The grant will continue funding for Neighborhood Connections’ grassroots grantmaking program and expand the work of the Neighbor Up Network, a recently launched neighborhood engagement network.
“Neighborhood Connections truly exemplifies its name by connecting and lifting neighbors in Greater Cleveland,” said Robert E. Eckardt, executive vice president of the Cleveland Foundation. “Neighborhood Connections has become a national model in how to empower residents to become more engaged with each other and the city around them. The foundation is proud of the role we have had in creating and sustaining this important program.”
Since 2003, Neighborhood Connections has awarded more than 1,700 grants totaling more than $6 million to fund citizen-led neighborhood projects, events, and activities such as community gardens, arts programs, and neighborhood festivals in every Cleveland neighborhood as well as East Cleveland,.
Additionally, Neighborhood Connections is leading community engagement work in the neighborhoods surrounding University Circle, which has resulted in the creation of the Neighbor Up Network. The network has more than 1,000 active participants, including residents and representatives of community-based organizations and anchor institutions. It focuses on building a culture of trust – neighbor to neighbor, neighborhood to neighborhood, and resident to institution.
Neighborhood Engagement and Revitalization
Additional grants approved by the Cleveland Foundation board that support neighborhood engagement and revitalization efforts include the following:
$250,000 was awarded to Famicos Foundation, Inc. to continue progress of the Circle North Healthy Neighborhoods Project. Last year, the Cleveland Foundation funded this program as a pilot redevelopment project in the Circle North neighborhood, just north of University Circle.
This grant will continue the project’s focus on neighborhood engagement by helping to fund a youth employment/engagement program, gap financing for home ownership, the greening of vacant lots, and events to bring neighbors together.
$500,000 in grants will support growth in the Health-Tech Corridor (HTC). The HTC initially developed as a part of the Greater University Circle Initiative, a project the foundation initiated in 2005 to revitalize the neighborhoods surrounding University Circle by leveraging the economic strength of the area’s anchor institutions.
The Health-Tech Corridor originated with a $50,000 Cleveland Foundation grant in 2009 to study the viability of attracting and locating biotech companies near the region’s large anchor institutions, thus connecting the city’s cultural hub of University Circle with downtown Cleveland. This additional funding includes:
- $344,000 to Midtown Cleveland, Inc. to support business and marketing strategies, project planning and development, and the creation of a new Director of Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor position.
- $156,000 to the City of Cleveland to support a new staff position, Health-Tech Corridor Project Manager, within the Department of Economic Development.
$400,000 was awarded to Cleveland Housing Network, Northeast Ohio’s largest community development organization and energy conservation provider, for several initiatives, including the development of quality, affordable housing options for low to moderate income families and projects to strengthen the financial stability of residents.
A $300,000 grant to Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) will help fund DCA’s strategic priorities, including business development, urban planning and design, and projects such as the Ambassador Program, which focuses on making downtown Cleveland cleaner and safer. The Cleveland Foundation has been supporting DCA since shortly after the organization’s founding in 2006.
Public Education Reform
With public education reform one of the Cleveland Foundation’s strategic priority areas, the foundation’s board approved grants totaling nearly $1.4 million to support new school development and postsecondary preparation.
A $785,000 grant will fund College Now Greater Cleveland, Inc.’s Post Secondary Access Initiative, which centers on increasing access for low-income, first-generation college students. Included is support for: school-based advisory services at Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) high schools; the Cleveland Foundation College Now Scholars Program to prepare the highest-ranking CMSD seniors for college entrance; scholarships for CMSD and adult-learner students, and the College Now Resource Center, which provides free college access advising.
$372,750 in grants to the CMSD will support start-up and first-year operation costs for two of the district’s innovative high schools slated to open this fall:
- Cleveland Digital Arts High School in downtown Cleveland will operate as a partnership between the Center for Arts Inspired Learning (formerly Young Audiences) and the CMSD. The new year-round school will use programs such as digital game design, recording arts technology, and digital film making to empower and engage students in their education.
- Bard Early College High School, which will open on the city’s West Side, is modeled after two successful urban high schools sponsored by Bard College in New York City and Newark, N.J. With a curriculum focused on critical-thinking skills, students can receive up to 60 college credits and an associate in arts degree from Bard College concurrently with their high school diploma.
An additional $221,250 grant to Bard College will fund start-up and first-year operation costs at Bard Early College High School.
A $197,930 grant was awarded to Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) as part of the Cleveland Foundation’s efforts to build a community framework for its centennial Encore initiative. Last June, the foundation announced plans to create a local Encore program, part of a national movement to utilize the time and talents of Americans aged 50-plus for the betterment of the community.
This grant will support two innovative programs that will provide opportunities for older adults to reinvent themselves:
- Encore Entrepreneurs will help aspiring entrepreneurs aged 50-plus to gain the knowledge and skills needed to launch a business. Five CCPL libraries will host a six-week program led by an experienced business consultant.
- Encore Community Connects will link youths ages 11-18 with Cuyahoga County adults ages 50-plus in a cross-generational learning environment. The program will focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). A coordinator in each STEAM field will recruit and train Encore Community Connect volunteers to implement programs, including robotics, music mixing, and animation and computer programming.
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