Community Garden and Farmers Market Grants

Neighbor Up is offering one time grants for community gardens, farmers markets, and for garden art in the cities of Cleveland and East Cleveland. Grants will be reviewed on a rolling basis each week starting May 1st through June 15th. Groups and organizations may only be funded once during this time period. If your group or organization does not have a 501 c 3, you must find a registered 501 c 3 organization in good standing with the IRS to serve as your fiscal sponsor.

Here is more information on the grants:

  • Garden and group must be in Cleveland or East Cleveland;
  • Grant request must be between $250 and $1500;
  • Grant must be used this spring/summer (by September 1, 2021);
  • Funds may be used for soil, compost, tools, plants, seeds, water, benches, raised beds, artwork, and/or using as a community gathering space.
  • If awarded funding, you must attend a Celebratory Gathering on Thursday, October 7th from 6pm to 8pm to discuss your initiative.

Questions?

Contact Morgan Taggart.

Last call! Request free PPE until July 9th

Neighbor Up has more hand sanitizer, cloth masks, N95’s and face shields available for grassroots group to stay safe while doing community building work. The last day to request free supplies is July 9th.

Order free bulk PPE for your community

Request PPE by filling out the request form here: bit.ly/clevelandPPE

Volunteers needed for outreach and navigating vaccine appointments regionally

We are partnering with the Cleveland Volunteer Vaccine Network to help people get registered for appointments at pharmacies and health clinics.

Volunteers are needed to do door-knocking, outreach at events, remotely signing people up for appointments, and staff a hotline. To volunteer, or to see how your group can contribute to and use the Cleveland Volunteer Vaccine Network, fill out this form.

Struggling to get a vaccine appointment?

And if you’re struggling to access a vaccine appointment, The Cleveland Vaccine Volunteer Network has trained volunteers that will work with you EVERY step of the way to get an appointment that works for you – including working through tech and transportation barriers.

If you or someone you know would like to request help, please fill out this request form: bit.ly/vaxhelpCVVN. CVVN will also have a hotline number starting next week.

Hygiene, mobility aids, and medical supplies available for groups

The Local & Domestic Giving Program at MedWish International, one of our partners to provide PPE supplies, gets families and individuals the medical equipment and supplies they need to improve their quality of life. Local health care providers and community groups can request supplies including hygiene products, mobility aids, respiratory equipment and more. Please click here to learn more and to complete the application form.

Continuing in the month of April, MedWish has secured grant funding that will cover the normal fees associated with receiving supplies and/or equipment through this program. Questions? Please contact domesticaid@medwish.org.

Community building during the pandemic

So much of our work in the community requires us to be in contact with others, and community spread is still higher now than last summer.

In addition to wearing masks, one way to reduce this risk is to self-isolate after activities that put you at risk of exposure to Covid, and to get a free Covid test by calling 211 to make an appointment at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, The Centers, Metrohealth (440-592-6843), Rite Aid, CVS, or Walgreens. Because there is currently less demand for testing, many facilities are returning results in 1-2 days.

More resources

February Arts & Culture Network Night

February Arts & Culture Network Night

Thank you to everyone who joined us for Arts and Culture Network Night on February 25th. We opened the evening with poetry by Neighbor Up Member and Adult Literacy Grantrecipient, Mansa L. Bey. Check out more of his work on Instagram @poet_mansa_l_bey

At every Arts & Culture Network Night, we have Business of the Network, a chance for anyone to host a 20-minute conversation. This month there were conversations about the ongoing adjustments to COVID, online engagement, and even a conversation about INTUITION. These conversations are one of the ways that Network Night inspires action and leads to new connections.

The Marketplace is another great way to make connections at Arts & Culture Network Night. Click this link to see all the requests, offers and declarations from the 2/25 event, or check out the collection of all the Virtual Marketplace matches here.

