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Chess program a checkmate for Northeast Ohio students, says founder

Chess is a game that crosses racial, language and socioeconomic barriers, say its players and proponents. South Euclid resident Mike Joelson is doing his part to teach the millennia-old tradition to thousands of Northeast Ohio students.
 
Joelson is founder of Progress With Chess (PWC), an organization that offers after-school programs and camp-based instruction to 50 regional K-12 schools, reaching about 2,500 students annually. In harnessing a mission to improve the lives of area children and teenagers, PWC works with private schools as well as students from Cleveland's inner-ring suburbs and inner-city.
 
"We serve the entire spectrum of the community," says Joelson, a card-carrying national chess master who founded PWC as a nonprofit in 2000.
 
After-school sessions are held one hour per week. Though hourly instruction costs $9 per class, PWC also offers free programming to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), paid through foundational and corporate grants.
 
"We have more demand than we can fill," says Joelson. "We're always looking for additional funding to help us serve more schools."
 
Chess skill level doesn't matter, as PWC takes on everyone from newbies to more seasoned players. 

"Students are divided into groups based on their age and skills," Joelson says. "We start off showing what the pieces do and how to play a legal game. More advanced students are taught advanced strategies and checkmate patterns."
 
Young chess charges are taught by two dozen independent contractors, some of them tournament veterans themselves. PWC instructors will be out in force this summer at chess camps in Beachwood, Parma, Westlake, CMSD's Patrick Henry School and elsewhere.
 
Joelson, who continues to play chess competitively on a local, state and national level, says the grand game embraces higher-level thinking abilities like pattern recognition and strategic planning, along with the critical life lessons of sportsmanship and perseverance.
 
"Every move you make has consequences, similar to life," says Joelson. "If you lose you're cool early, you'll keep that habit for the rest of the game."
 
Chess - and by extension PWC - is also a wonderful vehicle for exposing young people to those of different backgrounds.
 
"Multicultural and multiracial players are sitting in the same tournament and having a dialogue," says Joelson. "It's a win for everyone." 

StartMart entrepreneur hub to welcome community during open house

StartMart, Flashstarts’ 35,000-square-foot coworking space in the Terminal Tower, is opening its doors next month to welcome the community to explore the budding entrepreneurial hub.
 
StartMart's open housescheduled for July 12 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., will show off a startup atmosphere that pools Cleveland's business incubators and accelerators into one continuously buzzing space, says community manager Anna Buchholz.
 
Hub officials hope to draw 300 guests for the event, guiding them through a collaborative environment designed to propel participants to success. Early returns have been positive, at least in terms of filling StartMart to capacity since its founding last September by serial entrepreneur Charles Stack.
 
About 140 individual tenants representing 30 different companies - among them We Can Code ITWheedleHandelabra Games and <remesh - are utilizing StartMart's prime downtown space, which is also bolstered by meetups, startup training and hackathon events.
 
"We want to show how much we've grown," says Buchholz. "Back in September we didn't even have furniture in half the space."
 
Although you can sign up for a waiting list, every one of StartMart's 250-square-foot private offices, called "startpods," is occupied by new companies including a full-service design agency and a variety of tech-related enterprises. Desk space is also available to entrepreneurs via a fee-based per-person monthly membership upon which StartMart has built its model.
 
"It's not just tech," says Buchholz. "We have a CPA, an attorney and other types of businesses here."
 
Since its launch, the hub has added a 3D printer and bike racks to its second-floor location at Terminal Tower. In addition, six to 10 companies that started out at a desk have since moved into private offices, a strong measure of success for a business-building effort only eight months old, says Buchholz, adding that she is confident the venture's popularity will continue to rise as members spread the word to other entrepreneurs searching for a home.

StartMart has even created enough momentum for organizers to consider expanding the hub to an additional floor
 
"We could add another 25,000 square feet," she says. "Everything took off so fast; we could accommodate so many more businesses with that extra space."

Local teen heads to high seas for research, experience

Crista Kieley, a senior from the Beaumont School in Cleveland Heights has been selected as a 2016 Honors Research Program student by the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) to sail aboard exploration vessel (E/V) Nautilus during one of the ship's 2016 Exploration Program expeditions, which offer participants hands-on experience in ocean exploration, research, and communications.
 
