JoAnn and Bob Glick Want You to Think Differently About Philanthropy
The Glicks, both Northeast Ohio natives, have met their mission match with MetroHealth’s SAFE and MAAC programs.
Recently, when a local charity wanted to announce a generous donation from JoAnn and Bob Glick, it asked the couple to pose on a grand marble staircase for a photo portrait.
The Glicks politely declined.
Philanthropy, at least the kind that comes with staid pomp and stiff decorum, is simply not what they do. They have a different style of giving. In fact, it might be best to not even label their gifts as donations.
They are investments.
With the passion of successful angel funders, the Glicks research potential recipients, looking for small or “startup” projects with innovative and transformative ideas, visionary leadership, and replicable, scalable solutions to systemic problems.
For a return on investment, they don’t seek profit, they seek impact. And instead of recognition for themselves, they seek inspiration for others.
“We want our gifts to be a call to action, a challenge to think differently,” Bob said. “We want others to start thinking, ‘Maybe we should be looking over there, too.’”
This kind of passion is nothing new for the Glicks.
JoAnn, a registered nurse, worked in inner-city hospitals – Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and Mt. Sinai Hospital and University Hospitals in Cleveland – answering a calling to serve the underserved and improve community health.
“When I graduated over 40 years ago, the focus was on inpatient care,” JoAnn said. “I wanted to focus more on community health, to help people long before they needed to go to the hospital.
“That’s so much of what we want to do now,” she added. “We want to remove the barriers that prevent people from living healthy lives.”
Meanwhile, Bob founded and developed a retail concept that provided fashionable clothing for women at extraordinarily low prices. By the time his locally based company, Dots LLC, was acquired in 2011, it boasted more than 400 stores in 28 states, 5,000 employees and a loyal army of customers.
“We owe so much to women,” said Bob. “They were our customers and the vast majority of our employees. We are in the position we are because of them.
“We want to show our appreciation by supporting the programs and projects that benefit the women and the children who need it most.”
Soon after an introduction to MetroHealth President and CEO Dr. Akram Boutros, the Glicks knew they’d made a match.
“We were thrilled to find how aligned we were with his thinking,” JoAnn said. “His vision, his views, his passion, his caring, his outside-the-box thinking – they all resonated.”
They got their first up-close look at a MetroHealth program in May 2019 during a visit to Harvey Rice Wraparound School on Cleveland’s East Side to see Students Are Free to Express (SAFE), a pilot project that uses the power of the arts to treat and reverse the effects of trauma and toxic stress in children. They watched as pre-kindergarteners, stirred by drums and a keyboard, moved around their classroom, expressing and emancipating their emotions without words.
Less than three weeks later, the Glicks were on MetroHealth’s main campus visiting the MetroHealth Autism Assessment Clinic (MAAC), the only clinic on the West Side that evaluates children for autism spectrum disorders and the only one in Ohio that accommodates the language and cultural needs of Hispanic children.
Both programs matched the Glicks’ unique mission of giving: visionary leaders with an entrepreneurial spirit guiding innovative, transformative projects that serve the people who need it most in the core of Cleveland.
The couple gave $500,000 to support the two programs.
The SAFE project will use the funds to expand its artist residencies/classroom activities to include more students at Harvey Rice, John Adams High School, Lincoln West School of Global Studies and Lincoln West School of Science and Health, which is located inside MetroHealth Medical Center.
At MAAC, the Glicks’ gift will fund the addition of three new bilingual positions: a psychologist, speech/language therapist and social worker. The result will be a significant reduction in wait-times for families seeking autism assessment services. It also means that many more children will have access to life-changing care.
The gifts also help fulfill one of the Glicks’ primary goals: to help the children of Cleveland ascend to their full potential.
It is an ascent more grand than any marble staircase.
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through four hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our 8,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit metrohealth.org.