Ten-Year Housing and Investment Plan

We have joined the City of Cleveland’s initiative to create a Ten-Year Housing and Investment Plan. We know housing is an issue important to the members of our network and our community at-large, and being a part of this process allows us to ensure that residents’ voices play a role in shaping the recommendations that this plan produces. Once the plan is complete we can work with one another, the City, and partner institutions to make sure the plan is implemented.

New Microloan Program

Neighbor Up is working with a team of parishioners and community members at Blessed Trinity Parish to offer a new Microloan Program for grassroots entrepreneurs who want to start or grow businesses in the West Park area.

The new program offers very low interest microloans with manageable monthly payments and a simple, accessible application process for people who may have had no prior experience with business financing, or who may simply need some resources to help them get a project going. Designed to help more people build their own earnings, particularly those who may find challenges with employment, the Microloan Program will provide more than just finances – it will also bring entrepreneurs into a network of people who can provide support in a range of ways, from legal advice to help with marketing services, bookkeeping and business planning.

Documenting Cleveland’s Budget: What you need to know

Documenting Cleveland’s Budget: What you need to know

Cleveland is required by law each year to pass a balanced budget, meaning the city can’t spend more money than it has coming in. 

Here’s how the process works: 

  • The Mayor sends City Council a document that summarizes the administration’s budget recommendations. It has detailed information for each city department and city fund and includes estimates on how much money the city expects to collect through taxes and fees. This happens by Feb. 1 each year (yes, even during a pandemic!)
  • City Council holds budget hearings in February. Council committee members discuss, debate and ask questions about spending priorities. 
  • Council members can agree to amend–change–portions of the budget recommended by the Mayor.
  • Council publicly shares its version of the budget, which is written into an ordinance or law that Council votes on after hearings are completed. This is sometimes called the “2nd reading” of the budget. 
  • Council must wait at least 15 days after sharing the amended budget to do a “3rd reading” and vote to approve or not approve the budget. 
  • The City must approve a budget by April 1 of each year. After the budget is approved, it is posted online. 
  • At the end of the year, council reconciles the budget and decides whether to redistribute or save any money that was not spent. 

What’s different this year?

Normally, the city would hold its budget hearings and deliberations in the council chambers at City Hall. This year they will be held on Zoom and livestreamed on Council’s YouTube channel.

Mayor Frank Jackon explained his budget priorities for 2021 in this Facebook Live video. 

What is the purpose of the budget?

The budget tells residents what money the city is collecting and how it is being spent. The budget also makes it clear what the priorities of city leaders are. The Budget Book breaks the spending and priorities down by department (the highest level of organization) and by division (different sections of the departments.) City departments have directors and divisions have commissioners. 

In the Budget Book, you can see priorities laid out for each department. 

Find the current Mayor’s Estimate for the budget here.

Find the Community Development Block Grant Fund budget here. (More on CDBG money, how it can be spent and what it is used for below.)

Find past Budget Books here: 

2020 Budget Book

2019 Budget Book

2018 Budget Book

2017 Budget Book

How would you spend the money in Cleveland’s General Fund?

Refund Cleveland created this tool, which allows you to see how the city allocates more than $600 million in the General Fund and then to set your own budget priorities. 

The tool doesn’t include the Capital Budget, which pays for infrastructure and long term investment, the school district budget or for the city-owned utilities, which are supposed to be sustained with their own fees and charges. It does allow you to adjust the parts of the budget City Council reviews and votes on following budget hearings. 

How is the budget organized?

  • Two main parts are the Operating Budget and the Capital Budget. The Operating Budget is the money spent on things such as employees and supplies. The Capital Budget includes larger investments in buildings or street lights. The Capital budget gets discussed more in depth later in the year.
  • The money that is spent comes from a number of buckets. The major funds include: General Fund, Special Revenue Funds, Enterprise Funds and the Agency Fund. See definitions below! 
  • Money that the city receives from most federal and state grants is not included in the city budget funds because those grants are managed following different rules and often on a different schedule, called a fiscal year. 

