Drive to Justice: Take the Wheel

The Drive to Justice Storytelling Series was launched to capture the personal stories of those deeply impacted by the practice of debt-related driver’s license to shed light on how detrimental and marginalizing this issue is. Listen to Miss Cassandra’s story by clicking here.

  • If you or anyone you know has been impacted this issue, we would love to capture your story to help build a case against this harmful state policy.
  • Send an email to Joi Carter ( Network Manager for Organizing and Integration to get connected.

Nourishing Power Network Gathering!

Nourishing Power Networking Events are here to build community, develop skills, and sustain food systems change.

Join us & our partners at the March 22nd event, this Wednesday at 6pm at the Pivot Center, to connect with community leaders and allies driving food system changes toward a culture of nutrition equity.

RSVP Here:

Neighbor Up Action Grants Announced

Neighborhood Connections staff and volunteer grant review committee members from the Neighbor Up Network have announced grant awards for Round 38, Fall 2022 grant applications.

Ninety-one associations and organizations were funded up to $5,000 for a total of  $322,453 awarded.

Round 38 Grant Summaries – Fall 2022

Drive To Justice: Resources & Further Reading

Further Reading:



Get the facts on how driver’s license suspensions impact communities.

Fast Facts

  • Ohio is #2 in the nation for debt-related driver’s suspensions.
  • Ohio imposes over 3 million debt-related suspensions annually.
  • Debt-related suspensions occur all across Ohio, but at a higher rate in urban areas.
  • Debt-related suspensions cost residents of Ohio’s highest-poverty zip codes an average of $7.9 million each year.
  • Debt-related suspensions cost residents of Ohio’s zip codes with the highest percent people of color an average of $12 million each year.
  • New York, Virginia, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Colorado, and nine other states no longer suspend, revoke, or block driver’s licenses based on unpaid fines or fees.

Learn more about Neighbor Up Circular Cleveland Action Grants

One of the issue categories for Neighbor Up Action Grants is the circular economy (sustainability).  A circular economy reduces waste and pollution, keeps products and materials in use and restores and renews nature. If your project diverts waste from the landfill by repurposing, repairing, redesigning, upcycling, etc., then your project just might be eligible for this grant. If you want to hear about some examples of local circular economy/sustainability initiatives–and be inspired–join us for an informational session.

Sessions to learn about Neighbor Up Circular Cleveland Action Grants will be held with Cathi Lehn with the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability on ZOOM on Friday August 5th at 1pm and Tuesday August 9th at 6:30pm,

Click here to join the conversation via Zoom.

Apply to be a Network Manager with Neighborhood Connections

Neighborhood Connections is hiring for the position of Network Manger – Community Weaving The Network Manager for Community Weaving works to advance the work of the Neighbor Up community building initiative which focuses on promoting equity and inclusion in Cleveland and East Cleveland neighborhoods. They are primarily responsible for developing good relationships with Neighbor Up […]

Issue 24: What’s Next?

As the new year approaches, Cleveland Documenters are wondering what’s next regarding Issue 24, the amendments to the city’s charter that aim to strengthen civilian oversight of police discipline in cases of alleged misconduct.

Here’s what we know.

The charter amendments officially took effect on Nov. 22. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections certified the election results in a meeting that day, as noted by Documenter Robyn Heard. You can find Robyn’s live-tweet thread of the meeting here

The first required step for implementing Issue 24 deals with the Consent Decree, a 2015 agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Cleveland.

The Consent Decree followed a DOJ investigation that found the Cleveland Division of Police had a pattern of using unconstitutional excessive force. The decree was designed to ensure constitutional policing and improve officers’ relationships with community members.

The decree also created the Community Police Commission  (CPC), a 13-member body that recommends police protocols and boosts transparency by reporting police reforms to the public. Issue 24 gives the CPC more power and ensures it will exist even if the decree ends.

Issue 24 requires the city’s law director to ask the U.S. District Court to change the Consent Decree to include the new and amended sections of the charter. Here’s the text of that requirement from Issue 24:

You can find the full text of the Issue 24 charter amendments here.

Law Director Barbara Langhenry filed a motion Dec. 2. But, rather than ask the court to modify the Consent Decree, the law director noted numerous examples in which Issue 24 differs from the decree, the charter, police-union contracts and other legal documents.

