Celebrating Black Philanthropy: #BlackFuturesFundCLE invests in economic development and the environment

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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 the final edition of our blog series, we’re highlighting grantees who are focused on intentionally supporting economic and environmental resources in Greater Cleveland. 

Economic Development

Collaboration Station 

Collaboration Station’s mission is to help ordinary people create extraordinary change in their lives. To achieve this mission, the organization focuses on two areas: food insecurity and income generation through workforce development and entrepreneurship. Its Crisis, Chronic Health or Acute Prevention (CCHAP) Program delivers no-cost, healthy meals to approximately 600 seniors each year (age 55 or older) who are in physical crisis or have a chronic or acute health condition with specialized nutritional needs. Its Grassroots Business Guru Program offers free training and mentoring to early-stage entrepreneurs who are un- or underemployed and need guidance to start and grow their businesses. Learn more on Collaboration Station’s website or follow them on Facebook. 


Contractors Assistance Association

The mission of the Contractors Assistance Association (CAA) is to promote diversity and inclusion for minorities and women in the construction trades by strengthening contracting, education and employment opportunities. CAA believes we all have a responsibility to help create a more just and equitable world. The CAA supports the concerns expressed through the Black Lives Matter movement, and it recognizes that, despite the progress our country and industry have made, we still have a long way to go to remedy the inequalities of systemic racism. Check out the CAA’s website for more information.  


Enlightened Solutions 

Enlightened Solutions is a workplace equity firm that provides large-scale training, executive and group coaching, resource sharing, and strategic planning to support individuals navigating exclusionary systems in the workplace through trauma-informed resources, access to legal assistance and general advocacy. Learn more on their website, or follow them on Twitter 


Feed the Soul 

Feed the Soul aims to empower the community through food education and access as well as developmental programming. Through asset-based community development, the organization identifies and supports residents interested in advocating for better food access while learning how to implement healthy habits. Follow them on Facebook to learn more. 


Thea Bowman Center

Located at the corner of E. 120th and Union in Cleveland’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, the Thea Bowman Center (TBC) is a nonprofit organization annually serving approximately 8,000 clients, all with incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level. Vulnerable children and seniors make up 41% of the population they serve. The mission of the Thea Bowman Center is to enhance the quality of life for the residents of the Mt. Pleasant community. Holding true to this mission, its services are based upon what the community identifies as needs, including programs for after-school summer learning, adult literacy, and health and wellness initiatives. Visit the organization’s website for more information or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. 


United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, Inc. (UBF)

Since its inception in 1981, UBF has helped local, grassroots service agencies in Greater Cleveland by providing them with financial assistance for their programs. They fund over 80 nonprofit agencies annually, and these agencies serve thousands of children, families and seniors. Visit their website to learn more or follow them on Facebook or Twitter 


Village of Healing

In 2020, Cleveland was named the fifth worst city for Black women in the United States, according to a report from The Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Among metros with 100,000 or more women, Cleveland ranked last in overall outcomes and educational outcomes, and second-to-last among metros for economic and health outcomes. 

Village of Healing is a community development organization focused on decreasing these racial disparities by concentrating on providing an environment of healing in the community. The organization seeks to eliminate social determinants of health by revitalizing the community through individual development, education, financial stability, safe and affordable housing, and improved health outcomes. Visit their website to learn more, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram 


Youth Empowering Society 

To educate young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 in areas of financial stability and community involvement, Y.E.S. uses practical applications such as mentoring, life skills development, and financial empowerment to help young adults achieve self-reported goals, stay out of trouble and increase their overall health and wellness. Learn more by visiting their website or following them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram 


Black Environmental Leaders Association

Black Environmental Leaders Association (BEL) aligns stewards of the natural and built environment through collaboration and partnership to raise awareness and advocate for environmental and economic justice. The services provided by BEL are offered year-round as the organization works collectively to provide a forum for community environmental education, which can serve as the basis for a deeper understanding and commitment to the land, water, air, transportation and energy issues that impact our economic bottom line. Visit their website to learn more or follow them on Facebook or Twitter 

Organic Connections, Inc. 

Organic Connections’ mission is to address barriers to engaging urban communities with nature, promote healthy environments by increasing social awareness, and prepare the future green leaders of the world for the environmental workforce. Although parks and green spaces may physically be within reach of moderate-to-low-income neighborhoods, a lack of access, inclusion and poor upkeep of parks in urban communities continue to create barriers. To counter this, Organic Connects promotes diversity within environmental organizations at all levels by working closely with our partners on their JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) strategies; increasing accessibility to parks and green spaces through experiential outdoor recreation and discussions on cultural history; encouraging stewardship to address environmental health issues in communities; and co-creating pathways to college environmental education programs and employment opportunities by preparing youth to enter the environmental field. Visit their website for more information or follow them on Twitter 

The Cleveland Black Futures Fund is accepting applications for its third round of grantmaking through Aug. 31. Black-led and Black-serving organizations can learn more and apply for a grant here.

Join us by making a gift to the Cleveland Black Futures Fund or by signing up to the newsletter for updates regarding the fund.