"It's going to be a challenging opportunity," says Kieley. "There's going to be a lot of work involved, but I'm excited because I know we're going to learn a lot."
 
She leaves for Rhode Island on July 9, where she'll be one of eight high school seniors from across the country at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) engaging in a four-week academic summer program followed by one week aboard the 211-foot Nautilus. Students will live at URI and will work with scientists, engineers, and science communicators in a program that highlights the interdisciplinary nature of ocean science and exploration.
 
"In Rhode Island, we're going to be doing some workshops and work with ocean drifters, which are used to measure currents," says Kieley, "and on the vessel, we'll be doing data logging."
 
Upon completing the dockside portion of the program, the students will become members of the Corps of Exploration on the Nautilus. The 2016 cohort includes 22 students and 17 educators from around the world that were selected by the OET from a competitive pool of applicants hailing from educational and non-profit organizations in twenty states across America and Australia. Their participation in the program is part of OET's mission to explore the ocean by seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, physics, and chemistry while pushing the boundaries of STEM education and technological innovation. Kieley's Nautilus adventure is one of several expeditions from May through September in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
 
The group will explore the California Margin, a broad area off the coast of California in that is crisscrossed by seismically active faults. Kieley and her peers will stand watch alongside scientists and engineers. They'll also participate in live interactions with shore-based audiences via Nautilus Live, a 24-hour web portal by which landlubbers can keep track of the action. The group will also communicate via social media including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
 
This is not the University Heights native's first multi-day mission amid the waves. She has twice participated in the Rotary Club of Cleveland's Youth Empowered to Succeed though Sailing program – Project YESS. As a "novice" in a 2014 and "ambassador" in 2015, she sailed the Great Lakes aboard the tall ship S/V Dennis Sullivan.
 
"It was not only sail training," says Kieley of her time on the Sullivan. "We did a lot of water quality testing while we were out there."
 
Even with that experience under her belt, she admits she's harboring a little trepidation regarding the forthcoming trip on the massive state-of-the-art Nautilus research vessel.
 
"I'm just nervous because it's doing something I've never done before," she says, adding nonetheless that she is excited to have such an immersive opportunity to learn about the field of oceanography.
 
"I'm really looking forward to the week at sea."
 

Expanded Startup Scaleup returns to Gordon Square on June 28

Last year, JumpStart Inc. showcased Northeast Ohio's entrepreneurial ecosystem with a half-day, festival-style event held in Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District. Startup Scaleup returns this summer with a full day of sessions, pitch competitions, workshops and networking events.
 
The expanded format follows a 2015 venture that drew 1,200 guests interested in harnessing the region's array of small business-friendly resources. Organizers have added 13 program sessions from last summer's 28, with presenters including PNC Bank, Flashstarts and the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network (MAGNET). Marketing agency Hello LLC, meanwhile, will teach attendees how to bring life to their brands through popular social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
 
"We want to make sure entrepreneurs understand all the resources they have at their fingertips, whether it's funding, getting a mentor or building a business plan," says Amy Martin, JumpStart's head of marketing.
 
The June 28 event will be easier to navigate thanks to separate track programming options focusing on either start-ups or development of existing companies. The 34 agenda items include sessions such as "The War for Tech Talent," "Ice Cream Social: Small Business Finance," and "The 5 Most Efficient Ways To Connect, Communicate And Celebrate With Your Ideal Clients." JumpStart officials are expecting the day's 1,500 attendees to chart their own unique path through sessions and post-event entertainment held at 15 Gordon Square theaters, eateries and creative spaces.
 
The marketing piece is another new addition, as is the program's outreach to student entrepreneurs. Returning from 2015 is the "Sidewalk to Stage" pitch competition, where 100 new dream-chasers will present their ideas on Capitol Theater's main stage for a share of $15,000 in prize money.
 
Full-day tickets for Startup Scaleup 2016 are $20 and include a $10 lunch voucher, as well as two $5 snack vouchers redeemable at vendors throughout the arts district. Half-day tickets are also available for $10, and include two $5 snack vouchers.
 
