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University Circle : For Good

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endowment fund to boost midtown group's good works

The two square miles of real estate between downtown Cleveland and University Circle are bursting with development. A local nonprofit has established a fund to ensure that work continues to flourish.

On June 20, economic development corporation MidTown Cleveland, Inc. announced the creation of the MidTown Cleveland, Inc. Endowment Fund at the Cleveland Foundation. The fund, under the foundation's guidance, proposes to build a sustainable revenue source to secure continued activity in the burgeoning district. This will include promotion of the health-tech corridor, a three-mile expanse of hospitals, business incubators, educational institutions and high-tech companies situated within MidTown.

The growing tech corridor isn't the only project the fund will support, notes MidTown chairman John Melchiorre. The group plans to leave other "footprints" on the community as well, be they demolishing old buildings, planting flowers along Euclid Avenue or helping transform distressed properties into job-creating enterprises.

"The Cleveland Foundation has been a leading supporter of the revitalization of Midtown, so this is just the latest way our two organizations have joined forces for the betterment of that neighborhood," said Kaye Ridolfi, senior vice president of advancement at the Cleveland Foundation.

Founded by Cleveland businessman Mort Mandel and others some 30 years ago, MidTown Cleveland has helped develop the area into a business district home to 600 companies and 18,000 employees. Executive director Jim Haviland views MidTown as part of the city's renaissance, and believes the fund will sustain the region for decades to come.

"It helps us to continue the role we play" within the neighborhood, says Haviland.

SOURCES: John Melchiorre, Jim Haviland, Kaye Ridolfi
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

'courage fund' created to help cleveland kidnap survivors

The brave escape of three women held captive in a Cleveland home has garnered a philanthropic response from local political and business entities.

The Cleveland Courage Fund was established by Cleveland City Council members Brian Cummins, Matt Zone and Dona Brady to benefit kidnap victims Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Berry's daughter. The funds were set up at the Cleveland Foundation and Key Bank two days after the release of the survivors, and have raised $650,000 to date. The total includes a $50,000 gift from the Cleveland Foundation and a $10,000 donation from Key Bank.

Money can be donated through the foundation's website or at KeyBank branches throughout Northeast Ohio, says Tom Stevens, the bank's vice chair and chief administrative officer. Prospective donors also can mail funds to the Cleveland Courage Fund care of the Cleveland Foundation, 1422 Euclid Ave., Suite 1300, Cleveland, Ohio, 44115.

KeyBank is providing pro bono financial council to the affected women and their families."We hope that through the generosity of the public, we can help these women get the resources they need," Stevens says. "We are delighted to serve as advisors to help ensure that Gina, Michelle and Amanda are able to use the money for their well-being."

Since its inception, the fund has received contributions from all 50 states as well as overseas. Groups including Jones Day, which is providing free legal council to the women, and The Centers for Families and Children are working to get every penny of the donated dollars into the right hands.

"People have been very generous with their contributions," says Stevens.

SOURCE: Tom Stevens
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

providence house's new wellness nursery to take in kids with chaotic home lives

Providence House wants to take some of the strain off local hospitals dealing with non-medical family issues. The solution, believe crisis nursery officials, is a forthcoming facility that will care for children whose households are dealing with emergencies that doctors cannot touch.

It's true that Elisabeth's House -- The Prentiss Wellness Nursery will take in kids with minor medical needs, notes executive Providence House director Natalie Leek-Nelson. But those children might come from such chaotic home situations that even their manageable conditions could blow up into something worse.

"These kids don't have the medical care at home to sustain them, and insurance won't pay for their hospital stays," says Leek-Nelson. A typical wellness nursery client would be a child with diabetes who is not getting the proper insulin treatments living with a drug-addicted or homeless parent.

The model also will offer family support and crisis intervention services for children with family stability concerns. In practice, the operation will allow hospitals to focus on the most serious cases, as children who could otherwise be discharged can now leave the hospitals and be cared for at the wellness nursery. Elisabeth's House is expected to serve newborns to children up to the age of 10.

The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Foundation gave $1 million to Providence House to create the wellness nursery and aid the agency's ongoing campus expansion. The nursery, scheduled to open in September, will be located across the street from the newly expanded "Leo's House" on the Providence House campus at W. 32nd Street.  

SOURCE: Natalie Leek-Nelson
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

future perfect: program to look at the exciting possibilities for university circle

University Circle already holds claim as Cleveland's premier medical, cultural and educational district. But what does the future hold for the rich, square-mile enclave and the neighborhoods around it?

