5 ways to keep children learning during winter break

5 ways to keep children learning during winter break

While winter break gives students and teachers a well-deserved break from the classroom, it doesn’t mean children need to stop learning. To set your child up for success in the second semester, don’t let school skills like reading, writing and math slide during the winter break.

Here are 5 ways to incorporate learning into the holidays so your child goes back to school refreshed and ready to study:

  1. Read for fun. Winter break is the perfect time to put away the schoolbooks and read for fun. Reading develops vocabulary, critical-thinking skills, fluency and even empathy. Have your PromiseNeighborhood9child read to you daily from a newspaper, magazine, or from their favorite book and let them see you reading. Take your child to the library. Central has two libraries, the Cleveland Public Library Sterling branch and the Woodland branch.
  2. Write thank-you notes. Writing thank-you notes to family or friends who gave gifts over the holidays teaches gratitude and help writing and spelling skills.
  3. Get cooking. Invite your child into the kitchen to help you make a special meal. Measuring cups are a great way to learn about fractions. You can even start at the beginning and have your child help with grocery shopping and writing the grocery list.
  4. Play together. Play is one of the main ways in which children learn. It helps to build self worth by giving a child a sense of his or her own abilities and to feel good about themselves. Because it’s fun, children often become very absorbed in what they are doing. In turn, this helps them develop the ability to concentrate. The Woodland Wonderland Stay and Play Room at the Woodland Branch of the Cleveland Public Library is the perfect place to get in some quality play time with your child. The Play Room brings together children and their parents for fun and learning. It is free and open Tuesdays (4 to 6 p.m.) and Wednesdays (10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and now 3:30 to 5 p.m.).
  5. Create DIY projects. Encourage your child to do DIY projects which inspire creativity and problem-solving skills. Use materials you already have at home such as cardboard boxes, paper-towel rolls or toothpicks and Popsicle sticks.

You can find more tips for keeping children busy and learning over the holidays on these websites:




Help re-open the art room at Lonnie Burten Recreation Center

Help re-open the art room at Lonnie Burten Recreation Center

Recently, a group of Central artists, residents and Promise Neighborhood staff began renovating the art room at the Lonnie Burten Recreation Center. The group hopes to re-open the art room to the community in January, but is in need of some items and assistance.

The following items are needed for the opening of the art room:

  • Stools (about 15) for the students to sit onart-supplies-1324034_1280
  • 3 folding tables
  • 2 Cabinets with locks to store art supplies
  •  Someone to check the Kiln to get it in working order for pottery class
  • Repair work done on the walls in the hallway
  • Large plastic tubs/bins for storage and small ones for organization of markers and pencils, etc.
  • Paint: acrylic & for airbrushing
  • Art paint brushes
  • Trash Can
  • Rags for painting and clean-up
  • Paper towels

If you have items to donate or can be of assistance for some of the repair work, please contact Gwendolyn Garth at 216.339.0571 or gwendolyngarth@gmail.com.

The opening of the art room at Lonnie Burten Recreation Center is part of a larger community initiative to create a safer, more peaceful neighborhood.

Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance partner to support families and schools working together

Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance partner to support families and schools working together

Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance have joined forces to raise awareness of the importance of family involvement in the education process. Research shows that parent involvement in education can predict a child’s academic success. The benefits of parent involvement increase dramatically if a student has learning differences or is on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Working together with Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance hope to raise awareness and increase understanding of the following:

  • How families can work with schools when there are concerns about a student’s academic or developmental growth
  • When and how to schedule a parent-teacher conference
  • How to navigate the IEP process

“Meaningful parent education and involvement is just as important as academic rigor. By partnering with CMSD and Cleveland Transformation Alliance, we are able to work with our ambassadors and other resident leaders to help parents advocate for their children,” said Richaun Bunton, education performance manager, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood.  “We want to help parents understand their child’s individual needs and use this understanding to successfully partner with their classroom teacher, which will ultimately shape the best learning environment for their child. Initiatives like this create and support quality school – parent – community partnerships which cultivate student academic growth.”