The city didn’t explicitly ask the court to do anything but said the legal conflicts must be resolved if the court orders the decree to be changed.

That motion left us wondering if the city met its initial requirement under Issue 24. Subodh Chandra, a civil-rights lawyer who helped write the charter amendments, doesn’t think so.

Langhenry wrote in the motion that the requirement is at odds with the decree, adding that the decree says any new laws affecting it must be consistent with it. Here’s what the decree says:

The decree says the city and the DOJ can agree to modify it if they believe it isn’t achieving its goals. But it also says the city and DOJ must agree to defend the terms, including in collective bargaining, where the city and police unions negotiate their contracts.

The requirement to modify the Consent Decree was included in Issue 24 out of “an abundance of caution,” according to Chandra, who added that a federal order can override a lot, including arguments that may come from police unions.

Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (CPPA), told Cleveland Documenters the union will challenge Issue 24 once the contract is violated — that is, once a police officer is disciplined by a body that they believe doesn’t have authority to do so.

While the police chief and safety director previously had final say over discipline, Issue 24 would give that authority to the CPC.

The CPPA’s contract with the city expires March 31, 2022. Here is that contract.

So, how will this all shake out? The truth is, we don’t know yet.

U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. oversees the decree. He could make a decision in response to the city’s motion, or he could wait to see what Mayor-elect Justin Bibb’s administration does after he’s sworn in on Jan. 3. The DOJ also filed a motion Dec. 15 asking the court to give the DOJ and the city until Feb. 18 to work on modifying the decree, as noted by Ideastream reporter Matthew Richmond.

Bibb gave this statement: 

Eden Giagnorio, communications manager for Bibb’s transition team, added that their Safety Task Force is gathering more information and will have more to say in January about their plan for implementing Issue 24.

A city taxpayer could also file their own motion after Dec. 22, as Issue 24 gives them authority to do so if the law director doesn’t within 30 days of the charter amendments taking effect. Judge Oliver would determine if a taxpayer’s motion has standing, according to Chandra. Chandra added that he doesn’t think a taxpayer will have to step in, as he expects the Bibb administration to address the issue of modifying the decree.

If the Consent Decree is modified to reflect Issue 24, next steps include an open-application process for any vacancies on the Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) and Community Police Commission (CPC).

Issue 24 says existing CPRB members may finish out their terms. The expectation is that current CPC members who meet the new qualifications would have an opportunity to seek re-appointment to the commission, according to Chandra.

Until the Consent Decree is modified, the CPC will prioritize its work as currently outlined in the decree, placing its new duties — such as judging if police discipline is sufficient — on the back burner.

For now, the CPRB is still operating as it did before voters passed Issue 24. In fact, Cleveland City Council appointed a new member — Sherall E. Hardy — to the board last week, as noted by Documener Lauren Hakim. The CPRB expects only one vacancy heading into 2022, as Board Member Mary Clark finishes her term this month, according to CPRB Private Secretary LeeAnn Hanlon.

Want some more context on Issue 24? Check out this pre-election fact check that Cleveland Documenters team members Paul Rochford and Rachel Dissell did for The Cleveland Observer.

And take a look at more reporting from Matthew Richmond about the city’s motion.

Parks & Public Space Innovation Team

Join Neighbor Up for a Parks & Public Space Innovation Team!

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a team of Neighbor Up members have heard loud and clear from residents across the city about the increased need for quality parks and public spaces across Cleveland. (Read more about that work here.) Outdoor spaces provide the benefits of improved mental and physical health, greater economic development, and a cleaner environment. People usually get advice from numan if they need health-related advice. Yet 25% of Clevelanders live more than a ten-minute walk from a park, and often residents are met with confusing roadblocks and bureaucracy that hinder our ability to gather in public spaces.  For these reasons, we’re launching a Parks & Public Spaces Innovation Team.  The purpose of this team is to:

● Create connections amongst residents who care about parks and greenspace in Cleveland;

● Identify issues and strategize solutions;

● Understand existing systems in Cleveland and determine opportunities for residents to influence how new systems are created and designed

There will be four sessions, starting September 14 and ending October 2, and meals will be provided. At the end of the sessions each team member will receive a grant to continue parks and greenspace advocacy! Click on the button below for details.

