Promise welcomes new Ambassador class

Promise welcomes new Ambassador class

In the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, we work to build a cradle to career pipeline for the residents and families of Central, a transformative model intended to build a healthier community.

We recognize that residents must lead the change to be truly impactful in our neighborhood, and our Ambassador program empowers community leaders who serve as partners in designing and implementing the work.

At the May Promise Advisory Council meeting, we welcomed those who recently completed training and are now Promise Ambassadors, bringing our total count to nearly 70 ambassadors.

Congratulations to our latest Promise Ambassadors:

  • Aneesha Lynn Coleman
  • Prisicella Fayne
  • Julius Warfield
  • Yvette Duke
  • Charmaine Jordan
  • Robert Lucas
  • Not pictured:
    • Alquita Ferguson
    • Tarajuana Crowell

 

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East Tech scholars explore leadership traits at Promise brunch

East Tech scholars explore leadership traits at Promise brunch

On Wednesday, March 13, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood hosted a brunch to celebrate the 21 seniors at East Tech High School who live in the Promise footprint.IMG-2089

Last year, Promise initiated a Promise scholarship to help support high school seniors as they transition to college. Seniors at the brunch last week learned about this opportunity for supportive funds, and will be eligible to apply over the summer. Promise Neighborhood initiative manager Richaun Bunton worked with East Tech to organize the brunch to encourage deeper interaction between the Promise team and the children of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood.

At the brunch, staff explained how Promise works in the community, and encouraged students to consider the leaders within themselves. Students and staff completed an exercise to better understand personality types and provide insight into personal leadership style.

“The exercise outlined four personality types: Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever or Beaver,” said Bunton. “Many of the students were lions – goal-oriented, natural leaders who favor direct communication. We saw only a small amount of beavers, who are rule-focused and maintain high standards of order and respect – traits that can tip easily into perfectionism.”

Students then considered how their awareness of their personality traits could help their college experience: for example, would an otter, notoriously messy, be a good roommate for a beaver, who prefers neatness and order?IMG-2073_sm

“We wanted our session to be fun, while still offering support and introspection as these students consider their future,” Bunton said. “We want these 21 students to know they have the encouragement of an entire group of people they hadn’t met before the brunch: our staff and partners.”

Following a buffet brunch of yogurt parfaits, breakfast burritos and more, the students reflected on the time together, saying they felt less anxious about the changes they will soon experience. The scholars will be mentored by Promise staff as they prepare for their journey post-graduation.  They will also be honored at Promise’s summer College Roundtable in June.

If you would like to get more involved with ensuring the success of our Promise Neighborhood graduating scholars, please contact Richaun Bunton at rbunton@socfcleveland.org.

Trauma training resumes for Promise educators

Trauma training resumes for Promise educators

traumatrainingfeb2019This month, educators at Alfred A. Benesch School resumed their trauma training with support from Promise and FrontLine Services. Trauma training focuses on increasing knowledge and skills for educators to maintain a resilient classroom, which offers the time and space for those affected by trauma to heal and develop new ways to respond to negative thoughts and feelings.

Kim Kiley, therapist and trauma-informed care educator with FrontLine Services, provided a better understanding on how the brain of a child who has experienced trauma responds in stressful or uncomfortable events. Together, the group discussed how those responses can present in a classroom setting.

Kim shared a video that demonstrated an example of what happens when we “flip our lid,” and practices teachers can encourage students to engage in to center themselves. Teachers left with activities that they could use throughout the school day to strengthen the resiliency of students and themselves as educators as well. Sessions will continue later this month, and teacher resiliency training will kick off in the spring.

Promise team warms neighbors in polar vortex

Promise team warms neighbors in polar vortex

The last days of January 2019 were some of the coldest on record in Cleveland. Here in the Promise Neighborhood, our team jumped in with all hands on deck the day before the “polar vortex” descended to plan the best way to help Central residents get the supplies they may need to deal with the cold weather.PromiseFreeze_libraryshelves

Several staff loaded up carts full of socks, gloves, hats and blankets, along with nonperishable food items, to distribute around the neighborhood.

