Areas of Interest

The Trustees generally follow the pattern of giving established by Mr. and Mrs. Murphy in their lifetime.


In the recent five-year period, nearly half of all grants made by the Foundation were awarded to a wide variety of artistic and cultural institutions and organizations in Northeast Ohio. These include The Cleveland Orchestra, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland Playhouse, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland.

Our largest Arts and Culture grant was made in 2012, when the Foundation awarded $3.0 million to The Cleveland Orchestra (Musical Arts Association) for its “Sound of the Centennial Campaign.”


The Foundation has a long history of supporting organizations that contribute directly to the quality of life in Greater Cleveland, especially in the downtown area. Twenty-five percent of all Foundation grants in the recent five-year period have been awarded to these organizations, which include United Way of Greater Cleveland, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Group Plan Commission, Salvation Army of Great Cleveland, and Boy Hope Girls Hope.

Recent major Community grants include $1.0 million to the Group Plan Commission for the transformation of downtown Cleveland’s Public Square and $1.0 million to St. Vincent Charity Development Foundation for a neighborhood medical clinic on the campus of St. Ignatius High School on Cleveland’s near west side. Mr. Murphy, who was devoted to the advancement of Catholic education, personally supported St. Ignatius during his lifetime.


With a focus on higher education, twenty-five percent of all Foundation grants in the past five years have been made to area colleges, universities and other accredited educational institutions. Reflecting its roots in The Higbee Company, the Foundation is especially proud of its long and distinguished history with the Kent State University School of Fashion Design and Merchandizing. Other major grantees include Case Western Reserve, Gilmour Academy, Cleveland Institute of Art, and Ursuline College.

In 1998, the Foundation awarded $5.0 million to the University of Notre Dame Law School to establish the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and Professor of Theology. Mr. Murphy was a 1921 graduate of the Law School and a Notre Dame trustee for 36 years. In 1952, he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University. It is the largest single grant in the history of the John P. Murphy Foundation.