| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Social Innovation : Development News

153 Social Innovation Articles | Page: | Show All

Mural to bloom at Public Square bakery

Beginning next week, the employees at Bloom Bakery at the 200 Public Square location will tap into their creative juices to paint a 10-foot by 10-foot mural on the walls of the café.

Aiming to connect the arts with business, the project is a joint endeavor between Towards Employment, the non-profit organization dedicated to helping low income and disadvantaged adults achieve self-sufficiency through employment, the founder of Bloom and Negative Space Gallery executive director Gadi Zamir.
 
“We always wanted to do something with the space and tie in art,” explains Bloom general manager Logan Fahey. “This fits with our mission and uses art to represent what the business stands for. Through this mural, employees will be able to gain exposure to the artistic community and help create an artistic expression that is ingrained in Bloom.”
 
Five Bloom employees, all of whom recently came out of incarceration and are graduates of Towards Employment, volunteered to be involved in the project. Bloom employs 18 at its two locations, 16 of which are Towards Employment graduates.
 
“Everything we do is about providing opportunities to our graduates and employees,” says Fahey. “We want this mural to be emblematic of our commitment to providing training and employment opportunities to those with barriers.”
 
The mural is inspired by the painting “Purple Haze” by local artist James March, who specializes in abstract works.
 
Zamir, who is also an artist, will sketch the mural on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 8 and 9. The employees will begin painting it on Monday, Dec. 12. Zamir will help the employees through the process, then touch up the mural when it is complete.
 
Fahey says Towards Employment began talking with Zamir a few months ago about how to motivate the organization’s graduates through the arts. “He really has a passion for helping people with barriers to employment,” Fahey says. “He is an artist who was willing to open up to our graduates and let them into his studio.”
 
More than 6,000 people in Cuyahoga County are released from state prison each year, according to Towards Employment. The organization helps more than 500 of them with finding jobs. The organization helps a total of 2,000 people yearly in Cuyahoga County with its various programs.
 
Bloom Bakery plans two additional murals next year. Fahey says a second mural will be painted in the upstairs area of the Public Square location during the first quarter of 2017, while a mural at the Cleveland State University location – in collaboration with CSU students – is planned for next spring.
 
Bloom opened its bakeries earlier this year as a social enterprise venture.

Family shelter opens as first of four Salvation Army capital projects

Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland officially opened its Zelma George Emergency Family Shelter, 1710 Prospect Ave. adjacent to its Harbor Light Complex, on Thursday, Nov. 17. The organization broke ground on the new facility in November 2015.

The new 30,000-square-foot facility replaces the previous shelter housed on two floors in Harbor Light, allowing the Salvation Army to provide better services to homeless families and victims of human trafficking.
 
When it opened earlier this month, Zelma George was already at capacity – housing 116 people, says Harbor Light executive director Beau Hill. The new facility has 35 family units, some of which are handicapped-accessible, and a three-bedroom apartment suite for up to six victims of human trafficking.
 
Hill says the opening went well. “There are still some quirks we need to work out, as with any new building," he says. “It has truly been an answer to the program.”
 
In addition to the living units, there is a flexible multipurpose room, a five-computer area, a common area for residents and staff and a cafeteria.
 
A walkway connects Zelma George and Harbor Light, with a newly-constructed playground in a courtyard. “It’s your typical school playground, with nothing too tall,” says Hill, adding that there’s a slide and a funnel ball structure targeted at elementary school ages.
 
In addition to family-specific programming offered at Zelma George, all of the residents will have access to the programming and services available at Harbor Light. Families can stay at Zelma George for up to 90 while they get back on their feet and find permanent housing.
 
The opening of the shelter marks the first of four construction, expansion and renovation projects being done as part of the Salvation Amy’s $35 million Strength for today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow capital campaign, which launched after a 2012 study showed the need for enhanced services for the more than 143,000 Cuyahoga County residents it serves each year.
 
The three other associated projects include the Cleveland Temple Corps Community Center in Collinwood, which is starting up its operation, says Hill, while the East Cleveland facility should open in January or February. The West Park Community Center expansion will be finished in March or April.
 
Thus far, the organization has raised $32.3 million toward its goal. “We have a little under $3 million to go,” says Hill, who notes the campaign is now in its third year but was only made public a year ago. “We were hoping to be done, but we’re going to keep pushing.”

May Dugan spreads joy and gifts during the holidays

Inspired by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, the May Dugan Center year round ensures residents of Cleveland’s near west side get the food, clothing and services they need.  
 
But as the holiday season quickly approaches and the weather turns frigid, May Dugan has for months now prepared to make the season a bit more cheery for its clients who need a little extra help. Whether it’s help putting a holiday meal on the table or making sure there are gifts under the tree, May Dugan is prepared to lend a hand.
 
The season kicks off today with May Dugan's annual turkey distribution. In addition to its monthly food and clothing distribution, today, Wednesday, Nov. 16, May Dugan will also hand out turkeys to 350 families.
 
“It’s out biggest distribution of the year,” says May Dugan deputy director Andy Trares. GIE Media sponsors the distribution, while Platform Beer Co. stores the birds until distribution day.
 
Then on Thursday, Dec. 1, the holiday season really gears up as May Dugan adorns the 35-foot-high tree on the corner of Randall Road and Bridge Avenue – one of the tallest trees in Ohio City – with thousands of lights.
 
More than 400 people are expected to gather around the tree for the seventh annual lighting ceremony and May Dugan open house from 5 to 7 p.m. The joy of the season will be spread by the Urban Community School Choir and Mae Dugan’s Rhythm and Roots Senior Choir, formed out of a partnership with the Music Settlement’s music therapy program..
 
“The seniors here really enjoy performing,” says Trares of the choir. “The songs are important but their attention to the details is also important. They really like to go all-out and they take great pride in it.” For instance, last year the group dressed in all black and wore Santa hats.
 
There will also be kids’ crafts, a raffle and refreshments. “It’s a nice event that culminates in front of the building with the lighting of the tree,” says Trares. “It has become a tradition now.”
 
