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NewBridge giving hope, inspires minds, to launch careers

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent

Amidst rising statistics of high school dropout rate and unemployment, NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology is a shimmering beacon of hope in downtown Cleveland.

NewBridge provides career training for adults, and after-school arts programs for urban high school students, at no cost.

Carlos Chinchilla and Dr. Maria Pujana

“NewBridge is the pearl within the oyster of Greater Cleveland,” said Eduardo Romero, Risk Manager at the City of Cleveland. On June 2, 2011 a reception hosted by Romero brought 50 guests to explore the facility and learn about the program which launched last fall. 

He said the program deserves recognition and support from the community for its approach to addressing some of the most critical issues affecting the city. “If we do not support this organization we will be doing a great disservice to the region,” said Romero. 

NewBridge is inspired by Manchester Bidwell in Pittsburg, a program founded by Bill Strickland with a simple philosophy: environment shapes people’s lives. Through access to practical experimentation with arts and technology Manchester Bidwell Corporation’s mission is changing many lives one city at a time. The Cleveland Foundation determined the need for a similar program in Cleveland after extensive study and feedback from local employers and social service agencies.

Adult Vocational Programs are available for those over 18 years of age with a GED and train them to become Phlebotomy and Pharmacy Technicians. Capacity for both programs is limited to 16 students for each term. Phlebotomy, the drawing of blood, requires 20 weeks of courses and four weeks of externship while pharmacy is a 38-week program with six weeks externship.

Jeffrey Johnson, Executive Director of NewBridge Cleveland, said the programs were created after extensive research of projected careers in demand for the next decade.  He said the program is a model of collaboration with multiple partners like The Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, City Year Cleveland, University Hospitals, youth Opportunities Unlimited, Cleveland Metropolitan School Districts and many more.

“Once you walk through the doors you have found a friend,” said Johnson and emphasized the organization’s vigorous mission depends on the support and help of its partners and friends. “Generosity of the community is what makes this possible,” he said.

Jeffrey Johnson and Eduardo Romero

Photos by Arooj Ashraf

The organization’s doors are open to all communities and its popularity through word of mouth is already tapping its maximum capacity.

Youth programs are available for high school students in grades 9 – 10, who can participate in after school classes including ceramics, digital arts, music recording and production. Limited to 100 participants, a lottery system is used to admit if applications exceed the number.

All training is provided free of cost, and include bus passes and meals.  Johnson said NewBridge seeks to, “Inspire minds and launch careers,” but most importantly give hope through the arts.

Johnson said the building is intentionally designed to flourish creativity, in line with the theory that environment shapes behavior. “The first thing you see is an orange wall, your paradigm is already being alerted,” he said; describing the building located at 3634 Euclid Avenue, the building is designed with elegance, lined with colorful walls decorated tastefully with art and blooming orchids. Staff are required to dress in corporate attire to set world class standards and demonstrate, “We respect our students.”

Partnerships with Dress for Success and Suited 4 Success provide appropriate attire for job interviews.

Ernest E. Brown, its executive assistant, said students are also taught soft skills most people take for granted and every moment is an opportunity to learn. He greets students at the door as they gather for classes and said they are committed to learning because they feel appreciated and encouraged.

Guests received guided tours of the building and enjoyed live performances by local bands. Dr. María Pujana, donated designer jewelry from her line Marisé Designs for raffle.

For more information visit: http://www.newbridgecleveland.org


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Copyright © 1989 to 2011 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/07/11 13:16:15 -0700.





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