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Cleveland Neighborhood Progress awards $4.2M in grants with three-year initiative

Beginning in July, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) will invest a total of $4.2 million in twelve community development corporations (CDCs) over the next three years. The Strategic Investment Initiative (SII) includes nine awards, three of which are collaborative efforts. The funding will have a direct impact on 16 Cleveland neighborhoods.

“These critical investments will help improve neighborhoods across the city," said Joel Ratner, CNP president and CEO in a statement. "We look forward to working with our grantees as they develop work plans and implement the strategies they presented to the committee."

The following grants will be administered annually through 2020:
 
Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization and Metro West Community Development Corporation, $220,000
 
Ohio City, Inc. and Tremont West Development Corporation, $215,000
 
Famicos Foundation, $200,000
 
Burten Bell Carr Development, $200,000
 
Northeast Shores Development Corporation, $140,000
 
Slavic Village Development, $125,000
 
St. Clair Superior Development Corporation and Collinwood Nottingham Villages Development Corporation, $100,000
 
Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, $100,000
 
– Lee-Harvard Community Collaborative, $100,000
 
“We are also excited to invest in neighborhoods on the southeast side of Cleveland through our new capacity investment in the Lee-Harvard Community Partnership,” added Colleen Gilson, vice president of CDC Advancement for CNP. "This partnership is the result of a visioning and planning process supported by City of Cleveland Councilman Terrell Pruitt that will bring a dedicated community development entity into the neighborhood.”
 
CNP received a total of 14 proposals from a 23 CDCs for this competitive funding program. Senior staff reviewed proposals and recommended finalists to the organization’s SII Advisory Committee. Last month, that committee hosted two days of presentations during which the finalists highlighted the comprehensive community development goals and strategies they will employ during the 2017-2020 program cycle. CNP's board of directors’ final decision on funding was informed by the scoring process performed by the SII Advisory Committee.
 
“These selected CDCs will be taking on important work city-wide and we look forward to working with them as they implement community development strategies in their neighborhoods,” added Gilson of the SII recipients.
 
Over the past 10 years, CNP has committed more than $15 million to Cleveland CDCs via the SII program, funding for which is provided by the Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, and Enterprise Community Partners.
 
 
Cleveland Neighborhood Progress is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.
 

Off the gridiron, Browns foundation supports education, youth development

Northeast Ohio education and youth development is the centerpiece of $275,000 in grants recently awarded by the Cleveland Browns Foundation.
 
The four grants announced in late September support nonprofits and education-based organizations. Dollars were garnered through the foundation's annual radiothon event, which raised $137,000 from listeners of ESPN 850 WKNR. Team owner Jimmy Haslam and his wife, Dee, matched the amount to give students throughout the region access to learning opportunities, says Renee Harvey, foundation vice president.
 
The radio event, which occurred September 15-16 and included more than 50 interviews with Browns personnel, is one of three major fundraising programs orchestrated by the foundation. A spring golf tournament and 50/50 raffle at Browns home games round out the organization's charitable ventures.
 
"The focus is on a solutions-based, holistic approach that ensures Northeast Ohio youth have educational support," says Harvey. "We believe all kids regardless of ethnicity, race or where they live deserve a high-quality education."
 
Grant beneficiaries are the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Shoes and Clothes for Kids (SC4K), Ginn Academy and The Centers for Families and Children. A planned $65,000-plus gift to CMSD will be used for  the "Get to School, You Can Make It" campaign promoting attendance within the district. Ginn Academy received $65,000 in support of its Life Coach program, which provides students at the all-male public high school with a 24/7 mentor.

The Centers will utilize a $65,000 foundation grant to implement its 2,000 Days Pledge initiative, designed to engage parents, teachers and communities in a child's first 2,000 days of life, a period during which 90 percent of brain development occurs. Shoes and Clothes for Kids, meanwhile, will distribute school supplies and uniforms to disadvantaged CMSD learners via a $100,000 grant. 
 
"The majority of what we support is on the educational side, from birth through college," Harvey says. "Parents need to understand the role they play as their child's first teacher, and how they choose a high-quality learning environment. These choices can set a child on the right path." 
 
Harvey says critical collaborations with community partners make these improved educational outcomes possible.
 
"Along with the Haslams' leadership and support of kids from Northeast Ohio, we have the ability to partner with amazing nonprofits," she says. "We're diving deep into issues and finding ways we can move the needle. There are so many entities here focused on strengthening the community, and we're proud to be part of the mix." 