After the tree lighting Jukebox, 1404 W. 29th St., will host an after-party from 7 to 9 p.m. A portion of the total bar tab will go back to May Dugan. “Grab a little bit of food, a couple of drinks and support May Dugan,” encourages Trares. Both the tree lighting ceremony and after-after party are free and open to the public.
 
May Dugan's annual Adopt-A-Family program helps make the holidays a little brighter for select clients who have made progress in the center’s various programs. Thanks to sponsors who adopt a family and receive demographic information and a list of gift ideas, each selected family gets a few gifts to put under the tree.
 
“It gives a motivating factor to keep going,” says Trares of the program, adding that the requests are usually for practical items. Last year 160 people were served, thanks to 11 different sponsor groups. Trares says May Dugan now adds children’s books with all gifts donated. Interested sponsors can contact Trares to sign up.
 
“Holidays when folks are in need can be really tough,” says Trares, “Parents work around the clock and hear all the talk about Christmas gifts, and the kids see the commercials. I’m glad we’re able to fill that gap at this time of year and make it a little more special.”

This story is one of a Fresh Water series supported in part by the May Dugan Center.

Stalwart local advocate champions Cleveland Refugee Bike Project

More than 1,000 refugees are resettled in the Cleveland area each year, and many of them struggle with transportation as they adjust to their new homes and secure jobs. Many people in the refugee population don’t have cars, and public transportation routes often don’t travel to all the places they need to go.
 
After hearing stories about the demand for bicycles among the refugee population, Tim Kovach started to see a possible solution. “They’re looking to get their hands on bikes,” says the avid cyclist who bikes to his job as an air quality planner at Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency nine months out of the year.

The refugee situation moved the Ohio City resident to initiate a campaign to get more bikes to that vulnerable population with an ioby crowdfunding campaign: the Cleveland Refugee Bike Project.
 
The Bike Project aims to raise $7,863 to provide refugees with 50 to 100 bikes and training to give them better access to work, education and social opportunities. The Cleveland Climate Action Fund will match dollars raised, up to $5,000.
 
The idea first came about after Kovach’s wife, who works at Cleveland Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, began telling him stories of Cleveland refugees needing bikes to get around.
 
Kovach heard of one Congolese boy who was excited to bike to his new school and was told “don’t bother, we don’t even have a bike rack.” Another man in his 50s had trouble walking but could ride a bicycle. The man just couldn’t find an affordable one.
 
“It really clicked on me,” Kovach recalls of hearing these stories. “The number of refugees settled in Cleveland has basically doubled in the last few years. I started to think about a way I could help.”
 
While organizations like Cleveland Catholic Charities help refugees settling in Cleveland by providing assistance, including RTA passes, it’s still often tough for them to get to jobs that can be in remote locations, Kovach explains.
 
“It can be very difficult, especially with the jobs they are trying to get,” Kovach says. “The jobs are in places that are not well connected to [bus lines], and there’s a language barrier and a skills [gap].”
 
Last January, Kovach began talking to Bike Cleveland and Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC) about ways he could secure bikes and provide culturally appropriate training for Cleveland’s refugee community.
 
The conversations were put on the back burner, but then in August, Matt Gray, the director of the Cleveland Mayor’s  Office of Sustainability, told Kovach about the Cleveland Climate Action Fund’s newest round of grants.
 
“I wrote up a proposal and sent it to them,” Kovach recalls, adding that he requested the full $5,000. “We’ve gotten a lot of support from the bike community as well.”
 
To date, Kovach has raised nearly $4,000 towards his goal. If he meets it and gets the matching funds, he will start a pilot program in 2017. The bikes will be sourced from OCBC, which will also provide in-kind support through bike accessories.
 
Kovach will organize bicycle training and skills classes at the OCBC or Catholic Charities with the help of refugee interpreters with the former. He says the classes will be based on majority language groups – Somali, Arabic, Swahili, Bhutanese and French – depending on the interest.

“We’re creating jobs and opportunities for refugees,” says Kovach of his program and the use of the interpreters. He is also hoping to have enough funding to install bike racks at Catholic Charities.
 
There are 10 days to go until the Friday, Nov. 18 ioby campaign deadline.
 
Additionally, Platform Beer Co., 4125 Lorain Ave., will host a fundraiser for Kovach’s cause this Thursday, Nov.  10 from 4 to 8 p.m. Platform will donate $1 for each house beer sold. Organizers will raffle off gift baskets from Platform, OCBC, and Bike Cleveland. All proceeds will go toward the project.

Tim Kovach's advocacy goes beyond his work with Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and this project. He contributed this informative article on the impact of freeways on our neighborhoods to Fresh Water earlier this year. The story garnered thousands of hits.

Inter|Urban launches website, announces phase two of the "Art & Culture Connector" along Rapid line

Nearly a year after receiving a $150,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation to create public art along the RTA red line between downtown and Public Square, LAND studio last week announced the launch of the INTER|URBAN website.
 
The site highlights each of the 18 INTER|URBAN art installations and profiles the local, national and international mural artists and photographers who created them. The site also explores the Anisfield-Wolf Award winning literature that inspired each artist. The 81-year-old award, administered by the Cleveland Foundation, recognizes books that tackle issues of racism, diversity, equity and social justice.
 
The project, a partnership between LAND studio, the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland, RTA, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and the Anisfeld-Wolf Book Awards, originally came about in 2014 as a way to beautify the Rapid route for guests traveling from the airport to downtown for the Republican National Convention.
 
It quickly grew into something much more evocative. Sponsors asked the selected artists to add a relative cultural dimension to the works by responding to themes in the award-winning books they were given.

Pat Perry
 
“We wanted to create a project that was not just murals, because a lot of cities are doing that,” explains Joe Lanzilotta, project manager for LAND studio. “The artists are directly responding to the literature, and it’s a perfect time right now for something like this.”
 
Lanzilotta says riding the RTA route, which is usually a passive experience, seemed to be the perfect forum to introduce issues about race and diversity. “It’s unconventional, but the perfect place to start a conversation about diversity,” he says. “Riders are introduced to these discussions in a place where they normally would not be.”
 
More than 300 artists submitted portfolios to LAND studios for the project.
 
