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.”

Promise honors “Champions of Central” with holiday ceremony

Promise honors “Champions of Central” with holiday ceremony

IMG_20181114_170020Over the last several years, the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood has worked alongside residents and partners to focus on improving outcomes for children and families in Central. At the final Promise Advisory Council meeting of 2018, the Promise team recognized several individuals who have been instrumental in helping to create change in the community.

Called the “Champions of Central,” these individuals were nominated by organizations where they work or volunteer. They were identified as team members who help ful fill the missions of these organizations and contribute to the vibrancy of the Central neighborhood.

More than 75 people attended the November 14 celebration that included a brief Promise meeting, dinner and an awards ceremony. MVIMG_20181114_173444

“Traditionally, our November Advisory Council meetings center on a theme of gratitude and thanksgiving,” said Richaun Bunton, education performance manager. “This year, we wanted to offer special thanks to all of the residents who are helping to cultivate a vibrant and dynamic neighborhood through their contributions and hard work.”

Each Champion of Central received an engraved plaque, two tickets for an event of their choosing at Karamu House and entered into a raffle to win a new laptop.

“We work to support our residents to be independent change agents,” Bunton said. “Digital independence is necessary to get a leg up in our highly technological world, so we were proud to be able to offer the gift of a computer.”

Champions of Central included:

  • Anesha Lynn-Coleman, nominated by Cuyahoga Community College
  • Annie Glover, nominated by Promise
  • Belinda McPherson, nominated by Promise
  • Bryanta Spencer, nominated by Nurse Family Partnership
  • Charmaine Jordan, nominated by Promise
  • Colandra Humphrey, nominated by Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Delores Gray, nominated by Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Dr. Erin Murphy, nominated by the Boys and Girls Club
  • Eloise Smith, nominated by Promise
  • Gwendolyn Garth, nominated by Neighborhood Connections
  • LaQueta Worley-Bell, nominated by Promise
  • Leroy Carter, nominated by Promise
  • Lillie Hunter, nominated by Burten Bell Carr
  • Louise Buchanan, nominated by Burten Bell Carr
  • Mildred Lowe, nominated by St. Vincent Charity Medical Center
  • Nefertiti Peterson, nominated by Nurse Family Partnership
  • Precious Smith, nominated by Friendly Inn
  • Quiana Singleton, nominated by Promise
  • Renee Wren, nominated by Promise
  • Tameika Stuart, nominated by Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Tarajuana Crowell, nominated by Cuyahoga Community College
  • Twila Norris, nominated by Burten, Bell, Carr and the Children’s Museum of Cleveland

Promise staff members Joe Black and Dawn Glasco were also honored for their work in the community. Joe was nominated by Jan Thrope, and Dawn by Friendly Inn. Louise Buchanan won the laptop.

Congratulations to all of this year’s Champions of Central. Keep watch for our program updates in spring of 2019.

Seeking nominations for Champions of Central

Seeking nominations for Champions of Central

The Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland want to acknowledge and honor those individuals who help our partnering organizations fulfill their missions and contribute to the vibrancy of the Central neighborhood.

We need your help in identifying these Champions of Central.

We are seeking nominations for individuals who exemplify at least 3 of the following criteria:

  • A passion for the Central community
  • A commitment to the mission and vision of your organization
  • Has made a significant impact in the Central community by way of leading or participating in an activity or program in the area(s) of health, education and/or advocacy
  • Serves as a leader in the Central community
  • Serves or has served as a change agent within your organization and the Central community
  • Serves as an ambassador in your organization for programs or projects that directly impact the Central community
  • Serves as a Cleveland Central Promise Ambassador

You may nominate up to two individuals from your organization. Please submit all nominations by Wednesday, November 7.

 Selected champions and nominating organizations will be notified via email on November 9. Champions and nominating organizations will be honored at the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood Advisory Council meeting:

  • Date: Wednesday, November 14
  • Location: Friendly Inn, 2386 Unwin Road
  • Time: 4 – 6 p.m.

If you have someone in mind, please complete the nomination form and submit to Richaun Bunton, education performance manager, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood:  rbunton@socfcleveland.org.

Thank you and we look forward to receiving your nominations.

#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.

WTP_CM-KF

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.

 

A Note from Sue: Making a Literacy Promise

A Note from Sue: Making a Literacy Promise

Sue_headshouldersLooking ahead in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, we are energized and excited to continue working toward our vision to support educational opportunities for Central’s families and children. The area of education is broad and diverse, and this year, Promise is focusing in on building literacy and encouraging reading among families and children in Central.

Our partners at The Literacy Cooperative have shared some staggering statistics: There is a 30-million word gap between 3-year-old children from professional families and their peers who come from families at or below the poverty level. This inequity follows these children into grade school, contributing to lagging kindergarten readiness and reading proficiency at third grade. Given that over 80 percent of Central children are in families at or below poverty, efforts to close this literacy gap are critical.

