This is the third in a series of blogs where we will be sharing details about the Cleveland Foundation’s new strategic direction. Stay tuned as we share a post on the “Building and Sharing Power” panel conversation that took place during our annual meeting week.
As we continue to refine and develop this strategic direction, we are committed to working together with people and organizations across our community to understand the nuances, listen to those with lived experience, and act together on shared goals. As we begin this work, we want to hear from you. We invite you to take this brief survey to share your thoughts on the Cleveland Foundation’s work moving forward.
How might we help every person in our community discover their interests and talents and make the most of them? Creating pathways to opportunity is one of the three strategic impact areas identified as we move forward on a new strategic direction for the Cleveland Foundation. Informed by months of deep listening in the community, and through partnership between the foundation’s board and staff, we introduced our new strategic direction during the 2021 Cleveland Foundation Annual Meeting Week Presented by KeyBank, which took place Aug. 24 – Aug. 27. As part of our annual meeting week programming, we hosted a series of lunchtime panel discussions featuring community leaders working in a variety of fields. Each panel focused on one of the three strategic impact areas that frame the foundation’s enterprise-wide direction.
On Aug. 26, Helen Williams, Cleveland Foundation program director for education, moderated a panel discussion among Bishara Addison, director of job preparation, The Fund for Our Economic Future; Roberta Duarte, principal, community engagement and outreach, JumpStart Inc.; and Dr. Michele Scott Taylor, chief program officer, College Now; around creating clear pathways to opportunity in Northeast Ohio.
Williams invited the panelists to reflect on why disparities in opportunity exist in Greater Cleveland, and what we can do together to create change.
“Racism is the fundamental root of all these problems,” said Taylor, addressing barriers to opportunity.
Watch the “Creating Pathways to Opportunity” panel conversation from the 2021 Cleveland Foundation Annual Meeting Week Presented by KeyBank: It Starts With Community via the video above.
Addison pointed to the Federal Highway Act, GI Bill and redlining as policies that created segregation and physical barriers to opportunity across Northeast Ohio. “Those are policies that really decimated urban communities,” she said.
“The system is not broken. It’s designed to work this way,” added Duarte.
Panelists also discussed what policy and systems-level changes could help create pathways for people of all ages to pursue their greatest ambitions.
“We have to consider how do we connect academic content to real-life application in the workplace,” Taylor said, commenting on how to strengthen relationships between schools and employers.
“Representation is huge. We’re a very diverse community, and we all have different needs,” Duarte said, reflecting on how stakeholders in different sectors can help create pathways to opportunity for Greater Clevelanders.
“We all have a stake in changing the system,” said Addison. “Which means we all need to lend our voice to it.”