"Building the Circle 2035: Height, Density and Social Equity" will attempt to answer that question during a free panel discussion on April 10 in the Cleveland Museum of Art's Gartner Auditorium. The program is part of the Circle Neighbors lecture series sponsored by the art museum's Womens Council in collaboration with the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Women's Committee of The Cleveland Orchestra, and the Western Reserve Historical Society.

University Circle is an ever-active neighborhood of "arts, ed and med," says Circle Neighbors co-chair Sabrina Inkley. With development on the rise, the district just four miles east of downtown Cleveland has become an anchor for a city that certainly needs one.

"As Clevelanders we have this inferiority complex," says Inkley. "University Circle is the one of the most unique one-square-mile areas in the nation."

The panel talk, moderated by Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt, will peer two decades into the future to imagine what University Circle might look like, and how the district's rising wealth could benefit struggling surrounding neighborhoods. Panelists will include Chris Ronayne of UCI Inc, developer Ari Maron of MRN Ltd. and India Pierce Lee of the Cleveland Foundation.

Inkley doesn't have all the answers, but she knows University Circle is an enormous linchpin for Cleveland's economic future. New rental apartments and various institutions constructing new facilities are just two examples of the growth taking place.

"It's just very exciting," Inkley says. "There is something for everyone here."

SOURCE: Sabrina Inkley
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

restaurant program teaches culinary arts to area's underprivileged

"Ever dream of running your own restaurant as an executive chef, pastry chef or sommelier?"

That is the question asked by leaders of EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute. Fulfilling that dream would be a challenge for most anyone, but what about a person reentering society after incarceration?

Hoping to provide the answer is Brandon Chrostowski, general manager, sommelier and fromanger at L'Albatros restaurant. He is also founder of EDWINS, a Cleveland nonprofit providing free restaurant training to underprivileged adults. The 26-week program teaches cooking methods, pastry techniques, food pairings, nutrition and other facets that come with the culinary arts.

Ohio's recidivism rate stands at about 30 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Chrostowski, 33, believes these numbers reflect the lack of opportunities available for ex-inmates.

"There's no guidance and no jobs out there," he says. "Our goal is to provide these people with a skill and a solid path."

Students are rotated through every station of a restaurant, providing them with a variety of skills and real-world experience. Over the last two years, the program has assisted about 30 graduates in finding employment as line cooks, dishwashers and servers. Some students have already been promoted from these entry-level positions.

Chrostowski hit his own "rough patch" a decade ago, and was able to go back to school and hone his culinary craft. The restaurateur wants others to have the same opportunity he did. EDWINS' ultimate goal is to open a restaurant staffed entirely by program graduates.

"Everyone deserves a second shot," Chrostowski says. "This is a chance for people to change their lives."
SOURCE: Brandon Chrostowski
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

program connects students with opportunities in own backyard

During the mid-2000s, local newspapers ran stories with evocative phrases like "quiet crisis" and "brain drain" in lamenting the flight of young, talented minds from Cleveland.

Bob Yanega saw those negative headlines, too, and decided he wanted to do something about it. Yanega, a self-professed "serial entrepreneur" with a background in commercial construction and real estate, is the creator of Choosing Success Programs, a Cleveland-centric advocacy project aimed at area high school students.

The program provides live, in-school presentations showing students how to connect with the opportunities right in their own backyard. The goal is to motivate youth to become passionate, lifelong residents of Northeast Ohio.

"Many kids don't have parents who expose them to what's great here," says Yanega, of Larchmere. "We need to sell Cleveland to young people."

Yanega has been giving Choosing Success talks at local high schools for the last 18 months. Along with providing students with tips on college and career choices, he also mixes in a "sales pitch" about Cleveland, pointing to the city's affordability, increasing job rate and wealth of cultural options.

Choosing Success, under the umbrella of its parent organization The 1990 Project, recently received a boost as one of the winners of The Cleveland Colectivo's fast- pitch presentation event. The program now has a chance to get some much-needed funding from the giving circle, and Yanega believes his brainchild is worth it.

"We're presenting facts about the city," Yanega says. "Keeping the next generation in town is a powerful, broad-based message."

SOURCE: Bob Yanega
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

county vote-off secures grants for two large-scale arts projects

Cuyahoga County residents have picked which two large-scale projects will get funding through the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) Creative Culture Grants competition.

