Word from Lowell: 2017 Promises to be an excellent year

Word from Lowell: 2017 Promises to be an excellent year

Lowell Perry Jr., Executive Director

As 2016 came to a close there seemed to be a resounding feeling that it had been a trying and turbulent year for many. While every year has it’s challenges and obstacles, 2016 was a year of progress in the Promise Neighborhood. Last year, residents, community partners and the Promise team experienced success working together to support families and youth in the Central neighborhood in many ways.

Some highlights from 2016 include:

  • Our partnership with Starting Point continues to produce successes in early learning. The Promise Neighborhood is now home to 13 Step Up To Quality rated early learning programs, with six programs earning five star ratings.
  • Through collaboration with Cleveland Public Library, Family Connections and CMHA HIPPY, the Woodland Wonderland Stay and Play Room expanded hours and increased educational programming.
  • The Promise Ambassador team grew significantly, with nine new ambassadors completing training through Neighborhood Leadership Institute.
  • We expanded our internal team with the addition of an education performance manager and communications specialist.
  • The Promise community engagement team increased their work in supporting stable families and connected communities by engaging in a number of activities aimed at reducing the amount of violence in the community.

These accomplishments, along with the collaborative strategic planning we completed as part of the U. S. Department of Education grant proposal, give us a strong framework on which to further advance the mission this year. Our collective work will continue to focus on the Promise Neighborhood cradle to college/career pipeline: early learning, K-12, high school to college and/or career and family and community supports. This year, data collection and communications will be interwoven throughout the pipeline to further inform and connect our work.

In 2017, our focus includes some of the following:

  • Continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to develop an effective shared data system to better inform decision-making, enhance reporting structure and accountability, and better communicate our collective progress in a timely manner.
  • Increase awareness of early learning programs, grow the number of high-quality rated centers in the neighborhood, and increase enrollment in early learning programs.
  • Support families and schools by helping to reduce barriers to academic achievement, specifically focusing on:
    • Literacy at the third grade and eighth grade levels
    • Chronic absenteeism
    • Parent advocacy in the academic journey
  • Increase the number of Promise Ambassadors and deepen ambassador integration in Promise focus areas.
  • Serve as a connector of community resources and a conduit of information to resident and community partners.

We’ll continue to keep you abreast as these goals transition into specific actions and programs. I hope you will join us at the next Advisory Council and community meeting on March 15, 2017 from 4 – 6 p.m. at the Friendly Inn Settlement. The meeting will focus on the early learning sector and will continue January’s dynamic discussion on solutions to violence. In the meantime, keep fighting the good fight for our kids.

Promise hosts free Neighborhood Connections grant writing workshops

Promise hosts free Neighborhood Connections grant writing workshops

One of the primary objectives of the Promise Neighborhood Engagement Team is to empower residents to lead. One way for residents to take an active leadership role in the community is through resident-led community grants. Neighborhood Connections is an organization that offers small grants to groups of residents in Cleveland and East Cleveland to do projects that improve their communities. Grants range from $500 to $5,000. Since 2003, the organization has funded about 2,300 projects to the tune of more than $7.5 million.

Some examples of past grant work include: doing a community clean-up, community garden, or art project. Other examples include developing a youth program, or creating and passing out informational packets. In the end it’s all about helping the community.

In November 2016, grants specifically awarded to projects happening in the Central neighborhood included:

  • Project Self – a program for Garden Valley residents to learn valuable self-care skills to help prevent violence and become empowered.
  • Feeding the Community – the project expands on a current program to further meet the needs of those in need of food.
  • December Community Breakfast and Outreach – a holiday breakfast for women affected by homelessness, addiction and abuse. The women also receive toiletries and winter apparel.
  • Restoration of Faith – the program provides information and care packages to homeless women and women battling drug addiction.

Hoping to encourage Central residents to apply for more Neighborhood Connections grants, Promise Neighborhood engagement manager Joe Black is hosting free grant writing workshops. Black is a former Neighborhood Connections grant recipient and is currently a Neighborhood Connections grant reviewer.

Sessions will be held:

Friday, January 27, 2017 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Woodland Branch of Cleveland Public Library

Friday, February 3, 2017 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. at Sterling Branch of Cleveland Public Library

For more information, read Neighborhood Connections’ frequently asked questions here.

The Cleveland Foundation launched Neighborhood Connections in 2003 to empower people in Cleveland’s neighborhoods and encourage them to become more engaged with each other and the city around them. Neighborhood Connections extends small grants that fund citizen-led neighborhood projects.