School partnership flyer
School partnership flyer

To start to raise awareness of the importance of families and schools working together, Promise Ambassadors will canvass the Central neighborhood supplying educational materials to residents on how families can successfully work with schools on student achievement. The project will also train a group of volunteers, called education partners, to serve as in-person support to families throughout the IEP process or during parent-teacher conferences.

Currently, the project will focus on the Central neighborhood schools: Marion-Sterling Elementary School, George Washington Carver STEM, Alfred A. Benesch Elementary School, Stepstone Academy and East Technical High School. If the program is successful, the plan is for this model to expand to neighborhoods and schools throughout CMSD.

“Our community engagement and outreach work has deepened our understanding of the integral role school, family and community partnerships play in supporting student success. Collaborating with Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood on parental and family advocacy for students with learning disabilities allows us to serve as a catalyst to strengthen the bonds between the school and the community in the Central neighborhood,” said Steven Lake, school quality project manager, Cleveland Transformation Alliance. “It is our hope that this initiative provides the foundation for a scale-able campaign that can be infused throughout the many neighborhoods across the city of Cleveland.”

Community canvassing with begin in early 2017. Training of volunteer education partners will start in early 2017 with the goal of having education partners available to support students and families in April 2017.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer education partner please contact Richaun Bunton, education performance manager, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood at rbunton@socfcleveland.org.

Cleveland Transformation Alliance is a public-private partnership dedicated to growing a portfolio of quality district and charter schools. The Alliance works for ensure every child in Cleveland can attend a quality school, and every neighborhood has great schools from which families can choose.

Perspective: The answer to stopping violence? Listen.

Perspective: The answer to stopping violence? Listen.

Joe Black, Promise Neighborhood engagement manager

Data shows many urban communities are seeing a rise in gun-related violent crimes, which is undoubtedly contributing to an increase in the number of young black lives being lost. An unfortunate side-effect of the rise in violence is acceptance of this behavior as the new normal. It seems the rise in violence has led to a loss of hope, and talk of solutions to end violence are often nothing more than formalities that fail to produce concrete plans to stop the loss of lives.

Youth violence forum at Friendly Inn Settlement.
Youth violence forum at Friendly Inn Settlement.

On December 14, 2016, several resident leaders in the Central neighborhood decided that it was time to take a stance on the violence in the community. The decision to act led to a youth forum being held at the Friendly Inn Settlement. The event exposed the barriers of violence in the community by uplifting the voice of youth and parents. It concluded with all parties pledging to peace, through an intentional investment in self and in the community. As a participant, I left grateful to have the opportunity to impress hope on the lives of the youth, but I realized my activity must match my passion and there is still a need to do more.

Initially, I struggled with where to begin trying to solve this issue. Reflecting on my experiences in New York as a National Urban Fellow, I thought about the policies I studied and how so often the answer was never a concrete solution. What is the solution to violence?

The best way to determine what to do is to listen and see how to apply your skills to the voice of those most in need. Which is why attending the youth forum was so valuable.

While my action may be in writing and mentoring youth, another person’s action may include cooking hot meals for newly released felons.  A father in the community may agree to serve as a coach for the kids, and a business owner may seek to employ more residents from the community.

The answer to violence can be as simple as deciding to do something instead of doing nothing.

The group of 50 young men at the forum was asked to raise a hand if they have been to a college graduation. Out of all those bright beautiful minds, only three raised their hand.

The group was then asked to raise a hand if they have been to a funeral recently. Fifty hands rose. This is the reality of a community where only six percent of youth have been exposed to a college graduation but one hundred percent of them have witnessed death.