Anisfield-Wolf scholars from CWRU helped choose the artists and pair each one with a book. “It was an interesting, very fun process to work with these scholars and it kind of worked out perfectly,” Lanzilotta says. “We knew right away when we sat down with them, we had something very unique.”
 
Eight of the 18 artists are from Northeast Ohio, while the rest hail from across the country and the globe, including Detroit, Austin, Texas, San Francisco and even South Africa. Cleveland native Fred Bidwell and mural expert Jasper Wong from Honolulu were hired to curate the project.
 
“We didn’t want the artist to take the book literally," says Lanzilotta, "we wanted them to interpret [their assigned works] – and take from their own experiences. We left if really open for them.”
 
This past June, all 18 artists descended upon the Rapid stops for one week, simultaneously creating their installments in time to welcome RNC visitors. The result is a series of distinctive works that add beauty to the Cleveland landscape and hopefully spark discussion.
 
“It celebrates our unique landscape and our unique approach to public art,” says Lanzilotta, noting how special the opportunity is. “We get a chance to start a discussion about social justice and equality. Each of us face these issues every day, whether it’s how we are viewed or how we view the world.”
 
The project was so successful, the organizations have already started to implement phase two – the expansion of INTER|URBAN along the eastern portion of the RTA red line, from downtown to University Circle. Phase two is scheduled to begin next summer.
 
LAND studio also produced a video, chronicling the first phase of INTER|URBAN.
 

INTER|URBAN from LAND studio on Vimeo.

However, the vision goes beyond a second phase. In the video, Lillian Kuri, program director for the Cleveland Foundation states that she would like this project expand to as many of 70 projects along the RTA system.

“You could ride any line and understand how powerful this is and how the creative community has risen to say we’re a community that cares about race, equity, inclusion,” she says. “And then over time as we evolve as a community we continue to tell that story so that in a few years the entire RTA system will actually be the world’s largest art gallery that is talking about how we have come together to deal with these issues.”
 
Lanzilotta adds that he would like to include more interactive facets in phase two such as performance artists and literature. “We really hope to engage riders,” he says, noting that this initial foray is a sort of trial or proof, with significant opportunity in the future. “This could be a project that occurs every year to highlight the rich, cultural diversity of the region,” he says.

“We want another layer of Cleveland’s arts and culture scene. We want people to travel here from all over to see this.”


LAND studio is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

LAND studio issues wide regional call to artists for temporary public art in the 216

Anyone who has been out and about in Cleveland over the past months has no doubt spotted some of the colorful creatures scattered throughout the city.

The temporary public art installation, created by Cracking Art, brought here by LAND studio and a grant from the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, is here through next spring.
 
But when the snails and turtles make their exits, a new batch of temporary public art will take its place. Last week, LAND studio issued a call for artists within a 350 mile radius of downtown Cleveland to submit applications for three to six additional public art installations throughout 2017 and 2018.
 
“Public art can be really experimental, but then if it works out it’s an idea for something on a more permanent bases,” says Vince Reddy, LAND studio’s project manager, adding that the Cracking Art for the most part received positive reactions. "We want people to think of Cleveland as a place to view public art."
 
The Fowler Family Foundation is also supporting this new public art endeavor, which will have installments in Public Square, Mall B, East 3rd Street between Superior and Rockwell Avenues or in nearby publicly accessible locations. Selected artists will have a $40,000 budget for their works, which will be displayed at various times between spring 2017 and the end of 2018.
 
Reddy says they opened the call for artists to a 350 mile radius in order to attract both local artists and artists from neighboring cities, such as Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo and Columbus. “More than half of the public art we do is local,” he explains. “Outside artists must work from their impressions of Cleveland, and we want to find out about artists from our peer cities.”
 
Furthermore, Reddy says the larger field will introduce the city to new perspectives. “There are a lot of good artists with great ideas who don’t know how to express them,” he says. “This is an opportunity for some artists who may never have worked in public art.”
 
Rather than asking applicants to outline their ideas, Reddy says LAND studio is asking for qualifications and a one-page statement as to why they want to participate in the project. “We’re asking they not just submit ideas, just to submit their qualifications,” he explains. “We’re looking for people who have really thought about it. We’re asking how they would approach it. We’re hoping to get a big response.”
 
Interested artists should read the application requirements and submit their materials by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 28.

Presentation to highlight unique history behind Lee-Harvard neighborhood

As Cleveland’s eastern suburbs were just beginning to establish themselves in the 1920s, Cleveland’s Lee-Harvard neighborhood, bordering Shaker Heights, Warrensville Heights and Maple Heights on the the city’s south east side, was thriving in its own right.
 
The Lee-Harvard neighborhood, once known as Miles Heights Village and the Lee-Seville neighborhoods, was historically an integrated community of notable firsts. Ohio’s first African-American mayor, Arthur Johnston was elected in 1929 when the neighborhood was mostly white. His house on East 147th Street still stands today.
 
The neighborhood established many of the first citizen's councils and neighborhood associations in the region and had an interracial police force.
 
On Thursday, October 6, the Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS), along with Cleveland Ward 1 councilman Terrell Pruitt, the Harvard Community Services Center and CSU’s Maxine Levin Goodman College of Urban Affairs, will present “Cleveland’s Suburb in the City: The Development and Growth of Lee-Harvard.”
 
Coley Family--1964The free discussion will be led by Todd Michney, assistant professor at the University of Toledo and author of Changing Neighborhoods: Black Upward Mobility in Cleveland, 1900-1980.
 
“We at CRS have been so impressed with the neighborhoods of Ward 1, Lee-Harvard and Lee-Seville,” says Michael Fleenor, CRS director of preservation services, "because they reflect our recent history – Cleveland’s last expansion, progress in Civil Rights, and the growth of neighborhood associations and community development corporations in the late 20th Century."
 
In 1932, Miles Heights was officially annexed as part of Cleveland, but the neighborhood remained a popular choice to settle for African-Americans who were looking to move to the suburbs. Many residents moved to Lee-Harvard from the Central, Glenville and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods.
 
“It was an integrated community so early,” explains Fleenor. “During World War II the neighborhood served as temporary housing for returning soldiers because it was already integrated and many families came by train from the south and other parts.”
 
