Onward, East Tech Class of 2020

Onward, East Tech Class of 2020

A reflection from Richaun Bunton, Promise Initiative Manager

Richaun Bunton

On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, I had the opportunity to witness history in the making.  East Technical High School honored their 73 graduating seniors by hosting a social-distanced commencement drive-through. Coordinated by CMSD and the East Tech staff, the 73 and their families lined the parking lot of East Professional Center to receive their official diplomas. As the emcee announced students names, families drove to the podium, exited their cars and were presented their diplomas by East Tech principal Dr. Temujin Taylor. They then drove down a row of perfectly parked cars that honked their horns, chanted student names and shouted Congratulations!!

I have been to several graduations, but this graduation felt different. To witness students accompanied by their loved one, in cars, some ornately decorated, watching them supported by a community determined to ensure this milestone moment was not forsaken, was terrific. I could hear the excitement in the voices as they shouted students’ names and waved outside of their cars, ensuring that students knew they were there to help cheer them onto their next phase of life.

Seeing families’ reactions as they drove down the driveway lined with vehicles filled with people who help guide, empower, influence, or some way support them through their academic journey, my heart was filled with joy as tears streamed down my face. I felt the students’ excitement as they smiled and waved to the rows of educators and community partners.

I was overwhelmed with emotions because this class of 2020 graduates endured when things became uncertain. Graduation is a pivotal celebration that marks a milestone in life. It is a rite of passage for some and a significant accomplishment for others, acknowledging that all don’t complete this process.  The 2019-2020 school year ushered in a new class, welcomed new opportunities, and the vision ahead was truly “20/20,” clear, limitless and easily attainable. Instead, this year has brought confusion, uncertainty, and a need to re-structure. Much like these 73 graduates, their families and the faculty had to do things they never planned on. They showed resiliency and perseverance in its purest form. When turning away could have been easy, they displayed patience and endured. 

This celebration was more than a graduation. It was an affirmation of faith. That no matter how difficult life’s challenges may become, no matter how uncertain the world may present to be, there is benefit in persistence.  A new journey begins for them, and this experience has allowed them to learn the importance of staying the course. Despite the confusion, despite statistics, despite whatever perceived challenges may present themselves, they are the resilient ones. They are the ones who will have the strength and courage to change the world.  I am grateful to have witnessed this heartfelt moment.

Congratulations to all of the graduates of 2020; your ability to withstand such uncertainty is a real example of the skills needed to help lead our world in years to come—Onward, class of 2020.​

Five Protective Factors offer guide for family strength in crisis

Five Protective Factors offer guide for family strength in crisis

We know that this has been a challenging time for people across our world, and we are especially concerned for those in our own Central neighborhood, where so many families have young children to nurture and support.

At Promise, we are working to better understand those elements that can strengthen a family through times of crisis, as well as times of success, to make sure children are growing and developing in the best ways they can.

These elements are often referred to as the Five Protective Factors, and we want to use our collective Promise voice to make sure Central’s families feel connected and supported through this time of heightened stress and anxiety.

The Five Protective Factors are:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children

To talk about what each of these means to our families and community, we will share videos and short blog posts over the next several weeks on behalf of our staff and partners. To keep up with the conversation, follow us on Facebook.

COVID-19 Update: Resources for Central Families

COVID-19 Update: Resources for Central Families

During these uncertain times, there are several support resources available in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as links to online activities for families with children:

Support Resources for Cleveland Central Promise

We know this is a difficult time for everyone, especially our neighbors and friends who have children home from school. Our team has been speaking with families throughout the Central Promise neighborhood to better understand the immediate needs in our community, and we are working on the best ways to support one another. In the meantime, we are sending along a few helpful community resources.

To stay informed on COVID-19, receive local updates and understand the practices to stop the spread of germs, please visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ohio Department of Public Health and the Cleveland Department of Public Health.

FREE MEAL ACCESS – as of March 23, 2020

The COVID-19 Cleveland Community Hub has posted an interactive map of all food pantries and free meal sites across the city of Cleveland.


