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New Isabelle Ridgway Foundation Sets Sights on Improving Outcomes for African American Elders in Central Ohio

New foundation continues the legacy of Isabelle Ridgway, a healthcare pioneer whose work benefited generations of elderly in central Ohio

Columbus, OH (May 19, 2017)—The Founding Board of the Isabelle Ridgway Foundation today announced the creation of a new endowment to honor the legacy of Isabelle Ridgway by improving the quality of life and the systems that impact aging African Americans in central Ohio. The foundation will begin its work with benchmarking research to create a blueprint that will inform future grantmaking, slated to begin next year.
The members of the Founding Board of the Isabelle Ridgway Foundation are:  Mark Hatcher, Esq., Chairman; Evelyn Y. Cleveland, Secretary; Timothy Grant, CPA, Treasurer; Christopher G. Brown, M.D.; James L. Ervin, Jr., Esq.; Sandra Moody Gresham; Patricia B. Mullins; and Thomas L. Weaver.
The Isabelle Ridgway Foundation Founding Board of Trustees. First row (l-r): Patricia B. Mullins; Evelyn Y. Cleveland; and Sandra Moody Gresham. Second row (l-r): Mark Hatcher, Esq.; Christopher G. Brown, M.D.; and Timothy Grant, CPA. Third row (l-r): Thomas L. Weaver; and James L. Ervin, Jr., Esq.

With an initial gift of $3.1 million, the Isabelle Ridgway Foundation ranks among the largest charitable funds created for African American elderly in the state of Ohio.  The endowment was created as a new Supporting Foundation of The Columbus Foundation.

Ms. Ridgway began her work caring for the elderly in Columbus in 1912, at a time when there were few charities to support the needs of African American elderly. She was compassionate and conscientious in finding resources and accommodations for the elderly, often through her church where she was known as Mother Ridgway. With the help of her friend, Dollie Whittaker, Ms. Ridgway founded the Old Folks Home of Franklin County, where she quietly brought comfort, stability, safety, and a sense of belonging to elderly, impoverished African Americans.

"Ms. Ridgway brought insight and the boldness of a true pioneer to her work. She believed in a world where we treat the aging as our elders. She taught us that dignity is ageless.”

— Patricia Mullins, Founding Board Member of the new Isabelle Ridgway Foundation, former President and CEO of the Isabelle Ridgway Care Center

“This is a historic moment in our community to both honor Ms. Isabelle Ridgway’s legacy and to look forward in strengthening our community for our elders,” said Douglas F. Kridler, President and CEO of The Columbus Foundation. “As an endowment of The Columbus Foundation, the Isabelle Ridgway Foundation is positioned to serve needs today and well into the future.”

For many decades, the Isabelle Ridgway Care Center operated in several locations on the east side of Columbus. In 2015, the center was sold and the proceeds were used to create the Isabelle Ridgway Foundation through The Columbus Foundation.

 “The decision to transition from a direct service organization to a foundation was a difficult one,” said Mr. Hatcher. “We were used to operating lean and ‘weathering the storm’ when there were changes in the way funding for elder care was mandated by the state and federal government.  We ultimately determined that we could continue the legacy of Ms. Ridgway without bricks and mortar. Building upon our strong legacy, the Isabelle Ridgway Foundation is well positioned to serve as a catalyst to identify the barriers to care and stimulate improvements to the quality of life for our aging population.”

According to Ms. Mullins, there is still much work to be done to fulfill Ms. Ridgway’s legacy. The life expectancy for African American seniors has increased, but not at the same rate as the majority of the population, and for many, the quality of life has not improved substantially, with wide gaps remaining between African Americans and other racial groups. Lacking proper healthcare, African Americans also suffer higher rates of disease and chronic illness.

Isabelle Ridgway Foundation

The Isabelle Ridgway Foundation was created by the board of the Isabelle Ridgway Care Center to continue the mission of the center’s founder, Isabelle Ridgway. Ms. Ridgway believed in a world where we treat the aging as our elders. The new foundation will form coalitions, sponsor research, and support grants to improve the quality of life and systems that impact aging African Americans in the Columbus area. Visit to learn more.

The Columbus Foundation

The Columbus Foundation is the trusted philanthropic advisor® to more than 2,500 individuals, families, businesses, and communities that have created unique funds and foundations to make a difference in the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. More than 70 years strong, The Columbus Foundation is ranked among the top ten community foundations in the United States. Visit to learn more.

May 19, 2017