Giving participants more freedom is the goal of the scaleup event's super-sized format, says Martin. Program organizers expect nascent business owners to move around and mingle with the investors who can help their companies reach the next stage of growth.
 
"Our job is to create an economic impact that keeps the region on par with the rest of the country," Martin says. "We're bringing all these resources to one location for one day so people can see them in action."

Summer program for collegians to foster area 'brain gain'

Over the next nine weeks, 70 college students from eight campuses will intern at 46 Cleveland-area companies as part of Summer on the Cuyahoga (SOTC) program. Should all go well, a percentage of those students will return to town one day on a more permanent basis, organizers say.
 
SOTC, an economic development initiative designed to connect talented young professionals to Northeast Ohio, kicked off its summer program last week with a reception at Pura Vida in Public Square.  Students from this year's group hail from eight SOTC partner schools: Case Western Reserve University, Colgate, Cornell, Denison, Ohio Wesleyan, Smith, University of Chicago and Yale. They come to Cleveland from 24 states and five foreign countries.
 
SOTC is the only college internship program where participants fully immerse themselves in a downtown environment, says executive director Jean Koehler.  By day, students will work full-time at companies and organizations such as KeyBank and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Nights and weekends will be spent exploring the city's cultural, civic and recreational amenities before settling in at the Fenn Tower dorms on the Cleveland State University campus.
 
"These students are living as young professionals; it's real-life living," says Koehler.
 
Program officials will take their charges on behind-the-scenes tours of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Students will also engage in discussions on community development, and meet other YPs who chose to launch their careers in Cleveland.
 
SOTC's long-range goal is to have interns build networks and relocate to Greater Cleveland. To that end, the program matches new recruits with area alumni from their respective schools, some of whom are also graduates of the internship venture.
 
"Our interns always have a great experience," she says. "One hundred percent of last year's group had an affinity toward Cleveland and would recommend the program to their friends."
 
The return to the North Coast of 21 interns from last year's cohort - including 12 college graduates who accepted full-time positions here - reflects the strength of a talent-gathering effort now in its 14th year, says Koehler.
 
"We want to keep Cleveland on the radar of people who wouldn't come here (without the program)," she says. "If we can keep interns engaged enough to move here or even do business, our impact is going to be that much greater."
 
Cleveland's smaller size makes it an attractive option for a generation keen on making a difference in their community, Koehler says. SOTC leaders make sure to introduce interns to local changemakers, yet another way to ensure the program's influence lasts well beyond the summer.
 
"You can be a big fish in a small town here," says Koehler. "If you want to make that kind of impact, it's easier to do it in Cleveland than in New York or Boston."

The sweetest startup - with frosting

Susan Manfredonia and her mother, Rita, ran a licensed in-home bakery for 22 years, whipping up a custard frosting that had been in their family for generations. With help from local entrepreneurial resources, Manfredonia now seeks to sell her delectable homemade frosting to a wider audience.
 
As owner of Squeeze n' Easy, Manfredonia runs her food-focused startup out of the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen (CCLK), a pay-as-you-go commercial space and program of nonprofit micro-lender the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI).
 
Manfredonia has worked out of the space for three years, producing an egg- and nut-free custard concoction packaged in a simple-to-use, freezable pastry bag. Aided by two part-time employees and business consultant Frank Cullen, Cleveland's unofficial custard queen also pedals cannolis filled with her homespun artisan goodness.
 
"Our product is so good I want the whole world to try it," says Manfredonia.
 
Squeeze n' Easy frosting, currently available at five Northeast Ohio stores in chocolate, vanilla and almond, can be applied to most any cake, pastry or cookie. According to Manfredonia, her family's recipe surpasses canned or boxed product as well as any sugar-laded buttercream frosting you can shake a fondant rose at.
 
"I changed the recipe to make it all-natural," says Manfredonia. "It's gluten-free, too."
 