In the 1950s and 60s, the neighborhood really caught its stride, with modest brick homes going up all over the area. “A lot of the people who live there have been there for 50 years,” says Fleenor. “It’s been very stable. It’s a middle class neighborhood.”
 
Arthur Bussey, an African-American builder, began building the mid-century brick homes in 1949 on Highview Drive and Myrtle Avenue, off of Lee Road just south of Miles Road, and continued building until the late 60s. Bussey targeted African-Americans and designed the modest homes to be attractive to higher-income buyers.
 
The homes built during this period are all well maintained today, and many of the original residents are still living there or they are leaving them to their children. Fleenor also predicts that the neighborhood is potentially attractive to Millennials thinking about buying homes.
 
“Perhaps there’s an opportunity because the houses aren’t huge – about 1,200 to 1,500 square feet,” Fleenor says. “There’s an opportunity for young people who are struggling now and open to smaller houses. There’s a great opportunity to build on the rich history.”
 
Fleenor also notes that the Lee-Harvard neighborhood has plenty of greenspace and parks.
 
Early on, the north end of the neighborhood was made up mostly of Eastern European and Italian families, so there was a large catholic concentration that transitioned as the neighborhood became African American.

Throughout the years and changes, churches have played a prominent role in the area.
 
The former St. Henry Church parish at 18200 Harvard Ave. opened in 1952, with a convent and school added in 1954 and an administrative building added in 1959. After experiencing financial difficulties in 1969 the church closed the convent, which then became the Harvard Community Services Center.
 
Archbishop Lyke School, took over St. Henry’s school before St. Henry’s merged with other area Catholic churches in 2008 and relocated to 4341 East 131st St. The rectory was recently for sale.

What is now Whitney Young Middle School was formerly Hoban Dominican High School for Girls.
 
Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1962.* The congregation bought a beer market with a bad reputation in the neighborhood and converted it to a church before hiring a prominent African American architecture firm to design a contemporary building in 1965. The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1945.

*CORRECTION: On May 5, 2017, Fresh Water received a communication from Rev. Dr. Leonard Killings, Pastor, Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church that said, "Advent's founder is indisputably an African Descent person and it was founded by African Descent persons."

The original reporting stated that the church was founded by a white minister. Fresh Water apologizes for the confusion.


John F. Kennedy High School was built in 1966.

The Lee-Harvard Shopping Center, built in 1949, became the first African American owned and managed shopping center in the country in 1972. Neighborhood residents bought the center when they noticed the property and surrounding area declining.
 
Also in the 70s, a group of residents formed an auxiliary police force to help patrol the neighborhood. The force operated out of small building on a used car lot. A taxi service donated two cars for patrol, while ladies in the community would provide coffee and pastries for the officers.
 
The auxiliary police would hold costume parties on Halloween and bicycle rodeos for the community. “The kids got to know the police officers and the officers got to know the kids,” explains Fleenor. “It was so successful, they got federal funding to increase officers in the neighborhood.”
 
Such community involvement and pride is what has kept the Lee-Harvard area steady over the years. “Lee-Harvard has one of the first community development corporations in Cleveland,” says Fleenor. “There are very few abandoned properties, and if there’s one property abandoned it’s the talk of the town.”
 
While Carl Stokes was mayor of Cleveland, residents lobbied in Columbus to keep liquor licenses out of the neighborhood. “It shows how politically active they were,” Fleenor says. “Then they fought Mayor Stokes to keep public housing out and Mayor Stokes called them “black bigots.’ They didn’t want to jeopardize the middle class lifestyle.”
 

“Cleveland’s Suburb in the City” will be held at the Levin College of Urban Affairs, 1717 Euclid Ave., from 4 to 6 p.m. this Thursday. Click here to register. The program is part of the Levin College Forum.
 

A Place 4 Me launches 100 Day Challenge to end youth homelessness

Natasha spent her childhood in the Cleveland foster care system before living with relatives as a teenager. But when she turned 18, her family informed her that she was on her own and had to leave. With $5 and a pack of gum in her pocket, Natasha found herself homeless.

“I was very confused,” Natasha recalls. “It didn’t really hit me that I really had to leave until after I packed my bags. I thought no one really wants me. I felt alone in the world and I felt abandoned.”
 
Natasha turned to Cleveland homeless shelters before ending up in a traditional housing facility on W. 25th Street while she finished high school and got a job at Taco Bell, where the manager took a chance on her with no job experience and made her a team leader.
 
“It was difficult at first, but I managed to do it,” she recalls. “I was eventually able to move out on my own.”
 
Natasha’s story is just one story among many that prompted the creation of  A Place 4 Me in 2014 – an collaborative housed within the YWCA of Greater Cleveland that  harnesses the strengths and resources of more than 30 partners to help youth age 15 to 24 who are at high risk of homelessness, particularly those who age out of foster care.

Earlier this month, A Place 4 Me launched the 100 Day Challenge to house 100 at-risk youth in 100 days. Cleveland is one of only three cities to be chosen by A Way Home America to participate in the challenge and receive coaching and support toward ending youth homelessness from the Rapid Results Institute.
 
The Cleveland challenge team is made up of A Place 4 Me and 12 other organizations focused on youth homelessness. “This is a collaborative in the community concerned with homelessness and youth aging out of foster care,” says Kate Lodge, A Place 4 Me project director. “There are 500 people a year age 18 to 24 in Cleveland in a shelter – 100 people on any given night – and this doesn’t even count the people not showing up.”
 
Approximately 150 people age out of foster care each year in Cleveland, Lodge adds, and 40 percent are likely to experience some kind of housing instability by age 24. The 100 Day Challenge aims to not only house 100 youth in 100 days, but also reinforce the support systems to prevent youth homelessness. The challenge ends on November 14.
 
Cleveland was chosen after a competitive application process. Lodge says 20 cities applied. In addition to Cleveland, Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles were also chosen. Team representatives went to Austin earlier this month for a convening of the three challenge cities.
 
