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.

Racial Justice Matching Fund

We’re committed to supporting Clevelanders standing up for racial justice and we’re teaming up with ioby to create the Racial Justice Matching Fund.

Prism: A Racial Equity Learning Lab

Prism is our racial equity learning lab, which typically runs twice each year in the spring and summer.

Prism participants explore the historic conflict that continues to shape the United States and determine the fate of all its people.

Racism is examined on four levels: internalized, interpersonal, institutional and structural. Tools to assess the state of one’s organization and community are introduced. Participants also have the opportunity to participate in caucus groups and bridge the chasm between community and institution throughout their Prism journey.

Leaders leave the program with greater self awareness, an individualized plan for beginning to dismantle racism in their neighborhood or organization and greater capacity to do so. They also gain a group of fellow travelers to support them well beyond the structured program experience.

Prism is led by two of Cleveland’s most experienced and dynamic racial equity facilitators: Erica Merritt and Adele DiMarco Kious.


All sessions held 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Minimum registration of 15 for lab to proceed.

Session I: Building Ground
Participants will become familiar with the program components, other participants, terminology and explore historical elements that led to our current context. They will also have their first caucus experience. A caucus component will be built into each session.

Session II: The Story of U.S. 
This session will explore the internalized components of racism including bias, privilege and internalized oppression. We will discuss how the brain
influences our conscious and unconscious biases and share tools for diminishing bias and using privilege strategically. Participants also begin to explore their own racial identity and examine the psychological process through which one attaches to that identity.

Session III: Racing Together
This session will focus on the cross-racial relationships and overcoming the barriers to authentic connection. Session will include tools for managing cross-cultural and difference-based conflict with power/privilege dynamics in mind. Emphasis on restorative community- based practices.

Session IV: System Dynamics
This session will focus on the role that institutional and structural racism play in the organizations and communities where we work and live. We will examine how racism thrives even in the absence of malice or bad actors. Participants will be provided frameworks for examining their community’s/organization’s current state and provided with tools for positive transformation.

Session V: Co-Creating Cleveland’s Future 
This session will support participants in getting clear about the kind of community they would like to live in/organization they would like to be a part of and their role in that transformation. We will explore choice points and the shared power model to dream about Cleveland’s transformation. Whether engaging neighbors, colleagues or organizational partners, strong, equity-based relationships are
essential for co-designing Cleveland’s future. Participants will leave this session with a personalized racial equity plan.


Registration has closed. Join the waitlist to be notified when registration opens for the next session.

Cost to attend Prism is $750, which includes all sessions, meals and parking.


Erica Merritt

Erica Merritt is founder of Equius Group, LLC a consulting firm committed to supporting individuals and organizations to see and experience the world and their work through an equity lens. She uses her expertise in social justice, team dynamics, individual change and the power of inclusion to help leaders transform themselves, their teams and organizations in powerful and sustainable ways.

Erica has been training, speaking and facilitating around issues of social justice for more than 15 years. She has designed programs and facilitated workshops focused on race and racism, oppression and social change, heterosexism and homophobia just to name a few.

Erica holds a Bachelor of the Arts Degree in Public Relations from Ursuline College and a Master of the Arts Degree in Psychology with a certification in Diversity Management (NTL) from Cleveland State University. She also holds coaching certifications from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland and the Center for Credentialing Education.

As an engaged community member, Erica serves on the Institute for Creative Leadership’s Advisory Board, Ursuline College’s Graduate and Professional Program Advisory Council, and as Director Diversity & Equity for the Junior League of Cleveland.

Adele DiMarco Kious

Adele DiMarco Kious is the founder and lead steward of Yinovate, LLC. Using frameworks and processes grounded in systems thinking, Gestalt theory, Anthropology, Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry, her passion is working with groups, supporting them to lead transformational change within themselves and the communities and organizations they serve.

She has co-launched three social change initiatives in Greater Cleveland: SOMO (Social-Emotional) Leadership; Change Makers, a dialogue series on race, power and privilege; and City Repair, a neighbor-led empowerment and beautification process. Through her work with sister firm, Currere, Inc., her clients have included The Cleveland Leadership Center, YWCA Greater Cleveland, The Gund Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, The Cleveland Clinic, The City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland MetroParks, The City of Cleveland, and many more.

Adele has bachelor degrees in Biology and Anthropology, master degrees in Business and Anthropology and has completed extensive training with the Gestalt Center for Organization & Systems Development and the Center for Positive Psychology.