The entrepreneur returned to the frosting fold four years ago after taking time off to raise her three children. A Bad Girl Ventures finalist in 2012, Manfredonia joined CCLK a year later, harnessing the food-business incubator's mentorship support along with advice on marketing, product development and regulatory processes. 
 
"The kitchen was a very good place to start because of everyone's input and knowledge," Manfredonia says.
 
The proprietor is currently searching for a manufacturing space with cold-storage capabilities for her cannoli product. Manfredonia also aims to hire a few people to demonstrate her wares at local grocery stores.
 
"Part of our marketing is in-store demos and reaching out to ask the consumer questions," says Cullen, a company investor and friend of Manfredonia's. "We found out that the most important things for our customers are taste, convenience and affordability."
 
Delivering old-fashioned luxury frosting at a fair price is Manfredonia's joy, a feeling she looks forward to bringing to a new generation of gourmands.
 
"I'm so excited about this I want to jump out of my skin," she says. "I've done this for so many years, I just want to share it with everybody." 

To help S&R Bakers stomp out bad frosting, they invite frosting activists to sign their "I want my store to carry Squeeze n’ Easy" petition.

Heights' own 'breakfast Cheers bar' celebrates 35 years

On July 27, 1981, the Inn on Coventry opened amid the chaos of the Coventry Village Street Fair, offering a simple menu of eggs, breakfast meats and $1 pancakes. After 35 years on the corner of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights, diner owners Debbie Duirk and Mary Haley are still serving "comfort food at comfortable prices," and have no plans on stopping anytime soon.
 
To celebrate, the dine-amic duo will be dishing up tasty grub at 1981 prices during a July 27 "Throwback Wednesday" anniversary event. Hungry attendees can arrive for the free coffee and $1 buttermilk pancakes, and stay for raffle prizes including diner gift certificates and an authentic Coca-Cola bike.
 
"This (anniversary) shows our success and how many great people we've met along the way," says Duirk.
 
The three-generation, family-friendly neighborhood restaurant was initially founded as the "in place to be" by Duirk and her business partner. Haley's mother, Amy, served as the establishment's first chef, helping cement the Inn's iconic status with her banana orange waffles and other scrumptious goodies until she passed away in 1997.
 
While banana orange waffles are no longer available, the Inn's vast menu has nine different versions of Eggs Benedict as well as a variety of spicy selections including huevos rancheros
 
"We say we're still doing home-style cooking after all these years," Duirk says.
 
In preparation for the anniversary festivities, the Inn will close from July 11 to July 23, using that time to add new carpeting and a fresh coat of paint. When reopened, the diner will look much the same as it did on that July day over three decades ago, Duirk promises.
 
The years in between have seen the Heights' very own "breakfast Cheers bar" fill bellies at a fair price. Not all those days have been easy ones, either. Duirk recalls a fire in the district that closed the Inn for several months in the mid-80s. Then there were the street remodelings in the 90s that made it difficult to attract customers. And of course, the loss of Haley's mother a week before her 97th birthday was a blow to the owners and patrons alike.
 
Despite it all, the Inn has persevered as a Cleveland Heights institution that Duirk looks forward to shepherding along for another 35 years. The diner's success can be ascribed to a few simple yet critically important reasons, its co-owner says. 
 
"Quality, consistency, cleanliness and a hospitable staff that makes you feel like you're home," says Duirk. "That's what people look for when they go out to eat." 

This summer: artistic commentary from acerbic on RNC, Opportunity Corridor

For a city with a 53 percent African-American population, Cleveland doesn't have near enough black voices in the arts community, says Ali McClain, co-founder of acerbic, an artist collective aimed at creatives of color.
 
McClain, a poet and artist who launched acerbic in 2014 with partners Donald Black Jr. and Gabriel Gonzalez, says she's often the only woman of color at various exhibitions and openings. She is similarly disheartened when international artists, most of whom are white, are called in for programs that could easily be helmed by locals.
 
"The art world is white, so it's hard to fit in or be part of that," says McClain. "There's always a feeling like we're the last called, or not called at all."
 
Instead of grousing about these issues, McClain and her friends formed acerbic, billed as an art producing collective, consultation group and education program. Housed on the fourth floor of St. Luke's Foundation, the collective is a direct response to the stifling environment encountered by Cleveland-area artists of color.
 