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress announces finalists for Vibrant City Awards

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) has announced 21 finalists for its 2016 Vibrant City Awards. Winners will be revealed on May 2 at the second annual Vibrant City Awards Lunch, hosted by CNP and presented by Key Bank and Community Blight Solutions.
 
“We are proud to convene community partners and stakeholders to celebrate city neighborhoods. These leading efforts in neighborhood revitalization are what help us all create a vibrant city,” says Joel Ratner, president and CEO of CNP. “The organizations and individuals being honored have displayed tremendous passion, dedication and collaboration. We’re excited to recognize them for their successful efforts in community development.”
 
CNP received more than 70 nominations for this year's awards.
 
“The complete list of nominations tells an inspiring story of neighborhood transformation that is taking place in Cleveland," says Jeff Kipp, CNP's director of neighborhood marketing for the organization. "From community development corporations to corporate partners and everyone in between, there are amazing people performing incredible work in our neighborhoods.”
 
Additionally, CNP will present the Morton L. Mandel Leadership in Community Development Award and the first ever Vibrant City Impact Award at the May 2 luncheon. During the event, civic leaders, community development professionals, local developers, investors, realtors and passionate Clevelanders will gather to celebrate neighborhoods at the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium, 3615 Euclid Ave., an iconic structure located in Midtown on the RTA Healthline. A locally sourced meal catered by chef Chris Hodgson of Driftwood Catering will be served. This event is open to the public. More information and registration details are available online.
 
The 2016 Vibrant City Awards finalists include:
 
• CDC Community Collaboration Award
 
Ohio City Inc. – Station Hope
Held in May 2015, Station Hope, a collaboration of Ohio City, Inc., Cleveland Public Theatre, Saint John’s Episcopal Church and Councilman Joe Cimperman, was a free multi-arts event that celebrated the history of St. John’s Church, the triumphs of the Underground Railroad, and contemporary struggles for freedom and justice. Station Hope featured a diverse selection of theatre and performance ensembles, including more than 30 companies and 150 individual artists.

Station Hope
 
Slavic Village Development – Cleveland Orchestra at Home in Slavic Village
In spring 2015, The Cleveland Orchestra At Home in Slavic Village residency brought a world-class orchestra to the Broadway Slavic Village neighborhood. Partners included Slavic Village Development, the Cleveland Orchestra, Broadway School of Music and the Arts, the Broadway Boys and Girls Club, cultural organizations, and area churches and schools. In April, the orchestra performed a free public concert for an audience of 1,000 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. The residency continued throughout the year with a host of events.
 
Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office – La Placita
In 2015, the Stockyard, Clark Fulton and Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office partnered with the Hispanic Business Center and local businesses and entrepreneurs to launch La Placita, an open air market near the intersection of Clark Avenue and West 25th Street that featured 24 local vendors and cultural offerings for five Saturday events that attracted thousands. The events also served as an effective venue to showcase “La Villa Hispana,” which is home to a growing ethnic population in the City of Cleveland.
 
• CDC Placemaking Award
 
MidTown Cleveland – East 55th Street railroad bridge mural
The railroad bridge above the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 55th Street has been transformed into a symbol of the innovation and emerging economy embodied in the MidTown neighborhood and the Health-Tech Corridor. The mural, designed by Twist Creative, Inc., includes a graphic of DNA molecules, and logos of MidTown Cleveland, the City of Cleveland, BioEnterprise and the Cleveland Foundation.

E55th St mural
 
Slavic Village Development – Cycle of Arches
The Cycle of Arches installation evokes allusions to nature such as trees or grasses bending in the wind, while nodding to the industrial heritage of the community by representing the neighborhood's "steel roots" with its steel tube construction. Part of the $8 million Broadway Streetscape and Road Improvement Project, the installation is located at the intersection of E.49th Street and Broadway Avenue. Jonathan Kurtz, AIA, designed Cycle of Arches. Partners included Slavic Village Development, Land Studio and the City of Cleveland.
 
University Circle Inc. – Wade Oval improvements
University Circle Inc. recently invested in several improvements to Wade Oval including a permanent musical park that offers four large-scale instruments, benches, Adirondack chairs and a chalkboard with the “This is CLE to Me…” tagline emblazoned across the top. Visitors are encouraged to creatively express themselves in this eclectic area.

University Circle Inc. Wade Oval improvements
 
• CDC Economic Opportunity Award
 
Famicos Foundation – Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program management
Famicos Foundation weaves together a diverse portfolio of economic opportunity programming to aid family financial stability in the Glenville neighborhood. In 2015, the organization helped complete 1,917 tax returns with a total refund of $2.3 million for residents. 549 of those returns were for EITC clients and those individuals received $869,000 in refunds. Also in 2015, while participating in a pilot program, Famicos referred 90 tax preparation clients interested in receiving one-on-one financial counseling to the Community Financial Centers.
 
Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office – La Placita
The Stockyard, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office was instrumental in the planning and implementation of "La Placita," which served as a catalyst project encouraging collaboration between the local CDC and stakeholders in the community. This initiative served as a business incubator for new businesses with free business training and as an accelerator for established businesses. Situated in an economically challenged food dessert, "La Placita" also served as an access point for fresh, affordable produce and culturally relevant prepared foods and ingredients.
 
University Circle, Inc. – Business outreach and development efforts
In 2015, University Circle Inc's business outreach and development efforts included three key components: the Uptown Business Association (UBA), NextStep: Strategies for Business Growth and a financial literacy and QuickBooks bookkeeping program, all of which fostered networking amid business owners in the greater University Circle area. UCI consistently convenes the 17 NextStep alumni, a current class of nine business owners, 65 UBA members, and seven bookkeeping program participants at UBA meetings to network, enhance their skills and find new opportunities. 
 
• CDC Neighborhood Branding & Marketing Award
 
Northeast Shores Development Corp. – Welcome to Collinwood website
With the help of the CDC, the neighborhood has taken its brand as Cleveland's premiere artists’ neighborhood to a new level with the Welcome to Collinwood website. The homepage offers an artistic display of images and designs, and visitors are met with compelling copy that boasts the compelling opportunities available to artists in Collinwood. 
 
Slavic Village Development – Rooms to Let
St. Rooms To Let, a temporary art installation in vacant homes created by Slavic Village Development, was a successful marketing event that changed perceptions about the surrounding neighborhood. In May 2015, more than 1,000 visitors toured St. Rooms to Let, which included installations by 30 artists, live music performances and activities for children.

Rooms to Let 2015
 
Clair Superior Development Corp. & Campus District, Inc. – Night Market Cleveland
St. Clair Superior Development Corp. and Campus District Inc. teamed up last summer to spark awareness, foster a creative economy, and bring attention to the hidden gems of AsiaTown and the Superior Arts District with Night Market Cleveland - a series of four summer events with local art vendors, Asian food and cultural entertainment. The inaugural season attracted a staggering 50,000 attendees and garnered coverage in 22 media publications.
 
• Corporate Partner Award
 
Community Blight Solutions
Community Blight Solutions focuses on understanding, solving, and eliminating blight. Prominent solutions currently include promotion of the organization's SecureView product and the Slavic Village Recovery Project, which aims to align demolition and rehabilitation to eradicate blight one block at a time and fosters corporate volunteerism amid the area's for-profit partners. The project is also focused on gaining access to a critical mass of real estate owned properties and those that are abandoned with the intention of either demolition or rehabilitation.
 
Dave’s Supermarkets
Dave’s Supermarkets' portfolio of stores sells products that match the profile of the communities they serve while their employees and customer base reflect Cleveland’s diverse population. Asian, Hispanic, African American and Caucasian residents all feel at home at Dave’s Supermarket. Dave’s has provided significant financial support in the form of food donations to community organizations, churches, and neighborhood groups. The local chain employs over 1,000 people in 14 stores, providing health care and retirement benefits to hard-working Cleveland residents.
 
PNC Bank
PNC was the lead sponsor of UCI’s summer concert series, Wade Oval Wednesdays – WOW! - a free weekly concert that draws up to 5,000 attendees. In addition, PNC supported UCI’s Clean and Safe Ambassador program expansion from seasonal to year-round with twice as many staff.  Additionally, PNC supported the creation and development of a children’s map and activity book to complement UCI’s newest education initiative, Circle Walk, a 40-point interpretive program set to launch in May 2016.
 
• Urban Developer Award:
 
Case Development – Mike DeCesare
Mike DeCesare of Case Development has been a pioneer in residential development in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, which he also calls home. He successfully finished the Waverly Station community in 2015 and completed the Harborview development at Herman Avenue and West 54th Street.
 
Geis Companies – Fred Geis
Fred Geis instigated the MidTown Tech Park, which boasts nearly 250,000 square feet of office and laboratory space leased to health and technology firms, and is part of the growing Health-Tech corridor. One of Geis’s most transformational projects is The 9, into which Geis moved its headquarters from Streetsboro. This spring, Geis will break ground on an Ohio City project converting the industrial Storer Meat Co. facility into 67 market-rate apartments. Fred Geis was also recently appointed to the Cleveland Planning Commission and will donate his stipend to the Dream Neighborhood refugee housing initiative.
 