We are investing in several avenues to help support reading from a young age.

First, our Read and Ride program encourages and motivates young readers to log the books they read and enter into a chance to win bikes, and we’re just about ready to send this year’s students off on two wheels for the summer. First offered to one classroom at George Washington Carver School in 2015, the program now serves all first and second grade students at the three Promise neighborhood schools, as well as pre-K students at 10 early learning centers. In collaboration with the Knights of Pythias, Starting Point and Kids Book Bank, children and families receive books to increase family reading time and build home libraries.

We’ve also partnered with The Literacy Cooperative to expand the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to children under five residing in the Central neighborhood. DPIL is a unique early years book gifting program that mails a brand new, age-appropriate book to enrolled children monthly through their fifth birthday, at no cost to the recipient. TLC will partner with Promise Ambassadors, libraries, early learning and daycare providers, pediatricians and other medical providers to enroll families living in Central. Stay tuned for more about this in the coming months.

Our own #PromiseReads initiative will help put Central’s young readers in the spotlight, offering books and reading opportunities at events throughout the year. #PromiseReads is all about encouraging children and families to read together, and to share that reading time with us on social media – and, later this year, on the local news, with support from WKYC. Over the next several months, we’ll be promoting reading by hosting themed community events, rehabilitating our neighborhood’s Little Free Libraries and sharing photos and videos on our Promise Facebook and Twitter pages.

We know from last year’s data that the 2016-2017 school year was the first time all three Promise neighborhood schools passed the Ohio third-grade reading guarantee. This is an encouraging trend, and one we’re hoping to see maintained in the coming years.

Keep checking back on our website for more updates about our upcoming initiatives, as well as how you can get involved. I know that by continuing to work together, we can truly make change in our community.

Susanna H. Krey, President, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

 

Keeping the promise of “residents lead the change”

Keeping the promise of “residents lead the change”

Lowell Perry Jr., director, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood 

When the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland agreed to be the lead convener of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood nearly eight years ago, a central theme of “residents lead the change” resonated among all of our partners. The motto “residents lead the change” is a crucial component of long term transformation in the community because we need to embark on our work with residents not just for them. The most visible evidence of this intention is the individuals who have stepped forward to become Promise Ambassadors. Promise Ambassadors are resident leaders who have gone through formal leadership training to become engaged advocates for the Promise Neighborhood mission in order to ensure that more young people are positioned to move successfully through the cradle to career pipeline.

Now that more than 60 people have undergone Promise Ambassador training the question becomes – what’s next? Additionally, is the current state of resident engagement adequate? When we asked this question of our Promise Ambassadors, the input we received is that residents want to do more than canvass homes, hang flyers on doors, and speak out at advisory council meetings. They want to be involved in the work of Promise Neighborhood and it’s partners from concept to execution.

Using this feedback, Promise Neighborhood is undergoing a process to ensure our work internally, and our  collective work with partner organizations, is more intentional in having residents involved from throughout the entire process of our business. We have made strides in engaging residents in the process through the Promise Ambassador program, but the next phase must involve an evolution in the way all stakeholders (residents, organizations, and conveners like the Promise team) think about what “residents lead the change” means.

We believe the evidence-based approach of Polarity Thinking provides a sound vehicle to help achieve that mind shift.  This idea is characterized by a “both/and” instead of an “either/or” approach when partners in a project may have what on the surface appears to be opposing ways to get to the same result. In reality, both are valid and contribute in their own way in a synergistic fashion.

The Promise design team which included resident participants, have been working with the Enlightenment team over the past couple of months to develop the initial introductory polarity assessment tool to baseline where we are currently in the journey to the goal of a true resident centered culture. It will be a tool that can be used going forward to gauge whether residents are indeed leading the change, and consequently change the way we do business as an initiative.

The integration piece is the next level of the Promise Ambassador journey. Integration includes working with organizational stakeholders to involve Promise Ambassadors on committees, boards, taskforces, etc. The overarching goal is that by participating in the work of our partner organizations, Promise Ambassadors will organically become subject matter experts in areas that interest them. This effort will hopefully lead to internships, long-term employment and greater access and ability for Promise Ambassadors to build their professional networks.

We are excited for this next path on our journey to ensure “residents lead the change” and hope that you will join us.

Presidents’ Council’s conference brings together African-American business owners

Presidents’ Council’s conference brings together African-American business owners

Lowell Perry Jr. 

I had the recent pleasure of participating in Northeast Ohio’s first African-American entrepreneurship conference, presented by the President’s Council, President’s Council Business Chamber and President’s Council Foundation, in collaboration with Downtown Cleveland Alliance and the Greater Cleveland Partnership Commission on Economic Inclusion. The event was also part of the yearlong community-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Central’s own Carl Stokes’ election as mayor of Cleveland.

