| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Old Brooklyn : Innovation + Job News

15 Old Brooklyn Articles | Page:

ZooKeys return to raise awareness, evoke nostalgia

Education is key to protecting the planet's endangered animals, a mindset Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is taking quite literally.
 
This month, the zoo launched its ZooKey program, which offers young visitors customized keys that unlock recorded messages specific to particular exhibits. Kids can use the elephant-shaped keys on two dozen designated boxes scattered throughout the zoo to get fascinating facts on their favorite beastie.
 
"Our mission is about connecting people with wildlife," says Kelly Manderfield, chief marketing officer for Cleveland Metroparks. "This is a hands-on opportunity to educate the next generation and encourage them to learn more about these animals."
 
ZooKeys, part of a partnership with KeyBank celebrating Cleveland Metroparks' 100-year anniversary, are available for purchase at the zoo for $3. Pint-sized patrons can keep the keys and bring them back to access additional recordings.
 
Zoo officials expect nostalgic parents to use the keys, too, considering the program made its original debut in the 1960s. Since the re-launch, adult visitors have arrived with the old "Packey the Elephant" keys they grew up with.
 
"This has stirred lots of memories for parents," says Manderfield. "People are having fun seeing their own children participate."
 
New animal keys will be introduced over the program's current five-year timeline. Manderfield hopes the venture not only connects participants with the zoo's 2,000 animals, but inspires them to get interested in wildlife conservation as well.
 
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are now 16,306  species threatened with extinction, a figure that also includes plants. Species endangered include one in four mammals, one in eight birds, and one third of all amphibians.
 
Cleveland zoo patrons can witness efforts to stave off this trend at the Eastern black rhinoceros exhibit. This subspecies of black rhino is considered "critically endangered"  under World Wildlife Foundation guidelines due to demand for rhino horn, which has driven poaching to record levels.
 
Unlocking knowledge about rhinos and other rare creatures can be the catalyst that saves them from disappearing forever, Manderfield says.
 
"If we don't take care of these animals now, they may not be around for future generations," she says. "We're taking the idea of conservation and bringing it to the forefront."

The Cleveland Metroparks is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.
 

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.
 

Old Brooklyn business competition winners aim for steady growth and progress

It's been more than a year since the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (OBCDC) held a unique business plan contest that worked one-on-one with participants to determine how their ideas fit into the neighborhood.
 
The three winners of the 2015 Business Competition - Cleveland Jam, Connie’s Affogato and JAC Creative - have grown since being selected from a pool of 10 finalists. While not all developing at the same pace, these ventures are finding their entrepreneurial footing through new storefronts and other upgrades, says Rosemary Mudry, OBCDC's director of economic development.
 
"Each of these businesses has taken a different path," says Mudry. "Our role is helping them wherever they are in the process."
 
During the competition, finalists received Small Enterprise Education Development (SEED) training from the Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI) and met with OBCDC staff to discuss possible locations for their enterprises. Mudry helped them hash out their pitches over a period of several months, an education now paying benefits as entrepreneurs settle into the community.
 
Before the contest, Cleveland Jam was displaying its jams made from locally sourced beer and wines at trade shows, online and at Great Lakes Brewing Company's gift shop. Today, the business is refurbishing a retail space attached to a greenhouse, which also has an outdoor garden where they can grow the fruits and vegetables used to concoct their tasty products.
 
Located at West 11th Street and Schaaf Road, the business's retail portion is 750 square feet. Owner Jim Conti is readying his new digs for a November 19 opening.
 
"They have a website, and still have a partnership with Great Lakes Brewing Company," Mudry says. "It's a great time for them to expand their brand while securing a space."
 
Meanwhile, JAC Creative, a design and marketing firm founded by Gabriel Johnson, Andrew Sobotka, and Mike Caparanis in 2012, used funding from the competition to lease office space and are now considering expansion, reports Mudry.
 
The business contest's third winner, Connie’s Affogato, sells a concoction of espresso and locally-made ice cream via bicycle. The mobile storefront - a mindchild of Jason Minter - is currently acquiring permitting with help from OBCDC.
 
The manner in which all three concepts have progressed is illustrative of the development corporation's core mission of creating jobs and filling vacant spaces. Mudry is already looking ahead to Old Brooklyn residents enjoying the fruits of a year's worth of hard work.
 
"The ultimate success is having these businesses open and operating," she says. "This is a place where entrepreneurs are supported, and there's a network of like-minded entrepreneurs here working to better the community." 