Vintage Development Group – Chip Marous
Vintage Development Group provides well-built multi-family residential properties in Detroit Shoreway and Ohio City, thereby helping to support the associated commercial districts with residential opportunities and financial support. Not to be content with the footprint of his Battery Park project, Marous has executed plans for expanding it. His passion for complete, walkable urban development is made possible through established relationships in Cleveland’s urban neighborhoods.
 
• Civic Champion Award:
 
Joseph Black – Central neighborhood
Joe Black is committed to Central neighborhood youth. He is currently the Neighborhood Engagement Manager for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. As the leader of the engagement team, he is responsible for fostering a seamless experience for youth and families to progress through their education from cradle to career. Black’s passion was sparked by personal experiences with the inequities linked to men of color, and has since matured into a responsibility to serve “at risk” communities. He is a tireless, dedicated community volunteer, mentoring youth at his day job as well as during his free time.
 
Charles Gliha – Slavic Village neighborhood
Lifelong Slavic Village resident Charles Gliha strives to improve the neighborhood with art, civic engagement and business development. As founder of Broadway Public Art, he has championed the Warszawa Music Festival, is the founder of Street Repair Music Festival, organizes the Polish Constitution Day Parade, and volunteers at Rooms to Let. Gliha is an active member of the Slavic Village Neighborhood Summit planning committee and hosts cash mobs and live music events in area retail establishments. He also created a printed business directory and garnered $25,000 in grants for the neighborhood.

Slavic Village
 
Alison Lukacsy – Collinwood neighborhood
A Cleveland transplant turned North Collinwood artist, advocate and promoter, Alison Lukacsy sees opportunities where others see problems. She has secured over $20,000 in grants, resulting in projects such as Storefront Activation utilizing debris from Adopt-a-Beach cleanups, Phone Gallery - Cleveland's smallest curated art gallery, a Collinwood Vibrancy Project, Yarn n’ Yoga on Euclid Beach Pier, Euclid Beach Book Box, and Bus Stop Moves RTA shelter exercises.
 

Cleveland Education Compact aims to improve relations between charter and district schools

While organizations such as the Transformation Alliance are working to make sure Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools ensures every child in Cleveland receives a quality education with access to a selection of schools, the Cleveland Education Compact is doing their part by helping the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and the city’s 65 charter schools work together to bring excellence throughout.

The Compact is a collaboration between CMSD, the Cleveland Foundation and Breakthrough Schools, which is a network of public charter schools. The group came together last year after the associated schools received a $100,000 planning grant from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2014.
 
The Compact’s goal with the planning grant is to unite all those partners via a common goal that includes cooperation between the CMSD and Cleveland’s publicly funded charter schools and improve the educational options in Cleveland.
 
“Essentially, the district and Breakthrough Schools were doing some collaboration already,” explains Lindsey Blackburn, project manager for the Compact. “We applied for the $100,000 grant to get things going.” Blackburn adds that the term “compact” refers to both the group and the document they wrote.
 
Now the planning is underway and a group of 40 people from a dozen schools and organizations met in February for a brainstorming session and to form subcommittees. The executive committee meets monthly to discuss the subcommittee topics, which include record sharing; professional development; special education; facilities; funding; and policy/advocacy.
 
The Compact’s executive committee, which consists of five direct representatives and five charter representatives, meets once a month to ensure the planning phase is carried out before the grant runs out later this year.

“The last two areas have a lot of overlaps so it may make more sense to combine them,” says Blackburn. “Each subcommittee has co-chairs: one representative from the district and one representative from the charters.”
 
The group will meet again on April 5 for additional planning and outlining. “This is an exciting time because this is actual real work,” Blackburn says, adding that they will look for the areas that are easiest to tackle first, then address the more complex issues.
 
"We will look at the ones we can win first, like sharing professional development resources – if a speaker comes in, opening it up to all compact members,” she says. “There will be topics that will prove to be more complex and may not be solved in this round of collaboration.”
  
While the Cleveland Education Compact is not affiliated with the Cleveland Plan, the two groups still share common missions. “The Compact is similar [to the Cleveland Plan] in the sense that it is all about finding areas where district and charter schools can work together.,” says Piet van Lier, executive director of the Transformation Alliance, the organization charged with making sure the Cleveland Plan is executed. “But it wasn’t written into the Cleveland Plan.”
 
However, van Lier does see the two groups complementing each other. “Since the Cleveland Plan envisions a portfolio district with good schools, both district and charter, and allows the district to share levy money with partner charter schools, the two really are different sides of the same coin.”
 
Blackburn says future fundraising options will be considered to keep the Compact going once the planning grant expires. 

