Author: unitedwaycleveland

Several Cleveland schools receive national recognition for being healthy

By Zerrine K. Bailey, Healthy Schools program manager, Cleveland Metropolitan School District

In early August, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation launched the America’s Healthiest Schools campaign, recognizing 323 schools across the country that are creating healthier learning environments where children can thrive. As a Healthy Schools Program Manager, I work with 78 Cleveland schools to create sustainable, healthy change for students and staff.

All of America’s Healthiest Schools received National Healthy Schools Awards – a prestigious achievement that celebrates schools that meet or exceed stringent standards for serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality physical and health education and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models.

This year, six Cleveland schools received national recognition for their transformative health and wellness efforts:

  • Andrew J. Rickoff
  • Artemus Ward
  • Fullerton
  • Ginn Academy
  • Miles Park
  • Robert H. Jamison

These schools are leaders in the Cleveland Community and in the nationwide movement to create healthier schools for kids. They became America’s Healthiest Schools by going the extra mile. They encouraged their scholars to:

  • Get up and move by taking brain breaks during the school day;
  • To find time in the week to provide students with a minimum of 60 minutes of physical education time (national recommendation);
  • To consume healthier food and beverage snack options during the day;
  • To support staff and families in becoming healthier, so they could serve as role models for our young people;
  • … and so much more.

Ms. Sharra Wimberly, Fullerton wraparound coordinator, noted:

Cleveland Schools - Fullerton BannerThe primary business of any school is education. However, research shows that students learn best when they are healthy, safe and feel connected to their school. An investment in a healthy school community is an investment in student success. Here at Fullerton we felt it was important to take a holistic approach to our scholars well-being, so we focused on physical health, mental health along with academics and behaviors. The goal was to promote health and well-being for all members of the school community [scholars, staff and community].”

Every school is capable of becoming one of America’s Healthiest Schools. It starts with each of us committing to support our schools (even in small ways) to reach this goal. Studies show that healthy students learn better. They perform better on tests, get better grades, attend school more often and behave better in class. This speaks to the primary business of schools.

If we start today, we can inspire the next generation of healthier young people. To learn more about creating healthier schools in our community, visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation website.

 


Zerrine K. Bailey serves as the Healthy Schools Program Manager for Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  She is funded through a generous grant from the United Way of Greater Cleveland, St. Luke’s Foundation, and Mt. Sinai HealthCare Foundation to work with 78 schools within Cleveland Metropolitan School District to create sustainable healthy changes for students and staff.

 

Planting the seeds of literacy throughout Greater Cleveland

By Seeds of Literacy Executive Director, Bonnie Entler

Seeds of Literacy is a nationally accredited non-profit organization that provides free basic education and GED® preparation to adults in the Cleveland area. Seeds believes that the root cause of poverty is illiteracy and that working together with students, volunteers, donors and more, we can put an end to this cycle. Led by more than 200 volunteer tutors, and overseen by professional educators, Seeds’ offers a personalized one-on-one model of learning, with flexible class times.

The Seeds’ program empowers adults to succeed by fighting the root cause of poverty: illiteracy. Studies show that an average of 66 percent of Clevelanders are functionally illiterate, with some neighborhoods as high as 85 percent. Functional illiteracy means they may have trouble understanding bus schedules, utility bills, or doctor’s instructions, and are unable to help their children with homework – all skills necessary for running a household.

“66 percent of Cleveland Adults are functionally illiterate”

The causes for illiteracy vary by individual, so in addition to educational instruction, Seeds’ instructors offer care and genuine concern for the welfare of students. This dynamic combination can be life changing – a powerful first step towards economic self-sufficiency, better health and the academic success of a student’s entire family.

We hold new student orientation every week and we’re open year-round so students can learn at their own pace and around their busy schedules.  Students set their individual educational goals in orientation, so rather than a one-size-fits-all curricula, instruction is completely customized for each individual. Students have the ability to attend any  – or all – of the classes that are offered three times a day, four days a week. We have both East and West side locations, conveniently located along major bus routes.

Find out how you can get involved with Seeds. Call us at 216.661.7950 or visit us at www.seedsofliteracy.org.

Check out the video below to get a glimpse into what we do here at Seeds of Literacy!

YWCA’s Early Learning Center changes lives

YWCA Greater Cleveland is dedicated to empowering women, but our organization does more than only serve women. The YWCA includes women and men as members, volunteers, supporters and leaders. Programs serve women and men, young adults, adolescents and children. We also provide services to other nonprofit organizations and the business community.

What does YWCA Greater Cleveland do?

The YWCA has responded to the special needs of young adults transitioning out of failing systems, such as foster care. YWCA Greater Cleveland created Independence Place to address the critical need for housing and supportive services of homeless youth. Independence Place is an apartment complex that provides permanent supportive housing to 23 formerly homeless youth, and in some cases their young children, along with case management and supportive services.

YWCA Greater Cleveland also pioneered the NIA program – Nurturing Independence and Aspirations. Under the guidance of a Life Coach, NIA participants pursue educational opportunities, focus on career development, receive housing assistance, learn the importance of health care, and develop life and parenting skills. NIA serves Independence Place residents as well as the YWCA’s Early Learning Center students and parents.

What is the YWCA Early Leaning Center?

The YWCA’s Early Learning Center serves children age three-to-five experiencing homelessness or similar adverse experiences. Our innovative trauma-informed model:

  • Assesses and identifies the social-emotional needs of the children
  • Works with families to create goals and case plans
  • Prevents the re-occurrence of homelessness
  • Empowers families to achieve and maintain the highest level of self-sufficiency

Recognized for our excellence and leadership in serving homeless youth and their families, in September 2016, YWCA Greater Cleveland was selected by a White House initiative, A Way Home America, as the lead agency for a community – wide collaboration of non-profit and government agencies. The collaborative, named A Place 4 Me, was challenged to house 100 homeless youth in 100 days. Together we exceeded that goal.

A Place 4 Me is a cross-sector initiative that harnesses the strengths and resources of its partners to prevent and end homelessness among young adults age 15 to 24 in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. A Place 4 Me is led by a steering committee consisting of the YWCA Greater Cleveland; Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, including the Division of Children and Family Services and the Office of Homeless Services; FrontLine Service; the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.

About YWCA Greater Cleveland

YWCA Greater Cleveland is a unique and vital community resource in Northeast Ohio committed to eliminating racism and empowering women. It was established in 1868 and with its 150th anniversary approaching, the YWCA is one of the oldest continuously operating nonprofits in Cleveland.

Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry advocates for those without a voice

By President & CEO, Andrew Genszler, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry

Andrew Genszler - Lutheran Metropolitan MinistryLutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) inhabits the intersection where great needs meet bold solutions. Our mission leads us to operate programs that change lives, transform communities and enliven community engagement.

Since 1969, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) has focused on serving people who are oppressed, forgotten and hurting, including individuals who are homeless, unemployed and involved in the criminal justice system, as well as individuals with behavioral health, guardianship and life-skill needs. Through advocacy and civic engagement, LMM prioritizes public policy issues reflective of our program interests and in line with the interests of our community, stakeholders, clients, program participants and staff.

In 2016, LMM served 8,272 people and engaged 3,584 volunteers. Last year alone: 409,866 meals were prepared for people who are homeless; 3,697 homeless adults and youth received shelter; 608 hours of behavioral health counseling were completed; 1,601 people obtained stable housing; 842 adults accessed medical care; and there were 281 job placements.

LMM is bolstered by individual donors, foundations, government agencies, community partners and more than 3,000 volunteers. We are particularity grateful to United Way of Greater Cleveland for its support of our work in Needs Based Housing Supports, Job Placement and Retention, Chronic Disease Management and Transportation.

Watch the video below to get a glimpse of what Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry does:

United Way Services of Geauga County awarded for distinguished service

By Kimm Leininger, executive director, United Way Services of Geauga County

Kimm and Monica with john and tracy - Frank Samuel Distinguished Service Award by the Geauga Growth Partnership (GGP) United Way Services of Geauga County was presented with the Frank Samuel Distinguished Service Award by the Geauga Growth Partnership (GGP) on June 21.  This award recognizes the:

“prolonged service and outstanding achievement by a GGP member or organization, who through relentless determination, diligence and dedication, has made significant contributions to enhance the value, quality, effectiveness and stature of the GGP and embodies…community service, economic development, advocacy, leadership, community impact, generosity and transparency, and a strong business acumen with a collaborative leadership style.” 

We were very humbled to receive this honor; and we know that getting this award is a true reflection of the value of doing excellent work in this great community.

Geauga County is blessed with organizations and community leaders who are interested in joining together to work on issues and develop local solutions that can lead to long-term positive change.  United Way has been able to bring key stakeholders to the table to address community issues, and participate in the planning processes with several others as well.  We have seen some of the greatest changes happen over the last few years, as we have come together to work on addressing income issues.

Fortunately, we learned long ago that when we stop and listen to the needs of those in our community, the doors of opportunity and possibility open widely. Over the last few years, individuals from our community have discussed ways to strengthen Geauga County. We repeatedly heard about the need to help individuals find employment that will enable them to care for themselves or their family; support those who may be underemployed rise to their full potential and help those with disabilities to achieve maximum independence.

We have made great strides in these areas, along with our valuable partners, through the development of new and innovative programs, such as Bridges@Work and Bridges2Work.

Bridges@Work

Bridges@Work is a collaborative program with the GGP, Catholic Charities Community Services, Geauga Credit Union and the Lake-Geauga Fund of the Cleveland Foundation, which helps individuals employed within Geauga County get to work, stay focused at work and advance in the workplace.

This happens through the utilization of a social worker from Catholic Charities, who is onsite at partnering companies and works with individuals to remove barriers that inhibit their success. In addition, emergency short-term loans are available to these employees, which are a tremendous resource to the program. Connecting individuals to resources within the community has proven to be very impactful – both at the employee and employer levels.

Bridges2Work

Bridges2Work, also a collaborative program, is helping individuals who are unemployed or underemployed to expand their skill sets and gain meaningful employment along a career pathway towards success.

This has included partners from GGP, Geauga County Job and Family Services, Ohio Means Jobs, Kent State – Geauga Campus, Geauga County Department on Aging and Geauga Metropolitan Housing.  This group of partners has successfully graduated two State Tested Nursing Assistant classes from Kent State – Geauga and is branching out to new career pathways, including work in the jail with individuals soon to be released.

While United Way Services of Geauga County was the official recipient of the Frank Samuel Distinguished Service Award, we owe a debt of gratitude to the partners who show up when called upon and commit to creating change for our community.

A volunteer day of action at King Kennedy Boys and Girls Club

By Maria Oldenburg, United Way of Greater Cleveland, Intern, Affinity and Association Campaigns

Maria Oldenberg at King KennedyWith two younger sisters, it’s pretty hard not to love kids. So I was super excited to spend time playing with children at the King Kennedy Boys and Girls Club on East 59th Street with volunteers from the Young Leaders group on July 11. Armed with bags of balls, hula hoops, chalk, bubbles and racquetball games, we spent almost two hours reliving our childhoods playing with the kids.

We were surrounded by these little kids as soon as we brought out all of our toys. The reason? Well, it’s because the kids didn’t necessarily get to play with toys, like the ones we brought, at home or the Club. They were also quite excited about their new playmates; and their enthusiasm was so contagious!

They made the time fly by so quick. All of the kids that I had the chance to interact with were incredibly sweet and inviting,  showing me their best tricks and giving me advice on how to get better at the hula hoop — even though I haven’t played in years. By the end of the event, I felt like a hula hoop pro!

I also got to spend a lot of time playing tag, chalking and tossing a Frisbee with them. In addition to playing games, we had the chance to listen to the kids’ stories and support them in any way we could. It was wonderful hearing the kids tell us their plans for the future. One of the boys, who was especially good at hula hooping, wanted to be a photographer and we were able to give him, as well as the rest of the group advice. It was a really positive, humbling experience to say the least.

The Young Leaders visit the King Kennedy club once-a-month in order to share their time with the children. You can find out more information and sign up for the next Day of Action here.

Eaton holds 5k, wellness fair to raise money for those in need

It was a beautiful day for a run. On June 8, Eaton held a 5k run/fun walk at its corporate headquarters in Beachwood, Ohio. Roughly 250 employees participated and raised more than $2,700 to support United Way of Greater Cleveland. Along with the 5k, Eaton hosted more than 20 companies, including seven United Way Partner Agencies, for a Wellness Fair. Hundreds of employees stopped by the fair and were able to get information on various services and benefits throughout the community. The fair concluded with a short program where the winners of the race received trophies. United Way agencies were also able to speak about their respective services and the people they serve.

Eaton is a long time supporter of United Way of Greater Cleveland. Each year, they raise enough funds to put them in the top two employee campaigns in the region. This year, they are holding special events leading up to their kickoff that are geared towards United Way impact areas – health, financial stability, education and basic needs. Along with health, they will hold events around education and financial stability.

Their official employee campaign will kick off in August.

Family Connections brings families together, strengthens bonds

By Joanne Federman, executive director, Family Connections of Northeast Ohio

For 35 years, Family Connections has been building connections with families and their children from birth through six years old. At Family Connections, we invite every family into a nurturing community to find their own path that promotes effective parenting for children that are prepared for success in school.

Our five staffed playrooms – three of them located in public libraries – offer a total of 65 hours per week of instructional playtime in the City of Cleveland, as well as Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights.  Through our home visiting, school readiness program called SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids), we are currently serving families in the City of Cleveland, East Cleveland, Maple Heights and Warrensville Heights.

United Way specifically funds our Family School Connection program, active in all seven elementary schools in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, one in the Shaker Heights City School District and another in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  Our family liaisons partner with parents to help young students master pre-reading skills.

Research, along with our experiences, shows that the same family support principles that worked 35 years ago are still as impactful and relevant as ever. That is why the valued support of United Way is critical in helping us strengthen families and improve early literacy.

Learn and Lead with United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Loaned Executive Program

Josh Womack - Laugh Staff at Progressive InsuranceBy Josh Womack, head writer at Laugh Staff

I was fresh out of college and just wrapped up an internship. I needed a place where I could learn, grow, make a few mistakes…and did I mention, learn?

A friend from high school, who just happened to work at United Way, introduced me to the Loaned Executive program. They say it’s not what you know; it’s who you know, right?

Through that friend, and the interview, I learned that LE’s (as they’re called) are exposed to a variety of business settings, such as problem solving, strategic planning and public speaking. These were all skills needed to help United Way raise funds throughout workplace campaigns in the community.

The more I listened during the interview, the more I realized this is exactly where I was supposed to be: a professional, nurturing environment where I could give back, and in turn develop the skills needed for success. Here’s a little more about the exciting role of a Loaned Executive.

The Role of Loaned Executives

Loaned Executives are seasonal temp employees who help the fundraising staff (better known as Resource Development) at United Way. With thousands of workplace fundraising campaigns happening all over Cuyahoga County, Loaned Executives are a combination of:

  • Executives from the community ‘loaned’ by their respective companies
  • College grads looking to gain experience in non-profits and fundraising
  • Established professionals who want to give back to the area

LE’s manage fundraising campaigns, speak to groups in various business sectors and act as a feet-on-the ground representative supporting United Way’s mission to advance education, income, health and basic needs in the community.

You’ll get a lot for giving back

Like I mentioned in the beginning, United Way’s LE program was a great way to learn about Cleveland and philanthropy. More importantly, it provided me with the skills I could utilize throughout my professional career. Here are a few opportunities being a Loaned Executive offers.

Networking – I can’t think of a non-profit better connected to Cleveland’s movers and shakers than United Way. The people you’ll meet at events like the United Way Annual Meeting and Campaign Kickoff are second to none. Better yet, like you, they’re determined to make Cleveland a better a place for everyone. Over 90 volunteers serve on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee and hundreds more throughout the organization! Many of the professional and personal relationships I have today are a direct result of my experiences at United Way.

Problem Solving  – As a LE, you will work with not only United Way staff, but also with the Employee Campaign Managers at companies throughout Cuyahoga County. Together, you will learn about the company culture and help inspire and motivate people to believe in United Way’s mission and vision. Developing working relationships with the Employee Campaign Managers gives you great experience in account management and interpersonal communication.

Public Speaking – I saved this one for last because I know it scares some people. Don’t worry! United Way’s Resource Development staff will coach you up on how to convey the importance of donating. Speaking in front of groups in manufacturing plants and boardrooms helped my confidence grow. It can do the same for you! You’ll be well versed in passionately communicating gratitude, facts and urgency behind the organization’s mission.

Ready to make a difference? Apply today to make an impact and leave your mark on the community!

About the Author

Josh Womack was a Loaned Executive for United Way in 2007. He currently lives downtown and is the head writer at Laugh Staff and a copywriter for Progressive Insurance. He also recommends eating at Juji’s.

Young Leaders hold successful speaker’s series event at American Greetings

American Greetings Young Leaders Networking EventOn June 7, more than 40 young professionals met at American Greetings headquarters in Cleveland, near Crocker Park, to attend United Way of Greater Cleveland’s second quarterly speaker series of 2017.

After first being led on a tour of the new, state-of-the-art building that houses American Greetings and exemplifies the company’s dedication to collaboration, attendees listened to an engaging, audience-driven talk by Group Vice President of Social Expression, Steve Laserson.

Laserson shared his journey of professional growth and recalled how he navigated various career fields at different organizations before discovering American Greetings, the organization he is truly passionate about and has been for more than 22 years.

He advised audience members on how to attain the same successful transitions by working hard and consistently producing positive results no matter what position they were in to ensure future employers would recognize their achievements.

He also answered questions from the audience surrounding the importance of community and volunteer engagement, goal-setting and mentor and mentee relationships. The event moved to the nearby Burntwood Tavern for refreshments and networking when the event concluded.