Clicking on the location icons will bring up the address and phone number for each location, as well as dates & times for meal service.

Locations in our immediate neighborhood include:

  • Marion Sterling School
  • Anton Grdina School
  • Friendly Inn Settlement House
  • Triedstone Community Care Center
  • St. Vincent de Paul – Woodland Ave.

Children’s Hunger Alliance is supporting ready-to-eat meal distribution to children outside most of Cleveland’s recreation centers while the centers remain closed during the emergency shutdown. The grab-and-go meals are available Saturday, March 28 from noon to 1 p.m. and Monday through Fridays from 4 to 5 p.m.

In our community:

Central Recreation
2526 Central Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
Phone: 216.664.4241
Meals served: 4 – 5 p.m.

Lonnie Burten Recreation Center
2511 E 46th St.
Cleveland, OH 44104
Phone: 216.664.4139
Meals served: 4 – 5 p.m.

CHILD CARE CENTERS – as of March 23, 2020

All early learning centers in the Central Promise neighborhood are currently CLOSED as part of the State of Ohio’s mandatory shutdown.

Several area early learning centers are in the process of acquiring licensing to provide care during the pandemic, and we will share those resources with you as soon as they are available.

Activities for Families with Children

  • Starfall Learning’s website is full of educational activities to help students of all ages develop literacy skills and keep minds active.
  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District has an entire page dedicated to learning resources, both from the district and from national & international resources. Click here to access the full list.
  • The Music Settlement has developed a comprehensive listing of tools and activities available for young children and families throughout this period of isolation. Click here for the full list.

Examples include:

The Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood is a collaborative initiative led by the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.

Meet the 2019 Promise scholars

Meet the 2019 Promise scholars

On May 10, graduating seniors at East Tech High School in Central received their awards to celebrate accomplishments throughout their high school career.MVIMG_20190510_100426 A large percentage of those graduating seniors are residents of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, and had spent the previous several months building relationships with the Promise team. At the awards ceremony, the Promise team distributed scholarships to each of the Promise seniors.

“We hope these will help you get started in your post-secondary education,” said Richaun Bunton, Promise Initiative Manager, when she addressed the group. “We expect truly great things of you, to be the examples of the Promise that this neighborhood has.”

Promise awarded each individual $500 to start college. The Promise seniors will meet with the team again in June at the second annual Promise College Roundtable, where the graduates will have the opportunity to speak with current college students and alumni about what to expect when they head to college.IMG_20190510_103233

Two of the scholars, Essian Jalil and Dyshanna Perkins, were hand selected by East Tech principal Temujin Taylor for the 2019 East Tech Principal’s Award, which demonstrates strength of character and potential.

Congratulations to all graduates! Our 2019 scholars are:

  • Fatimoh Adebayo
  • Montana Burns
  • Darion Crenshaw
  • Destanee Dallas
  • Ajamonae Dowdell
  • Tyric Drane
  • Gregory Elma
  • Cierra Gunn
  • Essian Jalil
  • Brooke King
  • Domanick Leach
  • Da’Von Martin
  • Jordan McDowell
  • Aiana O’Neal
  • Dyshanna Perkins
  • Eric Pickett
  • Kenitra Robinson
  • Kevon Sellers
  • Kaila Terrell
  • Devell Walker

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.

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.

NEOSTREAM Conference with Marcia Fudge Oct. 25-27

NEOSTREAM Conference with Marcia Fudge Oct. 25-27

In the Spring of 2017, Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge hosted the inaugural Northeast Ohio Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (NEOSTREAM) Conference in conjunction with Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). Over the course of three days, approximately 930 students, educators, community members and executives participated in innovative workshops, hands-on demonstrations, and tailored lectures.

This year, NEOSTREAM will be hosted in Central, with three days of activities and workshops at Cleveland State University and Tri-C from October 25 to 27.

The schedule is as follows:

Day One: Educators Day – Cleveland State University

8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Educators will participate in an immersive professional development experience – exploring, engaging in and being equipped with practical and readily available classroom strategies in leading STREAM education.

