Get Outside Grants

This summer we had informative conversations around public space, digital connection, and how we are getting around during the COVID-19 pandemic. We heard from residents about how it has become more important for people to access public space — space where they can feel safe, welcomed, and connected.

Despite the need for such space, many residents noted the continued existence of barriers that prevent them and others from fully utilizing these spaces. Discrimination against people of color and feeling unwanted in public space stood out as prominent roadblocks that discourage many from spending time outdoors.


Since those conversations, we’ve seen Clevelanders find creative ways to overcome these barriers and encourage people from all backgrounds to get outside, like See You At The Top’s activities aimed at increasing access to nature for Black youth.

We’ve also seen people sharing their favorite spaces around Cleveland using #OurSpacesAllFaces. The hashtag is the product of a social media campaign brainstormed by a group of residents over the summer to demonstrate that public spaces are meant for everyone, and it’s given us a glimpse into the places around our city where people like to get outside with friends, family and neighbors.

Now, as the days get colder and the pandemic continues to prevent us from safely gathering indoors, getting outside this winter has become essential to our mental and physical health!

Get Outside Grants

That’s why we’re launching the Get Outside Grants, to support Clevelanders and grassroots groups as they find new ways to use outdoor spaces on chilly days and share the benefits of getting safely outside with their community!

Grants will range from $500 to $5,000. They are intended for grassroots groups interested in getting members of their communities outside safely this winter.

We’re supporting grassroots resident-led work. You can have a registered 501 c 3 in good standing with the IRS, but if you don’t, just have a fiscal sponsor (a nonprofit willing to accept the grant for you). If you need technical assistance to apply or need help connecting with a fiscal sponsor, reach out to Anastazia at

Grants will be reviewed on a weekly basis through March 22nd. Click the button to apply!

Good News from West Park Neighbor Night

By Neighbor Up member Melanie Sklarz

West Park Neighbor Night is a lively and interactive monthly gathering that brings neighbors together to plan action in the community. The group typically meets the second Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at West Park United Church of Christ, 3809 Rocky River Drive.

Connect with the all-volunteer West Park Neighbor Night on Facebook @westparkneighbornight or contact Danielle Doza at or 216-536-6122.

I write a column for the West Park Magazine about Neighbor Night and what makes it a special gathering place for our community. Check out some of my columns:

WEST PARK NEIGHBOR NIGHT GOES VIRTUAL As most in-person events went on hiatus this spring, so did West Park Neighbor Night. The group, which meets monthly at West Park United Church of Christ and brings residents together to create change, was unable to meet due to COVID-19. By June, the core team that puts on the monthly gathering began strategizing how to create and build community during a pandemic. Watching Cleveland-based nonprofit Neighborhood Connections and their Neighbor Up network turn to Zoom meetings to hold similar gatherings, the team was inspired to try it for themselves. Read more here…

Slavic Village native Valerie Jerome went to Ohio University, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Dominica, and lived in San Antonio, Texas before returning to Cleveland. In 2014, she and her husband along with their two daughters settled in West Park. Valerie enjoys living in West Park with its green spaces, coffee shops, quality healthcare facilities, sense of community, and easy access to major modes of transportation, including the rapid transit system, highways, and airport. One of her favorite parts of living here is Neighbor Night.

Last fall, after she completed writing and publishing her own children’s book, Q Goes to Curly Land, Valerie turned to the Network for ideas on how to promote it locally. One of the suggestions led her to host a reading and book signing at 5 Points Coffee & Tea. Q Goes to Curly Land tells the endearing story of Q, who is self-conscious of her curls. She does everything she can to hide them, while her sister wants her to enjoy and have fun with her curly hair. Together they imagine a place where they care for and celebrate their curls. Along the way, they build their own self-confidence. The book is for sale online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Target. You can also purchase copies directly from Valerie by sending her an email at Read more here…

West Park is home to several Master Recyclers. Through the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District, residents can earn this distinguished title by participating in 20 hours of training and 20 hours of volunteer work with a focus on reducing, reusing, recycling. Last fall, a discussion at West Park Neighbor Night sparked an idea among participants and Master Recyclers, Danielle Doza and Emily Roll. With several residents asking how they could reduce waste, the two decided to offer a waste reduction workshop to the wider West Park community. Read more here…


Megan Rindfleisch, also known as Mimi, of Creations by Mimi, attended a West Park Neighbor Night last year to talk with residents about a potential community mural. Neighbors were in full support! From there, Mimi held an Idea Board Event at 5 Points Coffee & Tea Cafe back in January. At the Idea Board Event neighbors were encouraged to share what they wanted to see in the Puritas Avenue mural. The ideas were recorded and made into one collaborative design…Next year, Mimi and her volunteers hope to continue the mural with a lovely quote from Nathan Alger, one of the first settlers of West Park: “My friends, I’m here, the first that’s come, in this place for you, there’s room.”