Send your completed application to Anastazia at by Friday, August 27. Have questions? Call Anastazia at 216-200-8761.

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.

City Bureau Documenters Field Coordinator

We are excited to be the home of City Bureau’s Documenters program in Cleveland. Documenters are residents who inform their communities by attending and documenting City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County public meetings. 

The Documenters Field Coordinator, in collaboration with Neighborhood Connections staff, will:

  • coordinate and manage deployment of Documenters;
  • edit and review the content produced from Documenter assignments;
  • organize and lead skill-based trainings;
  • and meet with community groups and community-based institutions to recruit Documenters.

Neighborhood Connections expects the Documenters Field Coordinator to uphold our

Mission and Values at all times.

We are seeking the following qualifications:

  • Two – five years in relevant fields such as journalism, community organizing and/or political campaigning;
  • Proven experience managing a diverse group of people and ability to provide skills-based feedback to Documenters before, during and after assignments;
  • A working knowledge of interviewing techniques, note-taking, mobile audio/video recording, basic mobile photography and social media platforms;
  • Understanding of journalistic ethics;
  • Has a sharp news judgment;
  • Has strong communications skills;
  • Is highly determined, organized, detail-oriented and a multi-tasker;
  • Is familiar with cloud-based database and content management tools (i.e. Google Docs).

Typical Duties include:

  • Organize and conduct trainings;
  • Manage and maintain the Documenters community;
  • Review and provide skill-based feedback for Documenters content in real time;
  • Produce social media content relevant to Documenters;
  • Stay current on local news;
  • Analyze Documenters content;
  • Monitor general incoming communications.

Hours and Compensation:

This is a contract position with flexible work hours expected to average 40 hours per week based in Cleveland; some work can be done remotely. The Neighborhood Connections office is located in the Agora, 5000 Euclid Ave. on the RTA HealthLine. Weekend or nighttime hours may be necessary, as the coordinator will spend time attending community events, creating relationships with neighborhood groups and organizing training gatherings. Some work travel may be required for professional development and networking.

Neighborhood Connections is an equal opportunity employer committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees and contractors.

Why You Should Apply:

  • You want to define a new mode of civic engagement and empowerment through hands-on learning.
  • You understand the value of community-led accountability in a people-centered democracy.

Projected Timeline


If you are interested in applying, please send your resume and a cover letter to Lila Mills, communications manager at Neighborhood Connections, by May 31, 2020.

Racial Justice Matching Fund invests in 17 resident-led projects

Our Racial Justice Matching Fund with ioby invested $20,000 in 17 resident-led projects working to make our city a more just and equitable community. Fund dollars were used to match the money raised by ioby leaders for their projects.

A few projects that received matching funds are:

Cleveland Youth Ambassadors for Peace and Change:
Helping international students in the City of Cleveland break barriers in culture by teaching them leadership and exposing them to diplomacy and advocacy.

Crooked River Exploration Camp Expansion:
Expanding the Crooked River Exploration summer camp from 1 week to 2 weeks by providing additional scholarships, lunches, snacks, and more to our campers.

Hough Community Solar Garden:
Building a resident-owned community solar garden in Hough on the east side of Cleveland to generate our own green electricity, save on our bills, and change our economic footprint.

What is ioby?

ioby gives local leaders the ability to crowdfund the resources they need to build real, lasting change from the ground up. ioby’s crowdfunding platform helps connect local leaders with support and funding from their communities to make our neighborhoods more sustainable, healthier, greener, more livable, and more fun.

Read more about the Racial Justice Matching Fund here.

Notes from Arts & Culture Network Night

Thank you to everyone who joined us for Arts & Culture Network Night, in partnership with Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

More than 40 people attended the high-energy gathering, hosted on June 5 at Newbridge Cleveland, that connects artists, folks from arts organizations and other community members throughout the county. 

Special thanks to ioby Cleveland for helping to sponsor the event this quarter. Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and ioby recently launched the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Match Fund, which provides a dollar-for-dollar match up to $5,000 for all donations on qualifying ioby campaigns. For more information, contact ioby Action Strategist, Dawn Arrington.