ECDI Cleveland is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Bakery with Latin flair set to open in Brooklyn Centre

"If you don't try anything, you never know what will happen."
 
Such is the mindset of Lyz Otero, owner of Half Moon Bakery, a soon-to-be-opened seller of traditional Latin pastries and empanadas. Otero took the leap with a little help from the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), an organization that in August announced more than $530,000 in loans to 21 Cleveland-area businesses.
 
Nineteen of those loans were to new minority- or women-owned ventures, with Puerto Rico native Otero receiving $50,000 for equipment and improvements to her 1,200 square-foot space at 3800 Pearl Rd. Otero and husband Gerson Velasquez are using the funding to pay contractors and architects, as well as buy stove hoods and other gear. ECDI also provided the couple with financial management and computer classes.
 
Otero is aiming for an early November launch for a bakery offering a dozen types of empanadas. The new entrepreneur looks forward to stuffing the half-moon shaped pastry turnovers with endless combinations of meat, vegetables and fruit.
 
"It will almost be like a pizzeria, but with empanadas," says Otero. "Everything you put on a pizza can go on an empanada."
 
Vegan and gluten-free empanadas will be on the menu, joining Latin cuisine like rice and tamales. Fresh bread, cupcakes and other delectable confections round out the selection. Otero will create the bakery's pastry products, with her husband serving as chef. During the next month, she expects to hire on two cashiers and an additional cook.
 
While the smaller space will focus on take-out orders, patrons can eat inside on stools along the window. Outdoor seating, meanwhile, is a possibility for warm-weather months.
 
Opening the business has been both exciting and nerve-wracking. Though no stranger to the restaurant industry - past employers include Zack Bruell and Michael Symon - there's nothing for Otero like working for herself. Friend Wendy Thompson, owner of A Cookie and a Cupcake, encouraged her to start a bakery with a unique Latin flair.
 
"We're focusing on gourmet empanadas, which nobody else around here is doing," says Otero. "You never see a place like this where there's so many different kinds of empanadas."
 
Ultimately, Otero wants to leave a delicious, profitable legacy for her three children, ages 4, 6 and 7.
 
"I've always dreamed to do this," she says. "I had to step up and follow my dreams, because nobody was going to do it for me." 

ECDI Cleveland is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

2016 Vibrant City Award winners announced

Earlier this week Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) honored the 2016 Vibrant City Award winners amid 600 guests gathered at the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium. The winners were chosen from a field of 21 finalists.
 
CNP president Joel Ratner honored Cleveland Metroparks with the first-ever Vibrant City Impact Award. The community partner was recognized for its role in managing the city’s lakefront parks, rejuvenating Rivergate Park and bringing back a water taxi service.
 
Ratner also bestowed the Morton L. Mandel Leadership in Community Development Award upon Joe Cimperman.
 
"Joe is a true champion of the city of Cleveland and Cleveland’s neighborhoods," said Ratner. "He truly is a visionary for making Cleveland a fair and equitable place to call home for all city residents."
 
Cimperman recently left Cleveland City Council after 19 years and is now the President of Global Cleveland.
 
The seven other Vibrant City Award winners include:
 
CDC Community Collaboration Award: Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office
 
La Placita – A Hispanic-themed open-air market providing business development opportunities to entrepreneurs and access to local goods and fresh foods for residents.
 
CDC Placemaking Award: University Circle Inc.
 
Wade Oval improvements - the main greenspace in the University Circle neighborhood received a musical themed amenity boost and became an even more attractive and comforting destination for residents and visitors.
 
CDC Economic Opportunity Award: Famicos Foundation
 
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program management – This organization has excelled in focusing on the financial well being of its residents and had a record-breaking year with its EITC work. 
 
CDC Neighborhood Branding & Marketing Award: St. Clair Superior Development Corp. & Campus District, Inc.
 
Night Market Cleveland  -  the two CDCs partnered and capitalized on past successes and momentum in the AsiaTown and Superior Arts District neighborhoods to create a new destination event that brought exposure to the neighborhood and appreciation for the diverse cultures that surround the area.
 
Corporate Partner Award: Dave’s Supermarkets
 
The local grocery chain stayed committed to Cleveland and provides a much-needed amenity to city residents, providing access to fresh food and produce and on-going constant community support.
 
Urban Developer Award: Case Development, Mike DeCesare 
 
A residential developer that has successfully completed development projects in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood and is actively pursuing new developments in other city neighborhoods
 
Civic Champion Award: Joseph Black, Central neighborhood
 
The Neighborhood Engagement Manager for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland that possesses a passion to serve at-risk communities and has aided and mentored Cleveland’s children and families for years.