* Dancing Wheels received $130,421 for a television documentary that will expand on the dance company's performance of the multi-media ballet, Dumbo. The film will explore issues of bullying and social injustice using the life stories of artists and community figures.

* LAND studio was awarded $150,000 to fund a multi-faceted light installation illuminating public spaces in downtown Cleveland.

Both projects were selected by 6,500 county residents in a public voting process held February 1-20. The winning arts programs, scheduled for completion in 2014, were chosen from a list of six finalists selected by an independent panel of arts and culture experts.

Officials from competition sponsor CAC were pleased by the voter turnout, and believe the winning projects will engage the region in creative ways.

"All six finalists had a different spin on how to connect arts and culture to the community," says CAC executive director Karen Gahl-Mills. "The two winners did a great job of reaching out to the general public."

CAC's pilot voting program revealed just how much creativity exists in the area, Gahl-Mills maintains. "It was delightful to see it come forward in new, exciting ways," she says.

The nonprofit is now assessing the program for possible future iterations. Gahl-Mills is not certain CAC will put on an annual public vote, but she can certainly envision county residents stuffing the ballot boxes for future arts projects.

"It's a great investment of public dollars," she says. "It isn't just the organizations that win; the community wins, too."

SOURCE: Karen Gahl-Mills
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

county residents have a vote in how cac will award $300k in arts funding

Northeast Ohio has a vibrant arts and culture ecosystem, so why not let its patrons be directly involved in growing that environment?

This was a question asked by nonprofit Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) when putting to a public vote which large-scale arts or culture projects will receive funding through the organization's new Creative Culture Grants program.

Starting February 1, voters will be able to pick two winning arts projects from a list of six finalists chosen by an independent panel of arts and culture experts. The project finalists, among them a multi-media ballet led by Dancing Wheels, a multi-faceted light installation from LAND studio, and a community-wide arts collaboration between Cleveland's East and West sides, were chosen based on their creativity and prospective ability to impact thousands of Cuyahoga County residents.

"We wanted something that would be a stretch for these groups; something they may not have tried otherwise," says CAC executive director Karen Gahl-Mills.

The winning projects will get up to $150,000 each through the nonprofit's grants program. County residents can vote in two ways: Online up until 11:59 p.m. EST on February 20 or by mail until 4:30 p.m. EST February 15. Paper ballots will be available for download or by calling 216-515-8303. CAC will announce the winning projects on February 25. The chosen projects will take place between March 2013 and August 2014.

Gahl-Mills views the vote as the public's opportunity to have a real say as to where community dollars are going.

"Any of the six projects can be terrific for the region," she says. "We want the community to help make that decision."

SOURCE: Karen Gahl-Mills 
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

cpac roundtable asks how arts can foster sustained economic prosperity for cleveland

Arts and culture can define a community, creating a critical mass that translates into jobs, business opportunities and, ideally, sustained economic prosperity. These were the words of Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium Initiative (NEOSCC) director Hunter Morrison during a January 25 roundtable hosted by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC).

These also are words that CPAC president and CEO Tom Schorgl likes to hear. The focus of the roundtable event was sustainability, and how the arts and culture community can assist the region as it evolves through population and land use shifts. The local arts sector becoming engaged in these issues can help keep Northeast Ohio resilient, vibrant and sustainable, said Morrison, a notion that the CPAC president shares.

"We have cultural clusters throughout the region, and the ability to communicate on a larger basis with the population about those clusters," says Schorgl. "We need to continue to reach our audience."

The roundtable, which drew over 50 attendees to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's main gallery, was CPAC's first such event of the year. The nonprofit will sponsor similar forums through November, with an overall aim of connecting the arts and culture realm with professionals from sectors including community development and health and human services. Past roundtable speakers have included Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon, and City of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.

"The idea is to provide a forum for new ideas around a common cause," Schorgl says.

SOURCE: Tom Schorgl
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

foundation looks to transform masonic space into technologically advanced media center

The imposing brick structure of the Cleveland Masonic and Performance Arts Center (CMPAC) has stood in Midtown Cleveland for a century. A local charity seeking to purchase the building sees a unique opportunity to harness CMPAC's historic legacy and create something new and distinctive. 

The Mason Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization structured "to promote the arts and academic excellence in Northeast Ohio," is working to buy the facility, which it would refurbish into a technologically advanced media center while also improving the performance space.