Announcing nearly $60,000 in funding for 20 arts and culture projects in Cleveland and East Cleveland neighborhoods

Our Grantmaking Committees approved $59,587 in grants to support 20 arts and culture projects in Cleveland and East Cleveland. Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the local public funder for arts and culture, will co-fund these resident-led arts and culture projects through a partnership with Neighborhood Connections.

Highlights of the grants include:

  • Glengar Community Association in Bellaire Puritas received $761 to host a Power of Pollinators workshop, to educate how important pollinators are for our food supply.
  • The Buck Out Foundation in St. Clair Superior received $1,000 to support the development of collegiate and professional dancers in the city of Cleveland.
  • Dee’s Blue Diamond in Central received $5,000 to teach people the steps and the tools needed to grow and maintain a healthy garden consisting of fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits and plants that can aid in health issues such as aloe vera plant. 
  • The Salam Day Committee in Detroit Shoreway received $2,500 to host a series of educational conversations and display artwork from the Sudanese refugee community.

“During these trying times, people are continuing to work in their communities to make positive change,” said Tom O’Brien, program director of Neighborhood Connections. “Residents across Northeast Ohio are making their ideas a reality with a small bit of grant funding. They’re building stronger communities right where they live.”

This year we have funded more than 200 grassroots resident-led projects through Neighbor Up Action Grants and Neighbor Up COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants. There have been 191 projects in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties funded for a total of $631,127 through the Neighbor Up COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants. About 30 projects in Cleveland and East Cleveland have been funded through Neighbor Action Grants for a total of $150,000. Since 2003, we have invested more than $8.1 million in more than 3,000 resident-led projects.

“People working in the arts and culture sector are some of the hardest hit as a result of the current pandemic,” said Jill M. Paulsen, executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. “By investing in these grants, we are making it a little bit easier for neighbors to safely learn, connect, get creative, and feel inspired. We think that is so important, especially during these challenging times.”

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture invested $75,000 in Neighborhood Connections in 2020 to support additional community-based arts and culture activities organized by and for Cuyahoga County residents.  CAC defines arts and culture broadly to include nature, science, cultural heritage, and history in addition to other art forms. Through this partnership with Neighborhood Connections, CAC has co-funded 360 resident-led arts and culture projects in Cleveland and East Cleveland since 2013.

For a complete list of grants awarded, visit our blog.

The COVID-19 Rapid Response grants are offered on a rolling deadline to groups of residents in Cleveland and East Cleveland and Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties to do projects that improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Groups are encouraged to work with partners and to propose creative solutions to challenges in their community.

Cleveland Documenters Civic Reporter Application

Neighborhood Connections is seeking a dogged Civic Reporter to do accountability reporting on local government as part of our Cleveland Documenters team. Accountability journalism includes investigative reporting, fact-checking and digging into public data. 

Consider applying if:

  • You want to be a “civic translator” who produces local news and information that promotes civic engagement and makes accountability accessible to everyday people;
  • You have a passion for digging into and researching public documents and getting answers to some of the most pressing questions facing local communities;
  • You are not satisfied with the status quo in Cleveland and are ready to do something about it.
  • You like to ask tough questions and are not easily intimidated by those with powerful positions. You are excited by the idea of producing “A Guide to Cleveland City Council: How does City Council work?” and doing the kind of tenacious reporting that makes a difference in the lives of Cleveland residents.

Cleveland Documenters trains and pays residents to document dozens of local government meetings each month via notes, live-tweeting and other digital formats. City Bureau’s collects and displays this documentation along with minutes, agendas, transcripts and other official records from local government agencies. The app also shows the times, dates and locations of public meetings in Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit.