Acerbic, which in its founders' eyes is defined as "sharp and forthright," offers mentorship, education and guidance for emerging dream-makers. Student volunteers help their young peers in scouting arts opportunities or writing college entrance essays.
 
The collective sponsors its own programs, too, McClain notes. This summer, the group will be creating politically charged artwork in response to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Acerbic will also be working with LAND Studio on a writing effort related to the Opportunity Corridor transportation project.
 
Acerbic's founders view these programs as a way to turn frustration with the area's arts scene into a vibrant opportunity.
 
"You can't keep crying about things if you're not going to do anything about it," says McClain. "We needed to make a space for other people who feel like us or who just need support or relief."
 
Acerbic received assistance on its strategic plan from the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), and is getting additional support from Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. As for the future, group leaders envision forming a thriving collection of artists of color able to contribute to Cleveland's creative ecosystem.
 
"We're providing resources to give (young artists) a chance to feel good about where they come from," says McClain. "They know they have a place to go that's going to support them." 

New app puts key to green spaces in your pocket

A new learning app designed by three local nature-loving entities is offering a deeper perspective on Northeast Ohio's robust parks systems.
 
ParkApps, developed via a partnership among Cleveland Metroparks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) and Kent State University, aims to educate visitors as they explore the region's parks. Similar to other apps created for national and state parks, the new software, currently available for free on iTunes, places points of interest on a digital map where users learn about the history and ecology of our precious green space, says Patrick Lorch, manager of field research for Cleveland Metroparks.
 
The map currently has 200 points covering topics like wildflowers, geology and marsh habitats. Through a feature called "Adventure Tracks," a user's mobile device pings them to stop and engage with pre-determined points along a trail or path. Completed trails earn visitors digital badges as a reward.
 
"The map is the basis for everything," says Lorch. "Points on the map are the equivalent of a sign at the side of a trail."
 
Another feature called "My ParkApps" lets users create their own maps, giving them free access to an accompanying website that records their hikes in the park. "Citizen Science," meanwhile, asks participants to share photos of the same park features over time, allowing officials to study stream bank erosion and other changes in habitat.
 
The app project, funded by a three-year, $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning initiative, will test the feasibility of app technology in parks while studying the impact of mobile devices on informal science learning. Along with the educational piece, combining technology and nature is a new way to explain park management activities such as the culling of invasive species or protecting particular natural resources, Lorch says.
 
"People ask us why we're pulling plants they find attractive," he says. "We want to help people understand the ecological reason for these things, because that's often not clear."
 
Future versions of the tool will include availability on Android devices and an identification option where visitors can get help identifying plants, trees and animals.
 
"I can imagine a fishermen recording their favorite fishing spots and tagging them with a photo," says Lorch. "How people use the app could point to a general direction for us."

Forward Cities gathering will focus on area entrepreneurs, social innovation

More than 200 community, business, policy, and foundation leaders from four of the nation’s comeback cities are joining forces in Cleveland this month to foster entrepreneurship and social innovation in minority communities. This effort is part of Forward Cities, a national learning collaborative project in which leaders and donors from cities undergoing profound transformation can identify and share best practices. Participating cities include Cleveland, Detroit, New Orleans and Durham.
 
“As the global economy becomes increasingly competitive and the war for talent spans worldwide boundaries, we can no longer leave behind huge swaths of our potential innovation talent pool – namely traditionally disenfranchised women and minority populations,” said Christopher Gergen, CEO of Forward Impact and co-founder of Forward Cities. “Cities that fail to heed this call and don’t take intentional action to create a new economy that is purposefully equitable will do so at their own peril. Inclusive innovation isn’t just the right thing to do – it is the smart thing to do.”
 
Forward Cities leaders will meet in Cleveland June 14-17 to explore how to drive inclusive innovation. Out of town participants will meet with Cleveland entrepreneurs, business incubators, social innovators, and neighborhood and government leaders. They will also tour target communities including the Opportunity Corridor, the West 25th Street Corridor, the East 55th Street Food Corridor, and the East 105th Street Corridor. The Cleveland Forward Cities Council, which acts as the project's local advisory board, selected those locations. The council includes entities such as Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Towards Employment, the City of Cleveland, RPM International the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., The Business of Good Foundation, the George Gund Foundation and several other civic-minded organizations. National and local donors are funding the effort.