Where does the money come from?

Cleveland collects money in the form of taxes: income taxes from paychecks of people who work and/or live in the city, and taxes and fees from businesses such as “bed” taxes from hotel rooms. 

What is City Council’s role?

The legislative body reviews, amends (changes) and approves the final city budget. 

Community Development Block Grant funds

The federal program provides annual grants to states, cities and counties based on a formula to help “develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development often referred to as HUD. 

Places like Cleveland that receive the grants have latitude to decide how to distribute the money, though it has to be used for the purposes the federal government has outlined and the city and the agencies it works with have to report back to HUD in detail about how the money is spent. It also is aimed to benefit low-to-moderate income communities and individuals. 

Here’s the income guidelines for the area that includes Cleveland for 2020. 

CDBG grants were first handed out in 1975 with additional grants added in 1993 for housing needs. Cleveland received a high total of $40 million in CDBG money in 2002 but that amount has steadily dropped to an estimated total of $24 million in 2021.

Cleveland uses a portion of the money to support activities through its Community Development Corporations or CDCs. That is different from how other cities use the money. It also pays for city resources and contractors who carry out programs. 

Here are some more specifics from HUD about how those targeted grants can be used. The grants are based on a federal formula.

CDBG – 28 activities can be funded with this set of grants including: 

  • Acquisition of real property
  • Relocation and demolition
  • Rehabilitation of residential and non-residential structures
  • Construction of public facilities and improvements, such as water and sewer facilities, streets, neighborhood centers, and the conversion of school buildings for eligible purposes
  • Public services, within certain limits
  • Activities relating to energy conservation and renewable energy resources
  • Provision of assistance to profit-motivated businesses to carry out economic development and job creation/retention activities

HOME grants can be used to increase home ownership and affordable housing 

ESG or Emergency Solutions Grants can be used to assist the homeless populations 

HOPWA or Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS are used for direct services and support for housing individuals with HIV or AIDS.

Here’s a Twitter thread about Community Development Block Grants from Jessica Trivisonno, Economic Development Director for Detroit-Shoreway and Cudell Inc. Community Development Corps.

Budget terms:

Appropriation: Money authorized by formal action, such as a city council ordinance, for a specific purpose.

Bed Tax: Money a hotel must pay the city for each room rented. 

Bond: An IOU or promise to repay borrowed money by a specific date. Bond proceeds are primarily used to finance capital projects.

CCA or Central Collection Agency: Entity that collects taxes.

Capital Budget: Money for internal or long-term investments in infrastructure. 

Capital Projects: The construction, rehabilitation or acquisition of fixed assets (buildings, bridges) or permanent improvements.

CDBG or Community Development Block Grants: Money provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) intended to help cities provide safe and decent housing and support economic opportunity for low-wealth residents. Money has specific rules as to how it can be spent. In Cleveland, each ward gets a portion of this grant money to spend on projects or activities. 

Debt Service: What it costs the city to borrow money for projects or services. 

Enterprise Funds: These are funds that hold money collected from bills or fees that are used to finance or support a public service. In Cleveland, this includes the Cleveland Division of Water and Cleveland Public Power. This money is kept separate from other general funds collected. 

General Fund: Most city services are supported from this fund including police, fire and EMS, the city’s recreation centers and garbage pick up. 

Fee: A charge to a person or business who is using or benefiting from a city service. For example, when a person applies for a building permit, that fee pays for an inspector to make sure the construction work is done properly. 

Fiscal year: A twelve-month period when a budget begins and ends. Cleveland’s fiscal year is Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. The federal government’s fiscal year is Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. 

Fund: Used to account for money. Must be balanced for money coming in and going out. 

Grant: Money from the state or federal government or a nonprofit organization that pays for a specific purpose or program. 

Property tax: Money that property owners pay based on the value of the property they own. Used to levy taxes for purposes such as funding libraries and schools. 

Operating Budget: Plan for how to spend public money. 