Cleveland Documenters’ Civic Reporter will:

  • Review and edit Cleveland Documenters content;
  • Curate information from the document database;
  • Create multimedia explainers about how local government works so people can understand what they can do to leverage power in public meetings; 
  • Report on issues related to local government and editorial content published via and its partner organizations. 
  • Work to translate what government decisions mean for individual residents by engaging in ongoing dialog with residents and including public comment in stories

The Civic Reporter will work with Neighborhood Connections staff and the Cleveland Documenters Field Coordinator. Staff and reporter will build and maintain relationships with local media so that reporting reaches a broad audience. The reporter will have the opportunity to be mentored by veteran journalists. 

Specific responsibilities will include:

  • Original reporting on local government with focus on accountability journalism, which includes investigative reporting, fact-checking and digging into public data. 
  • Requesting public records, and then analyzing and translating those official governmental records to make them relevant to everyday people
  • Curation of documentation and Documenters content
  • Creation of social media content based on original reporting and content
  • Regular communication with Documenters staff and partner organizations


Applicants must:

  • Have experience creating journalistic content, preferably text-based and/or audio or video
  • Be determined, persistent, organized, precise, and detail-oriented
  • Be a fast and clear communicator
  • Enjoy challenges and learn quickly
  • Have excellent time-management skills

We also expect applicants to have several but not all of the following:

  • Experience or a strong interest in Cleveland’s local government
  • Experience working in a newsroom 
  • Sharp research and curatorial skills
  • A comprehensive understanding of Cleveland’s civic ecosystem
  • Relationships and experience in Cleveland’s neighborhoods 
  • Daily news-consumption habits
  • A strong desire to do local news differently


This is a full-time contract position starting in January of 2021 and ending on December 31, 2021. The Civic Reporter will work an average of 40 hours per week. Hours for this position can be worked remotely. 


Applications for the Cleveland Documenters Civic Reporter will close at noon (ET) on Monday, December 7, 2020. Selected applicants will be interviewed via phone by Cleveland Documenters team, and finalists will participate in an online interview the week of January 4, 2021 with the goal to choose a final candidate by January 11, 2021.

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.

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.

Stay tuned! More free masks and hygiene supplies for community groups coming soon

We received 343 requests for free PPE and hygiene supplies available for grassroots groups and nonprofits serving Cuyahoga, Lake, and Geauga counties to help meet a need where families have been left without because of the pandemic.  We’ll be working with those groups to get PPE and supplies to them now and next month.

When we receive new shipments of PPE and hygiene supplies, we’ll post that information here. Stay tuned!

Our current donation distribution will continue on various scheduled dates with the groups that have already submitted requests.

Supplies available in the month of October at three locations in Cleveland may include:

  • – Cloth masks (Adult and children’s sizes)
  • – Disposable masks
  • – Face shields 
  • – All Purpose cleaner spray (32 oz. bottles)
  • – Paper towels
  • – Hand sanitizer (1 gallon or 8 oz. bottles)
  • – Laundry detergent (various sizes)
  • – Febreze (various sizes)

Personal care supplies may include:

  • – Shampoo & Conditioner 2-pack ( 0.5 oz. each, sample size)
  • – Liquid soap bottle
  • – Body wash
  • – Deodorant (various sizes)
  • – Always menstrual pads
  • – Gillette razors
  • – Shave gel
  • – Olay face cream
  • – body lotion
  • – wool emergency blankets

Availability of supplies are limited, and groups might not receive the quantity requested. Once you fill out the request form, one of our PPE Coordinators will email or call you within 3 business days to assign you a pickup location and date. You must then respond by email or phone to confirm your pick up date, or we will not be able to complete your order. 

Special thanks to our partners

Many thanks to our funder and partner the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund as well as our partners Matthew 25 Ministries, MedWish International, May Dugan Center, Murtis Taylor Multi Services Center,  and The Cuyahoga County Emergency Operations Center for making it possible to ship, warehouse, deliver, and process these donations. 


If you have any questions, please contact Neighbor Up members and our PPE Coordinators Ginaya Willoughby or Christina Keegan at or 216-250-2910.

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

Announcing! Lunchtime ZENTANGLE® TIME WITH LEE

Announcing Tangle Tuesdays with Lee Kay this fall!

The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.

Join Neighbor Up member Lee Kay for free sessions from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in October and November starting October 13.

Check out our events page for more info.