In addition, panels of experts from across the participating cities will explore topics ranging from the use of globalization and immigration as a strategy for urban renewal, to the role of anchor institutions in economic development, and how individual entrepreneurs affect a city’s comeback. The Cleveland convening is the final gathering for Forward Cities, which met in New Orleans in December 2014, Detroit in June 2015 and Durham in December 2015.
 
While the Cleveland event is still days away, the area has already felt the impact of being included in the Forward Cities endeavor. The collaboration has led to stronger coordination of local programs to support entrepreneurs, enabled council members to adopt and apply successful programs from the partner cities and has generated new, honest discussions regarding issues that affect inclusive innovation, such as race. Three examples of Forward Cities achievements in Cleveland include:
 
- Compiling a comprehensive list of more than 1,200 minority businesses in the city that connects business owners to public and private projects, conventions and events that are seeking minority business partners
 
- Securing a $16,000 planning grant from the Business of Good Foundation for the Hispanic Marketplace, La Placita, in the West 25th Street neighborhood.
 
- Developing a small business seminar and tour for businesses in the Opportunity Corridor tour that helped the 25 business owners build familiarity and overcome hurdles they may have felt in approaching local technical assistance providers.
 
“Horizons are expanded, problems are viewed from unusual angles, ideas are blended, friendships are forged and challenges unstuck,” said Deborah Hoover, Cleveland Forward Cities Co-Chair and president and CEO of Burton D. Morgan Foundation of the previous gatherings and collective Forward Cities efforts.
 
“This magic occurs because so many people from different cities, backgrounds and types of organizations come together to listen, share, and most of all, understand and work together," said Hoover.
 
Follow the Forward Cities project on Facebook, or stay up to date on Twitter at @forwardcities. Use the hashtags #forwardcities and #roadtogrowth.


Source: Forward Cities

Text compiled by Erin O'Brien
 

Public language immersion school set for August opening

A bilingual dream five years in the making is about to become reality for Global Ambassadors Language Academy (GALA) founding director Meran Rogers.
 
Rogers's new foreign language immersion school will open its doors on August 3, welcoming approximately 100 kindergarten and first-grade students to the former St. Vincent de Paul parish at 13400 Lorain Avenue. For its first iteration, the school will occupy only the ground and first floors of the 30,000-square-foot facility. Administrators expect classes to expand to the building's second floor in coming years as GALA adds additional grade levels, up to eighth grade.
 
Fresh Water first reported on plans for the tuition-free, public charter school in October 2014. The effort has come a long way since then: The school has been hosting monthly open houses since February to show off its new digs and champion an educational model based around Spanish and Mandarin programming. This month's open house events are scheduled for Thursday, June 9 at 5 p.m., and Saturday, June 11, at 10 a.m.
 
"We'll have a tour of the school and a Q & A afterwards," says Rogers. "Tours are usually a big hit. It's a matter of getting the word out and getting families to come."

Meanwhile, professional development sessions for GALA's dozen teachers begins in July.
 
As a public charter school, GALA will adhere to learning standards set forth by the Ohio Department of Education. Seventy percent of instruction each day will be provided in Mandarin or Spanish; the remaining 30 percent will be taught in English, notes Rogers. In addition, GALA will offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) program that allows participants to plan out their own projects.
 
On its first day, GALA will stand as Northeast Ohio's first foreign language immersion school as well as the only Mandarin immersion school in state. Most schools with similar teaching models are private or serve higher-income communities, says Rogers. GALA is open to all, no matter their socioeconomic background.
 
Rogers, who previously taught at a Taiwanese immersion school and is former director of community affairs for Global Cleveland, says her experience growing up with multilingual parents in a low-income household inspired GALA's creation.
 
"I was labeled as a special education student, and didn't learn how to read or write until the second grade," says Rogers. "I could have been bilingual but never had the environment to maintain that."
 