Day Two: Executive Leaders Day and Student Day – Tri-C

7:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – Executive Leaders Day

School superintendents, CEOs, non-profit leaders and elected officials will convene for a strategic planning session to develop a blueprint that will strengthen and maintain the STREAM pipeline in Northeast Ohio.

8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Student Day

Students will participate in hands-on interactive activities and sessions designed to ignite and create awareness of diversity and opportunity in STREAM careers.


Day Three: Community Day – Cleveland State University

8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Families and community members will participate in activities which promote STREAM education and careers. Community Day will feature hands-on and interactive activities that feed a curiosity for the future.

NEOSTREAM features interactive workshops from organizations like the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Music Settlement, NASA, Tri-C Welding and more. Representative Marcia Fudge will be attending, as well as Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers.

If you are interested in volunteering, reach out to Promise education performance manager Richaun Bunton at rbunton@socfcleveland.org.

Stay tuned to fudge.house.gov for further updates, and we look forward to seeing you at NEOSTREAM!

Promise kicks off financial literacy sessions with Huntington Bank

Promise kicks off financial literacy sessions with Huntington Bank

This summer, Promise has partnered with Huntington Bank to provide a series of educational financial literacy classes to teens in Central. With 1 in 5 teens in the U.S. lacking basic financial literacy skills, classes will focus on some of the essential elements of banking: checking accounts, credit, budgets and more.IMG_20180621_151938

Twenty-eight students from St. Vincent Charity Medical Center’s Resilient Youth program attended the first session on June 21. Charmaine Jordan, a Cleveland State University grad and analyst at Forest City Realty Trust, spoke to the youth about her upbringing in the Central community and how her previous experiences shaped her current understanding of finances. Representatives from Huntington Bank then walked the students through the steps of setting up a bank account, and used interactive tools to help them understand how to balance a checkbook.

Classes are held biweekly through August at the Cleveland Public Library’s Woodland Branch. Next class is Thursday, July 5 at 3 p.m.

College Roundtable offers insights for graduates

College Roundtable offers insights for graduates

On June 13, Promise held a College Roundtable to further congratulate the graduating seniors of East Tech High, and welcomed several local college students and graduates to facilitate discussion on what to expect in the world of higher education.College_Roundtable1

Led by Promise early learning navigator Tatiana Wells, students and leaders broke into intimate groups for conversation. Topics ranged from how to choose the best classes to how it feels to be away from home for the first time.

Families of the students also joined the discussion. For many, these students are the first family members to attend college.

In May, Promise staff attended the seniors’ awards ceremony and presented each graduating scholar with a scholarship on behalf of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. Learn more here.

School Quality Navigators join efforts of Transformation Alliance

School Quality Navigators join efforts of Transformation Alliance

The Cleveland Transformation Alliance is a public-private partnership responsible for ensuring accountability for all public schools in the city. The Alliance has four interconnected roles: ensure fidelity to the citywide education plan, assess the quality of all Cleveland schools, communicate with parents about quality school choices and monitor the growth and quality of the charter school sector in ClevelCTAnavand.

Cleveland Transformation Alliance recently hired two individuals to serve as School Quality Navigators in Central. The navigator’s role is to support families and caregivers in finding and enrolling in the school that best fits their children’s needs. The navigator will work directly with families whose children are transitioning from preschool to kindergarten and from eighth grade to high school. Navigators will provide guidance to families, helping them learn about their public school options and decide which best meet the needs of their children. Navigators will also help them enroll in the public schools of their choosing.

CTAlogoSeana Jackson and Brandy Smith have been hired as the school quality navigators for the 2018-2019 school year. Seana and Brandy spent the first week of June in training sessions with the Cleveland Transformation Alliance and members of the Promise team to provide an introduction to the community.

Seana and Brandy will continue their work through the beginning of the school year, so stay tuned to hear results of the program as the Transformation Alliance continues to advance toward its goal to emphasize quality school choice in Cleveland’s families.