Tri-C instructor wins award for drawing students into unheralded profession

 
Stenographic court reporters must have quick fingers, exceptional listening abilities and a microscopic attention to detail. Over the last 10 years, Kelly Moranz has been creating the programs and curriculum that teach these skills to potential stenographers attending Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C).
 
Moranz's decade of service was recognized  last month with an award from the the Journal of Court Reporting (JCR), a publication of The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). The award highlighted the longtime program manager and Tri-C faculty member's work in leading students to lucrative jobs as court reporters, legal videographers and voice captioners.  
 
Moranz is also in charge of recruiting trainees for a profession that is not exactly at the top of a job seeker's most-wanted list. "People don't roll out of bed and say they'll be a court reporter," says the Old Brooklyn resident. "We have to get out there and make it known."
 
The JCR award is student-driven, making the honor especially meaningful. "I can't put into words what it means to be nominated by a student," Moranz  says. "Giving them the drive to succeed is just my job."

In court reporting, professionals use a stenotype machine or voice-writing technology to instantaneously capture words spoken at a legal proceeding or other event. Tri-C offers training on steno and specialized voice-capturing software that allows individuals to transfer speech into shorthand at a minimum of 225 words-per-minute. Students spend two to three hours daily sharpening both their speed and accuracy to keep pace with an average rate of speech that clocks in at 160 to 180 words-per-minute.
 
"It's a rare skill that's in demand," says Moranz of a vocation projected to have 5,500 new openings nationwide by 2018. "You've got to listen and write everything being said in a language we teach you. I like to say that court reporters are the original texters."
 
Moranz spearheads mentoring efforts as well as a 45-member captioning and court reporting club. She's also presented information about court reporting to Tri-C's Women in Transition program, which addresses women changing occupations or pursuing second careers.
 
With outreach being a key aspect of the job, Moranz has spoken at high schools to recruit those interested in the opportunity. Program grads may move into a court setting to record real-time transcriptions of a deposition or trial. Outside a courtroom, stenographers are employed by businesses, where their work is used for meetings and events. Closed-captioning for live television programs, speeches and religious services is another expanding area of the field.
 
Whatever job a graduate chooses, they should have a solid grasp of grammar, punctuation and spelling, along with high concentration levels and a willingness to spend hours polishing their skill set, says Moranz. The end result can be a career with an initial salary of $45,000 to $55,000, with top stenographers earning up to six figures.
 
For her part, Moranz will be happy if her award sheds some light on an oft-underappreciated career path.
 
"I'm proud to have the opportunity to change peoples' lives with an exciting profession," she says. 

This story was made possible by a partnership with Cuyahoga Community College.

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.

Cleveland Coffee and Dellavedova create a buzz with a new blend

Just in time for Australia Day today, Tuesday, Jan. 26, Cleveland Coffee Company yesterday introduced a new coffee blend in honor of Australian native and Cavs point guard Matthew “Delly” Dellavedova, called G’Day Mate.

Created by Delly himself, the blend is of Sumatra and Peruvian coffees – Sumatra, which borders Australia, and Peruvian, which is known for its velvety texture, create a rich aroma and bold flavor.
 
After going through the chain of command, Cleveland Coffee owner Brendan Walton first invited Delly to come to his roaster back in December, after taking note of the basketball player’s love for coffee during the NBA Playoffs.
 
“It seemed to be his beverage of preference before, and sometimes during, the game,” says Walton. “So I invited him to our warehouse to do coffee roasting 101, which was cool because he’d never seen it done before. He was very interested and asked a lot of questions, so we had him do one of the roasts.”
 
Walton says Delly, who drinks his coffee black, prefers a dark roast with bold flavor. So after tasting a few blends, Walton and Delly developed a suitable flavor profile in G’Day Mate.
 
Walton delivered the new blend to 40 area retailers yesterday. The G’Day Mate blend will be available through the end of June in stores, online and at Walton’s cafe in A.J. Rocco’s, 816 Huron Road.
 
Furthermore, Walton announced that Cleveland Coffee Company will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from G'Day Mate sales to All Faiths Pantry, a non-profit organization in Old Brooklyn that works with the Cleveland Food Bank to deliver groceries to seniors and other people with limited mobility.
 
“I think it will go over well, and Delly was very receptive to that,” says Walton. “[Executive director] John [Visnauskas], he’s a good soul working to help people out. I’m sure it will sell.”
 
The Cavs played their first "Australia Day" game last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves and wore their gold uniforms to honor Australia’s colors, gold and green. The Cavs won, 114-107.

