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 second blog in this series, we’re highlighting grantees who are investing in arts, culture and education opportunities in the community.
Arts and Culture
Greater Cleveland Urban Film Foundation
Established in 2012, the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Foundation (GCUFF) is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and advancement of African American arts and cinema.
To create a better appreciation and understanding of Black culture, GCUFF highlights actors, films, filmmakers and industry executives of color through its programming, including the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival and GCUFF Black Cinema Café. GCUFF also hosts youth initiatives promoting young voices through cinema, including CGUFF Links, Hollywood Kids and the College Film Student Symposium.
Join the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Foundation for its 11th annual film festival, Afrofuturism: Black to the Future, starting Sept. 15. Visit the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Foundation on its website, or follow them via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
New Life Community Development Corporation
By engaging in neighborhood redevelopment, New Life Community Development Corporation aims to create communities where people want to live, learn, work and thrive. The corporation provides an array of services leveraging multiple opportunities, including education, entrepreneurship, housing and business development.
New Life will be presenting its art exhibit curated by youth, called Through My Eyes, on Oct. 1, 2022. The community event aims to connect health, history and healing by celebrating the artist within students, families, residents and community members and capturing the current state to envision a brighter future. Learn more about the corporation on its website and via Facebook.
Mojuba! Dance Collective aka Errin Ministries
The African contemporary dance company Mojuba! Dance Collective (MDC) embraces and honors the cultural and spiritual dance traditions of the African Diaspora. MDC aims to re-establish a cultural connection and restore the community through wellness, vulnerability and the validation of the Black narrative experience.
“Mojuba” is a Yoruba term loosely translating to the art of offering reverence. MDC features dances of West Africa, sacred Gospel traditions, and embodied expression and techniques of the Africanist aesthetic.
MDC offers multiple transformative programs and classes. The dance company will be hosting its Festival of Dance and Culture on Friday, Sept. 16 at 7 PM. Continue to learn more about MDC and learn how you can be involved via its website – or follow MDC via Facebook.
Inner City Baseball Academy of Greater Cleveland
Providing programming and activities to empower Greater Cleveland youth, the Inner City Baseball Academy works to enhance their baseball knowledge and skill set to increase their chances to succeed in life. The services provided by the academy advance the personal development of at-risk Greater Cleveland youth by introducing them to character-building learning experiences.
Little Giants Youth Fitness Academy
Little Giants Youth Fitness Academy is the first fitness facility in Northeast Ohio exclusively focused on combating childhood obesity. The fitness academy promotes the benefits of physical activity, good health, proper nutrition and healthy well-being. Little Giants provides education to students who benefit from a different environment compared to traditional schools as well as those who do not aspire to pursue higher education.
National Basketball Retired Players Association Cleveland Chapter
The Cleveland chapter of the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) serves former professional players’ lives after the court and helps them leverage their influence to promote basketball in their communities.
Led by former Cleveland Cavaliers player Jim Chones, who serves as president of the association, NBRPA assists former players from multiple leagues, including NBA, WNBA, ABA and Harlem Globetrotters, with their career transitions. Additionally, the NBRPA works to positively impact communities and youth through basketball and mentorship.
Beat the Streets Cleveland
Student-athletes introduced to Beat the Streets know that it’s more than a wrestling program. With its mission to positively alter the life trajectory for K-12 student-athletes, Beat the Streets provides access to youth development, mentoring and wrestling for Greater Cleveland youth. The after-school wrestling program focuses on benefiting health and wellness as well as physical literacy while providing impactful social and emotional support. During mat training, students will develop goal-oriented mindsets developing academic potential.
The Cleveland chapter of Beat the Streets has successfully impacted and supported over 600 children throughout the city of Cleveland in 2021. Through its In-Season Competition Team, Freestyle and Greco Club Team as well as other programs, Beat the Streets works to cultivate opportunity in underserved communities in Greater Cleveland. Learn more by visiting its website.
Take Ch9rge was formed to empower young men and women to “take charge” and develop healthy habits that last a lifetime. The youth football league formed as the Ohio Cardinals and supports people in the community experiencing challenges including poverty, violence and mental and physical abuse. Volunteers coach players to ensure that they feel supported and can participate fully and safely.
Teamwork, cooperation, sportsmanship and discipline are the key components instilled within Take Ch9rge when coaching students, athletes and community members. Take Ch9rge players recognize that they aren’t just members of a team, but part of a community through the power of sports.
Working within underserved communities throughout Greater Cleveland, ABC Read provides engaging and intergenerational reading events for residents in areas with high illiteracy rates. In Cleveland alone, 66% of adults are functionally illiterate, while about 10% of eighth graders are reading proficiently.
To change the mindset of literacy being more than a mundane task, ABC Read serves neighborhoods in the city of Cleveland to provide Reading is Freedom boxes to uplift young readers and increase proficiency in reading. The Reading is Freedom boxes contain books representing the Black community and experience. To learn more about ABC Read, visit their website, or follow them via Facebook.
Ashbury Community Services, Inc.
Aiming to bridge the “digital divide” in Greater Cleveland’s inner-city communities, Ashbury Community Services, Inc. (ASC3) addresses the technological needs of older residents with limited digital knowledge. ASC3 implements positive initiatives including education, resources and training to improve technology literacy.
ASC3 provides an intergenerational learning approach to programming to decrease disparities in the understanding of technology. Residents gain a fundamental understanding of the concepts and operation of computers and the use of the Internet.
SOS Strengthening Our Students
SOS’ mission is to enrich the lives of children and families through innovative, educational and life-skill programs. Since 1993, SOS has provided programming to at-risk communities including a summer camp for young people ages seven through 12, summer internships, tutoring and college scholarships.
Collaborating with family, school, church and organizations that serve and work with the community, SOS creates the opportunity to grow in perseverance, love and understanding. SOS’ framework is designed to enhance a family’s resilience through learning and engagement rather than failure and shame, skill development through implementation, and the ability to foster a connection to improve their broader environment.
The mission of Sevynteenth is to empower youth in the community to make positive life choices and maximize their personal potential. Founded by its CEO Ashley Thomas, Sevynteenth is dedicated to the advancement of today’s youth to become valuable citizens.
The Sevynteenth Foundation hosts seven annual initiatives to support communities in Garfield Heights and the local school districts of Maple Heights and Warrensville Heights. The foundation’s initiatives include its Ashley Thomas Day of Service, Back to School Rally, a Friendsgiving fundraiser and a Toys for Tots Giveaway during the holidays.
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.