Meet the Cleveland Documenters Team

We’re excited to begin Cleveland Documenters in partnership with Chicago-based civic journalism lab City Bureau and with support from the Cleveland Foundation and the Visible Voice Charitable Fund of the Cleveland Foundation. Cleveland Documenters recruits, trains and pays Greater Clevelanders to document official committee meetings of the Cuyahoga County and City of Cleveland governments and contribute to a communal pool of public knowledge. Read more about it here.

Lawrence Caswell, field coordinator

Lawrence has been following Documenters since its launch in Chicago and brings a wealth of knowledge about not only how Documenters works, but also about Cleveland, journalism and technology. He has experience podcasting, doing voiceovers, DJing and even comic book writing. Join one of our online Cleveland Documenters gatherings to hear his #CLEDocumenters Spotify playlist. 

Rachel Dissell, accountability journalist

Rachel brings her skill doing accountability reporting to Cleveland Documenters. She will: be part of the team that edits Cleveland Documenters documents; support special projects with Cleveland Documenters; and act as mentor for emerging reporters. 

Gwen Garth, artist and community builder

Gwen has long practiced the act of following her vote as a member of a public arts board as well as a precinct committee woman. With Cleveland Documenters, she will work with Lawrence to facilitate a regular gathering space for Cleveland Documenters to connect and support each other. 

Mary Ellen Huesken, document copyeditor

Mary Ellen will be the last member of our team to review Cleveland Documenters’ notes for clarity and accuracy before documents are published to She is a former copy editor at The Plain Dealer. 

Lila Mills, Neighborhood Connections

Lila is the communications manager with Neighborhood Connections, the home of Cleveland Documenters. Lila is focused on the overall goals of Cleveland Documenters, and will be focusing on partnerships with local people and organizations, handling Documenters payments once documents are published, and working as part of the editing team. 

Our Storytelling Guidelines

It’s been 7 years since we launched Neighbor Up and, in that time, Community Network Building — once unknown and untrusted — has gained a foothold here in Cleveland and, as Neighbor Up member Bianca Butts said, Neighbor Up has become a trusted ear in the community.

We’re proud of this network of almost 3,000 people committed to making positive change in our city, and the work we’ve all done to create space for people to cross lines of difference, level the playing field, and act together on issues they care about. 

As we move deeper into the practice of Community Network Building, we want to do a better job of telling the powerful stories that emerge when people work together to make change in their own communities. Documenting and telling those stories is both an act of healing and of justice. Historical narratives are often written and disseminated by dominant culture, as a way of maintaining power structures and keeping people who live outside of the dominant culture marginalized and subordinate. We support storytelling that works from a sense of abundance and that recognizes the power of individuals and communities. This pursuit is called “narrative justice.”

Grounded by our Vision, Mission and Values and inspired by our friends at City Bureau and the storytellers Lewis Mehl-Madrona and Barbara Mainguy, we decided to establish Neighbor Up Storytelling Guidelines as we worked on the “Good News Cleveland” project this summer. These guidelines are a way to hold ourselves accountable:

  • We believe in the power of authentic relationships. We cultivate relationships, not transactions. Authentic storytelling takes time, intentionality and space to evolve. We resist rushing this process.
  • We take an asset-oriented approach to storytelling. We believe that most of what’s needed to improve our communities already exists within our communities. Recognizing, respecting and connecting those assets is what sparks change — with people, and their gifts, at the center.
  • We produce work that is non-dominant and works to amplify shared power and diminish the impact of positional power.
  • With our storytelling, we create space for interconnected learning and the expression of communal power.

Join us for online community meetings about the city’s Residential Tax Abatement Study

It is been several months since you have heard from us about Cleveland’s residential tax abatement policy. Thank you to everyone who participated in the community listening sessions we hosted with partners earlier this year! Those sessions were part of a study the city was doing about its residential tax abatement policy. Now we are ready to host online community meetings for sharing the study results.

During each meeting, the lead researchers will present the results of the study and review their recommendations; there will also be an opportunity for discussion and feedback. Please register below for the meeting that works with your schedule and the Zoom link for the meeting will be provided after registration.

Register for a community meeting

The City of Cleveland’s Residential Tax Abatement Study

Here is the final version of the City of Cleveland’s Residential Tax Abatement Study we will hear about during the community meetings.

You’ll see that it includes quantitative data on the tax abatements, the economic impact of abatements, feedback from stakeholders, and results from the community engagement in which you participated. It also makes recommendations to the City of Cleveland.