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.”

Urban Kutz welcomes all, already benefitting from the upcoming RNC

Growing up in East Cleveland and a graduate of Shaw High School, Waverly “Big Wave” Willis has been cutting hair since he was a kid. After high school, Willis was tempted by a life of trouble. “I was a street guy,” he recalls. “But I wanted to leave that lifestyle alone. I thought about leaving town.”

Instead Willis moved to Cleveland’s west side and went the business route. He opened Urban Kutz Barbershop at W. 111th Street and Detroit in 2008. Willis did so well, he opened a second location on Pearl Road in 2014 and the shop was voted best barber shop on the 2015 Cleveland Hot List.
 
Urban Kutz caters to all types of customers. The only caveat is you must have a good time when you’re in the shop. “We’re a diverse barber shop,” Willis says. “We get a myriad of Clevelanders, people of all races. During your time in the barber shop, be it 15 minutes or an hour, we do have a good time.”
 
Willis cites a recent day when he had a customer from Vietnam, a customer from London and two customers from the United States sitting in his chairs. Urban Kutz is also well respected in the LGBT community. “You can’t be homophobic or racist,” says Willis. “Everybody is welcome. Our clientele and diversity is really what set us apart. When people come through here we have a good time, we just talk about stuff.”
 
When Willis learned Cleveland would host the Republican National Convention in 2016, he started to notice an uptick in customers. He estimates each location began seeing an increase of two to 10 people a week, all with some affiliation to the RNC. So he promptly signed Urban Kutz up for the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee supplier list. Almost instantly, Willis began to see an even more diverse customer base emerge.
 
“We have seen a significant amount of people doing some type of work with the RNC,” Willis explains. “I didn’t expect to see anything until next summer. We had a North Carolina guy here who was in Cleveland specifically to wash windows. We had another guy doing security detail. We’ve been getting a lot of business from people from the RNC already. I’m really looking forward to the RNC when they get here next year.”
 
When Willis isn’t busy with running his two shops, training staff as a licensed barber instructor and meeting people affiliated with the RNC, he spends his time doing charity work. Most recently, he participated in a winter coat drive with 93.1 radio personality Sam Silk. The huge cardboard box he put out overflowed quickly with donations. Willis is active with The Urban Barber Association (TUBA) and The Barbershop Literacy Project and works with several area shelters.
 
It all fits with Willis’ mission. “I try to do my best,” he says. “I feel so fortunate. From the moment we opened our doors we were received so well.”

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.”

Cleveland Jam's sweet new creations made from local wine and beer

Jim Conti started making wine as a hobby five years ago. While his friends loved his wine, he wanted to do something with the sediment left at the bottom of his bottles.

“I didn’t want to throw it away,” he recalls. “I thought about what I could do with it. I tried it, and it was pretty good.”

Then one day an idea came to Conti: Why not make jams out of the sweet sediment left over from the wine he created? After many recipe trials and taste tests, Cleveland Jam was born. Since 2013, Conti and his two partners, Dennis Kramer and Dennis Schultz, have been producing jams and jellies made from local wines and beers.

Conti begins the jam-making process by boiling down the wine to remove the alcohol, then processing it into jams and jellies. After perfecting the wine jellies, he thought “why not beer?” So Conti went to work on making beer jams as well.

Cleveland Jam now has five beer jams and three different wine jellies – all made with the aid of local brewers and vineyards and locally-grown produce. The company’s signature wine jelly flavors are Dynamite White Zinfandel, Rock and Roll Merlot and Press Play Cabernet.
 
The company has its own half-acre vineyard in the Clark-Fulton district off W. 25th Street on Sackett Avenue. The eight varieties should start producing fruit in the next two years. The site is actually an old brewery from the Prohibition era and Conti hopes to open a storefront there. His ultimate dream is to open urban vineyards all over the city.

In addition to his original Beer Jam, Conti began working with Great Lakes Brewing Company last year to create Burning River Pepper Jam. In July, the two companies released Eliot Ness Fig-Apple jam. “They put it on prosciutto sandwiches,” Conti says. Cleveland Jam also makes two beer jellies with a brewing company in Catawba – blueberry IPA and mango habanero.

The jams are used on menu items at Great Lakes and are available in Great Lakes gift shops.  Their popularity is keeping Conti busy these days. This summer, Cleveland Jam was chosen as one of three companies in the Old Brooklyn Community Development’s business pitch competition to receive a grant to open a storefront in the Old Brooklyn. Conti says he hopes to open in the city in the next few months.