One hundred and thirty-five lives were lost to violence this past year. Imagine how many of those lives had never attended a graduation. Central youth are being exposed to realities that far exceed the norms of past generations and because of that, we must act. So in response to the voices that I heard on December 14th, 2016, I vow to serve the youth by exposing them to advanced learning opportunities. I vow to challenge the youth to engage in learning before they engage in violence. More importantly, I vow to listen and to act.

I ask that those who share the same passion as me take a stance by contacting me directly at 216.346.5639 or via email at Jblack@socfcleveland.org, because now is the time to act.

Read and Ride program returns for 2016-2017 school year

Read and Ride program returns for 2016-2017 school year

First and second graders at Marion-Sterling Elementary School, George Washington Carver STEM and Alfred A. Benesch Elementary School are once again invited to participate in the Read and Ride program. Students can participate in the Read and Ride program by reading books and writing reports, for each book read they are entered into a drawing for a new bicycle.

Marion-Sterling students at the end-of-year Read and Ride drawing
Marion-Sterling students at the end-of-year Read and Ride drawing

At the end of the school year four names will be drawn at each school to receive a bicycle. So remember, the more books read by each student, the more chances to win a bike! Last year, Central students read 612 books and 165 first and second graders participated.

To get started on reading your way to a new bike ask your first or second grade teacher at Marion-Sterling, George Washington Carver or Alfred A. Benesch. The Read and Ride program is hosted through a partnership between Promise Neighborhood and the Knights of Pythias.

Know a student super excited about Math? Apply for CSU Math Corps Super Saturdays

Know a student super excited about Math? Apply for CSU Math Corps Super Saturdays

The 2017 Math Corps Super Saturday Program will be held on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, 9 AM-12:30PM, Saturdays, January 21-March 11, 2017.

The Math Corps Cleveland is a combined academic and mentoring program that brings middle and high school students from the greater Cleveland area together, with college students, to learn mathematics from each other, as well as to interact with professional mathematicians in a university setting.

Photo courtesy of CSU Math Corps website
Photo courtesy of CSU Math Corps website

The Super Saturday Program is part of the Math Corps that serves as a complement to the summer camp. In addition to participating in grade-level and advanced studies in Mathematics, the students receive preliminary training designed to prepare them to fill the role of high school Teaching Assistant for the Math Corps Summer Programs.

The Super Saturday Program is free of charge for all students. Teaching Assistants participate as volunteers and receive a problem-solving workshop that prepares them to maximize their performance on the Mathematics portion of the ACT college placement exam.

While priority is given to former summer camp participants, Math Corps welcome new members of the family.

To be eligible for the 2017 Math Corps Super Saturday Program, students must be:

1. Currently in the 7th, 8th, or 9th grade (10th – 12th grade for high school Teaching Assistantships)

2. Currently enrolled in a school in the greater Cleveland area

3. Committed to the goal of excelling in mathematics and willing to work hard to achieve that goal

4. Willing and able to exercise behavior appropriate to a university program

Tuition is free for all students thanks to funding from our generous donors.

If you are interested, apply online here: https://mathcorpscsu.typeform.com/to/i3epO8.

The Math Corps is based on the dream of creating a self-perpetuating corps of students from middle school through college, who excel academically, hold values that breed success in general, and who, through strong mentoring relationships, pass their knowledge and their values on to younger students, who in turn do the same.

In a world where the dreams of children are so often unfulfilled or not even encouraged, and where the obstacles to success are so daunting, the Math Corps has, from the beginning, been about making a difference and changing lives. At its core, the Math Corps is about a very simple but unwavering belief that all children have a unique and special greatness within them, and that through hard work and a commitment to excellence, as well as with the support of a caring community, this greatness can be realized.

Residents unite to develop plan for peace in Central

Residents unite to develop plan for peace in Central

Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, Ward 5, recently met with a group of residents, Promise Neighborhood staff and Promise Ambassadors to discuss ongoing violence happening in the community and what can be done to create peace in the neighborhood. The event gave community members a platform to voice their concerns and hopes for change.

