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'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

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

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

'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

two cleveland arts groups to host roundtable with county exec fitzgerald

Cleveland's arts community is fortunate that so many local political leaders understand the impact their creativity has on the community, maintains Karen Gahl-Mills, executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC).
 
The relationship is a solid one, but there's no harm in reminding local officials that regional dream makers want to be part of the broader conversation when it comes to economic development in Northeast Ohio. In that spirit, CAC is co-hosting a free roundtable discussion featuring Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. The event, which CAC is anchoring with the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), will take place Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the Idea Center’s Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre.
 
During the discussion, FitzGerald will share the city's "Western Reserve Plan" for revitalizing the region. Plan initiatives include welcoming immigrants to the community and designing a locally run wellness education program. While these issues aren't directly related to the arts, Cleveland's cultural sector appreciates having an engagement with government, says Gahl-Mills.
 
"This roundtable is part of our role to strengthen the community and make it a more vibrant place for artists to come to together," says the leader of the arts grantmaking organization.
 
Following the presentation, attendees will be invited to participate in an interactive Q&A session. The FitzGerald roundtable is the third such event CAC has held with CPAC, with an audience usually comprised of leaders from both the political and cultural spheres.
 
"It's about what we can do to further the county's agenda," Gahl-Mills says. "How can we be part of the conversation?" 
 
The intersection of arts and the economy can relate to anything from public artwork in neighborhoods like Tremont and Ohio City to artists working with suburban leaders on various projects, says CPAC president and CEO Tom Schorgl.
 
Events like the FitzGerald roundtable "gives the arts community a dialogue with local leaders," says Schorgl. "It leads to better understanding on both sides."
 
CAC, meanwhile, is expected to invest $14 million in the arts community over the next year, a reflection of benefits like job creation and neighborhood revitalization inherent in a community's overall growth.
 
"We're lucky we have enlightened leadership that understands what the arts can do," says Gahl-Mills.

Click here for event info.
 

Source:Karen Gahl-Mills
Writer: Douglas Guth

'great run so far' for new united way cleveland president bill kitson

Bill Kitson's first four months as new president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland haven't been about making dramatic, sweeping changes within the organization. More like internal tinkerings as Kitson continues with the getting-to-know-you phase of his tenure in Cleveland.
 
Kitson took the position in June after seven years with the United Way of Greater Toledo as well as stops in New York, Connecticut and Illinois. He replaced K. Michael Benz, who was the nonprofit's president and CEO in Cleveland for 17 years.
 
The Rhode Island native and married father of two has spent his time so far listening to the worries and aspirations of his new community. "It's been a great run so far," Kitson says. "Cleveland has been welcoming and generous with its time and thoughts."
 
Kitson has been overseeing the Cleveland United Way's annual campaign for health and human services since it kicked off in August. The campaign has raised $20.8 million to date and is more than half way to achieving its $41 million goal, he says.
 
On the policy front, United Way is putting its support behind the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's 15 mill levy that will appear on ballots this November. The levy's failure will lead to a district deficit and staff cuts, both of which would be detrimental to United Way's mission, Kitson notes.
 
"We can't fund youth programs in the city without education," says the organization president. "These kids are critically important."
 
Kitson was also on hand in September when United Way added sexual orientation to its equal opportunity and diversity policy. The new policy, which encompasses United Way and its partner groups, led the organization to discuss pulling its funding from Boy Scouts of America after the group reaffirmed its prohibition of openly gay youth and adults.
 
The $100,000 that United Way gives to a Boy Scouts' inner city youth program could be impacted by his charitable organization's policy shift, Kitson says. However, United Way will still accept contributions designated for the Boy Scouts.
 
"We want to stand up for everyone in our community," he says of the decision. "We can still be partners [with the Boy Scouts] and do some great work."
 
In a more global sense, United Way will continue to fine tune its mission statement, Kitson says. That could mean encouraging donors to further involve themselves in an advocacy role, or finding more creative ways to deploy resources.
 
"We're not satisfied with where we are," says Kitson. "We're always asking ourselves how we can change the community and create a better life for all."