Cleveland's harsh winters, says Lodge, was one of the reasons it was chosen. “In warmer climates there are hordes of youth homeless [on the streets],” she says. “We don’t have that here. We pitched our goal, and planned out strategies. We’re really focused on helping the youth who are in the shelter get out of the shelter," she says. "It’s going to be intense.”
 
The goals include identifying at-risk youth; care coordination; establishing links to available resources; providing a list of types of housing available; and homelessness prevention through planning.
 
“This is building upon something we’ve been working on for two years,” Lodge explains. “This is going to help us get there faster.”
 
As for Natasha, she is currently living at Independence Place, the YWCA of Cleveland’s permanent supportive youth housing facility.
 
Now 24, Natasha has earned her associate’s degree in business from Cleveland State University and will earn her bachelor’s in international business in December. She says the wants to start her own business and employ young people who need a chance at gaining job experience.
 
“I want to open a business that never goes out of style, like childcare, hair care or auto parts,” she says. “Even if cars start flying, they will still need repairs. A lot of job applications say you need two to three years of experience. When you’re 18, 19, you’re not going to have that. I want to hire younger people and give them that experience.”
 
Natasha’s advice to other young people facing homelessness: “It may seem dark right now, but there is going to be light at the end if you keep pushing toward greatness,” she declares. “This challenge is really close to me. I’m really excited for the 100 Day Challenge because I feel like it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”

Edwins campus completes second phase

When De’Anthony Harris was released from Grafton Correctional Institution last October, he had a new outlook on his future. And, thanks to Brandon Chrostowski, owner of EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant  Institute on Shaker Square, Harris also has a second chance at a successful life.

During his eight years in prison Harris, now 27, did everything he could to improve his odds in the outside world. “The best thing that happened to me is I didn’t have kids when I went in,” he says. “The only responsibility was myself. I was blessed that I did the right thing.”
 
Harris enrolled in Chrostowski’s culinary training class at Grafton. He also earned his temporary commercial driver's license (CDL) for truck driving, a certification in pet grooming and any took just about any other workforce training program the prison offered.

EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute
 
Chrostowski opened EDWINS in November 2013. The restaurant employs former inmates in Ohio prisons to teaches them the inside ropes of an upscale French restaurant. EDWINS has graduated 145 students men and women, with another 30 graduating in December. A new class of 30 started on August 8 and will begin working at the restaurant today.
 
In addition to the restaurant, Chrostowski has been busy building the EDWINS Second Chance Life Skills Center in the Buckeye neighborhood to further help his students get a solid fresh start.
 
Edwin is not only Chrostowski’s middle name, it also stands for “Education Wins,” says Chrostowski – the whole mission of the restaurant and the skills center campus.
 
“If we can educate our students to a new reality and maximize their potential and educate our guests on the level of quality of someone coming out of prison,” Chrostowski explains, “then we can educate the men and women in corrections that there is more than a number to [being] a human being and instill hope inside of our prisons.”
 
When phase two of the project is officially completed next week, Harris will serve as the Resident Advisor (RA) in the student housing dormitories on the 20,000-sqaure-foot campus on the corner of South Moreland and Buckeye in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood.
 
After beginning the $1.3 million construction project on the EDWINS campus late last July, Chrostowski has transformed a once-rundown and somewhat abandoned portion of the street into a vibrant neighborhood. The campus's three buildings house an 8,000-square-foot, a three-story dorm, an eight-bedroom alumni house for EDWINS graduates, a fitness room, weight room, library and test kitchen.
 
“No one wanted to partner with us,” Chrostowski says of his early fundraising efforts. But then $1 million came from two anonymous donors and the execution of his vision began. “There’s a need for housing and there’s a need for someone who wants to be better.”
 
 Chrostowski extensively renovated and remodeled the interior spaces and spruced up the exterior with landscaping and freshly painted trim on the exteriors of the red-brick buildings. Much of the material and labor was done at or below cost by area contractors.


 
From the front of the library building, a sign touting "EDWINS" adorns new a glass front. Chrostowski is expecting granite glass tiles to be delivered any day now, sold below cost to EDWINS by Solon-based Granex Industries, which will border the bottom of the front windows. Fir trees in square wooden planters welcome passersby on the street.
 
The building that houses the newly-painted EDWINS library and test kitchen was in disrepair when Chrostowski took ownership of the property. Just 13 months and $480,000 later, thanks to generous donations and fundraising, the building features new plumbing and electrical.
 
“The building was a total wreck,” Chrostowski recalls as he looks around the renovated room, which at one time was filled with garbage and dead animals.
 
“It never seems to stop,” he says of the work required. “Our students needed this. The student is my boss, so they dictate what has to be done. It’s not what I want to get done.”  
 
Bookshelves and eight computers line the library’s walls, each with internet access and all of Chrostowski’s lessons via Grafton’s Hope Channel.
 
The library shelves are already stacked with about 100 culinary books. The collection continues to grow. “I want to build the biggest culinary library in the state,” Chrostowski says, adding that he hopes to accumulate 1,000 books.
 
Adjacent to the library is the test kitchen, with state-of-the-art equipment for the residents to hone their culinary skills and experiment with new recipes. “The dream is to always be around food,” Chrostowski explains of the setup.
 
Down the hall, past administrative offices, are lockers and showers next to an exercise room with workout equipment and a large-screen television, while the basement houses a weight lifting room. Another basement area is filled with donations of household goods, which will be sold in a planned store.
 
Beachwood-based Thomas Brick Company donated 10 pallets of tile for the test kitchen and locker rooms.
 
On the roof of the building are hives with 20,000 Italian honeybees, whose honey is harvested for many of EDWINS’ recipes. Below is a full sized basketball court, a greenhouse and a chicken coop that is home to three chickens. “The greenhouse will be the spring incubator for our summer vegetables,” Chrostowski explains.

Basketball court and mural by local artist Bob Peck at the EDWINS Campus
 
Chrostowski recruited Lakewood artist Bob Peck to paint a mural on the wall abutting the basketball court. Chrostowski hopes to acquire the currently-vacant building from the Cuyahoga Land Bank for a future butcher shop.
 
The dorm houses seven apartment suites with room for about 20 students. The suites feature living areas, bedrooms and, of course, full-equipped kitchens.
 
