Helping to Serve Your Community’s Needs

Through grantmaking and leadership, the Cleveland Foundation has a profound effect on the lives of Greater Clevelanders. Following are some examples of how the foundation’s support of nonprofit organizations helps to strengthen our community:

Cleveland Arts Prize

Cleveland Arts PrizeThe executive director of the Cleveland Arts Prize tells it like it is. “It is hard to win an Arts Prize,” says Marcie Bergman, “because there are so many exceptional artists in our community.”

Established in 1960, the Cleveland Arts Prize is the oldest award of its kind in the United States. It annually honors artists whose work has made Northeast Ohio a more exciting place to live and sets a standard of excellence to which others can aspire.

After deliberations by a jury of peers, a $5,000 prize and medal is awarded to one emerging artist and to mid-career artists in each of four categories: literature, visual arts, music and dance, and design. A lifetime achievement winner may be chosen as well.

The group also strives to raise public awareness and support of artistic creativity through special awards for arts leaders, studio tours and other events, and scholarships for area students.

Cleveland Foodbank

The Cleveland Foodbank turned to the Cleveland Foundation during the economic downturn in 2009. The Foodbank was seeing increased demand in areas the organization had not previously served and did not have the capacity to fulfill.

A $300,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation allowed the Foodbank to add three staff positions and four mobile pantries.

These additions allowed the Foodbank to distribute 640,000 pounds of food via the food pantries and serve an additional 160,000 people. The increased staffing and pantries continue to pay dividends for the organization and community today.

Cleveland Asian Festival

In 2010, volunteer leaders within the Asian Pacific communities in Cleveland approached the Cleveland Foundation with an idea to foster, educate, and promote Asian culture and traditions during Asian Heritage Month. The first Cleveland Asian Festival was funded by a modest $5,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation.

Over the past three years, the festival has seen a 500% increase in attendance and is now self-supporting. In 2010, the festival welcomed 10,000 attendees. In 2012, 50,000 enjoyed the event. The festival includes food, cultural performances, and a health fair focused on medical conditions and diseases prevalent in the Asian American community.

Gordon Square Arts District

When completed, Gordon Square Arts District will feature new or renovated homes for three beloved arts organizations on Cleveland’s west side, fueling a transformation of the once-blighted Detroit-Shoreway area into a bustling arts and entertainment destination.

Gordon Square is a collaboration of Cleveland Public Theatre, Near West Theatre, and Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. Created in 2008, the group has raised more than $25 million toward its $30 million goal, with the Cleveland Foundation granting a total of $1 million to the project.  The group’s activities have helped infuse an estimated $500 million in related retail, restaurant, and housing development in a 15-block area along Detroit Avenue. 

“Gordon Square is being held up as a model by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National League of Cities, as well as national and international media, for successfully using the arts as a catalyst for economic development and jobs creation,” says Joy Roller, the district’s executive director.  

Completed projects include streetscape and parking improvements and the restoration of the Capitol Theatre, the only movie theater on Cleveland’s west side.  Renovations are under way on two century-old buildings for Cleveland Public Theatre and its groundbreaking original works. Next up is a new performance center for the community productions of Near West Theatre.

Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry

Lutheran Metropolitan MinistryLutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) is devoted to helping the most vulnerable among us, from people returning from prison and at-risk youth to people with disabilities and those who are homeless.

Annually, 10,000 people benefit from LMM services such as shelter care, case management, work readiness and job placement, and life skill development.

LMM believes in second chances, and nothing demonstrates that more than the Community Re-Entry program. Since 1973, Community Re-Entry has provided case management, counseling, and peer support for people involved in the criminal justice system.

LMM’s newest initiative is the development of social enterprises that create career opportunities for individuals who were incarcerated or homeless. LMM is employing program participants to build bicycle racks through the Metro Metal Works program and is building a new facility with space for a central kitchen to provide meals for local homeless shelters. Participants will learn cooking, food safety and storage, and other employable skills.

Northeast Shores Development Corporation

Northeast Shores Development Corporation

Brian Friedman is the executive director of Northeast Shores Development Corporation.

More and more artists are calling North Collinwood home – and Northeast Shores Development Corporation is doing all it can to encourage that trend.