The Northeast Ohio African American Entrepreneurship Conference was comprised of two days of activities which sought to better integrate sustainability efforts into daily actions and remove barriers to inclusion by unlocking the collaborative power of business, government, nonprofit, and civil society. The event brought together all those who share the President Council’s mission of closing gaps that negatively impact minority communities, have a shared passion for and understanding of the issues and needs of African-American business owners; and actively seek progress in removing barriers linked to those challenges.

A clear message was sent that thriving black-owned businesses are fundamentally essential to the economic empowerment and sustainability of our community.  In addition to the economic missive, there was extensive discussion around the importance of mentoring both aspiring entrepreneurs and the next generation of young people.

Morning keynote speaker David E. Gilbert, President and CEO of Destination Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee for the Republican National Convention spoke to the importance of collaboration. All of the endeavors he manages require a special kind of bringing people and resources together to achieve success. In many ways, his approach captures the essence of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood where coming together as a collective body around a common purpose is the order of the day.

The afternoon keynote was delivered by Susan L. Taylor, Founder & CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, and Editor Emerita of Essence Magazine. Susan is an iconic figure in the African-American community. She is a true soldier for kids, and someone I have had the pleasure of collaborating with for a long-time. Her personal and professional testimony is fascinating, inspiring, and a clarion call to action for people who care about those less fortunate. She stressed the critical need for mentoring young people, and why it is so important that we as adults take time to ourselves to regenerate and make sure we are at our optimum best if we are to make a difference in the lives of others. If you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak – do it!

Our young people need to see more business people, men and women who look like them who are finding success in the world of business. That is a big part of the transformational change we are looking to make in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. Entrepreneurship can be a real way forward for the next generation. They need to experience this kind of an event to better understand that entrepreneurship is in our DNA as African-Americans.

Read more about the event on Cleveland.com.

Word from Lowell: Proficiency testing fails to teach life skills

Word from Lowell: Proficiency testing fails to teach life skills

Lowell Perry Jr., director 

During this month’s Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood (CCPN)  advisory council meeting, discussion focused on activities available to CCPN kids during out-of-school-time hours. The group shared ideas for activities that are education but also contribute to helping children develop life skills. Things that help to improve academic performance and also stimulate the senses and curiosities of our young people. The robust group discussion yielded some very interesting information that confirmed a long held suspicion of mine – kids need more educational and fun things to do.

In our desperation to ensure kids are passing proficiency tests, have we unwittingly been making them less prepared for life, by taking away the things that can stimulate creativity and improve socialization and life skills?

A child can only absorb so much before the law of diminishing returns sets in and their brain shuts down. The things that stimulate creativity and may have been an incentive for some kids to want to be in school, things like music, art, and sports, are the very first things the “fun-suckers” cut when budgets are tight. I always thought the primary purpose of school, especially in K-12, is to stimulate critical thinking which is an important life skill when entering the workforce. Gaining solid social skills runs a very close second. School is more about learning how to learn than the actual stuff you get crammed into your head to get a grade. I have yet to use the pythagorean theorem throughout my life for instance. But the disciplines I learned from doing homework, working as part of a group, and how to get along with others who are different from me, have been invaluable.

I admit a bias when it comes to the subject of sports, being a life-long jock, but minimizing, and even eliminating sports in some cases, might well be one of the most misinformed actions far too many school systems have taken in the name of education. Is it any wonder that too many kids are overweight, emotionally distressed, and have a hard time getting along with others? Sports is not only a healthy outlet for kids, but is also one of the best ways to teach social skills around cooperating with others. Not to mention that the activity of sports contributes to better attendance in the form of mitigating some preventable health issues like asthma, as well as an incentive to not skip school. I know in my case, I rarely missed a school day when I knew gym class was on the docket for the day!

And let us not forget the fact that competitive sports in particular, contribute to the family doing something together as a unit in support of one another.  Music and art have similar merits in that regard. Let’s be honest, it is far more fun to go out and shoot hoops with your son than to labor over math problems!

So what am I saying here? We absolutely have to ensure our kids are learning what they need to in order to be proficient in their core academic subjects or they won’t graduate and have a chance to go onto college and/or career. But academic proficiency based on passing a test is far from an accurate indicator of success in college or life. Young people have to be allowed to be kids and have fun too, or I guarantee you, they will struggle at college and at life. To be fair, parents who focus too much on athletic prowess too early with their kids in the hopes of raising the next LeBron James, run the risk of ironically burning them out on the sport.  There must be balance.

So let’s cool the jets on making kids go to school on Saturdays, adding more hours in the school day to teach math, or enrolling them in homework boot camps. Get them involved in sports. Take them to the museum to learn about art and history. Go to the zoo or the aquarium to learn about wildlife and our environment. Encourage them to take up an instrument. Or get them bullish on STEM through coding or entering a robotics competition. All of the above is also a way for a family to share in knowledge together. The point is that learning doesn’t have to only be through boring repetition, but can also be fun!