Rogers is thrilled to bring an absorbing educational experience to other children, an effort involving supportive teachers, parents and board members. Then there are donors which include the Albert B. and Audrey G. Ratner Family Foundation, Bernie Moreno CompaniesEaton CorporationRPM International Inc. and Margaret Wong & Associates.
 
Though Rogers doesn't expect to be dancing in the halls come August, she is excited about the new school's intricately planned journey.
 
"People are saying how great this, and asking me how I feel," Rogers says. "I just feel good. There is a lot more work to get done and I can't celebrate just yet."

Motorcycle garage owner gets real with upcoming TV show for Esquire Network

Motorcycle aficionado Brian Schaffran has been running his Cleveland-based hotrodding fix-it clubhouse Skidmark Garage for over a year. While bringing in new riders has been a slower process than Schaffran would like, a forthcoming motorcycle competition television series he recently finished filming could rev up that all-important customer base.
 
Schaffran will serve as co-host of "Wrench Against the Machine," an unscripted motor-cycle centric show pitting teams of enthusiasts against one another to construct badass bikes of all styles and builds. A panel of judges will evaluate contestants' creations following each build challenge.
 
Filming began in Los Angeles at the end of April and wrapped last week. As host, Schaffran was on call during day-long taping sessions - sometimes lasting until 10 p.m. - where he would he would recite scripted lines for one or two scenes. Downtime was spent on a laptop working his day job as a customer support rep for a software company.
 
"The whole thing felt a little surreal," says Schaffran, whose 2,800-square foot community garage in the Hildebrandt Building rents out tools, lifts and storage bays to riders. "I never thought I'd be on TV. Everything is hitting me all at once."
 
Schaffran's workaday world turned when a production company that makes reality shows contacted him following a March 2015 Fresh Water article about his shop. 
 
"They thought the community garage idea was original, and said somewhere inside the garage was a show," Schaffran says. "They finally came up with this build competition idea."
 
Though excited at first, Schaffran was put off by other motorcycle build shows where drama is heightened to extreme levels.
 
"I've seen these shows and how people are portrayed," he says. "I didn't want to be part of some soap opera bullshit like every other reality show."
 
Schaffran's concerns were allayed after additional conversations with production company officials. When not filming or helping folks trouble-shoot their computers, he visited area community garages to scope their physical layout and how they marketed themselves.
 
"It was enlightening to see how clean their shops were," says Schaffran. "They're leveraging social media more than I am, too."
 
"Wrench Against the Machine" will premiere this fall on the Esquire Network. Ideally, the program will give Skidmark Garage a membership and branding boost, says its owner.
 
"Everyone is pretty excited for me," says Schaffran. "So many people's comments are like, 'Holy shit, dude, you're living the dream.' Everyone's been really supportive." 

University Circle to showcase transportation with new shuttle, walkability, public transit

With newcomers such as MOCA and the utterly transformed Uptown District, University Circle (UC) has exploded with new activity that has easily blended in amid funky Hessler Street, the towering puppets of Parade the Circle and the venerable cultural institutions lining Wade Oval.
 
If you build it, they will come. So goes the saying and so it is for UC, a development that University Circle Inc. (UCI) and its partners have noted and then some.
 
"I really think transportation is on a lot of people's minds lately. It's certainly on our minds here in University Circle and the surrounding area," says Laura Kleinman, UCI's vice president of services. "Such substantial growth means a greater volume of people in the area," she adds, noting that the influx increases pressure on the environment, the infrastructure and most importantly, the people.
 
To ease it all, UCI, along with some 20 area partners, has developed the expansive Moving Greater University Circle's Transportation and Mobility Plan. At more than 140 pages, the document is daunting, but it's implementation and intent are already evidenced in the UC area in the friendliest of ways, starting most notably with a familiar link that's just expanded and aims to make navigating the area easier than ever.

Continue reading ...

Bloom Bakery raising 'dough' to help others

"Creating jobs is our secret ingredient."
 
