2023 Community Conversations

United Way’s Community Conversations are a series of events that provide a public forum for information and dialogue on issues affecting members of our community throughout Northeast Ohio and equitable and sustainable policy solutions.

United Way of Greater Cleveland continues to be committed to serving as a convener and giving voice to the crises in our urban and rural communities to allow prosperity and equal opportunity to exist for all.

This virtual series is free and open to the public.

Past Sessions:

November 30, 2023

Local Government 101: What Your Elected Official Can Do for You

Our discussion on Local Government 101: What Your Elected Officials Can Do for Your focused on the best way for residents to communicate and engage with their local government officials as they navigate city and county governments.

Thank you to moderator Abbey Marshall from Ideastream Public Media, Cleveland City Council President Blaine A. Griffin, and Cuyahoga County Council President Pernel Jones Jr. for a lively and informative conversation.

There are numerous resources available to community members who wish to engage further with their local elected officials, including:

Cleveland City Council

Cuyahoga County Council

Play Video about Local Government 101
September 14, 2023

The Social Impact of Utility Debt

Our September 14 discussion on The Social Impact of Utility Debt highlighted how utility affordability affects our Greater Cleveland neighbors, from the stress of immediate costs to long-term health implications, and ways utility assistance programs can help. United Way is committed to easing the burden of high utility costs and utility debt through United Way 211 and partnerships across the community.

Thank you to moderator Stephen Langel from Ideastream Public Media, and panelists Dr. Jacklyn A. Chisholm from Step Forward, Genevieve Birkby from UH Rainbow Connects, and Tonja Stewart Shaw from the Ohio Consumers’ Council for a lively and informative conversation.

June 15, 2023

The State of Greater Cleveland: The Release of United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Community Needs Assessment

For decades, Cleveland has topped national charts in the number of working adults, children, and older adults living in poverty. A panel of local experts discussed: the findings in the 2023 Community Needs Assessment; what has improved and the barriers to success over the past three years; how organizations are addressing these issues to help improve the health, economic, employment, and educational outcomes for Greater Cleveland residents; and growing the existing strengths and assets in the community.


  • Gregory L. Brown, Executive Director, PolicyBridge
  • Emily Campbell, Chief Operating Officer, The Center for Community Solutions
  • Jacob Duritsky, Vice President, Strategy & Research, Team NEO 


  • Marlene Harris-Taylor, Director of Engaged Journalism, Ideastream Public Media
February 28, 2023

How Do Changes to Medicaid and Food Stamps Impact Our Community?

At the end of February, an estimated 1.5 million of Ohio’s poorest households will lose at least $95 worth of food a month. In May, 200,000 Ohioans will be at risk of losing Medicaid coverage due to federal legislation that passed in December 2022 ending COVID-19 pandemic policies. A panel of experts from Cuyahoga County discussed the impacts of these changes on individuals, families, and organizations, what people can do to make sure their food and healthcare needs are met, and projects and initiatives that help address reductions in public benefits.


  • Kevin Gowan, Director, Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services
  • Tiffany Scruggs, Vice President of Client Services, Greater Cleveland Food Bank
  • Andy Trares, Deputy Director, May Dugan Center


  • Taylor Wizner, Reporter/Producer, Ideastream Public Media

Information and Resources

211 Support

United Way 211 stands ready to assist individuals and families needing to recertify their Medicaid and SNAP benefits, enroll in new benefits, and to find food and healthcare resources. People can call 2-1-1, a free, confidential service, available 24/7 to anyone needing help.

Last year alone, United Way’s 211 program assisted 110,000 callers with over 137,000 needs. Food was one of the top three needs in 2022 with 12 percent of all callers requesting food assistance. This includes connections to food pantries, soup kitchens, home delivered meals, and SNAP.

Access to Free Food

https://www.greaterclevelandfoodbank.org/ – Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s food locator map

https://www.maydugancenter.org/ – May Dugan Center’s produce and food distributions

https://hungernetwork.org/find-help/find-food/ – Hunger Network of Greater’s food map

Produce Perks – visit www.produceperks.org to access fresh fruits and vegetables when using your EBT card and receive additional items at participating grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

Individuals Without Internet Access

Call United Way 211 or Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s Help Center at 216-738-2067.

Medicaid Virtual Information Sessions

Join Cuyahoga Job and Family Services (CJFS) for a Medicaid information session about returning to normal operations along with policy updates. They will also discuss continuous Medicaid Coverage ending.

Click the date to register for the virtual Microsoft Teams Live session. You will receive instructions for joining the session after registering.

Thursday, March 2, 2023 – 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Friday, March 3, 2023 – 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 – 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

If you have questions regarding registration, please email: Community_Outreach@jfs.ohio.gov

This 5-month virtual event series is complimentary and open to the public. The 2022 initiative is part of United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Public Policy Agenda to advocate, convene and support issues that impact Greater Cleveland. The series is possible through partnership with The City Club of Cleveland

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