In 1998, Smart Business Network (SBN) created the Pillar Award for Community Service by co-developing it with Medical Mutual. The Pillar Award program has three main goals: to publicize the issue of community service as it applies to the realities of today’s competitive business world; to share creative ideas about how companies of all sizes have a positive impact in their communities; and to honor companies that go well beyond the minimum expectation of community service.
To create a concrete example of what the Pillar Award stands for, that same year, SBN developed a fourth component as an offshoot of the main program: The Pillar Fund.
The mission of the Pillar Fund is to reward nonprofit institutions that demonstrate the requisite financial need and use smart business practices and innovative ideas and creatively maximize their financial and human resource capital to strengthen their organization and enhance their service to the people of Northeast Ohio.
The Pillar Fund provides grants for a wide range of projects and programs. It is designed to explore the symbiotic relationship between for-profit and nonprofit organizations that together strive to make Northeast Ohio a better place to live.
Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations that demonstrate above all else financial need, along with the ability to employ sound management techniques and effectively leverage corporate relationships in order to fulfill their respective missions.
Seed capital for The Pillar Fund is made possible by an annual donation from SBN through revenue generated by the Pillar Award recognition event. Funds are also donated directly by individuals and area corporations whose philanthropic missions are aligned with The Pillar Fund, which is a donor-advised fund administered though The Cleveland Foundation.
In 2003, grants were awarded to the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeast Ohio, Dream Center, Lorain Catholic High School, Southview High School Athletic Booster Club, Cleveland Christian Home, Make-A-Wish Foundation, United Way and Julie Billiart School.