 
Source: Bill Kitson
Writer: Douglas J. Guth

support of youth development, arts and culture among new cleveland foundation grants

If children and the arts are two of a community's most precious commodities, then the Cleveland Foundation has got Northeast Ohio covered.

As part of an overall grantmaking surge totaling $21.6 million in grants to local nonprofit organizations, the foundation has authorized monies to separate programs focusing on youth development and arts and culture.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland received $250,000 to expand its reach, says foundation executive vice president Bob Eckardt. The grant will support after-school and summer activities at various club locations. It will also fund a development campaign seeking to raise money for general programming.

"We recognize that Cleveland's youth need more than just schools," says Eckardt. "There's a need for high-quality out-of-school programming."

On the cultural side of the slate, Cleveland Foundation continued its support of two capital campaigns in the arts - Gordon Square Arts District and the Power of Three: Allen Theatre Project. Each program was granted $250,000, bringing the foundation’s support for both campaigns to the $1 million level.

The Gordon Square district on Cleveland's West Side acts as an economic catalyst for the surrounding community, says Eckardt. The foundation's funding will solely be used for renovation of the Cleveland Public Theatre.

The Power of Three: The Allen Theatre Project, meanwhile, is a partnership among Cleveland State University, PlayhouseSquare and Cleveland Play House to build Allen Theatre into a multivenue performing arts and education complex.

Supporting the two arts programs was an easy call for the foundation. "Arts and culture is one of our strengths," Eckardt says, pointing to the thriving arts' enclaves in University Circle, downtown Cleveland and elsewhere. "It's part of our brand as a community and plays into or economic development strategy as a region."

 
SOURCE: Bob Eckardt
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

attorney general holder touts united way help line during cleveland high school event

A parent can cover their child's eyes when there is violence on television, but who will do that for a child when they're exposed to real-life trauma? That is the question United Way is answering with its 2-1-1 community access line, a 24-hour help number that's part of Cuyahoga County’s Defending Childhood initiative.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder and Cuyahoga County Executive Edward FitzGerald hosted a news conference September 28 at Martin Luther King Jr. High School to announce a $2 million Justice Department grant that will aid Defending Childhood programs including the community access line.

The phone line is manned by United Way staff members. These trained staffers determine if Defending Childhood services can help a child who has witnessed violence or experienced trauma. Diagnosing and treating children who have lived through violence can be a significant step in helping them avoid trouble later in life, says Stephen Wertheim, president/CEO of United Way.

 "The trauma a kid goes through can impact their function in society," Wertheim says. "We're trying to get to these problems at the root."

While at the high school event, Holder participated in a round-table discussion with students and teachers. He later met with a group of law enforcement officers and social workers that were also on hand.

The impact of violence on children has reached "national crisis" proportions, Holder told the audience during the Sept. 28 conference. Assessing and screening the young people victimized by violence must take precedence over merely prosecuting those perpetrating the trauma.

Studies have shown how post-traumatic stress can negatively effect children, says FitzGerald. 

"If a child witnesses horrific acts of violence, they're more likely to be involved in the justice system themselves," says the county executive. Through a preventative measure like the 2-1-1 help line, "the idea is to increase public safety rather than just incarcerating everyone."

 
SOURCE: Stephen Wertheim, Ed FitzGerald
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

creative fusion brings global artists to cleveland to leave lasting impression

For the next three months, artists from Sri Lanka, India, Armenia, Mexico and Chile will bring their talents, experiences and cultures to Cleveland through The Cleveland Foundation's international artist-in-residence program, Creative Fusion.

"The Cleveland Foundation does have a globalization agenda for Cleveland, and we think it's important for Clevelanders to see the city as a global, international city and that the rest of the world see us that way, too," says Kathleen Cerveny, Director of Institutional Learning and Arts Initiatives for the foundation. "The arts are a great tool to promote international understanding and exchange."

Creative Fusion brings in five international artists for a three-month stay in Cleveland. The program has been in the pilot phase for the last three years, and this year's roster of artists represents a complete relaunch for the initiative.