Such is the slogan of Bloom Bakery, a downtown entity that offers premium pastries and breads as well as opportunities for Clevelanders facing employment barriers. Now the social venture is asking for a little extra "dough" to continue its mission.
 
Last week, Bloom Bakery launched a $25,000 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to provide capital for its Campus District location at 1938 Euclid Ave. (The bakery has another shop at 200 Public Square.) Funding will go to hiring additional staff, says Logan Fahey, Bloom Bakery co-founder and general manager.
 
"Our reason for doing (crowdfunding) was to get the community involved," says Fahey. "We rely on the consumer to find us and appreciate the mission."
 
Supporters can pre-purchase coffee, lunch, corporate catering, and exclusive baking lessons before the campaign ends June 10. Bloom Bakery is a benefit corporation - essentially a hybrid of a standard corporation and a nonprofit - owned by Towards Employment, a Cleveland nonprofit that offers job training and placement as well as removal of employment barriers for people previously involved in the criminal justice system.
 
All revenue from Bloom Bakery goes to Towards Employment's job readiness programs. Meanwhile, the bakery educates, trains and employs low-income and disadvantaged adults for work as bakers, baristas and other positions. Entry-level jobs pay $8 to $10 hourly, with opportunities available for upward mobility within the company.
 
"Our sole purpose is to give a second chance to individuals who otherwise wouldn't get one," Fahey says. "These jobs can be resume builders or allow people to move onto supervisory positions here."
 
Bloom Bakery currently has 15 staff members, ranging in age from their 20s to early 60s. New employees are vetted through Towards Employment programming, then undergo another month of training at the bakery.
 
As of this writing, the social venture's crowdfunding effort has reached 10 percent of its goal. Fahey and his fellow staff members will spend the next couple of weeks pushing the campaign via social media and word-of-mouth. The ultimate goal is to become the state's best bakery while continuing to operate as a "business with a heart."
 
"There's a large segment of the population in need of an opportunity," says Fahey. "If we become the best bakery, then we can create as many jobs as we want." 

Tribe 'hackathon' puts area tech talent into the game

If Northeast Ohio is to be a leading Midwest technology hub, it will need top-tier software developers to kickstart the growth process, observers say. Organizers of a baseball-centric programming competition know that finding tech talent is critical to the region's future, but that doesn't mean some creative fun can't be had while the search takes place.
 
The Tribe Hackathon, representing a partnership among the Cleveland Indians, Progressive Insurance and coding boot camp Tech Elevator, brought together 14 software-savvy teams last weekend to build apps, prototypes and visuals meant to improve the fan experience.
 
Participants showcased their innovations at Progressive Field's Terrace Club. Winning submissions were chosen based on categories including "most creative" and "best user interface."
 
A collection of college-aged friends from Stow aimed to add a new twist to the classic sport with FanVision. Harnessing the Google Carboard head mount, the FanVision mobile app would allow fans to place a smartphone into Google's cardboard viewer, creating an immersive heads-up display (HUD) that shows enhanced game data in a virtual reality space.
 
Cameron Sinko, whose team won in the "most creative" category, says the fully functional app would put viewers directly on the field.
 
"They would have a connection to their own personal sandbox," Sinko says.
 
Meanwhile, a group from Medical Mutual took home second place for Shake, a web-based app for a multiplayer version of Progressive Field's Hot Dog Derby race. Users would take control of animated versions of the combating condiments (ketchup, mustard and onion) on the stadium scoreboard, literally shaking their phones to help their character win the race.
 
"It's something easy for fans to interact with," says app co-creator Matthew Russo. "It's in the spirit of getting the crowd involved."
 
While the baseball club has no plans to use participant-created apps and virtual reality games, simply hosting the tech initiative highlights the region's skilled brainpower, says Indians' senior vice president and chief information officer Neil Weiss.
 
"It's inspirational to watch people do something they love, " Weiss says. "They're building networks with each other."
 
Anthony Hughes, founder and CEO of Tech Elevator, takes a global perspective when considering the hackathon event he helped produce.
 
"Cleveland has this image as a manufacturing town with its glory days behind it," says Hughes. "This city can be a tech town with its glory days still ahead." 
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