Community engagement manager Joe Black coordinated with law enforcement to equip Cleveland police and CMHA officers with supplies to keep in their squad cars, and Joe and community engagement coordinator Dawn Glasco made themselves available by phone to any partners or Promise Ambassadors who needed assistance.

The team stocked the Central neighborhood Cleveland Public Library branches, Sterling and Woodland, with cold-weather gear and pantry items, and library partners shared that participation was outstanding. Other organizations began donating supplies to these sites as well. Promise staff made sure to provide supplies to be distributed at the Emergency Department at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.

Joe said that during the first frigid, on his way into Central, he saw a man leaving St. Vincent with a stack of papers, all of which blew across the lawn, and the man was rushing to collect them—without gloves. Joe pulled over and offered him a pair of gloves.

“When he put on the gloves, I saw instant relief,” Joe said. “He kept saying that he needed to visit his daughter, and I gave him a ride to the Health Line to catch the bus, along with some extra blankets and gloves to share with his daughter.”

Joe offered the man a handshake as he left.PromiseFreeze_JoeVan

“He looked at me and said, ‘no way, man—I’m going to hug you,’” Joe said. “He squeezed me so tight; I was happy we were able to put some brightness in his day.”

“The collaboration required to pull this off in under 24 hours was exemplary,” said Susanna Krey, president of Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, the lead partner of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. “It is a wonderful representation of how we continue to carry forward the legacy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine in all of our work. Even in subzero temperatures, it is our courage and community that keeps us warm.”

New Promise partner helps students transition to high school

New Promise partner helps students transition to high school

In its years of work in the Central community, Promise recognizes that the process of choosing a high school starts in middle school. Unfortunately, many of Promise’s families report that students currently transitioning from middle to high school have access to few resources to motivate them around personal interests and high school choice. To help students better understand their options for high school and recognize what makes a good fit, Promise is working with College Now Greater Cleveland to install a full-time high school transition advisor in Central middle schools.

Funded with generous support from the Reuter Foundation, Promise and College Now welcomed RaShawn Carter to the team in September. His work is modeled on College Now’s district-wide framework of placing college transition counselors in all Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) high schools.RaShawn_Carter

The goal of the program is to work with middle school students and families to understand key milestones of high school, college and career readiness while ensuring that youth are informed and prepared to enroll at a high school aligned with their interests.

As a district focused on school choice, CMSD has created a variety of high school models so students can find the ones that will help them reach their goals. Students can attend any high school they wish if space is available and, in a few cases, they meet admissions requirements.

Since October, Carter has worked with more than 50 students in seventh and eighth grades at three Central schools: George Washington Carver, Alfred A. Benesch and Marion Sterling. He focuses on building relationships, assessing each child’s interests and supporting the Tru2U mentoring program.

Earlier this fall, Carter administered Naviance career exploration assessments for the students to better gauge their strengths and talents. In the Central neighborhood, the top three strengths were most prevalent:
• Competing – Students enjoy measuring their performance against that of others and have a great desire to win
• Confidence – Students believe in themselves and their ability to be successful in their endeavors
• Future thinking – Students tend to think about what’s possible beyond the present time, even beyond their lifetime

“It has been inspiring to watch other classes look up to the older students and genuinely want to engage in their activities,” Carter said. “I have noticed students take initiative and engage in learning about their future.”

Carter said he will use the strength and personality information to help customize his one-on-one work to help students find appropriate college and career pathways. Before college and career, however, Carter is making sure that high school graduation is a reality for all of Central’s students.

In December, Carter coordinated a student panel discussion: “High School: What I Wish I Knew,” where seventh and eighth-graders could hear from current Central high schoolers about their experiences.

“With numerous tools and programs geared toward easing the transition process, it has become imperative for students and their families to get additional help just to navigate what is available,” Carter said. “Each day holds an opportunity to increase their awareness of school choice, as well as their social and emotional intelligence.”