"We want to elevate the entire community," says foundation founder Gregory Mason, pointing to CMPAC's Midtown location as virtually equidistant to downtown and University Circle.

The foundation is now involved in engineering and architecture surveys on the site. The building's current owner is the Cleveland chapter of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, and Mason believes his organization will be ready to purchase the facility before the end of the year.

The centerpiece of the new venture is the "Towne Hall," a 24/7 data center and public space participants can use to access civic and library resources. Other plans include renovating CMPAC's "acoustically perfect" performance space, while the building would also host creative arts classes. Current tenants like the American Red Cross would remain and could even benefit from Mason Foundation backing, says the organization founder.

"We want to help nonprofits reach some of the resources they can't access now," Mason says.

Restoration will cost $30 million, a figure Mason hopes to accrue through grants, donors and private investors. The cost is worth it to unite civic, academic and arts resources in one place, Mason believes.
SOURCE: Gregory Mason
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

attorney-run group offers artists free access to legal services

The legal and arts world don't seem like a natural pair, barring the occasional tabloid story about a drug-addled starlet backing her BMW into a police car.

The Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Committee (VLA) is bringing those realms together in a more positive fashion by providing the local arts community information about the law as well as free access to legal services.

VLA, a committee of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, refers low-income artists and arts organizations to lawyers for pro bono legal representation, gives informational talks to artists and arts groups, and presents legal seminars to lawyers regarding the arts.

In other words, if an artist needs legal advice about starting a nonprofit arts organization, protecting a copyright, or even forming a band, he or she can turn to VLA, says chairman Todd Masuda, an attorney with Schneider, Smeltz, Ranney & LaFond.

"It's by-need legal work," Masuda says. "Our attorneys will review applications and determine if they meet our criteria" of financial need and relation to the arts.

VLA recently gave a talk to lawyers at the new MOCA. The organization is planning a spring seminar for artists on nonprofit formation issues and health insurance options for the underemployed. 

Steve Day, a VLA volunteer and attorney with Calfee, Halter & Griswold, believes the arts-law connection is an important one for Cleveland.

"If you want an attractive city, you need a lively, vibrant arts community," says Day. "We're helping artists navigate legal roadblocks that would be too expensive for them to handle otherwise."

SOURCE: Todd Masuda, Steve Day
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

cim campaign fulfills wish lists for young cleveland-area musicians

The national #GivingTuesday movement has a mission to create a day of giving at the start of the holiday season. The Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) is taking that one day and expanding it well beyond the holidays in support of the next generation of classical musicians.

On November 27, in conjunction with #GivingTuesday, CIM launched an eight-week campaign to fund the training of students at the Cleveland School of the Arts (CSA). The school enrolls over 700 students in grades sixth through 12. Part of the curriculum covers instrumental music, hence donors are encouraged to give not only monetary contributions, but also fulfill a "wish list" of much-needed musical instruments, accessories and books to the school and its students.

"We wanted to make this about giving, so there's no goal or amount we're looking for," says Karin Stone, CIM's vice president of institutional advancement.

The official campaign ends January 22, culminating with a Black Heritage Concert on January 27 at CIM's Kulas Hall. The music school will present CSA with the collected contributions during the concert event.

CIM staff, faculty and students regularly work with their peers at CSA, says Stone. Last spring, the schools combined their talents for a concert that was "an amazing experience" for both entities.

CIM's grassroots fundraising effort will ensure there will be more such concerts in the future, Stone says.

"Whatever we get the kids, they will be excited," she says. "We have a long-running relationship with CSA, and this is one more way to enhance it."

SOURCE: Karin Stone
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

'gardens that teach' contest imparts to local students the importance of healthy eating