"Traditionally, arts organizations will bring in international artists, but there's very little lasting impact," says Cerveny. "We wanted to bring artists here for a longer period of time, especially cultures that are not represented in Cleveland."

While Creative Fusion artists are embedded within a cultural organization, they are required to complete community engagement activities and interact with the local artistic community. Cerveny says that the artists have gotten right to work.

"There's an Indian choreographer at the Rainey Institute who has been here a week and a day, and he's already taught two classes at Hathaway Brown and worked with inner-city kids at Rainey. This program has a significant impact."

Many of the artists consider Cleveland "a second home" after living here, she adds.

The artists are being hosted by Inlet Dance Theatre, Rainey Institute, Trinity Cathedral, Young Audiences and Zygote Press. More information about the Creative Fusion artists can be found on the Cleveland Foundation's website.


Source: Kathleen Cerveny
Writer: Lee Chilcote

saint luke's foundation eyes greater impact with narrower but deeper grantmaking strategy

Like many foundations, the Saint Luke's Foundation in Cleveland has emerged from the recession with a narrower yet deeper approach to grantmaking. Beginning this year, the foundation has eschewed responsive grantmaking for targeted grants in three primary areas: health, communities and families.

"This year our foundation turned 15, and as we thought about what our successes had been and how to serve the community in the best way possible, there was interest in focusing more narrowly," says LaTida Smith, Vice President of Programming, Outcomes and Learning at the foundation.

The change has been both challenging and rewarding. "This year, we're narrowing and doing responsive grantmaking at the same time," says Smith. "There are some projects we've funded in the past that we won't be able to fund anymore, and even though we've narrowed to three areas, those challenges are still broad."

One area where Smith says the foundation has been innovative and successful is in advancing the understanding of community health. The Cuyahoga County Board of Health was awarded a grant to develop its capacity to complete health impact assessments -- basically, determinations of how planning and redevelopment decisions impact neighborhood health -- while the "Place Matters" speaker series at the City Club prompted a broad discussion of place-based health disparities.

Examples of the foundation's changed grantmaking strategy include an increased emphasis on strengthening families -- as opposed to simply helping kids or adults in isolation -- and a strong commitment to the neighborhoods around the former Saint Luke's Hospital (Buckeye, Larchmere and Shaker Square in particular).


Source: LaTida Smith
Writer: Lee Chilcote

roots of american music brings music education into low-income schools

When musician educators with Roots of American Music hold workshops in Cleveland public schools, it almost goes without saying that they are entering a place that doesn't have a full-time music teacher. Most cannot afford to hire full-time music staff, so they rely on part-time faculty and visiting artists.

The 14-year-old nonprofit organization educates more than 15,000 individuals throughout Northeast Ohio each year, teaching social studies, financial literacy and health education through music.

"We do a lot of songwriting about topics that are important to kids," says Kevin Richards, ROAM's Director. "They work with authentic artist-educators who not only can teach but are also bluesmen, Cajun zydeco artists or rappers."

Richards likens ROAM's educational approach to parents who disguise healthy foods to get their kids to eat them. In general, the artists have little trouble convincing kids to participate. "Kids don't realize they're getting an academic message at the same time as they're fooling around with traditional music."

ROAM's curriculum has changed as educational goals have evolved. When Richards created the organization, the focus was on teaching social studies. Today, such staple courses are supplemented with programs about financial literacy and health education (the latter is in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic).

One popular program called "On the Move" teaches students in the Central neighborhood of Cleveland about migration patterns throughout history. Students learn the song "Kansas City" and change the lyrics to fit their family's story.

Roots of American Music will host its 13th annual Benefit for Education on Saturday, October 6th at the Beachland Ballroom. Multi-award-winning Austin singer-songwriter Guy Forsythe is the headliner. The tickets are $125 for VIP access including dinner and preferred seating, or $15 for the concert only.


Source: Kevin Richards
Writer: Lee Chilcote
52 Playhouse Square Articles | Page: | Show All
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