This study is the first step toward any potential changes to the residential tax abatement policy.  The study and its recommendations will also be presented to Cleveland City Council for their discussion and implementation. This means there will continue to be opportunities to advocate for housing policies that works all Clevelanders at a local and state level — your voice is still needed in this process.

If you have questions or need assistance with Zoom, please contact Kaela Geschke.

If you cannot make either of the meeting times the presentation will be recorded and shared here. Read more about our work hosting community listening sessions here.

Neighbor Up Community Building 2020

The Neighbor Up Network and the Community Foundation of Lorain County are offering this training on Community Network Building to those who live in the city of Lorain.

The Neighbor Up Network, located in Cleveland, is a community of about 3,000 members, mainly residents of Cleveland, who have years of experience bringing community members together to create a more just, equitable and inclusive community. With support from the Community Foundation of Lorain County, we invite you to help build a similar network in Lorain. In Neighbor Up, we believe that the most desirable community change is fueled by the interests, energies, and commitment of the broadest array of community members. To create welcoming, inclusive neighborhoods where everyone can thrive, we must engage neighbors in meaningful ways and work together to create the community we want.

You’re invited!

We are looking for 18-20 people who live or work in the city of Lorain, care about this community, and
are able to commit to the six-month training.

As a member of the team, you will:
● Learn more about yourself and the gifts you bring to this work;
● Build relationships within your neighborhood and across the city of Lorain.
● Learn about and practice various approaches to building community, including Asset Based
Community Development and Community Network Building
● Deepen your knowledge about racial equity, the history of Lorain, and the opportunities and
structural challenges to overcome;
● Work with a team of committed community members to overcome challenges and create a
community where everyone can thrive.
● Receive a $200 Visa Gift Card

Who Is Invited to Apply

City of Lorain residents, merchants, employees at institutions who:
● believe that all members of our community have gifts, knowledge, and wisdom to offer;
● are interested in building and bridging relationships to create a strong, interconnected network
in Lorain;
● are comfortable sharing power and working as a team;
● are willing and excited to work in multicultural and diverse spaces with people from all over
● are willing to learn and raise consciousness about structural inequality;
● are open to learning and experimenting with new forms of community building; and
● are willing and able to do some of this work virtually using new technologies.

Commitment of Team Members

● Fully participate in 9 half-day sessions (See dates below);
● Dedicate 8 to 12 hours each month between August and February 2021. This includes scheduled
sessions and some additional time each month;
● Share your experience and knowledge with peers;
● Complete 20 one-on-one conversations with neighborhood stakeholders;
● Develop action plans and prototype small efforts to address an issue that you care about with
others on the team; and
● Assist with planning and outreach for neighborhood and city-wide gatherings in early 2021

Some components may be changed to phone calls and virtual engagement as necessary due
to public health needs.

Training Topics

● Team Building
● Asset Based Community Development and Community Network Building
● The History of Lorain
● Understanding Personal and Community Trauma
● Understanding Race, Equity and Inclusion
● Tactics to Build a Strong Community Network


Application and Selection Process
● Applications Due by Monday, August 10th at 5 p.m.
● Applicant Interviews August 17th through August 20th
● You will hear back from us by Friday, August 21st
● Sign Participation Agreement and join the team!
● The first session is Saturday, August 29th at 10 a.m.

Required Session Dates
All sessions are on Saturdays from 10 am to 2:30 pm with a half-hour for lunch.
● August 29th, 2020
● September 12th, 2020
● September 26th, 2020
● October 3rd, 2020
● October 24th, 2020
● November 7th, 2020
● November 21st, 2020
● December 5th, 2020
● December 12th, 2020
Network Night Pilot:
● Pilot Network Night — January 2021 (to be determined)
● Pilot Network Night — February 2021 (to be determined)


For more information or to ask questions, contact Neighbor Up members Jerry or Lisa-Jean:

The primary contact at the Community Foundation of Lorain County is Assata Cheers.

Meet Lawrence, the new Cleveland Documenters Field Coordinator

We are excited to announce that Lawrence Caswell will be joining our team in August as the Cleveland Documenters Field Coordinator. Lawrence has decades of experience in journalism and community engagement.

He has been following Documenters since its launch in Chicago and brings a wealth of knowledge about not only how Documenters works, but also about Cleveland, journalism and technology. He also has experience podcasting, doing voiceovers, DJing and even comic book writing.