Transformation Alliance is a Fresh Water sponsor.

PRE4CLE makes strides toward goal, looks at the work ahead

PRE4CLE, a public-private partnership that aims to provide more high-quality preschool seats for Cleveland children, is more than halfway to its initial goal.

In December the group published its first annual report, announcing that high-quality preschool enrollment grew by 10 percent in the initiative’s inaugural year of implementation.

That percentage represents 1,215 additional children enrolling in high-quality early education between March 2014 and June 2015 in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and at private and home-based providers.

With partners like CMSD, Cuyahoga County, the George Gund Foundation and PNC Bank, PRE4CLE is now 62 percent to its goal of placing 2,000 more three- and four-year-olds in high-quality seats, as defined by ratings in the state’s Step Up to Quality system.
 
“We feel really great about the progress we’ve been able to make in year one in getting more than halfway to our goal,” PRE4CLE director Katie Kelly says. “We know that that’s due to the great partnership that PRE4CLE has forged among the providers and the community and the school district. It’s been a really strong first year with a lot of commitment to reach our initial goal.”
 
In comparing itself to the first-year results of similar early education expansions around the country, PRE4CLE officials say it beat out San Antonio and Boston, which achieved six and nine percent, respectively.
 
Additionally, 80 percent of children in PRE4CLE classrooms are on the right track to kindergarten, according to Bracken Kindergarten Readiness Assessment data analyzed by Case Western Reserve University researchers.
 
Still, PRE4CLE’s report doesn’t mask the work that still needs to be done. As of June 2015, just one-third of the city’s 12,400 preschool-aged children were enrolled in high-quality preschool programs.
 
The report also includes a map of Cleveland neighborhoods – color coded by the percentage of children who are enrolled in high-quality preschools. Mount Pleasant, Jefferson and Old Brooklyn are among the neighborhoods with less than 10 percent.
 
“It feels like a classic case of ‘we’ve come a long way and have a long way to go,’” says Marcia Egbert, senior program officer for human services at the Gund Foundation and co-chair of the Cleveland Early Childhood Compact. “It’s nothing but encouraging – the long way to go isn’t a sign of being discouraged in the slightest. It’s just to say that this was always going to be a long path, and we are now well down it, which is very exciting.”
 
The report closes with a look at ways the PRE4CLE partnership will attempt to raise those numbers in struggling neighborhoods. One example will be developing a mobile app with Invest in Children, the county’s own early childhood initiative. The app will help families find high-quality preschool options, as well as health, social, and cultural resources.
 
“For us, we know that 2,000 [additional children] is just the initial goal and it will be replaced by a new benchmark to get us even further towards the goal of every child in Cleveland having the opportunity to go to full-day preschool,” Kelly says. “What we’ve been able to build, along with expansion, is also a strong, quality infrastructure and a lot of momentum among educators and providers to improve their quality so that we can serve even more children.
 
“There’s such a strong commitment from the provider community to get on board with the plan to reach those higher levels of quality,” Kelly continues. “I think that’s really what’s going to make that opportunity available to every child in Cleveland.”

County approves $10 million for quality preschools

The expansion of early education in greater Cleveland received a $10 million boost last week when Cuyahoga County Council and executive Armond Budish reached a biennial budget agreement for 2016 and 2017.
 
The two-year investment creates the Cuyahoga Early Childhood Trust, a public-private partnership meant to attract private funds to continue the push for universal, high-quality pre-kindergarten education to children across the county.

It’s the kind of support partners of the PRE4CLE initiative say is necessary to achieve and surpass the original goal of enrolling 2,000 additional children into high-quality preschool seats at public and private schools in Greater Cleveland by 2016.
 
“We are so grateful to the county leadership for this new investment,” PRE4CLE director Katie Kelly says. “It’s going to make a big difference in the amount of kids served across the county. The impact on Cleveland will be significant in not just number of students served, but the quality of our early learning program.”
 
The investment will fund teacher education and retention programs, as well as social, emotional and behavioral support for low-income students. According to the council presentation supporting the investment, there are 20,800 preschool-aged children in the county, but only 4,700 are in high-quality programs.
 
“We know it’s one of the most important factors in providing high quality outcomes for students,” Kelly says of teacher education. “Those additional supports in staff coaching and training on how to help students experiencing those challenges is a big part of quality as well. It can make our already good programs even better.”

New app to help users find waterfront access points, appreciate Lake Erie

The West Creek Conservancy, a group focused on preserving natural habitats and expanding opportunities to experience nature, is developing a new mobile app that will allow users to locate a watershed, map water-related public access points and learn more about that river or stream.
 