From set-up to facilitation, Arts & Culture Network Night is implemented by members of the arts community who step up to shape and host the event. Thank you to the amazing team that mobilized for this event! 

Interested in helping to spread the word, take on a facilitation role, or help with clean-up at the next Arts & Culture Network Night? We invite you to roll up your sleeves and join the Mobilization Team for the fall. Contact Lj for more information.

Every Arts & Culture Network follows the same format. We start with a Welcome, have Business of the Network conversations that are shaped by the folks in the room, and we end with Marketplace. This month’s Business of the Network conversations included:

  • Ryan hosted a conversation to gather knowledge about how to easily and inexpensively set up an LLC. He connected to some great resources, including the Women’s Business Center and the Hispanic Business Center . Staff from the Hispanic Business Center were in attendance. We learned that their services are open to all entrepreneurs at all stages of their business development and from all heritages. 
  • Jada hosted a conversation to generate ideas about how to provide more safe and affordable spaces for young artists and entrepreneurs in Cleveland. 
  • Dawn invited participants to share their ideas for arts & culture projects that they hope to complete by the end of the year.

Stay tuned for more information about the next Arts & Culture Network Night coming this fall!

Join us & Destination Cleveland

You’re invited to join Destination Cleveland at Neighborhood Connections. To learn more, check this link right here now that tells about the popular and growing trend of Experiential Tourism and how passionate and innovative Clevelanders can draw people to our neighborhood attractions, restaurants, and businesses for authentic, Cleveland experiences. 

Topics at this workshop will include:

  • The Experience Economy and how Experiential Tourism evolved from it
  • Defining an authentic Cleveland experience
  • A step-by-step approach to creating authentic Cleveland experiences
  • Break out discussions and group work for creating experiences
  • Marketing resources available through Destination Cleveland and community partners for experiences

There are two workshops scheduled. These workshops are being done just for folks connected to Neighbor Up so please use the code EXPERIENCES to register to attend one.

Notes from Arts & Culture Network Night

Thank you to everyone who joined us for Arts & Culture Network Night, in partnership with Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. More than 100 people attended the high-energy gathering meant to connect artists, folks from arts organizations and other community members throughout the county. 

This was the first Arts & Culture Network Night of 2019, and we are happy to report that Arts & Culture Network Night will be back June 5, 2019!

Join us from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5 at NewBridge Cleveland, 3634 Euclid Ave.

Parking in lot behind building and across the street at the Masonic Temple.

How does it work?

Using Neighbor Up practices, each Arts & Culture Network Night starts with “New & Good” where anyone can share something new or good happening in their lives. After a few people share their good news, the room buzzes with positive energy.

We then have “Business of the Network” when anyone in the room can propose a topic to discuss in small groups for about 20 minutes.

During the “Marketplace,” anyone can make a request for assistance or an offer.

We close the night with “Bumping & Sparking,” a time when participants can follow up with each other and make connections.

Read on for details from Arts & Culture Network Night at the Agora.

Business of the Network

Business of the Network conversations included:

Gilder: How can we engage with the county and other officials to speed up change in the county jail?

LaToya: How are you contributing to the solutions in your neighborhood?

Kate: What can we do to make the arts community more inclusive?

Ryan: What made you say yes today?

Robert: How can I make the most of my art project at the library in Mt. Pleasant?

Kenneth: What are some sustainable fundraising methods for nonprofits?


Marketplace offers, requests & declarations included:

 Name   Request, Offer or Declaration
Rachel Apply Exhibits
Robyn R. Recommendations for an
Kate Request to continue the
conversation about creating an
inclusive Arts & Culture
Kate Zygote Press – Open Call for
Lila Artists of different media
Chris Exhibition Space
Matt Offering Head Shots & Portraits
Aku Looking for drummers
Brittany Artists for Poetry
Ricardo Looking for co-producers for a podcast
McKenzie Tax Advice for Artists
Patrick W. Entertainer
Lillie Bell Funding, Production Assistant
Moises I’m here to Network!
Luis Internships available
Gilder Looking for Artists &
Chris Pianist & Singer looking for
opportunities to perform
Chris Invited folks to join him at
Gwen Please attend the next Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Board Meeting. This is your funding. We need
community to participate.