CMSD school-choice season begins, high school fair to be held on Feb. 1

CMSD school-choice season begins, high school fair to be held on Feb. 1

Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) has announced it’s officially school-choice season, the time of year when families can exercise their right to decide which CMSD schools their children will attend. This time of year is important for eighth-graders who are deciding where to go to high school. The District allows students to attend any school, provided there is room and, in a few cases, they meet admissions criteria. Through March 13 — or Feb. 13 for most of the schools with admissions criteria — families can submit choices by going to an online open-enrollment portal — choosecmsd.org.

CMSDchoiceflyerCurrent eighth-graders can explore their options with the help of the District’s High School Choice Book, as well as school videos accessible through the enrollment portal. Students and their families also can browse school booths at the annual High School Choice Fair, scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1 at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center, 2000 Prospect Ave. Free food will be served and free parking will be available in a CSU parking garage at East 21st Street and Prospect Avenue.

Students can continue to make choices after March 13 but may not be guaranteed their first preferences. Demand was so strong at Max S. Hayes High School and  MC²STEM for this school year, the District had to fill ninth-grade seats at those schools by lottery and put other students on waiting lists. If lotteries are necessary this year, the results will be announced March 24.

Read more about the District’s new high school options available year here. If you have questions, call 216.838.3675.

Art room opens at Lonnie Burten Recreation Center

Art room opens at Lonnie Burten Recreation Center

Art classes are now available and open to the public at Lonnie Burten Recreation Center as part of the “Life Through the Arts” program. Along with general art room visiting hours, “Life Through the Arts” offers printmaking and airbrushing classes taught by artists from Kings & Queens of Art. All classes are free and open to the public. A schedule of classes is provided below.

Gwlb_art_classes_flyeren Garth, founder of Kings & Queens of Art and Promise Neighborhood Ambassador, led the initiative to renovate and re-open the art room at Lonnie Burten as part of her involvement in an ongoing community-led effort to create more constructive and safe activities in the Central neighborhood.

“Everyone doesn’t play basketball,” Garth said. “Art is a healer and it can help heal the community. I want to create lots of activities that will excite and inspire people and get their creative juices going. I want to see a Harlem-style art renaissance here in Cleveland.”

At a recent Promise Neighborhood meeting, residents expressed the need for more options for safe and constructive activities in the neighborhood. “Life Through the Arts” classes are offered four days a week and provide a creative and fun space for children and adults.

Artists from Kings & Queens of Art are volunteering their time to teach classes at Lonnie Burten. Kings & Queens of Art is a grassroots collaboration of Artists of all disciplines with a special focus on artists from the re-entry sector: presently and/or formerly incarcerated. Kings & Queens of Art’s mission is to build a network of artists and resources to support a vibrant arts environment, in a neighborhood context. The vision of Kings & Queens of Art is to be a catalyst for transforming community through the celebration of the arts and African-American history and culture. Within the next 5 years, as a catalyst for social engagement that leads to political & spatial change, their goal is to instigate the creation of an arts and cultural community in Ward Central.

“Life Through the Arts” Hours*

All classes held in the art room at Lonnie Burten Recreation Center located at 2511 East 46 Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44104.

General art room hours: Tuesday 12 – 7 p.m.

Printmaking with Rodney Carpenter, Kings & Queens of Art artist: Wednesday 3 – 5 p.m.

Airbrushing with Augustus Turner, Kings & Queens of Art artist: Thursday 3 – 5 p.m.

Airbrushing with Augustus Turner, Kings & Queens of Art artist: Friday 3 – 5 p.m.

*As of January 23, 2017, subject to change   

City of Cleveland’s new chief of violence prevention talks ‘solutions’ with Central residents

City of Cleveland’s new chief of violence prevention talks ‘solutions’ with Central residents

Nearly one hundred residents and community partners gathered at the Friendly Inn Settlement on January 18  for Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood’s Advisory Board and Community Meeting.

Duane Deskins, city of Cleveland’s new chief of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth, attended the meeting and spoke with Central residents about community-led violence prevention efforts.

“Violence can’t be stopped by law enforcement alone. All of us are needed to solve this problem,” Deskins said. “We need to be intentional in our efforts and conversations and we need to directly reach the youth engaging in violence or it won’t make a difference.”

Residents and community partners hold a group discussion on violence prevention.
Residents and community partners hold a group discussion on violence prevention.