While phase two is nearly complete, Chrostowski already has his sights set on the next phase of his dream to not only give former convicts a second chance at a productive, fulfilling life, but to revitalize the Buckeye neighborhood.
 
Chrostowski is eying a home just behind the EDWINS campus that he hopes to buy and convert into family housing for students. In addition to the buildings directly next door, he's also watching a couple of buildings down the street that would make good storefronts for a future fish market and butcher shop.

De’Anthony Harris and Brandon Chrostowski
 
With the help of Jones Day, Chrostowski has set up the EDWINS Foundation to cover costs for current and future endeavors.
 
For Harris, the campus feels like home. He’s busy managing the final construction jobs, “giving a helping hand wherever needed and physical labor,” while also enforcing curfews and calming residents’ disputes as a certified mediator. “It works, it really does work,” he says of the mediation skills he learned at Cleveland State.
 
Harris is also continuing his pursuit to be a truck driver, hoping to see more of the country, as he’s never traveled beyond Cleveland. “I’ve never been nowhere,” he says, “I’ll go anywhere they tell me to go.”
 
For now, Harris is quite happy on the EDWINS campus. “People ask me, ‘how did you get that job?’ and I say ‘I educated myself,’” he explains. “You’re not just getting a job, you’re getting a family too. That’s your backbone. I would recommend this program to anyone.”

Bridging the racial divide through art

The Campus District is a divided segment of Cleveland. It is divided by race. It is divided by income. And, since the 1950s, it is an area divided by Interstate 90 and the E. 22nd Street Bridge.

To the north are Cleveland State University and Downtown, full up with a diverse mix of students and business. The Central neighborhood on the southern end is predominantly African American and home to some of the country’s oldest, and once densest, public housing.
 
Like many Cleveland neighborhoods, the construction of highways segmented the communities, creating access to the rest of the region while simultaneously cutting some neighborhoods off. The Central neighborhood is one such example.
 
A group of people who live, work and go to school on either side of the E. 22nd Street bridge have come together to talk about issues of race and prejudice through a collective public art project called A Bridge that Bridges.
 
“We had opportunities for people who wouldn’t talk to each other otherwise about race in the neighborhoods, the different levels of racism,” says Kaela Geschke, Campus District community organizer. “We were crossing lines we wouldn’t have in our daily lives.”


 
The group of 17 participants, led by Geschke, ioby (In Our Own Back Yards), Cleveland action strategist Indigo Bishop and artist Gwen Garth, founder of the Kings and Queens of Art, have met biweekly since last spring to discuss race and racism while designing a community mural.
 
“We are trying to cement that racial divide,” says Garth. “A diverse group of people of different ages, races, walks of life came together to sit down and discuss the levels of racism and create works of art.”
 
Some of the conversations revolved around preliminary painting/planning sessions. “The artwork they are creating is depicting the difference between how we see ourselves versus how others see us,” Geschke says. “We did this early on when talking about interpersonal racism. The [preliminary] images did not end up in the mural but were a stepping stone for conversation. There were a lot of different perspectives, and it was a really good process for everyone.”
 
Over the past weeks, the group has been painting the mural they designed along the E. 22nd Street Bridge. The mural spans 80 feet on both sides of the bridge, yet is only two-and-a-half feet tall.
 
“The mural shows legs of different types of people walking across the bridge on one side,” explains Geschke. “On the west wall it uses words to name the systems and thought patterns that keep racism and segregation in place in the center. Then as it continues out towards the north and south end, [where] the words change into steps that a person can take to address these inequities.”
 
The group has raised more than $1,300 toward its $2,095 ioby fundraising goal. They also received a $5,000 grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and a $500 grant from the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program.
 
The mural will be unveiled on Thursday, Aug. 25 during the Campus District’s E. 22nd Street Festival.
 
But organizers hope that the mural’s completion will not be the end of race discussions in the community. “It cannot be a one-and-done thing,” says Garth. “It took a long time to get there, so it’s going to take a long time to undo it.”
 
Geschke agrees. “People of all races would say race is not a problem,” she says, “but people also say this is just a start. Let’s look ahead and see what can be done. I think this is a good starting point.”

ciCLEvia to roll along West 25th this Saturday

This Saturday, Aug. 13, from 3 to 7 p.m., the new summer program, ciCLEvia, will roll out along West 25th Street. This will be the first of three such events and will feature music, games, food trucks, and free demonstrations of activities including yoga, Zumba, and boxing. While residents are encouraged to glide in on bikes, skates, foot or their wheelchairs, one mode of transportation won't be welcome.
 
Cars.
 
That's right. City officials will close West 25th Street to vehicular traffic from Wade Avenue to MetroHealth Drive – which is nearly a mile – for this family-friendly, age-friendly, and health-focused event. This first ciCLEvia will also coincide with this Saturday's La Placita, an open-air Hispanic market and celebration at the intersection of W. 25th Street and Clark Avenue.
 
Inspired by open street events in Latin America, known as ciclovías, ciCLEvia is a neighborhood-based program that is accessible to residents of all ages and abilities. Organizers hope to attract residents from the adjacent Clark-Fulton, Ohio City, and Tremont neighborhoods, as well as those who just want to spend an afternoon in the city without the usual traffic noise and exhaust.
 
“Open street events like ciCLEvia give people an opportunity to move, play, socialize, and celebrate their communities, while encouraging them to experience streets as a shared public space that serves diverse users,” said event organizer Calley Mersmann in a statement.
 
ciCLEvia will return on Sept. 10 and Oct. 8. The September date will also coincide with La Placita. Street closure and event times will remain the same for the subsequent events.

The series is a signature event of Cleveland’s Year of Sustainable Transportation.
 
ciCLEvia was planned by partners Bike Cleveland, the MetroHealth System, the Cleveland Department of Public Health, the Healthy Cleveland Initiative, Age-Friendly Cleveland, Sustainable Cleveland 2019, and Ward 14. Other partners include the YMCA, Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, the Saint Luke's Foundation, Spindrift and Neighborhood Family Practice. For more information contact Calley Mersmann at 216-512-0253 or email info@ciclevia.com.
 