We believe Lawrence has the passion for the work and the creativity and experience to take Cleveland Documenters where it needs to go in the next year and beyond.

Lawrence worked at ideastream for more than 10 years on civic engagement, audience experience and media production. He began as a sound board operator and ended as a producer focused on civic and social media engagement. Before that, he spent eight years as the sound engineer at Beachland Ballroom.

Lawrence, who lives in Collinwood with his wife and daughter, is well known throughout the city. He has been part of our Neighbor Up Community of Practice and is one of the founders of clePlan, or the Cleveland Parent Leadership Action Network, a group of Neighbor Up members who are also parents with children in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Lawrence has bachelor’s degrees from Cleveland State University in communications, English and physics.

His start date is August 3. We intend to host our first Cleveland Documenters workshop online on Thursday, September 3 after learning and training with City Bureau. Stay tuned for details on that workshop or sign up to be notified when we have the details.

We’re excited to begin Cleveland Documenters in partnership with Chicago-based civic journalism lab City Bureau and with support from the Cleveland Foundation and the Visible Voice Charitable Fund of the Cleveland Foundation. Cleveland Documenters will recruit, train and pay Greater Clevelanders to document official committee meetings of the Cuyahoga County and City of Cleveland governments and contribute to a communal pool of public knowledge. Read more about it here.

Join us for a Juneteenth Celebration and Freedom Walk

You’re invited to join us for a day of celebration on Saturday.

The day begins at Benedictine High School, 2900 Martin Luther King Jr., with a Freedom Walk to the Art & Soul Park, 11802 Buckeye Rd., where you’ll find entertainment, resources and a vendor village with free food, voter registration and census information until 5 p.m. Wear your mask – we will be taking precautions for COVID-19.

We’re proud to sponsor this event along with Buckeye Summer Soul, the NAACP Cleveland, residents and Neighbor Up members.

  • 11 a.m. Meet at Benedictine High School
  • 11:30 a.m. Freedom Walk begins
  • 1 p.m. Drum Roll
  • 2 p.m. Car Caravan

Chalk your walk in solidarity

From now though Friday, community members will be walking the Buckeye neighborhood asking families to chalk their front sidewalk in solidarity and celebration. Fill out this form or call 216-302-4108 to request materials or for more information.

“If we want a beloved community…”

The recent murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has highlighted the history of police violence in the United States and the violent, oppressive systems built and sustained by a lie for over 400 years. We celebrate the hundreds of protests that have challenged police violence and systemic racism, and we know there is a lot of work to do to combat these deeply entrenched systems.

What we’ve been trying to build in Cleveland through Neighbor Up — a diverse group of people sharing power, building trust and acting together — gives us hope. Not a naive hope but the kind of hope that exists on the other side of despair, frustration and anger. Neighbor Up members are an amazing group of people working to make this community a better place, focusing on both LOVE and POWER, with racial and economic justice as central tenets of our work.  

While our work together is much needed during this critical time, we are pausing right now. We are taking some time to reflect and discern where we go from here, individually and collectively. Our original plans for this week have been adapted or postponed. We cannot go forward with business as usual. 

“If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice”

-bell hooks

While we are paused, we are asking our white members and friends to: 

  • Do some soul searching on how the system of white privilege needs to change and examine your role in it.
  • Ask yourself, “How does white privilege negatively affect me?” and discuss this with family or friends.
  • Before you send that next email, text, or plan, check yourself and ask: “Is this really necessary right now?” People are grieving, shaken, and need time to process. Would it be better to check in with someone and have a conversation rather than conducting business as usual?
  • Take a look at the work you are doing with Neighbor Up and ask yourself our equity prime questions:
    • How are my biases showing up in this work? In my life?
    • How is my privilege showing up in this work? How are the dynamics of power and privilege operating between me, my colleagues of color, and network members of color in this work and in this community right now?
    • How am I/we making space for shared power and authenticity by investing in the gifts, knowledge and skills of people who have been marginalized in my work? In my life?
  • Get ready to gear up. White people need to use their energy, resources, and privilege to change this system in big ways.

To our African-American, black, and Latinx friends:

  • Know that Neighbor Up is with you in solidarity.
  • Know that we recommit to do more, and be more effective, in the continuing fight for racial and economic justice, truth and reconciliation.