Carter said he’s been grateful that teachers in the schools have been receptive and inclusive of the additional support. At Carver, Carter is partnered with two middle school “model teachers,” who are highly engaged with students, family and staff. These teachers have supported Carter significantly in his relationship-building with students, as well as how to think creatively about use of time, space and school curriculum.

Carter’s position has been funded for two years, so that he is able to work with this year’s seventh graders throughout their eighth grade year and help with their transition to ninth grade.

“With enthusiasm from the students and a strong supporting cast, I’m looking forward to continuing this work,” Carter said.

Richaun Bunton talks #PromiseReads on WKYC’s We the People

Richaun Bunton talks #PromiseReads on WKYC’s We the People

IMG_20181026_112837 (1)Promise education performance manager Richaun Bunton appeared on WKYC’s We the People on October 26 to talk about Promise’s commitment to literacy. “The more children have access to books, the better their outcomes in education as they grow older,” Bunton said.

Greg LeManna of Anthem BCBS Ohio joined Bunton to explain why Little Free Libraries – and literacy in general – are important factors in health and wellness.

“Your literacy directly impacts your health over time,” LeManna said. “When you have early access to books, it propels you up to three years ahead in your education, and your education and literacy directly impact your ability to navigate chronic diseases later on in life.”

You can watch the full clip here. 

#PromiseReads and Anthem bring new Little Free Libraries to Central

#PromiseReads and Anthem bring new Little Free Libraries to Central

The Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood is committed to supporting successful educational outcomes for the children of the Central neighborhood. We know that education starts at home, and parents are truly a child’s first teacher. Research shows that the simple presence of books in the home is linked to a child’s educational success.

Promise is proud to have worked with Central residents and partners to establish some of the 11 Little Free Libraries around the neighborhood. These “take a book, leave a book” structures invite residents of all ages to browse a selection of stocked titles and take them home to read.IMG_20181013_121239

As part of the ongoing #PromiseReads initiative, Promise recently presented six new Little Free Libraries to the Central neighborhood, thanks to a generous donation from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. In an October event at the Sterling Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, Promise engagement manager Joe Black spoke to the stewards of the new libraries about what it means to care for and support a Little Free Library.

Stewards all received book donations on behalf of the Kids Book Bank and Cleveland Public Library, as well as a supply from Anthem. Promise Ambassador Gwen Garth, a staple of Central’s art community, plans to fill the library she stewards with crayons, coloring books and additional art supplies for the neighborhood. Felton Thomas, executive director of Cleveland Public Library, and Margaret Bernstein, director of advocacy at WKYC, joined the event to talk about the value of Little Free Libraries in our communities, right alongside the invaluable resource of the public libraries.

The event was broadcast on WKYC. View the clip here.

New Little Free Libraries will be installed or updated in the following locations:

  • Alfred A. Benesch School
  • Boys & Girls Club at King Kennedy
  • Gwen Garth’s Community Garden
  • John’s Church
  • William Patrick Day Early Learning Center

Thank you to those who joined us, as well as to Monica Rudzinski, Sterling branch manager, who welcomed Promise to the library on the first chilly day of fall.

 

 

 

Early learning navigator wins 2018 Carolyn Grossman Award

Early learning navigator wins 2018 Carolyn Grossman Award

Tatiana Wells, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood’s early learning navigator, received the 2018 Carolyn Grossman Award from Family Connections for her work with parents of early learners.

Longtime Cleveland Heights kindergarten teacher Carolyn Grossman recognized that parents can make an enormous difference in their child’s ability to learn and grow, but need support in preparing their young children to learn in school. Family Connections has worked with the Grossman family to present the award for the last 15 years.

On Friday, September 28, Tatiana was honored with her award at Family Connections’ annual clambake. Tatiana shared the award with Natalie Friedl, director of MyCom P-16 in Slavic Village. In attendance at the gathering were Tatiana’s mother, Debbie Wells, SOCF president Susanna H. Krey, Vet Nixon, program specialist for Out of School Time, and Keesha Tolliver-Funches, Family Connections’ SPARK parent partner.