Developers hope the app will help people get out and explore Ohio’s Lake Erie basin. The app will serve as a mobile version of ODNR’s Coastal and River Access guide. It will use the phone’s GPS to direct users to the nearest water access points.
 
“The real idea here is we have such a great asset at our back door and people don’t know how to get to it,” says Derek Schafer, West Creek’s executive director. “When you get access to it, you care about it. If you’re recreating on it, you love it and want to keep it healthy.”
 
Schafer is hesitant to use the term “watershed” when talking about the yet-to-be-named app. “It sounds like a regulatory term,” he explains. “This is to hook, line and sinker get people to the water – whether it’s a boat launch, a canoe put-in, marina, whatever it is. Get them to know where to get to the water – all of the rivers and all lake access points in all of Lake Erie.”
 
But the app isn’t just about waterfront fun. It’s also designed to get users involved in conservation and advocacy groups. “It’s about getting people engaged in advocacy, to action,” Schafer says. “It’s how to get people to the Lake Erie coastline, watersheds and all the rivers. It’s about how to get people to them, enjoy then and then once you get there, you get them to respect them and enjoy them.”
 
The app, which is scheduled to be completed in beta version for IOS by the end of the year and Android sometime next year, will feature Lake Erie and watershed protection tips, a photo gallery, Lake Erie and watershed FAQs, newsletter and links to advocacy groups.
 
West Creek Conservancy is still trying to decide on a catchy name for the app. Anyone with a good name idea can email Schafer with it. 

techpint returns to cleveland, offering startups a chance to network, pitch and win

For the first time since April 2014, Paul McAvinchey is bringing TechPint back to Cleveland for an evening of networking, entrepreneurship and showcases at the Beachland Ballroom. “It will make an impression,” McAvinchey says of TechPint, which will be held this Thursday, January 22nd from 4:30 to 10 pm. “There are a lot of new people in town now, a whole new batch.”

TechPint Winter Jam, described as a pop-up tech conference with pints of beer, will feature all the usual popular events. McAvinchey has secured the entire Beachland space, beginning with a Demo Pit in the bar area. “People kind of tinker with startup products while having a beer,” he explains. reMesh will showcase its app that allows an individual to have a conversation with a group.

Dollop, formerly Prezto, will showcase its gifting app through free beer. “We’re giving a beer to gift to someone else,” says McAvinchey. “Hopefully it will encourage networking, but it’s a way to distribute beer as well.” There is still room in the Demo Pit for tech startups who want to showcase their products. Companies should contact McAvinchey to secure a table.
 
FlashStarts will host its second annual Pitcher Night with a chance for five entrepreneurs to win $2,000 in a quick pitch on stage in the ballroom. FlashStarts will accept applications through the end of today, Monday, January 19th.

Speakers on Thursday are Laura Bennett, co-founder of Embrace Pet Insurance, and Yuval Brisker, co-founder of TOA Technologies, which was recently acquired by Oracle.

Doors for TechPint Winter Jam open at 4:30 pm. Pitcher Night begins at 5 pm, and Bennett and Brisker will speak at 6 pm. Beer and food will be served at least until 10 p.m. Admission is $20. While almost sold out, there are still tickets available.

keep it local project all about promoting, growing small businesses in cle

As a small business owner, Carl Baldesare knows the headaches associated with growing a company. With a background as a small business advisor and, more recently, owner of Specialty Renovations construction company, Baldesare grew frustrated with the expense and limited resources available in growing his small company.

Then about nine months ago, Baldesare had an idea for growing all the small businesses in Cleveland: Keep it Local Cleveland Project. “I just started wondering, why don’t people help these small businesses out,” he recalls. “I realized number one is they didn’t know the business existed, or they were afraid to try it.”
 
The Keep it Local Cleveland Project is a membership based group dedicated to promoting and growing small businesses of all kinds in Cleveland. Businesses can run promotions and specials through the website. “I created an all-encompassing Cleveland chamber,” Baldesare boasts. “We connect local people to local businesses. We do this by telling you where to find them, and give you a little incentive to find them.”
 
Member businesses get access to monthly networking events, a mention on social media and radio, and promotion on Keep it Local’s website marketplace. “It’s a pretty slick setup,” says Baldesare. Consumers can access deals and promotions, or simply research local businesses. “When you buy from independent local businesses, more of your money goes to other independent local businesses.”
 
The project already has generated a loyal following, with more than 3,000 followers on Facebook. The organization now has five employees.
 
Keep it Local Cleveland officially kicks off on Sunday with a free concert at the Beachland Ballroom featuring local bands, of course. A ticket is required to get into the concert.