“We are reinventing ourselves as an arts community, attracting artists and their families with quality, affordable housing, generous tax incentives, and an arts-friendly culture,” says Brian Friedman, executive director of Northeast Shores, the community development corporation for this mixed-income, mixed-race area east of Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie. 

In the past 10 years, Northeast Shores has rehabbed more than 125 homes, constructed more than 60 homes, and stimulated more than $42 million in neighborhood investment.

The organization is marketing properties in the new Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District specifically to artists.  To date, it has rehabbed 16 vacant, foreclosed properties in this 14-block area, with plans to rehab 20 more over the next three years.  Fifty-four houses are now occupied by artists, nearly half from out of state.  

Northeast Shores has received national media attention and in 2011 was selected for a $500,000, two-year pilot program with the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture to explore the mutual benefits of this kind of development for artists and neighborhoods.

Ohio State University Food Policy Coalition

In 2005, Cleveland only had one produce farmer’s market. By 2009,  that number had grown to 10. At the same time, there was a growing need for fresh, healthy, affordable food in urban neighborhoods where there was a recognized healthy food “desert.”

With rising unemployment, the number of residents receiving public food assistance via a debit card system (EBT) was also increasing. However, the residents on assistance could not take advantage of the growing number of farmer’s markets since the markets did not accept EBT benefits.

The Cleveland Foundation grant of $10,000 to the Ohio State University Food Policy Coalition helped to change that.The grant funded wireless machines for nine farmer’s market sites without access to phone and electric lines and also supported the successful marketing of the program to EBT customers. 

Our $10,000 grant leveraged other funders and helped grow the customer base for the farmer’s markets. Our grant also led to public policy change. Today any farmer’s market operating in Cleveland must accept EBT cards.

Rainey Institute

Want to know the impact the Rainey Institute has on children in Cleveland? Just listen to the words of 12-year-old Tayla Gray.

“I think Rainey changes lives. I started Rainey when I was six years old, and I fell in love with it. It changed my life because I am not afraid to express my feelings and myself,” said Tayla, one of hundreds of youth Rainey engages each year in positive, enriching arts activities.

The idea, according to Executive Director Lee Lazar, is that such activities will keep children away from gangs, drugs, crime, teen pregnancy, and other urban challenges.

Tayla continued, “I have leadership skills now and can play the piano. Rainey keeps me involved in positive things. It means a whole bunch to me and a lot of other people.”

In 2011, Rainey moved into a new home, the Alexander McAfee Arts Center, just four blocks south of its previous location. The new facility allows staff to double the number of children served each year, from 650 to 1,300.

The Institute’s programs in music, dance, drama, and visual arts are also delivered in several Cleveland schools and in a variety of community settings. Programs include after-school instruction, summer camp, and Saturday classes.

Rivergate Park

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation first approached the Cleveland Foundation for assistance in securing a 6.5 acre abandoned commercial property in the Flats for CRF members. The Cleveland Foundation saw a bigger opportunity – access to the river for community residents.

The Cleveland Foundation helped connect the rowing organization to the Trust for Public Land, a group that focuses on land conservancy. And in awarding a $250,000 grant to the project, the foundation insisted its dollars be used to create public space. Other key funders followed suit, leveraging $3.2 million for the project.

The result is the new Rivergate Park complex, currently being transformed into green space and a center for rowing, kayaking and dragon boating. Three acres of the site will be public park space, which the Cleveland Metroparks assumed ownership of in May 2012. This park will be home to the Metroparks’ Institute of the Great Outdoors and the City of Cleveland’s skateboard park.

Towards Employment

Towards EmploymentJobs are Job 1 at Towards Employment. Since 1976, the agency has helped more than 100,000 low-income and disadvantaged adults in Greater Cleveland prepare for jobs, get jobs, and keep jobs, and advance into careers.

“We are driven to do this work by a desire to help people help themselves,” says Jill Rizika, executive director of Towards Employment. “When someone gets a job after coming off welfare or out of prison, we see pride, independence, and new hope. The job then creates ripples of positive change in families, our community, and the economy.”

Since 2004, Towards Employment has successfully taken on the challenge of placing ex-offenders in full-time, permanent jobs. Former offenders receive job readiness training, GED preparation, computer training, job search and placement support, employment retention services, as well as services to help remove legal obstacles to finding work. In 2011, 425 of all TE program graduates were placed in full-time employment.