Adult Literacy Innovation Team

We’ve been honored to spend the past year working in community with people dedicated to improving literacy in our city. Collaborating across neighborhoods and organizations, we hosted an Adult Literacy Innovation Team. 

https://www.ukmeds.co.uk/

Folks worked in small groups and focused on different topic areas to test out new ways to make Cleveland a city where we all have the power to read. Everyone on the team brought so much passion and commitment to thinking and acting in new ways when it comes to improving adult literacy in our city.

We want to thank all the team members for dedicating themselves to the work!

Many of us have seen the statistic: 66 percent of Cleveland adults are low literate, and struggle to read bus schedules, medicine bottles and other everyday information. One woman working to improve adult literacy in Cleveland compared reading to breathing – those of us who can read don’t really think about it, but it is reading that sustains us and connects us to information, jobs and other opportunities. For those of us who can not read, much is out of reach.

Luckily, there is a shared desire among grassroots leaders and others working with adult literacy to connect and strengthen efforts – all with the goal of improving life in our city.

We’ve been working together this year and we designed a cohort experience — called an Innovation Team.

We used the emerging social science of Community Network Building (on which Neighbor Up is based) to weave together diverse community stakeholders for mutual support and action.

Adult Literacy Innovation Team members

  • Amy Wu is a Neighbor Up member who is committed to connecting people and has worked as a tutor with adult students.
  • Bonnie Entler is with Seeds of Literacy, a nonprofit organization that provides free GED®, and HiSET® preparation and basic education to adults in the Cleveland area.
  • Brittinie “BJ” Jermon is a Neighbor Up member with a passion for inspiring students, who worked with Freedom Schools and now works at Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
  • Carlos Alvarado teaches adult learners at Esperanza, a nonprofit with the mission of improving the academic achievement of Hispanics in Greater Cleveland by supporting students to graduate high school and promoting post-secondary educational attainment.
  • Carmine Stewart is dedicated to thinking about improving adult literacy in new ways. She works at Seeds of Literacy.
  • Curtis Freed is Neighbor Up Action Grant recipient who thinks innovatively about solving community issues and received a GED® while incarcerated.
  • Curtis “Skip” Hill is a Neighbor Up Action Grant recipient who mentors young men helping them stay in school and graduate.
  • Cynthia Foster is a grandparent involved improving literacy in Slavic Village.
  • Damien L. Ware believes in the power of words to make change. He teaches creative writing and personal narrative.
  • Donnell Collins is a John Hay High School and John Carroll University graduate who has worked with Freedom Schools.
  • Gwen Garth is an artist and Neighbor Up member, who was trained as a literacy tutor and taught incarcerated adults to read.
  • Holly Roe is a Neighbor Up Action Grant recipient whose project The LD Edge Network is the only nonprofit in Cleveland that helps adults get diagnosed with learning disabilities.
  • Jennifer Adjua Cline is a poet who works with creative writing and literacy. She has also received a Neighbor Up Action Grant.
  • Mahogani Graves works with P-16 in Slavic Village, a network of people who believe youth development is a direct path to healthy, safe communities for everyone.
  • Marva Walton is a parent who is involved with P-16 in Slavic Village.
  • Rhonda Crowder is a journalist and literacy advocate who created Hough Reads, A Little Free Library Neighborhood initiative that hosts neighborhood literacy-based events in Hough.
  • Sharon Jefferson is the branch manager at the Glenville branch of Cleveland Public Library.
  • Terry Echols is the assistant director of Adult Education Services at the Cuyahoga County Public Library.
  • Toni Johnson works at the Educational Opportunity Center at Tri-C, and is a member of the Literacy Cooperative’s Learning Network.
  • Tonya Briggs is the library branch manager at the Addison branch of Cleveland Public Library.

We have loved the energy among the leaders we’ve met working to strengthen literacy in our city and we’re looking forward to the positive change to come!

Adult Literacy Action Grants

We are now offering $60,000 in small grants of up to $5,000 each to support action projects in the field of adult literacy. The Literacy Cooperative will co-fund some projects, too. All funding decisions will be made by a volunteer Grantmaking Committee.

Neighbor Up Adult Literacy Action Grants Committee

Reviews applications every other week starting November 30, 2020 and makes funding decisions:

  • Anne Morrison, retired Kent State University professor who studied the Cuba Literacy Campaign
  • Dan McLaughlin, former adult literacy tutor
  • Jan Thrope, founder of InnerVisions of Cleveland, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting catalysts for change with resources they need to help their community projects flourish
  • Margaret Bernstein, director of advocacy and community initiatives at WKYC Channel 3 and a champion of literacy
  • Margo Hudson, an adult literacy tutor nationally-recognized for her work
  • Xinyuan Cui, the AsiaTown Community Organizer at MidTown Cleveland with experience supporting grassroots community work

Supporting the committee are Neighbor Up members Lila Mills and Lj Sylvia. Laureen Atkins with the Literacy Cooperative will also review applications to determine which projects to co-fund.

Have questions?

Reach out to Lila or Lj or call or text 216-229-8769.

Public space, digital connection + how are we are getting around during the pandemic

This summer we had informative conversations around public space, digital connection, and how are we are getting around during the COVID-19 pandemic. We heard from residents how it is more important than ever for people to access public space where they can feel safe, welcomed, and connected.  Check out the beautiful visual illustration of our conversations, and the takeaways below. As we move into the next season, it is time to start harvesting the wisdom of these conversations – please join us in these next steps and feel free to invite others! 

Next Steps:

  • Tuesday 9/22 4PM Partnering with City Club on Virtual Forum: The Future of Parks & Public Spaces
    • Can’t make it? Catch the rerun Monday 9/28 @9AM on 90.3 Ideastream’s Sound of Ideas.
  • Tuesday 9/29 5:30PM Pushing Forward Together: Parks & Public Space
    • Debrief the City Club forum with us, generate ideas for next steps, and connect with folks who are already doing great work in this arena.
    • Register here!
  • Be on the lookout! One takeaway from our Community Conversation this summer was a to start a social media campaign so all people feel welcome in public spaces.  (Inside scoop: we may vote on a hashtag during the 9/29 conversation!)

Takeaways from Community Conversation:

  • ​What we view as public space is expanding: sidewalks, parking lots, the internet.
  • Our priority is to ensure that quality public spaces are accessible and welcoming to everyone. 
  • We need to identify ways to educate people how to physically distance in public spaces and the why behind physical distancing
  • Pushing to use public spaces to connect folks to the internet.
  • Learning how to advocate for our neighborhood parks

Neighbor Up for Health

Neighbor Up members passionate about the health of their neighborhoods came together around the question, “What’s working when it comes to health in the communities of Greater University Circle?”

Neighbor Up's Neal Hodges and Dr. Charles Modlin of the Cleveland Clinic.

Neighbor Up’s Neal Hodges with Dr. Charles Modlin of the Cleveland Clinic. Neal observed a kidney transplant.

They started having conversations last year with neighbors, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, as well as city leaders.

This year they decided to focus on having a positive impact in the areas of infant mortality and lead abatement. Greater University Circle neighborhoods have infant mortality rates among African-American babies that rival those of third world countries. And lead paint in old homes can cause learning disabilities and other issues in children.

Want to know more? Contact Neighbor Up member Neal Hodges.