According to Cleveland.com, Deskins will develop a strategy to draw together government offices, nonprofit agencies, the private sector and corporate community to tackle the social problems and dearth of opportunities that beget crime and violence in the neighborhoods.

A native of Cleveland’s Glenville and Shaker Square neighborhoods, Deskins, comes to the city via Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty’s office, where he led a broad initiative aimed at improving the quality of juvenile justice countywide.

“Creating jobs leads youth to mentors,” Deskins said. “Kids need to see innovation being done in order to learn the value of innovation and how it works, and they can do by working.”

Over the past few months, the Central community has started a number of resident-led programs meant to help create a safer community. Residents have led the renovation and re-opening of the art room at the Lonnie Burten Recreation Center and support groups for women affected by community violence as ways to support.

Dwayne Browder, president of the Central Youth Sports and Education Commission, has been an active member the efforts to create safe and constructive activities for youth in the community and also spoke to residents at the Promise Neighborhood meeting.

“We all have a responsibility to work on reducing violence. We aren’t going to wake up one day and it’s all just going to disappear,” Browder said. “Young people need to get involved and stay in school, once they stop going to school they get lost and turn to crime.”

The meeting concluded with parents, youth, residents and community partners holding a group discussion on the causes of violence and identifying possible solutions. Overall themes for causes of violence included: poverty, education challenges, lack of constructive and safe activities for youth. Some of the general solutions the group presented are: more job opportunities, breaking down educational and literacy barriers, access to transportation and community resources.

Community violence will be a reoccurring theme at the Promise Neighborhood Advisory Board and Community Meetings throughout the year.  Join us and be part of the solution. Dates and times are listed below. All meetings are held at Friendly Inn Settlement, 2386 Unwin Road.

Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood Advisory Board and Community Meetings

March 15, 2017 4 – 6 p.m.

May 17, 2017 4 – 6 p.m.

June 19, 2017 4 – 6 p.m.

September 20, 2017 4 – 6 p.m.

November 15, 2017 4 – 6 p.m.

“Hidden Figures” unveils world of opportunity for women of color in STEM

“Hidden Figures” unveils world of opportunity for women of color in STEM

Hidden Figures” is the story of three African-American women at NASA – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – who serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. The achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and thrilled the world.

“Hidden Figures” tells an important story of civil rights and feminism in the United States. The movie, and real-life events, takes place in the early 1960s — a time when racial segregation was the law of the land, and gender discrimination was still the norm. Especially in Virginia, where the story takes place, local Jim Crow laws enforced segregation and discrimination against African-Americans, who were legally obligated to use separate facilities. Though NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia did hire women and African-Americans, offices, restrooms and other areas were kept segregated. “Hidden Figures” portrays the hardships that black women at NASA faced in the years before the Civil Rights Act.

A group of young women from Central, Cleveland and Summit County attend "Hidden Figures"
A group of young women from Central, Cleveland and Summit County attend “Hidden Figures”

A group of eleven girls from Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority and nine young ladies from Cleveland and Summit County went to see the film on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017. The group included girls from second grade through high school.

Sponsored by White House Champion of Change Sonya Pryor-Jones and State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D) District 11, the trip gave the young women an opportunity to speak with both sponsors, NASA Aerospace Engineer Lizalyn Smith, and Case Western Reserve University Macromolecular Science Ph.D. student Taniesha Deans.

“As an educator using STEM as a vehicle to support under-served communities, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity for girls to see this film and be inspired and be reminded that wherever they come from and whatever barrier they face, they can be successful and make a difference for themselves and their community,” said Sonya Pryor-Jones, who is also the CEO of Synchronicity Consulting, a Cleveland based professional services firm.

Statistics show African-American women are still largely underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. According to statistics the number of women in STEM jobs generally hovers between 10 and 30 percent, with the number of African-American women being even less.

“I believe it is important for everyone to see images of themselves doing great things for our society.  Far too many times, girls and women of color are fed negative imagery of who they are and what they can be.  Hidden Figures is an inspiring story that shows the brilliance and beauty of black women in STEM excelling under very challenging circumstances,” said Rep. Stephanie Howse. “This is what our girls need to see, understand and know every day. No matter what your present circumstance may be, you can achieve greatness.  I’m glad Sonya Pryor-Jones and I were able to help girls from Central see such an important and empowering film.”



Stokes brothers to be honored with yearlong event series

Stokes brothers to be honored with yearlong event series

The 50th anniversary of Carl Stokes’ election as mayor of Cleveland will be commemorated in 2017 with a yearlong series of events designed to inspire a new generation of community leaders.

