants to Support Children and Youth Initiatives in Northeastern Ohio 

June 17, 2024 (Hudson, Ohio) American Endowment Foundation (AEF), one of the nation’s largest independent donor-advised fund sponsors, proudly announces the awarding of two one-time grants of $100,000 each to Providence House, Inc., and Akron Children’s. These grants were made possible through AEF’s newly established Philanthropic Council.

In November 2023, the AEF Board of Directors established the AEF Philanthropic Council with the aim of fortifying AEF’s philanthropic presence in Northeast Ohio. The Philanthropic Council selected the mission of enhancing the education, health and well-being of children and young people in Northeast Ohio over the next five years. This initiative, spearheaded by a team of five AEF cross-functional members, aims to amplify AEF’s philanthropic impact, provide significant support to targeted populations, and foster cultural engagement among AEF team members. Over the next five years, the Philanthropic Council has committed to granting $1 million toward these endeavors. To ensure a sustainable and systematic grant allocation process, AEF engaged the expertise of philanthropic advisor, Kris Putnam-Walkerly.

“This is an opportunity for AEF to give back and further expand our philanthropic mission,” said Joseph Betro, Chair of the Board of Directors at AEF. “The impact of these organizations on the health and well-being of children and youth in Northeastern Ohio is profound. These grants are intended to offer hope, inspiration, and support to those in need, particularly within our local communities.”

Paula Hogan, Chief People & Culture Officer at AEF, commented “We are thrilled to award these grants and to collaborate with local organizations dedicated to initiatives that will significantly impact our community. Additionally, the establishment of AEF’s Philanthropic Council further underscores our commitment to fostering meaningful partnerships and driving positive change in our community.”

Providence House, Inc. was established in 1981 to provide emergency shelter for children in Greater Cleveland during family crises. Over the years, it has grown into a comprehensive program focused on crisis intervention, child protection, and family preservation. The grant will support their new East Side location in the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood, addressing the increased demand for services. This expansion will enable Providence House to serve nearly 250 more children and 400 more families annually. The new site, which will increase it’s operating budget by $1.8 million, is scheduled to be licensed in fall 2024, and the AEF grant will contribute to its operating costs.

“We are truly grateful to American Endowment Foundation for this generous gift for our new East Campus. It comes at the perfect time as we finalize our Family Preservation Crisis Nursery and get ready to open our doors to the hundreds of children and families we’ll be nurturing and supporting each year!” said Natalie A. Leek, President and CEO, of Providence House, Inc.

Akron Children’s will use the grant to launch a pilot program at their Fairlawn primary care office, focusing on autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The funds will be used to hire a licensed independent social worker (LISW) to collaborate with primary care physicians, enhancing access to ASD evaluation, diagnosis, and ongoing care coordination. This initiative aims to facilitate early intervention, potentially saving approximately $19,000 per child annually, or $342,000 per child through age 18. LISW is expected to handle 900 patient visits annually, with plans to sustain the position through insurance billing in subsequent years.

“We are so grateful for the support of the American Endowment Foundation. Early intervention affords the best opportunity to support the healthy development of children with ASD, helps to empower families and delivers benefits across the individual’s lifespan. AEF’s support will help us improve access to services for children and families using an innovative care model as we continue to improve and transform the care we provide for this important population in our Akron Children’s community.”  Said Jessica Foster, MD, MPH, FAAP Director, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics; The Venner Family Endowed Chair in Autism; Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician


Established in 1993, American Endowment Foundation (AEF) is one of the nation’s largest independent donor-advised fund sponsors with $7 billion in assets under management. AEF is a mission-motivated organization focused on expanding philanthropy led by a people-driven culture that results in a best-in-class client experience. To learn more, visit


Providence House is a family preservation crisis nursery that has helped keep more than 15,000 children safe and families together across Northeast Ohio since 1981. Offering free, voluntary, 24/7 emergency shelter to children from newborn through age 12, Providence House supports families facing crises such as homelessness, domestic violence, sobriety, mental health, or medical challenges. The crisis nursery provides a safe, licensed, homelike environment where children receive loving care, allowing parents and guardians to maintain custody and peace of mind during temporary separations.

Parents and guardians collaborate with the Social Work Team at Providence House to address their challenges through Family Preservation Services, including individualized counseling, parenting education, trauma services, case management, and connections to over 130 community partner agencies. This support system has successfully kept 99% of families together after engaging with Providence House services over the past five years. Serving families from 37 zip codes across Greater Cleveland, Providence House predominantly supports single moms of color. Last year, 20% of families served had no income, and 100% fell below the ALICE threshold for living wages.

In addition to crisis nursery services, Providence House offers community-based support through a Community Referral Program, providing essential need items to families via referrals from partner agencies.


Akron Children’s is an independent, nonprofit pediatric health care system that has been caring for children since 1890. With two hospital campuses, seven regional health centers and more than 50 primary and specialty care locations throughout Ohio, it is the only health care system in northeast Ohio fully dedicated to pediatric care. Its vast network of Akron Children’s Pediatrics offices offers convenient access to expert pediatric primary care for patients from infancy through young adulthood. From School-Based Health Care to Quick Care Online virtual visits and Akron Children’s Anywhere app, Akron Children’s makes it easy for today’s busy families to find the high-quality care they need. In 2023, the health care system provided nearly 1.4 million patient encounters and employed more than 7,000 employees. Learn more at