By Cameron Aloway, Cleveland Foundation Marketing & Communications Intern
August is Black Philanthropy Month. As we celebrate the power of giving in the Black community, we’re showcasing the work and talent of organizations that received grants from the Cleveland Foundation’s Cleveland Black Futures Fund in its second round of funding. Launched in 2020, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund (CBFF) supports an ecosystem of Black-led and Black-serving organizations through funding and fellowship opportunities. With careful selection, the foundation awarded $1.6 million to 43 Black-led and Black-serving grantees for its second round of grantmaking. In our first blog in this series, we’re highlighting grantees who are supporting young people in Cleveland through programs focused on leadership development and youth engagement.
Activation in Leadership Development
Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Providing scholarships, leadership and career development opportunities, the Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation (BPACF) prepares African American professionals to be distinguished leaders in the Greater Cleveland community. Established in 1977, BPACF attracts young scholars across Northeast Ohio to connect and network with hundreds of top corporate executives, small to mid-size business owners and community leaders in events and programming.
BPACF facilitates a professional development pipeline to develop excellence for young scholars. The organization’s scholarship program provides up $1,000 in financial assistance to almost 50 college students each year. Students awarded the scholarship are then given priority access to BPACF’s Career Connect Internship Program offering students career advice, professional development training and mentoring from executives in specific fields.
Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists
The Greater Cleveland Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is made up of traditional and digital journalists as well as public relations professionals, who provide support and inspiration for Black journalists. With the involvement of renowned media professionals, such as WKYC’s Leon Bibb and Russ Mitchell on its executive board, the Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists (GCLEABJ) serves the community by accurately and honestly reporting with perspective.
Since its inception in 2013, GCLEABJ hosts annual regional conferences that encompass the journalistic landscape. The Greater Cleveland chapter’s involvement led them to be named co-chapter of the year in 2016 and win the bid to host the 2025 National Association of Black Journalists convention and career fair.
Leading Ladies, Inc.
Leading Ladies, Inc. was founded to guide young women into becoming resourceful and resilient adults. Following the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” Leading Ladies, Inc. strives to aid young women in finding their power to make positive choices by conveying self-esteem, civility and community outreach.
Leading Ladies, Inc. has collaborated with numerous organizations to provide interactive community outreach events, including the Parent Teacher Association, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and University Hospitals. The nonprofit’s mentoring program utilizes community leaders to arm young women with strategies to combat pressure and negative messages in society.
Victory Center for Youth
Victory Center for Youth dedicates its services to positively impacting Greater Cleveland youth ages six to 23. Victory Center provides exposure to integrated programming to guide over 15,000 youth in the city to prepare for a journey in higher education and the professional workforce.
The center’s Catch the Vision program offers and exposes youth to experiential learning through field trips, job shadowing, college visits and a unique curriculum designed to engage youth to explore the skills needed to successfully integrate into the professional workforce. Participants included in the program will be matched with mentors to support development and validation to achieve personal and professional milestones.
Learn more about the nonprofit and how you can support Victory Center by following them via Instagram.
Teen Excellence Nonprofit Organization
Located in East Technical High School, Teen Excellence works to provide college and career preparation for students across Northeast Ohio. The lack of access to familial and financial support, the digital divide impeding students’ ability to complete online learning, and the prevalence of COVID-19 can hinder students from underserved communities. In Cleveland, there are twice as many high-school dropouts compared to people who hold a bachelor’s degree. Teen Excellence begins its mentoring process in high school to help elevate students in their transition to higher education.
Engaging with Youth
With the mission to enhance the career skills of Greater Cleveland youth, 1,000 Ties builds the confidence of young men when networking in businesses. With its motto, “one tie at a time,” the organization invites young men ages six to 18 to workshops and opportunities to connect with potential mentors to develop their confidence and break the cycle of generational poverty. The organization’s life skills program cultivates communication and life skills to help young people become marketable and employable. Learn more about how 1,000 Ties uses its resources to advance the community by visiting its website or following them via Facebook and Instagram.
David’s Challenge Incorporated Young Achievers Program
Created to address the various social, educational and economic needs of Cuyahoga County youth, David’s Challenge Incorporated’s Young Achievers Program (DCI) serves as a bridge between adolescence and adulthood. Its mission is to provide young adults with transitional services designed for direct self-sufficiency and independence.
DCI’s services provide a caring and supportive environment to supply youth with the awareness needed to gain potential, move ahead and become impactful community members. DCI recognizes that self-development is an ongoing process. Through programming, DCI seeks ways to meet teens’ basic physical and social needs through education, case management, counseling and mentorship. Young adults involved with DCI can join multiple programs, including the College Preparation Program, the Just for Us Teens Program and the Young Achievers Program.
Learning for Life Youth Program
Intending to engage, empower and holistically develop marginalized Greater Cleveland youth, the Learning for Life Youth Program establishes quality programming and support networks to equip youth with knowledge, skills and opportunities. Learning for Life provides opportunities to help youth realize their value and purpose with its four main program areas: education development, youth development, family outreach and arts outreach.
Learning for Life turns “what-ifs” into reality by upholding its values of commitment to education, resilience, character and integrity. Students in the program can participate in its Pathways to Employment, a 15-week professional, social and personal development workshop for ages 14-19 focusing on employability preparation, career pathway planning, goal setting, personal character development, and integrity in the workplace. Students can also apply for its ten-month Detour Mentoring Program to help at-risk youth improve self-esteem and decision-making through adult mentors.
Raising Our Kids, Inc.
Raising Our Kids, Inc. (R.O.K) supports families, communities and school districts through transformative programming to address the behavioral needs of students. Serving as a non-penal rehabilitation service for recently suspended or expelled K-12 students, R.O.K provides services aimed to uplift students. R.O.K supports parents seeking alternative means to address their child’s social, emotional and behavioral needs. R.O.K. achieves success through individual counseling, group sessions, motivational classes and parental support groups. Follow R.O.K on Facebook to learn how you can support and become involved in their initiatives.
Renounce Denounce Gang Intervention Program Corporation
Established through the experiences of founder Laron Douglas, Renounce Denounce Gang Intervention Program aims to break the prevalence of gang activity in Northeast Ohio. The 10-week intensive program introduces Greater Cleveland youth ages 12-17 to proactive means to detract them from joining a gang. The hands-on program guides youth on conflict resolution, cognitive thinking and avoiding peer pressure. Laron emphasizes his experience to help push young men and women away from gun violence and activity to alter their direction for a better opportunity. To find more information and learn how you can get connected with Renounce Denounce Gang Intervention Program, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.
With the mission to support the community through culturally relevant programming, SYATT, which stands for “see you at the top,” aims to build a world where youth and adults know they belong and feel empowered. SYATT encourages and exposes youth to challenging sports, and they offer a multitude of activities during the winter and throughout the year. Utilizing the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, community members can participate in guided skiing and snowboarding, school and community field trips, and day or weekend trips.
The organization also offers its U Matter Institute, a program designed for high school students with a “collegiate feel,” as the students drive lessons and activities. The institute takes civically and culturally relevant deep dives into the history, culture and future success of youth of color through a global perspective. Check out our interview with SYATT’s founders here, and stay updated with the organization by visiting its website or via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Cleveland Black Futures Fund will be extending funding in a third round of grants, with applications opening Aug. 1. Black-led and Black-serving organizations can learn more and apply for a grant here.