A school garden is a real, living world, a type of lab that offers teachers a way to embed creativity, collaboration and love for nature into their curriculum, believes Carlton Jackson, a farmer, self-described "food evangelist" and proprietor of Tunnel Vision Hoops, a provider of hoop houses that allow for year-round food production.
The Cleveland-based company is offering Cuyahoga County public school students grades K-8 a chance to win a hoop house for their school. The Gardens that Teach contest, which runs through February, asks students a series of questions about the preparation, construction and maintenance of a theoretical school garden. Answers will be reviewed by a panel of experts from the realms of food policy, botany and community gardening.
The winning school will receive the greenhouse-like hoop house, while the other participants will learn about the benefits of plants, year-round gardening and healthy eating, says Jackson. "We wanted kids to use their math skills," he adds. For example, "how many pounds of tomatoes can they get? What will the do with the food once it's grown?"
Hoop houses provide a high-temperature environment that protects crops from strong winds, cold and frost, allowing fruits and vegetables to grow during gardening's so-called "off-season," Jackson says.
The concept also is in line with the city's Sustainable Cleveland 2019 project, a movement that in part aims to increase the percentage of locally produced food. Mayor Frank Jackson also proclaimed October 24 to be Food Day, a national venture with the overriding objective of "eating real" and promoting healthy diets among the population.
The Gardens That Teach contest is certainly a nourishing exercise for Northeast Ohio's young students, says Jackson.
"There's a wonderment in watching something grow," he says. "If we can kids back to that, it would be a beautiful thing."

SOURCE: Carlton Jackson
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

cleveland bike advocates make push for bike-sharing network

That's no crass come-on, but rather an effort to advocate for a Cleveland-based bike-sharing network that has become popular in a number of U.S. cities. For a small fee, bike sharing allows patrons to rent a bike at self-service sites scattered about a city, then return the bike to another site.
Cleveland's Office of Sustainability recently issued a request to conduct a feasibility and implementation study on the service. Minneapolis, Chicago and Chattanooga, Tenn., are among the cities that have recently launched a bike-sharing network.
The local push is being fronted by Bike Cleveland, a group that advocates for the rights of the local cycling community. Earlier this year, the organization teamed with University Circle Inc. and other groups to form a Bike Share Task Force.
By providing greater access to bikes, bike-share programs can help increase the number of people biking, decrease the amount of pollutants in the air and improve community health, says Jacob VanSickle, executive director of Bike Cleveland.

"The city has stepped up," he says of the effort. "We have to determine the model that would work in Cleveland."
VanSickle would like to see bike-sharing docks placed at locations with high-density populations and job rates, including rapid stations, Public Square, college campuses and the Cleveland Clinic. The bikes would typically be used for short trips -- an office worker taking a bus to Public Square, for example, could use the automated bike station instead of taking another bus to his ultimate destination.
Trips of less than 30 minutes would be free of charge. Those using the service more frequently could pay $50 to $70 become annually. They would be charged a fee for treks longer than a half hour.
Promoting bike sharing is part of creating a culture that makes a city more attractive, says VanSickle. Along with the bike-sharing program, Bike Cleveland has been advocating for bike lanes and other cycling-friendly amenities. The group plans to keep the wheels turning until more progress is made.
"Cities with the bike-sharing program are seen as more livable and friendly," says VanSickle. "That's something we can gain from in Cleveland."

SOURCE: Jacob VanSickle
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

beachland owner launches new nonprofit to preserve and promote city's rock scene

The way Beachland Ballroom owner Cindy Barber sees it, Cleveland's music glory days are far from over. Yet our music scene could use some better amplification. That's why Barber has created a new nonprofit, Cleveland Rocks: Past, Present and Future, to preserve the legacy of the city's rock-and-roll history while also promoting and shaping its future.

"The past is the legacy project of capturing Cleveland music history, the present is documenting what's happening now, and the future is figuring out what we need to do to grow it," says Barber. "There's already a huge amount of music business here. We need to take stock of what we have and what we're missing."

Barber cites music business startups like Gotta Groove Records, Fortune Drums, Audio Technica and Dr. Z Amplification as success stories. She also wants to highlight the local bands that are touring and getting signed nationally.

"The plan is to create a website to highlight the bands that are getting attention," she says. "If they're out touring the world, they can bring that energy back to share with other people in Cleveland and grow the music business here."

To kick off the project, Barber and others are organizing a series of live interviews with local legends that played a role in Cleveland music history. The first event is scheduled to place on Saturday, November 3rd at 1 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom. Tickets cost $15 and include lunch and the opportunity to participate as Larry Bruner, former booking manager for the 1960s folk music venue La Cav, is interviewed by Steve Traina, DJ for the WCSB radio show "Steve's Folk."

Future plans include working with the Rock Hall to preserve oral histories and promote live music, helping musicians identify investment sources for growing their bands or recording albums, and marketing the music industry here.

"All the clubs that came together as part of the Cleveland Music Coalition [to challenge the city's admissions tax] are part of this," says Barber. "We want to use the nonprofit to support what they're doing to create live music in Cleveland."

Source: Cindy Barber
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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