“Tatiana is an exemplary member of our Promise team, and her work is a true testament to the fact that parents are a child’s first teachers,” said Krey. “Her dedication to the success of Central’s children is paramount.”12300

Tatiana joined Promise as a full-time employee in 2014 as Starting Point’s early learning navigator for the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. Her role involves helping families find access to the best early learning options in Central, as well as offering opportunities for those early learning centers to become stronger and reach high-quality levels.

Recognizing that a parent is the child’s first teacher, Tatiana is focused on connecting with parents through the neighborhood. She conducts door-to-door canvassing ahead of the school year to speak with parents and ensure they have the tools they need to support their child’s education. Tatiana presents them with an early learning guide and talks through their options, and she also works to connect them with additional support services, like utilities, community outreach and housing support.

With Tatiana’s influence, over the last 10 years the number of early learning centers with quality ratings in Central has increased from two to 13 – nine of which are rated for high quality. Since she started her work with Promise, she has convened all directors of Central’s early learning centers into a Directors’ Network, which meets quarterly to share best practices and discuss trends observed among parents and families. From these meetings, centers have been more focused on strengthening their quality ratings, and directors are made aware of available trainings to help staff deal with challenges like student trauma, domestic violence or teacher burnout.

Family Connections president Joanne Federman said she was proud to present Tatiana with the Carolyn Grossman Award.

“The heart of the Carolyn Grossman Award is all about helping parents foster their children’s success in school and in life,” Federman said. “Tatiana creates such an easy, safe rapport with parents, children and community partners, and her ongoing relationship with Family Connections has helped spread resources like our SPARK program among local families and children.”

 

Staff & partners talk literacy and Promise on WKYC

Staff & partners talk literacy and Promise on WKYC

On September 21, Christine Mitton, director of knowledge and learning at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, joined Keesha Tolliver-Funches, parent partner at SPARK, on WKYC’s We the People to talk about Promise’s role in helping preschoolers build literacy skills in and out of the classroom.

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Watch the video here.

Mitton offered some history on the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, which has convened partners to strengthen health and education outcomes in Central over the last 10 years. Now, Promise has partnered with WKYC to launch #PromiseReads, in an effort to promote reading among Central’s children and families. Tolliver-Funches visits homes and speaks with parents about learning tools for their young children through the SPARK program, a part of Family Connections. She also leads the Kindergarten Club at Friendly Inn. In conversation on We the People, Tolliver-Funches offered tips for parents to engage young children in the act of reading together.

 

Promise & WKYC bring early learning to Children’s Museum of Cleveland

Promise & WKYC bring early learning to Children’s Museum of Cleveland

On September 20, children and families from some of Promise’s early learning centers had the chance to visit the Children’s Museum of Cleveland for the first time in an event held as part of the #PromiseReads campaign.IMG_2991

The museum’s new location on Euclid Avenue sits on the border of the Central neighborhood. Thanks to a donor gift, the museum is offering free one-year memberships to families in Central. Promise reached out to Friendly Inn Settlement House, as well as Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, to invite preschool classes to the museum with their parents and introduce them to this enriching neighborhood resource. Friendly Inn’s early childhood group and students from Outhwaite Headstart attended the event to explore the museum.IMG_3152

The afternoon kicked off with a visit from WKYC news anchor Lynna Lai, who read stories to the children as they arrived. After a few games and songs, kids were free to check out the museum’s largest and most engaging exhibits, the Adventure Zone and the Wonder Lab. Promise staff played along, joining the children in the fun and speaking with parents about how to make the experience more accessible to Central residents. Representatives from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Daily Dose of Reading and SPARK helped parents sign up for their educational opportunities, and created crafts with the children.

Each parent who attended with their children signed up to receive a free museum membership. Thanks to the Children’s Museum of Cleveland aIMG_3099nd WKYC for sharing in this wonderful opportunity.

For more information on how to receive a museum membership for families in Central, contact Tatiana Wells, Promise early learning navigator at Starting Point: (216) 575-0061 ext. 538.