 
Source: Carl Baldesare
Writer: Karin Connelly

who's hiring in cle: ganeden biotech, youth opportunities unlimited, opusone...

Welcome to the latest edition of Who’s Hiring in Cleveland?
 
There are plenty of good jobs to be found here in Cleveland. This is the latest installment in a new regular series of posts in which we feature companies that are hiring, what those employers are looking for, and how to apply.
  
Global Cleveland and NEOSA will host a virtual IT job fair during NEOSA Tech Week, April 11-18. New this year, job seekers and employers will receive a list of potential candidates and companies that match the job requirements. Top IT talent can sign up here. Employers looking for talent can register here.
 
Ganeden Biotech, a leader in probiotic research and product development, needs two business development account managers to identify and service new partners.
 
In addition to hiring youths for its summer employment program, Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.) has multiple positions open, from administrative team leaders to a database and file captain and a field supervisor. Read about all the open jobs here.
 
OpusOne Staffing is actively recruiting talented IT professionals, ranging from entry level to senior level. Interested candidates should send resumes to Melissa.
 
The Cleveland Foundation needs a program officer to review and research grant proposals and community issues, meet with prospective grantees and prepare evaluations and recommendations for funding. To apply, send resume and salary requirements to the hiring manager.

New Directions, a recovery center for teens and their families, needs an experienced planned giving officer to secure major gifts from donors through estate planning and other gifts. The qualified candidate must be a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
 
Have hiring news you’d like to share? Email Karin at Fresh Water Cleveland and send us this information or career links!

bad girl ventures readies launch of fall business plan competition

Micro-lending organization Bad Girl Ventures (BGV) wants Cleveland to connect with the next generation of entrepreneurs and small business owners. That hopefully beautiful friendship will begin on Thursday, October 3, when BGV Cleveland hosts its kickoff event introducing the 10 finalists of its fall business plan competition.

The 10 women will present themselves at Battery Park Wine Bar, pitching their ideas to an audience before embarking on BGV's nine-week course to help tweak their fledgling enterprises. The final class will be in mid-November, with the winner of BGV's $25,000 low-interest loan announced during a "graduation ceremony" the following month.

Financing and mentorship are just two of the benefits for program participants, says Reka Barabas, director of BGV Cleveland.

"Networking is a huge motivating factor for them," she says. "These women are not just sitting in a stuffy classroom, but extending their professional network."

This autumn's class represents a wide range of industries and specialty areas. There's a children's party bus, granola bar company, match-making business, and more.

BGV Cleveland offers business education courses and financing twice per year to help women-owned startups launch, manage and market their businesses. In May, custom cake baker Sugar Plum Cake Company earned the business group's $25,000 loan. Two other ventures -- Journey Art Gallery  and The Agrarian Collective  -- each received $5,000 loans from a private giving circle. 

"We're exposing these businesses to as many resources as possible," says Barabas. "There's a huge value in that."

 
SOURCE: Reka Barabas
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

techpint event touches on lessons learned from business failures

"Failure" is a tough word, particularly for entrepreneurial types throwing so much of their lives into a venture that might go belly up within a few months. However, Paul McAvinchey, creator of TechPint, believes valuable lessons can be learned from disappointment.

Such is the theme of this fall's TechPint conference, a casual gathering for entrepreneurs and investors in Internet technology. Coordinator McAvinchey expects more than 250 of the region's most innovative tech pacesetters to attend the quarterly-held event taking place tonight (September 26) at Sterle’s Slovenian Country House. Speakers John Gadd of Hotcards.com, Kendall Wouters of Reach Ventures and Phil Brennan of Echogen Power Systems will touch on how businesses can bounce back from seemingly crushing setbacks.

"It's a fact that you must fail many times before you see success," says McAvinchey, who moved to Cleveland from County Tipperary, Ireland, in April 2012 to lead product innovation for MedCity Media. "If you're failing, that means you're trying. That's a good thing."

Even stories of tremendous achievement, like the billion-dollar acquisition of Instagram, began on a rocky road of risk and false starts, McAvinchey points out.

"Failure will work for you if you learn from it," he says.

The informal get-together is designed to connect the region's tech thinkers over a couple pints of beers, says McAvinchey. TechPint's moniker this month is "Techtoberfest," in appreciation of this suds-filled season of the year.

Autumn also is a time for scary stories, and attendees will hear a few frightening business-related tales at TechPint. "It's important to celebrate failure," McAvinchey says. "This is a way to bring positive attention to it."

