Friday, November 25, 2011

Nonprofit Thursday

Send your Nonprofit Thursday info to:



Cleveland’s own George Fraser, one of America’s most prolific and polished public speakers, will address the City Club of Cleveland next Friday, November 30.  Five of his speeches have been published over the past ten years in the widely distributed Vital Speeches of the Day.
Fraser ha also written several books, including Success Runs In Our Race; The Complete Guide to Effective Networking in the African American Community (HarperCollins 1994, 2004), Race For Success; The Ten Best Business Opportunities for Blacks In America (HarperCollins 1998) and Click: Ten Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships (McGraw-Hill 2008).
Fraser is widely recognized as a leading authority on networking, economic development, and building effective relationships.
Call 216.621.0082 or visit for reservations.
• • •

The Foundation Center is offering several basic programs next week of great utility to executive directors and trustees new to the nonprofit world. The programs are free and are presented at The Foundation Center-Cleveland office in Playhouse Square: 1422 Euclid Ave., Suite 1600:

Wednesday, November 30
Introduction to Fundraising Planning, 10:00 - 11:00am
Learn a basic planning process for diversifying your organization’s support.

Brown Bag Lunch:  Boards, Fundraising, and The Art of Asking,  11:30am - 1:00pm
Bring your lunch and come hear resource development expert Barbara Rosenthal discuss the basic principles of good fundraising, working with your board, and learning "the Art of Asking."

Your Board and Fundraising, 1:00 - 2:00pm
This class addresses why board members may be reluctant to fundraise and how to overcome these concerns.

Thursday, December 1
Proposal Writing Basics, 10:00 - 11:30am
Learn the key components of a proposal to a foundation.

How to Approach a Foundation, 1:00 - 2:00pm
From initial contact to getting funded, this class will teach you the field-tested best practices to increase your chances of getting a grant.

To register, call 216.861.1933 or click here.
 • • •


Can your agency or organization use a Summer Intern? The Cleveland Foundation just might provide you with one if you apply by next Wednesday, November 30.
The Cleveland Foundation's Summer Internship Program is accepting applications from area nonprofits or governmental agencies until November 30, 2011. College students, recent graduates, and graduate students work full-time for an 11-week session during the summer.

The Cleveland Foundation provides funding to cover the intern’s stipend.

• • •

The Mahoning Youngstown Community Action Partnership is looking for an executive director.

The successful candidate will be responsible for the operations and management of the community action agency. The preferred candidate will have a master’s degree in nonprofit management or public administration, together with a minimum of five years experience in a nonprofit executive leadership position.

For more information contact The Prout Group  [1111 Superior Ave., Cleveland OH 44114 • 216-771-2260].
• • •

Send your Nonprofit Thursday info to:

Next week’s deadline is Monday at 3pm.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Unity and Class Issues in the Black Community, Part II

Properly understood, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s was one of the most democratic episodes in American political history. There was no script written by some great playwright in the sky, handed out in communities across the country. There was no universally acknowledged director, no head of central casting, and no formal audition process. The relationships between leaders and followers were often fluid.

Compared to earlier socio-political movements — the Abolitionist, Women’s Suffrage, Labor — the civil rights movement was considerably more organic, decentralized, communal, and emergent. Much of its strength, brilliance, and resilience came from a shared set of ideals and a growing belief in the possibility of change.

It is fair to say that during the movement there was a more dynamic symbiotic relationship between whoever was leading at the moment and the masses of black people and their allies. It was often messy and it certainly wasn’t perfect; nonetheless there seemed to be a widely shared understanding that followers were as important as leaders.

A major consequence of the civil rights era was an opening of the political sphere to broader participation by black people as both voters and consequently as elected officials. In the aftermath of Movement success, the number of black elected officials holders has increased from fewer than 1500 in 1970 nationwide to more than 10,500 today.  There are about eighty African American elected public officials in Cuyahoga County alone today, and possibly a few hundred in the State as a whole.

What is less clear is how this apparent political power has operated to advance the community in whose name it has been sought and wielded. Some observers argue that black political leadership is by and large disconnected from the community. It is no longer axiomatic, if it ever was, that black political leaders are of, from and for the people.