The initiative will honor Mayor Stokes and his brother, Congressman Louis Stokes, and build on their legacy of leadership, advocacy and action. It seeks to use history as a guide for continued social and economic development in Greater Cleveland.

Carl, Louise and Louis Stokes
Carl, Louise and Louis Stokes

Louis and Carl Stokes were born and raised in the Central neighborhood. In 1938, the brothers moved to Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) Outhwaite Homes  with their mother, Louise. Louis Stokes attended Central High School. Both brothers have credited their time at Outhwaite with having a role in their success. In 2007, CMHA opened the Louis Stokes Museum in Outhwaite Homes. The museum houses Stokes memorabilia and is housed 4302 Quincy Avenue.

“The accomplishments of Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes advanced Cleveland and the nation, and their influence continues to resonate,” Tri-C President Alex Johnson said. “Their vision serves as a guide for a vibrant and prosperous future in our city.”

The commemoration will address a wide spectrum of issues through various activities, including music and theater performances, museum exhibits, academic conferences and an oral history project. A full calendar of events can be found on the Stokes 50 website.

Signature events include:

  • Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson discussing how Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes set the framework for the city’s long-term viability. “In Their Footsteps” will be held Jan. 25 at the Eastern Campus of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®).
  • A citywide “Day of Service” project in April focused on local military veterans. Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes both served in the U.S. Army.
  • A June performance at Playhouse Square’s Allen Theatre celebrating the achievements of Mayor Stokes using his speeches and a musical score. “Believe in Cleveland” will convey the aspirations of Stokes amidst the tempestuous backdrop of the time period.
  • The November opening of a permanent exhibit at the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Cleveland History Center featuring pictures, oral histories and interactive displays that examine the legacy of the Stokes brothers.
Louis Stokes at the Stokes Museum at CMHA Outhwaite Homes
Louis Stokes at the Stokes Museum at CMHA Outhwaite Homes

“Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes changed the course of the city’s history,” said Lauren Onkey, chair and dean of Tri-C’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center. “In looking back at their accomplishments, we want to look forward. Our goal for this community-wide commemoration is for their work to serve as a catalyst to develop new leaders and ideas for Cleveland’s future.”

Carl Stokes overturned racial barriers in 1967 while becoming the first African-American to be elected mayor of a major American city. He served two terms while advancing an agenda that still serves as a foundation for Cleveland.

His brother, Louis Stokes, turned to politics after making a profound impact on the civil rights movement as a lawyer. He won election as Ohio’s first African-American congressman in 1968 and served 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Together, Carl and Louis Stokes made history while setting the framework for the long-term viability of Cleveland.

The commemoration is being led by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®), the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Foundation, Greater Cleveland Partnership and The City Club of Cleveland.

Perspective: Mentoring creates winning attitude toward life

Perspective: Mentoring creates winning attitude toward life

Lowell Perry Jr., director, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood

The impact a positive adult role model can have on a young person is well documented. Sometimes all a kid needs to inspire them to excel in school and life is to know they matter in this world.  But we adults benefit from having mentors in our lives as well.  For instance, an early mentor of mine, former National Football League head coach Chuck Knox taught me a lot about leadership and had a profound impact on my management style during my tenure with the Seattle Seahawks. Responsibility with accountability is how I describe it.

Charles Robert Knox, NFL coach and mentor to Lowell Perry Jr.
Charles Robert Knox, NFL coach and mentor to Lowell Perry Jr.

Chuck was always about doing what it took to win. He didn’t micro-manage his assistants, but gave them the latitude to prepare their players as they saw fit within the context of the overall game-plan, and held them accountable for each respective group showing up on game day mentally ready to play to win.

He stressed the importance of minimizing mistakes, and that the team’s chances of winning were enhanced if every position did their part. It was a thing of beauty when everything came together – offense, defense, and special teams. Chuck of course was the guy who made the call of whether or not to “go for it” on fourth and one!

Chuck’s leadership style and way with people, engendered loyalty, a will to win, and typically yielded high performance by everyone involved, including those of us in the front office. One of my duties back then was handling team travel, so I got to know Coach very well, as I helped coordinate moving the team from Seattle to whatever city we were playing in. This included working with the airlines, hotels, buses, and our public relations advance team.  We knew that if the trip went smoothly, both players and coaches would be better prepared mentally to do their jobs on the field. We all had a job to do to help the team win on Sunday. It is fair to say that this is an illustration of developing a culture. Winning typically doesn’t happen by accident.  I recall often repeating a quote attributed to the late Branch Rickey, “luck is the residue of design.”

