Recognizing the Importance of Young People

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Youth Development

The Cleveland Foundation recognizes the importance of children in our society, and has created programs focused on early childhood (birth to 5 years) and youth development (kindergarten through graduation).

Early Childhood

3 children working at a computer, smilingThe majority of the foundation’s early childhood efforts are carried out through Invest in Children, a communitywide partnership created in 1999 to ensure the well-being of all young children in Cuyahoga County.

There are four components to the Invest in Children program:

  • Promote effective parents and families – Pregnant women and teens at risk for poor birth outcomes receive prenatal home visits, and all first-time and teen parents receive a home visit from a registered nurse two weeks after the baby’s birth. If necessary, visits can continue. Parenting education and developmental screening are also provided.
  • Enhance the safety and health of children – Low-income and working families can enroll their children in Healthy Start and Medicaid, federally funded insurance programs. In addition, the program aims to decrease the risk of lead poisoning and increase the number of well-child visits for children in Cuyahoga County.
  • Prepare children for school – School preparedness is a key priority in this area, with several programs designed to help improve the quality of child care centers with the idea that better child care leads to a better school experience.
  • Mobilize a community that is committed to the success of its youngest citizens – Educating the community about the importance of the early childhood years, as well as highlighting some of the benefits of the Invest in Children partnership, is a key effort in this area.

Youth Development (MyCom)

In 2006, the Cleveland Foundation identified youth development as a priority issue for research and investment. Following two years of planning, convening and implementing, MyCom launched as Greater Cleveland’s commitment to positive youth development.

MyCom Mission

To connect young people in Greater Cleveland with positive experiences and caring adults they need to lead good lives, supplementing the parenting and education of our young people.

MyCom Vision

By inspiring and preparing young people in Greater Cleveland to reach their potential and contribute to their community, MyCom will be a key success factor in their lives. 

What is MyCom?

MyCom – My Commitment, My Community – is a network of people and organizations that aims to give youth every opportunity for happy, productive futures in communities that value and support them. MyCom makes it easy to find supportive people and close-to-home, quality activities that will inspire and prepare youth for the future.

How does MyCom work?

MyCom connects the dots – making it easy for young people and their families to find and access a variety of services. MyCom also helps organizations better serve youth, in part by involving young people in the planning process to ensure that programs and services match real needs. 

How can I learn more about MyCom?

How can I help?

If you are committed to supporting young people in our community, you can help in many ways.

Your support as a donor, mentor, employer, or friend means that you bring positive experiences and a caring spirit to young people in our community – and you never know when that support might change a young person’s life.

Please consider joining with MyCom to live out your commitment to our community:


  • Visit the MyCom volunteer page
  • Be a caring adult in a child’s life
  • Donate to the Cleveland Foundation’s Youth Development Initiative Fund (You can do so immediately via credit card.)
  • Volunteer to be a Big Brother, Big Sister, tutor, or mentor
  • Help students at your local high school complete college applications
  • Sponsor summer camp for one young person
  • Participate in a local school’s Career Day


  • Offer internships or summer work experiences to youth
  • Direct charitable contributions to the Cleveland Foundation’s Youth Development Initiative Fund (You can do so immediately via credit card.)
  • Provide a job shadowing experience for kids ages 12 to 18
  • Donate in-kind products or services
  • Engage colleagues in a youth-focused service project
  • Distribute information about MyCom to your employees
  • Schedule MyCom to make a presentation to your board or senior management team


  • Support MyCom with grantmaking
  • Become a MyCom funding partner
  • Incorporate MyCom principles and outcomes into youth-related grantmaking
  • Spread the word about MyCom
  • Connect new youth initiatives to MyCom

The MyCom Approach to Youth Development

Youth Employment and Career Development

Focus: Giving young people the experiences to develop the skills they need to become self-sufficient, develop positive relationships, and contribute to the community.

What we’re doing: We are partnering with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.), the City of Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County to secure jobs and internships for young adults. In the summer of 2009, 3,622 such opportunities were made available to local youth, and we continue to work hard to find many more.

Out-of-School Time

Focus: Offering a wide range of activities after school, on the weekends, and during the summer to engage kids in fun, positive experiences.

What we’re doing: Through Starting Point, MyCom has helped to fund more than 34 out-of-school-time programs for young people.


Focus: Creating easy access for young people to fun and educational programming and services right in their neighborhoods.

What we’re doing: MyCom has launched neighborhood pilot programs in Bellaire/Puritas, Central, Cudell/West Park, Mount Pleasant, Parma, St. Clair/Superior, Shaker Heights, and Slavic Village.

School Transitions

Focus: Helping kids and families smoothly navigate transitions such as home to kindergarten, elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school, and high school to college.

What we’re doing: In partnership with the Cleveland Public Library, MyCom is working with organizations and families in Greater Cleveland to better prepare youth for entrance to kindergarten.