Unencumbered Funds: Money that isn’t appropriated or designated for a specific purpose.

Below are some examples of city funds and where the money comes from: 

Do you have comments or questions about our Cleveland Budget Primer? 
Are we missing something? Have an idea how we can make it better? Tell us here: https://forms.gle/Q6orrzXW7GQzbDWj9

Get Outside Grants

Last 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.

#OurSpacesAllFaces

Since those conversations, we’ve seen Clevelanders find creative ways to overcome these barriers and encourage people from all backgrounds to get outside, like Syatts 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 launched 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 ranged from $500 to $5,000. They were intended for grassroots groups interested in getting members of their communities outside safely this winter.

Grants were reviewed on a weekly basis through February 24th.

Find a list of funded projects here.

Fighting COVID-19 in Your Community

Join us for a special, virtual Neighbor Up Network celebration for grassroots community groups in Greater Cleveland (from Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Summit, Medina and Lorain Counties) working on COVID-related projects in their neighborhoods.

Why are we coming together? Over 400 groups are supporting their neighbors during the COVID-19 crisis. This gathering is for neighbors to:

• Meet one another, share successes and challenges;

• Build love and power — problem solve, support one another, and act collectively to make change;

• Have some fun!

Join us:

Thursday, February 4th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm or Friday, February 5th from 1:00-3:00 pm

Click here to register.

After you register, you’ll receive an email with the information you’ll need to join the meeting. For more information contact Nicole at NicoleH@neighborhoodgrants.org

Please note: Neighbor Up COVID-19 Grants Are Still Available

Groups and organizations that have completed their first grant can reapply

Neighbor Up is offering grants up to $5,000 for small non-profit organizations, small faith-based groups, and grassroots neighborhood groups to address the effects of COVID-19 by reducing social isolation, by providing for basic needs, and/or support neighbors in other ways while adhering to the current safety guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19. Proposals are being accepted from Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties. Visit us at www.NeighborUpCle.org/grants for details.

Adult Literacy Action Grants

We’re thrilled to announce almost $60,000 in grants to support 12 projects focused on building adult literacy in a variety of Cleveland neighborhoods.

The Neighbor Up Adult Literacy Action Grants Committee composed of 7 community members with a variety of experience and passion for adult literacy made the funding decisions. A staff member from the Literacy Cooperative also joined the team. Committee members, who volunteered their time, included a former adult tutor, a Seeds of Literacy graduate, and someone who learned English as a second language. Grants of up to $5,000 each were available to support action projects in the field of adult literacy.

Funded projects are listed below with summaries from the grant applications included:

  1. Adult Literacy Learners and Educators Network : The overall goal of the project is to bring adult literacy learners and adult literacy educators together in a common space, to co-create a series of networking events and grassroots projects that depend on the needs, guidance, knowledge, social capital, and expertise of adult learners as much as they depend on the education, expertise, and social capital of educators.
  2. Capturing Our Stories: Our team realized that it takes courage for an adult to go back to school, so we asked ourselves: What if we created Art with adult learners to change the narrative about adult learners? Ten Adult Learners who want to and are willing to improve their word power and reading skills will use Handmade Journals to record their journey. Each week participants will identify 10 words beginning with each letter of the alphabet, starting with the Letter A. The words identified can be words they already know or words they have not been exposed to. Participants will weekly create one piece of art inspired by at least one of the words from their weekly word list. No artistic skills are required. Participants may even use an online image or something from a book or magazine.
  3. Comics at the Corner: Comics at the Corner addresses low literacy by putting comics featuring Black and POC characters in the hands of as many residents as possible. We focus our efforts primarily in Buckeye-Shaker, Mt. Pleasant, and Woodland Hills. Our goal is simple: marry our love for comics and reading with the need to put something that people will want to read in the hands of as many neighbors and residents as possible.
  4. Green Movement Glenville: A book club focused on showing the rich history of African and indigenous Americans that hopes to create a “culture of reading,” encourage more reading and maybe get people to the point where they are willing to say “I’d like to read more.”
  5. Learners’ Empowerment Project : The Learners’ Empowerment Project is a mutual support project that will involve up to ten adult literacy learners and two facilitators. The facilitators will be trained by the Aha!Process in the Getting Ahead / Bridges out of Poverty program. This program puts learners around the table to discuss poverty, their own situations, resources needed to be successful, and where they’re lacking. It lets them investigate their own situations, and come up with solutions.
  6. Literacy Matters: Literacy Matters is dedicated to the celebration of literacy through creative writing workshops, community-based readings and zine publications. In an effort to create and sustain a culture of reading, writing and storytelling, the vision of this initiative is to establish a consortium that provides literary and literacy-based resources, workshop gatherings and events that will support a culture of literacy.
  7. Word Pool: Our mission is to use art to make literacy and learning less intimidating, inspire adult learners to want to learn more, and encourage self learning. We will launch an art project called a Word Pool. The goals are to establish a culture of reading and writing within our participants, develop public art, inspire participants to sign up for GED class as well as join the Neighbor Up Network, and to organize our cohort around literacy activism.
  8. Mind Over Matter: To improve literacy in the Collinwood community, we will partner with the Cleveland Public Library to have a virtual book club. This idea will be covid safe and fun.
  9. Put to Good Use: An English language learning group for residents 50 years of age and older who live in AsiaTown. Learners will receive a stipend for completing the course if they have good attendance. We will also plan celebrations to help build community between these adult learners.
  10. The City Social Club: A digital newspaper and book club focused on community information and learning about community engagement for millennials focused on the southeast side.
  11. The LIFE Ministry Life Skills Program: Reading and writing skills development through individual and group education sessions that will be held 2x per month from 10-12pm, Saturdays.
  12. Wounded Healer Book Project: This project will encourage adults to not only engage in reading but to participate in a self-published book which will highlight their personal stories of overcoming trauma. Our hope is that this will encourage people to continue on the journey of sharing their stories through, reading and writing. In doing so, hopefully will also improve literacy.

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 in 2020. 

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 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 in improving literacy in Slavic Village.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mansa L. Bey believes in the power of words to make change. He teaches creative writing and personal narrative.
  • 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 loved the energy among the leaders we met who are working to strengthen literacy in our city!

Neighbor Up Adult Literacy Action Grants Committee

A volunteer group that reviewed applications starting November 30, 2020 and made 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

Laureen Atkins with the Literacy Cooperative also reviewed applications to determine which projects to co-fund. Supporting the committee were Neighbor Up members Lila Mills and Lisa-Jean Sylvia.

Have questions about Neighbor Up and literacy?

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

News 5: Podcast highlights efforts to build a better land in Northeast Ohio

Neighbor Up member Carol Malone talked with News 5 about the podcast “Neighbor Up Spotlight” that she created to highlight Neighbor Up members making positive change in the community.

Click here to watch the story.

And find all of the podcast’ episodes at https://neighborupcle.org/spotlight/

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 Danielle.Doza@gmail.com 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…

NEIGHBOR NIGHT PROFILE | Valerie Jerome
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 curlylandbooks@gmail.com. Read more here…


WEST PARK NEIGHBOR NIGHT | Master Recyclers
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…


WEST PARK NEIGHBOR NIGHT | Puritas Avenue Mural

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.”

cleveland.com: Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund awards $346,750 to 11 organizations

cleveland.com wrote about The Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund awarding us additional dollars to “provide grants ranging from $500-$5,000 to small nonprofit organizations, faith-based congregations, and grassroots and neighborhood civic groups throughout Cuyahoga, Lake, and Geauga counties for a broad range of essential human needs such as healthy food, safe shelter, and to reduce social isolation. Since receiving its first round of funding on April 10, Neighborhood Connections has awarded $648,627 to 199 groups and organizations.” Read the full article here.

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.

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.