Jason Minter plans to pedal Italian treats around Cleveland neighborhoods

Jason Minter has fond memories of his grandmother, Connie Pugh, and her fascination with PBS programming. “Every Sunday we would go to my grandma’s after church and she was always watching PBS,” he recalls. “She would say, ‘PBS brings all these cultures to me right in my living room.’ My grandmother never left the city.”

Years later, in 2012, Minter was in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy as a teaching assistant with Texas A&M’s college of architecture study abroad program when he discovered affogatos – gelato topped with a shot of espresso. The experience reminded Minter of his grandmother’s travels via public television.
 
After duplicating the affogatos for some friends back home in Tremont, Minter was encouraged to start a business of it. He kept testing his recipe and attended Cleveland State’s Meet the Lenders program last summer, where he got additional encouragement. He decided to call it Connie’s Affogato.
 
Minter then decided to enter the Old Brooklyn business plan competition, and was one of three winners. “We approached the competition with the understanding that opening a bricks and mortar storefront would be unfeasible for Connie's Affogato at this point,” he explains. “Instead we proposed a new model for economic development with a substantially lower barrier to entry than existing models. The competition judges responded positively to our strategy.”
 
The mobile affogato shop will be equipped with a specially-made bicycle – complete with a freezer, stove and “storefront” – with help from Soulcraft Woodshop and CWRU’s ThinkBox.  Espresso will be brewed on the bike, while he plans to get his ice cream from a local supplier.
 
Connie’s Affogato will serve Old Brooklyn, as well as area festivals and fairs. “The city of Cleveland is my canvas,” Minter says. “I see a Cleveland where people are spending a little less time in their homes and car and contributing to a vibrant street life.”
 
Minter plans to take growth one step at a time. He is on schedule to open May 1st next summer with just one mobile storefront, then grow accordingly. While he says it’s not necessary, his plan includes opening a bricks and mortar storefront in three years. “You got to let the market guide you,” he says.

Old Brooklyn pitch competition winners aim to fill empty storefronts

Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (OBCDC) recently hosted a business plan competition in an effort to fill vacant storefronts with viable new businesses. The competition offered applicants the opportunity to win training and grant funding they could use to launch new ventures.

Ten finalists were chosen from more than 30 applicants, says Jeff Verespej, executive director of the OBCDC. “It’s been an incredibly exciting time the last couple of months in Old Brooklyn," he says.

The 10 finalists then went on to receive Small Enterprise Education Development (SEED) training from ECDI and met with OBCDC staff to discuss possible locations for their businesses. “For me it was really important to have the finalist pool to have the education piece,” says Verespej. “I didn’t want a competition where 30 people threw their hats in the ring and one business gets a check. All of the participants praised the education component. They found the training to be comprehensive and in-depth.”
 
One of the winners found the educational component particularly helpful. “The ECDI class was a good refresher course from college,” says Jim Conti of Cleveland Jam, which makes jams from local beer and wines. “It touched on some of the technical parts of the business such as licenses, permits, web traffic and sourced information that was all helpful for any small business.”
 
Nine of the companies made it through the training and went on to give four-minute business plan pitches to an audience and a panel of judges at the MetroHealth Old Brooklyn Health Center last week.
 
Three companies were chosen to receive grant funding through ECDI, which received a $30,000 grant from a fund seeded by Huntington Bank at the Ohio Capital Income Corporation to help Cleveland-area cities with their economic development efforts. In addition to Cleveland Jam, the other two winners are Jason Minter of Connie’s Affogato, which pours espresso over locally-made ice cream and sells it via bicycle, and JAC Creative, a design and marketing firm.
 
“We’re going to be able to help these businesses make their dreams a reality,” says Verespej. The winners will receive a portion of the grant money, one-on-one assistance finding a location in Old Brooklyn, additional financial incentives and training.
 
“Winning the competition has been really exciting,” says Mike Caparanis of JAC Creative. “We set aside a lot of time to construct the business plan and our presentation, and it’s nice to see our hard work paid off. It's also really empowering to have the support of the city and our neighborhood. Our next step is to use our grant funds to establish a creative studio in Old Brooklyn by the end of year.”
 
While the three were chosen as the winners of the competition, Verespej says he hopes the other six companies will also open in Old Brooklyn. “We’re going to work with all of them,” he says. “The goal is to open nine businesses in Old Brooklyn. I am confident we’re going to have more than three success stories from this program.”
15 Old Brooklyn Articles | Page:
Signup for Email Alerts