“The community meeting was held in an effort to assemble a team of compassionate community members who are willing to spread hope and to develop a sense of unity during this time of heightened violent activity,” said Dawn Glasco, engagement coordinator, Promise Neighborhood. “Our goal is to work with residents to build a supportive community culture which promotes peace.”

The group of more than ten people shared ideas for ways to increase family-oriented activities in Central and how to support youth who may be at-risk for being involved in violence.

Ideas that are being explored after meeting include:

  • Re-opening the art room at the Lonnie Burton Recreation Center
  • Holding a youth forum to hear directly from Central youth on how violence is affecting them and what they think needs to happen in the community to curb violence
  • Bringing back Family Night at the Friendly Inn Settlement
  • Starting a support group for families that have lost a loved one to violence

Continue to visit the website for updates on these ideas and for information about future community meetings. If you have ideas on how to create a more peaceful community, contact Dawn Glasco at dglasco@socfcleveland.org.

Police officers spread holiday cheer at Outhwaite Homes Community Center

Police officers spread holiday cheer at Outhwaite Homes Community Center

Santa Claus arrived early this December for CMHA residents at Outhwaite Homes Community Center, courtesy of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, Inc. and Representative Stephanie Howse, District 11. Central residents had the opportunity to hang out and eat lunch with Cleveland police officers. Each family also went home with a bundle of toys!

img_4857The event brought together youth, families and law enforcement in a fun, friendly atmosphere.

“The Fraternal Order of Police has a long history of giving back and this toy giveaway is just one more example,” said Gary Wolske, Vice President, Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio. “We believe it’s important to remind the community that we’re friends and neighbors with them, especially at a time when too many people are trying to drive a wedge between police and the communities we serve.”

In addition to toys, coloring books, flash cards and more, the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio raffled off six bicycles.  Residents enjoyed pizza and quality time with their neighbors.

Why parents are the M.V.P. of a student’s special education team

Why parents are the M.V.P. of a student’s special education team

Parent participation in the special education process is very important. The most important thing parents can do is ensure they are involved with and take an active role as a member of the Individual Education Program (IEP) team. This team determines a student’s path, so a parent should be leading the way. The IEP team is charged with making educational decisions for students, and addresses issues such as eligibility, evaluation, program development, and placement of a child in special education or gifted programs.

Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance are working together to make sure families know just how important parent involvement is to a student’s success in school. There are more than 300 students in Central’s Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s schools on IEPs. The IEP process can be intimidating and frustrating at times but don’t let that deter you from being as involved as you possibly can.

Here are the top three reasons, from verywell.com, why parents are the most valuable player on the special education team:

homeworkhelp1. Parents may underestimate their importance to the IEP team
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the IEP team process. They may believe team members perceive them as less knowledgeable about teaching or as obstacles to the decision-making process, especially if they disagree with the educators. Parents and other guardians should not let school personnel intimidate them in this process, because their role as student advocate is paramount.

2. Parents provide critical input
Parents and guardians know their children better than anyone else, and have the most complete understanding of a child’s physical, social, developmental, and family history. Parents are the only adults in the educational process who have been and will continue to be deeply involved throughout the child’s school career.

3. Parents are the best advocates for their child
There is no one as interested in and motivated to see a child succeed and thrive than her own parents, and this alone places the parent in a crucial role on the IEP team.

How can you advocate for your child?

  • Learn as much as you can about their learning differences.
  • Observe your child’s learning styles. Despite the specialized tests which attempt to discern how children learn best, parents are in the best position to watch this in action every single day.
  • Keep careful records of your child’s education, including any testing and any IEP reports. Find a way to file these carefully so that you have them on hand readily if needed.
  • Correspond with teachers and other professionals in writing whenever possible, and hang on to these communications. Hopefully you will not need to refer back to any of these records, but if the need arises, you will have them.

Read more reasons from verywell.com why parents need to be involved it the IEP process here.