The basics: May Dugan serves families in need with food, clothing and medical help

Sue Nerlinger likes to keep active. “Sitting around drives me cuckoo,” she says. “I can’t stand sitting around.”

So, when a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 2000 threatened to slow her down, she kept working as an optician for W.A. Jones Optical with University Hospitals until the company closed in 2010.
 
Nerlinger's twins were just 10 years old at the time, and with the job behind her, she needed to get food on the table and was having a hard time making ends meet. She turned to the May Dugan Center’s Basic Needs Program, which provides food, fresh produce and clothing to Cleveland’s west side residents in need.

“That was one of the hardest things for me, to ask for help,” Nerlinger recalls.
 
Since 1969, the program has offered fresh produce at the Ohio City institution from March through October on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, with the addition of non-perishable food and clothing on the fourth Wednesdays.
 
The produce and food comes through a partnership with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Charitable organizations, such as the Hunger Network, St. Mark’s Church and Westlake PTA, also provide assistance and May Dugan accepts donations of household goods and clothing from the public Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
“Our primary goal is getting food in the hands of people who need it,” says May Dugan deputy director Andy Trares. “We have a racially diverse client base and there are folks here from all walks of life. We have younger folks in their 20s and 30s to seniors in their 70s and 80s.”
 
In total, May Dugan serves thousands of families in its 20 distributions in eight months out of the year. For instance, 322 families totaling 909 people were served in July, which is almost 75 more than the center saw in July 2015, says Trares.
 
Even during the parade to celebrate the Cavs wining the NBA championship on June 22, May Dugan was passing out food to 188 families representing 531 people. “While all of Cleveland was loving that we finally won the national championship, we were celebrating too,” says Trares. “But 531 people knew they could come here and get food.”
 
Nerlinger was so grateful for the help she recieved from the center that she became a May Dugan volunteer. “People were so kind to me I decided it was time to give back to the community, to the people who need it,” she says.
 
On distribution days Nerlinger lines everyone up, making sure they each have a ticket for food bags, and chats up the people waiting for services. “I make sure I take the time to listen,” she says. “It doesn’t help to sit and mope about anything, but I can help someone.”
 
Nerlinger has also taken advantage of May Dugan’s health and wellness program, which the center started offering in January 2012 during monthly distributions. Medical personnel from St. Vincent Charity Medical Center offer screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, type II diabetes, HIV and podiatry checks along with educational health seminars and workshops. ExactCare Pharmacy is often on hand to answer any questions about prescription medications.
 
More than 1,800 screenings were performed at May Dugan last year. “There are so many people who need to have their blood pressure checked and don’t because they can’t get to the doctor,” says Nerlinger.
 
In addition to the screenings, volunteers also help clients with health insurance questions about accessing insurance through the healthcare marketplace and enrolling in and navigating Medicaid.
 
A little more than a year ago, May Dugan implemented a senior programming component to its Basic Needs Program by offering craft classes through Benjamin Rose Institute, financial advice from the Ohio Savings Bank branch on Bridge Avenue and W. 25th Street and music therapy programming.
 
The program provides community members with the basic things they need to survive without humiliation and embarrassment. And sometimes May Dugan simply serves as a place where residents can find compassion and friendship.
 
“I go there and I volunteer and I leave there more of the time thinking, ‘I have hardships but I realized how lucky I am,’” says Nerlinger. “I have no reason to complain. My heart goes out to so many of the people there.”

This story is one of a Fresh Water series supported in part by the May Dugan Center.

Two ioby campaigns make waiting for RTA a little more productive, enjoyable

Waiting for the bus is about to get a little more interactive. ioby (In Our Own Backyards), the New York-based organization that uses crowd-funding to turn grassroots neighborhood projects into realities, established Cleveland offices in March and organizers have wasted no time in getting behind worthwhile projects.
 
Two of its latest projects involve public art at RTA shelters and offering riders fitness suggestions while they wait for the bus. The projects are part of ioby’s Trick Out My Trip campaign to improve public transportation in cities nationwide. Cleveland was chosen for two out of 10 total projects across the country.
 
Art Stop
 
At East 22nd Street and Superior Avenue in the Superior Arts neighborhood within the Campus District, a group of artists and residents are working to make the area art-friendly and safer for riders waiting at the bus stop.
 
Art Stop will create a bus shelter to shield residents from the elements while also providing a canvas for public art by a rotating list of artists. Campus District officials hosted a barbeque to get input on what the diverse neighborhood needed and wanted.
 
“People were very excited about this because Superior Avenue has a lot of bus stops, but not a lot of shelters,” says Kaela Geschke, community coordinator for the Campus District. “There are so many artists that live in the neighborhood and this is way to highlight them.”
 
Geschke adds that, with three homeless shelters in the neighborhood, the stop will also provide some shelter from the notoriously windy corridor.
 
The group then turned to Cleveland Institute of Art adjunct professor Sai Sinbondit and his students to design the shelter’s elements. They were charged with keeping the shelter’s functionality while also creating a pleasing environment.
 
The group needs $10,335 to realize all of the features they want in the shelter. So far, they have raised $3,100. If they meet their goal, the bus stop will have Wi-Fi and solar lighting. The Wi-Fi will make it easier for riders to check bus schedules and for the homeless population to research services, Geschke says.
 
“We’re really working hard to create a connection between students, artists and the homeless,” says Geschke. “The artwork will build community and be a way for neighbors to get to know each other.”
 
Bus Stop Moves
 
Bus Stop Moves gets riders exercising while waiting for the bus.
 
The concept was first spearheaded last fall by Allison Lukacsy, an architect and a planner for the city of Euclid, as a pilot program through RTA’s adopt-a-shelter program with MetroHealth System.
 
The program began after a survey of Collinwood residents revealed that people wanted more opportunities to exercise. “Something jumped out at me [in the survey] that people could be healthier and wanted more opportunities to be active,” says Lukacsy.
 
The pilot program involved three bus shelters in Collinwood, in which translucent vinyl adhesive wraps over the shelter walls illustrate simple exercises and health tips. The exercises can be done while sitting or standing and in normal street clothes.
 