 
SOURCE: Paul McAvinchey 
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

growing farm-to-table caterer looking to hire urban farmhands

Sow Food brings the farm-to-table concept full circle with the company’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) meals. Chef-owner-farmer Brian Doyle takes the produce grown on his White Squirrel Farm on W. 47th Street and Lorain Avenue and creates ready-to-eat meals for customers during the 16-week growing season.

From June to September, Sow customers get three dinners a week. Each meal serves two adults. The meals are a combination of traditional dishes and Doyle’s special creations. All of the ingredients come from his farm -- where he grows tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, garlic and pumpkin -- and local meat and dairy farms.
 
Since last summer, Doyle has secured permanent kitchen space at the Beachland Ballroom. He has increased his regular customer base from 10 in 2011 to a predicted 30 to 50 this year. In addition to himself and partner Maggie Downey, Doyle has increased his seasonal help from two employees to four.
 
This year, Doyle is looking to hire a farmer to run White Squirrel Farm, do weekly upkeep and maintenance and bring the produce to market. “We really want someone who is willing to put in the time and effort from spring until fall,” he says. “Someone who is willing to work with me and the other chefs.”

 
Source: Brian Doyle
Writer: Karin Connelly

nortech honors seven companies at annual innovation awards

NorTech celebrated seven Northeast Ohio companies last week at its 13th annual NorTech Innovation Awards. The companies were recognized for developing new technologies that contribute to the economic success of the region.
 
“Innovation is critical in sustaining U.S. competitiveness, especially in this constantly changing global marketplace,” says NorTech CEO Rebecca Bagley. “We want to really highlight these innovations. Our goal is to create jobs, attract capital and generate a long-term economic impact in the region.”
 
The awards were given out in six categories: advanced energy; advanced materials; biosciences; flexible electronics; instrumentation, controls and electronics; and water technologies.
 
Local companies honored include Quasar Energy Group, which paired with Forest City Enterprises to build an anaerobic digestion facility on a brownfield in Collinwood. The facility, known as Collinwood BioEnergy, takes organic waste and turns it into electricity for Cleveland Public Power.
 
The system generates 1.3 megawatts of electricity per day and saves 42,000 wet tons of trash from landfills each year. Quasar has created more than 60 Ohio jobs with this technology.
 
Cardioinsight, formed by a CWRU professor and two engineering students, was honored for its development of a lightweight vest that aids in the diagnosis and treatment of electrical disorders in the heart. Cardioinsight paired with Nottingham Spirk to design and develop the vest.
 
“It’s a great partnership,” says Bagley. “They have a prototype that works and is also comfortable for the patient.”
 
Cleveland HeartLab, a spinoff from the Cleveland Clinic, developed clinical tests for myeloperoxidase, which is a plaque in the blood that indicates patients’ risks for heart attacks. Cleveland HeartLab has created more than 100 jobs since its start in 2010 and revenue has grown by 100 percent each year.
 
Other companies honored were NASA Glen Research Center, Akron Surface Technologies, Codonics and SNS Nano Fiber Technology.

 
Source: Rebecca Bagley
Writer: Karin Connelly

team wendy returns to its roots with new military helmet

Team Wendy, a designer and manufacturer of multiple-application products that serve to protect against serious and potentially life-threatening impact-related injuries, is returning to where it began with the release of a new and complete helmet solution, the EXFIL. 

The company developed and manufactured its line of W Helmets for the skiing, biking and multi-sport markets from 1998 to 2004 before moving away from complete helmet solutions and into helmet liner protection systems for the U.S. military. The company has supplied the U.S. military with more than five million Zorbium Action Pad (ZAP) protection systems since 2005. 
  
Team Wendy’s new helmet uses technology partially developed through collaboration on a key U.S. Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center program. The helmet features a hybrid sling/polymer structure impact management system that stands up to multiple impacts.

“With the EXFIL, we are not only excited about a return to complete helmet solutions but we are also pleased with our ongoing advancements in liner protection technology,” says CEO Jose Rizo-Patron.
 
While Team Wendy continues to produce the seven-pad ZAP sets for standard issue military helmets, they are also now assembling the new EXFIL helmet at its 50,000-square-foot Collinwood facility. “We really make it a concerted effort to stay local,” says Rizo-Patron. “Cleveland and greater Northeast Ohio’s strong manufacturing and engineering roots allow us to maintain a hiring pool that is largely local.  The majority of our vendors are also companies based in Ohio.”
 
Team Wendy consistently employs between 50 and 75 people in pre-assembly, final assembly and fabrication jobs. The company also works with local and state universities and design institutes to recruit new talent.


Source: Jose Rizo-Patron
Writer: Karin Connelly
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