The cool thing is that we were all aware that win or lose – we did it together. That attitude serves me well now as I lead the mission of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. All of us are inextricably tied together in this journey and must move through the cradle to career pipeline as a carefully coordinated team to ensure that the kids in this neighborhood are better positioned to pursue the American dream. We are developing a winning culture to drive an initiative with arguably a lot more at stake than winning a football game. Promise is in the life-changing business, and I credit Coach Knox with helping me to understand the importance of building a winning culture that will help our kids win in a transformational way.

Friendly Inn receives state certification for mental health services

Friendly Inn receives state certification for mental health services

Friendly Inn  announced via Facebook that it has been certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to provide the following mental health services and activities:

  • Mental health assessment
    • These assessments provide a thorough evaluation that will assist in determining the appropriate needs for mental health treatment. The information collected will include the information about an individual’s personal history. Once the mental health assessment has been completed, an Individual Service Plan will be developed to address the needs and concerns of the individual. The Individual Service Plan will identify the supports and services of the individual. The plan will include the client’s goals and needs based on the individual.
  • Behavioral health counseling & therapy
  • Community Psychiatric Supportive Treatment (CPST)
  • Consultation
  • Referral and Information

The Friendly Inn’s mental health services will also include school-based prevention and consultation services, community mental health support treatment through the form of case management  and case management. Read more about what these services include here.

If you, or someone you know, is in need of mental health services, call the Friendly Inn at 216-431-7656 or stop in.

If you are need of immediate mental health services, please call Friendly Inn’s Mobile Crisis at 216-623-6888.

Youth Innovation Forum inspires student entrepreneurship

Youth Innovation Forum inspires student entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds because it teaches kids to think outside the box and nurtures unconventional talents and skills. According to Entrepreneur, teaching entrepreneurship fosters the skills to not only start companies, but also to think creatively and ambitiously. It also creates opportunity, ensures social justice, instills confidence and stimulates the economy. While not all schools have the capacity to teach entrepreneurship courses, finding opportunities in outside organizations can give students exposure to this type of skill development.

The Consortium of African American Organizations (CAAO) does this by hosting its annual Youth Innovation Forum, a program that teaches students team building, business awareness, financial literacy, and overall entrepreneurial skills. CAAO Youth Innovation Forum is an 8-week urban think tank that unleashes the potential of students by introducing them to the entrepreneurial mindset. Students who participate in the program for two or more years have a 100 percent high school graduation rate and 100 percent have graduated from college or trade school.

Team BamBoom presents at CAAO's Youth Innovation Forum.
Team BamBoom presents at CAAO’s Youth Innovation Forum.

Since September, students have been working in teams designing product concepts for the hair care and pharmaceutical industry. On December 3, 2016, two teams of students presented their business ideas. Bryan Glasco (pictured to the left holding the microphone), Promise Neighborhood resident and student at Campus International, participated in Youth Innovation Forum as part of Team BamBoom. The team, consisting of Bryan and five other students from Cleveland, designed and presented a pill they believe can help prevent cancer. Team BamBoom researched the concept of biomimicry a design process that looks to copy elements of nature to solve human problems and applied this idea to their product idea.

Over 270 students between the ages of 10 and 19 have graduated from the CAAO Youth Innovation. Some of these students have created product concepts years before the product was brought to market. This includes a Universal Electronic Binder, a Wet and dry snack container, a 3-D globe for the blind.

“The program maximizes the potential of each student by introducing them to the entrepreneurial mindset. In the program the youth improve their critical thinking, problem identification, and problem solving skills. Each year we take the students on field trips so they can learn about the different career opportunities that are available to them,” said William Holdipp Jr., executive director of CAAO Cleveland. “In this program we have touched the lives of Olympic Athletes, Peace Corp workers, and future industrial designers just to name a few. Many of the students who have been in this program have come back as volunteers, once they graduate from college/university and are ready to start their careers.”

The Consortium of African American Organizations (CAAO – pronounced K-O) is a nonprofit consulting organization which provides benefits and services to member organizations, their members and other individuals through its CAAO’s BESTT initiative. CAAO’s predecessor was the African American Business Consortium formed in 1993. CAAO is about harnessing and directing the power of thousands of black professionals in Northeast Ohio. CAAO serves as a conduit to existing resources as well as assists in the areas of entrepreneurial and professional development.