“That sort of 20 to 25-minute period between bus rides is the perfect amount of time, physicians will tell you, to get some exercise,” says Lukacsy, who designed and drew all the illustrations.
 
The fitness shelters were so well-received that ioby has partnered with RTA to wrap 10 additional shelters with workout moves in the Central-Kinsman, Slavic Village and Detroit Shoreway neighborhoods.  So far, the group has raised about $500 of the $618 needed to fund the project.
 
The exercises vary at different shelters – some more intense and some more relaxed. For instance, in Collinwood a shelter that has a lot of high school students features more engaging exercises, like jumping jacks, while another shelter features strengthening and stretching exercises.
 
“Some people are willing to break out and dance in public,” says Lukacsy. “But more people are more comfortable doing the strengthening. You could totally drive by and not know someone is doing exercises.”
 
The shelters not only offer a unique way to squeeze in a workout, Lukacsy says it also helps spruce up the neighborhoods. “If you look around, these are older shelters,” she says. “This is a way to not only aesthically improve the look of the shelters, it’s also something to improve people’s health.
 
Both crowdfunding campaigns have until Friday, August 5 to reach their goals. ioby had partnered with New York-based TransitCenter on Trick Out My Trip. The foundation dedicated to improving urban mobility will match the money raised when the campaign ends.

Politico to set up shop on top floor of the Huntington building

Politico, the non-partisan political magazine with a circulation of 33,000 and online resource for all things political reaching 21 million people each month, will set up offices on the top floor of the former Huntington Building, 925 Euclid Ave., for the Republican National Convention next week.

The organization will host live coverage of the convention activities, speakers and other events from Monday, July 18 through Thursday, July 21.
 
“Politico is excited to have our Politico Hub in the historic Huntington building in downtown Cleveland,” says Luiza Savage, editorial director of events. “This is the perfect space to bring our readers and convention goers live programming with the most influential people in politics as well as networking events, watch parties and nightly lounges.” 
 
Led by Politico reporters and editors, around-the-clock Hub programming will include daily Playbook newsmaker interviews, a live convening of the Politico Caucus and policy luncheons as well as performances and other social events to take in the news of the day and watch streaming speeches from the convention floor.

“The Hub will serve as a ‘home base’ for influential convention goers who are looking to work, network, attend our live programming, and watch the convention," says Politico media contact Christyn Lansing. “It’s a place where convention goers can learn more about the most important issues of the day but also relax and have fun.”
 
Lansing says the 925 Euclid building’s proximity to Quicken Loans Arena and sights of the city made the location a prime choice for them.

“We found the Huntington building to be the perfect fit because it's a beautiful, historic building, but also in close proximity to the official venue of the RNC, the Quicken Loans Arena, and will be convenient for Politico readers and convention goers to stop by,” she says, adding that the stunning views from the venue were another draw.
 
Lansing says she expects attendance at Politico events next week to be in the hundreds. The 21st floor, which housed the Mid-Day Club in the 1920s, can accommodate 500 people.
 
The nightly lounge, which will feature cocktails, conversation and live viewing of convention speeches, is free but reservations are required. Other programming requires registration as well.
 
Avi Greenbaum of Florida-based Hudson Holdings bought the 1.4 million-square-foot Huntington building a year ago for $22 million with extensive renovation plans. Terry Coyne, vice chairman of Newark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF), who handled the sale, says complete renovation plans have been postponed until the beginning of 2017 because of the convention.  
 
Coyne says there was a lot of interest in other areas of the building for the convention, and a total of three organizations have rented space. Management is eagerly expecting everyone’s arrival. “Other than making sure that the fire sprinklers work, nothing was needed,” Coyne says of 925 Euclid’s condition. “The building is in good shape.”
 
Coyne says revised plans for the 1.4-million-square-foot building now include 300,000 square feet of office space, a Hilton Curio hotel, 500 apartments and retail offerings.

Hundreds volunteer, build new Fairfax Playspace

When the first intergenerational housing development in Ohio was built in 2014, Griot Village’s 40 units became a safe place in the Fairfax neighborhood for adults aged 55 and older to raise the minor children of whom they had custody.
 
Griot Village has been a success. However, there was one thing missing from the complex: A place for play.
 
To that end, last week, 249 volunteers from Morgan Stanley, Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation (FRDC), Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), KaBOOM!, and community members from area construction companies, universities and churches joined forces to build a playground at Griot Village.
 
“It was awesome,” says Denise VanLeer, executive director of FRDC. “We always wanted to add a play space and garden area.”
 
The volunteers spent time ahead of the build cutting wood and getting everything ready, says VanLeer. Representatives from Whiting-Turner, Lake Erie Electric, Donley’s Construction and Ozanne Construction prepped the lot by removing tree stumps and old fencing and grading and leveling the lot.
 
The volunteers gathered early Wednesday morning to begin construction on "Playspace," a structure that was designed by the kids in Griot Village.
 
“We had a design day in May,” explains VanLeer. “They drew pictures of what they wanted to see there. Of course, they wanted a lot of stuff we couldn’t put in, but they were so excited.”
 
In addition to the brightly-colored equipment in purple, yellow and lime green, the group also installed picnic tables, planters, soccer goals and a rolling, oversized Connect Four game. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank donated vegetable plants for the garden.
 
The whole project, which is wheelchair accessible, was constructed on four housing lots that were specifically reserved for a play area. “We just knew we wanted to transform these lots,” says VanLeer.
 
The Cleveland Clinic, the Food Bank and FRDC made sure everyone was fed during the process.
 
While the structure had to sit for three days to let the concrete base set, the kids were able to get a preview throughout the planning, prep work and construction. “They were so excited, they could peek in through the fence,” says VanLeer.  
 
The crew was so enthusiastic about the work they were doing that they finished the playground an hour early. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held a few minutes before 2 p.m.
 
“It was such an awesome experience,” says VanLeer. “We got there in the morning and you have this vacant lot and you’re done by 1:30.

Morgan Stanley was the national sponsor for the project, while the Cleveland Clinic was the local supporter.
153 Social Innovation Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts