Cleveland Foundation announces $16.3 million in grants

Includes $771,000 in grants for foundation’s Encore centennial initiative

RELEASE DATE: 12.19.2013 

CLEVELAND  – Less than two weeks before the Cleveland Foundation marks its centennial on Jan. 2, the foundation’s board of directors today approved $16.3 million in fourth-quarter grants, including more than three-quarters of a million dollars to expand two existing programs in Cleveland to create a framework for the Encore program being launched as part of the foundation’s centennial celebration.

At its annual meeting in June 2013, the foundation first revealed plans to create a local Encore program, part of a national movement which promotes “second acts for the greater good” by utilizing the time and talents of Americans aged 50+ for the betterment of the community. Following the announcement, the Cleveland Foundation spent the second half of 2013 meeting with national Encore experts as well as representatives from local community organizations and residents to determine the niche of Cleveland’s initiative. Based on the ongoing dialogue, the foundation determined the local Encore program will have a special focus on youth.

“There is great interest among experienced Clevelanders to engage with youth and to work with them to help tackle our community’s most pressing problems,” said Robert E. Eckardt, executive vice president of the Cleveland Foundation. “As part of the Cleveland Foundation’s 100-year legacy of turning passion into purpose, Encore promises to be a transformational program for Greater Cleveland by linking generations across every segment of our community, in order to strengthen it.”

The grants approved today will enhance two venerable programs in Cleveland to form a starting point for the Encore program:

  • $526,000 to Greater Cleveland Volunteers (GCV) to expand the local AARP Experience Corps (EC) intergenerational tutoring program, which focuses on improving the literacy skills of underperforming students in kindergarten through third-grade. GCV has managed the EC program in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) since 1997. This grant will allow GCV to double its capacity from 1,000 students in 13 schools to nearly 2,000 students in 19 schools.
  • $245,000 to Business Volunteers Unlimited (BVU) to build on existing programs with an emphasis on attracting a broader audience of mature volunteers. BVU plans to engage 50 Encore volunteers as pro bono consultants focused on providing new sources of expertise to Greater Cleveland’s nonprofit entities to address critical issues in the community. The grant will also provide planning dollars so BVU can explore the launch of an Encore Fellows program, which could potentially provide paid opportunities for experienced Clevelanders through the Encore program.

Helping the foundation to further define and implement its effort will be Encore Innovation Fellow Mikelann Ward Rensel. Rensel is one of 14 Encore Innovation Fellowships assigned by the national Encore organization, Encore.org, throughout the country. She recently started her year-long fellowship at the Cleveland Foundation, after a nonprofit career in Cleveland that included serving as executive director of the Slavic Village Broadway Development Corporation and executive director of the Cleveland Neighborhood Development Corporation.

In addition to the grants supporting the Encore program, the following are highlights from the $16.3 million in grants approved by the board:

Public Education Reform

  • $600,000 to Teach for America to help fund year three of Cleveland’s program, supporting 200 corps members who are deployed in area schools.
  • $350,000 to Esperanza to expand a variety of its academic and family engagement programs, including its workshop-based Family Engagement Program, which seeks to enhance the role of parents in the education of their children.
  • $200,000 to Guidestone to support the agency’s successful Stepstone Academy in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood. After its first year, 85-percent of its students, many of whom were underperforming, exceeded one year’s worth of academic growth.
  • $100,000 to support the school quality project of the Cleveland Transformation Alliance. The funding will assist with the creation and distribution of a public report card for district and charter schools.
  • $100,000 to United Way for the agency’s “wrap-around” strategy for CMSD “investment schools,” low-performing schools targeted for significant intervention. The strategy focuses on providing comprehensive social services and resources to meet the needs of families and students.

Arts and Culture

The Cleveland Foundation launched its Engaging the Future program in 2011 to assist local arts organizations to work creatively to build audiences of the future. As Engaging the Future enters its third and final year, the foundation is helping organizations to fund programs they have developed and prototyped through this process:

  • $200,000 to Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) to help bring to scale CPT’s Teatro Publico de Cleveland project, which focuses on cultivating actors to reflect the diverse audiences of Greater Cleveland. CPT’s recent sell-out inaugural productions focused on the Hispanic community.
  • $80,000 to DANCECleveland to further develop its DanceAdvance Team project. The group’s DanceAdvance Team is made up of local dancers who use their personal networks to invite “non-attenders” to have a first-time dance experience. The success of the prototype project attracted national attention and a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation to help dance companies nationwide replicate this model.

Youth Development

MyCom, the youth development program led by the Cleveland Foundation and Cuyahoga County, seeks to connect youth with a network of services, positive experiences, and caring adults to help them reach their potential. The following grants were approved to agencies that lead specific areas of focus for the MyCom program throughout the county:

  • $661,000 to Starting Point, Northeast Ohio’s child care and early education resource and referral agency, to manage MyCom’s “out-of-school time” or after school and summer programming, which last year served more than 3,500 youth throughout Cuyahoga County.
  • $300,000 to Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) to lead the youth employment programs for MyCom. Last summer, 3,400 youth were paired with local employment opportunities through YOU.
  • $80,000 to Voices for Ohio’s Children (VOC), an advocacy organization focusing on advancing public policies at the local, state, and federal levels that positively impact children and young people. VOC is the lead advocacy agency for MyCom.

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Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $1.86 billion and 2012 grants of $91 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community’s priority areas – economic transformation, public-school improvement, youth development, neighborhood revitalization, and arts advancement – and responds to the community’s needs.

For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, please visit ClevelandFoundation.org/purpose and follow us at facebook.com/ClevelandFoundation or @CleveFoundation on twitter.