Compounding the analysis is a series of demographic and geographic changes that no longer concentrate a vast majority of African Americans within a single political boundary. Does it make a difference to be a black elected official when ten or twenty or fifty or eighty percent of your constituency is nonblack? What impact has this had on the fact that poor Americans of all colors and stripes have been virtually dropped from the political discussion?

• • •

Richmond Heights Parents Press School Board for Answers

Our regular readers know that we have been reporting on the Richmond Heights school district since our curiosity took us to a school board meeting there six months ago. It soon became apparent that the rogue behavior of the basketball coach was merely the presenting problem, and that dysfunction in the district was longstanding, systemic, and deeply rooted.

The selfless, courageous and united action of the boys basketball team in demanding the immediate removal of the coach commanded the support of their parents, who then asserted themselves on behalf of their children, and eventually on behalf of all of the children in the system.

The parents won the support of the superintendent quickly enough but were regularly obstructed by a school board majority whose attitudes and actions, both public and private, began to come under the community’s persistent pressure.

The number of concerned parents gradually grew as concerns expanded from the coach’s abuse of his charges to issues of district mismanagement, instability, malfeasance, finance, and, not least, substandard delivery of educational excellence.

Two key developments occurred over the summer. Two of the more active and involved parents — Bobby Jordan and Frank Barber — had applied in April for a vacancy on the school board. The board majority selected Barber, who declined, and ultimately Jordan was awarded the seat.

The first key development was Barber’s subsequent decision to run for a full term. His victory, coupled with Jordan’s election earlier this month to serve the balance of the term to which he was appointed, very likely signals a new day at district headquarters. It is likely that those two will team with the senior board member, Linda Pliodzinskas, to form a new majority that will focus on stabilizing the district, eliminating personality-driven private agendas, and advancing educational goals.

The second key development was the formation of PARENTS 4 KIDS as an advocacy group for children and education. P4K has met several times over the summer and fall. On Monday, in advance of last night’s regularly scheduled board meeting, the group delivered a letter to the president of the school board and the interim superintendent. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Real Deal has obtained a copy of the letter, which runs to three pages of single-spaced copy.

Styled as an open letter to “Parents, School Board Members, Administration, Teachers, and Community”, its stated objective is to “raise awareness among parents and in the Richmond Heights Community as to the grave conditions which have drastically impacted our children’s education.” A request is made for a town hall meeting or community forum with the board “for the purpose of dialogue and interaction pertaining to strategies to both address and overcome every obstacle that has been a hindrance to success for our children.” P4K wants this meeting to occur by December 10 and hopes “to establish mutual purpose, mutual goals, and mutual solutions.”

The letter expresses P4K concerns in three broad categories: Diversity Tolerance, Academics, and Finance. Under Diversity Tolerance, parents express anxiety over the current investigation by the US Dept. of Education, Office of Civil Rights, which is widely expected to find the district and various parties guilty of discrimination, negligence, and retaliatory conduct. P4K also seeks an update on the Community Building Project initiated by Linda T. Hardwick before her suspension. And, the parents also want answers about the removal of at least eight individuals “who have been non-renewed, forced to leave, fired, or downsized on what appears to be the basis of race or retaliation and even gender in the past three years.”

P4K’s academic concerns include the status of credit recovery and tutoring programs, and how the accreditation process will proceed in the absence of the superintendent who initiated it. A companion concern has to do with the number of middle school students who are without textbooks in some classes, and high school students using books published almost twenty years ago.

The letter also asks “what mechanisms have been put in place to improve the status of ‘Continuous Improvement’ at the elementary school” and how the elevation of the school’s principal to interim superintendent will “impact our struggling elementary students”.

The third area of P4K concern deals with financial and policy matters. Five questions are asked, including:

“• Exactly how much has been spent in legal fees, combating complaints of discrimination, and attempting to justify poor practice of firing Superintendents, and retaliating against student, parents, and administration who speak against it?
• Is it true that RH teachers received a retroactive 2% raise, and will possibly incur an additional raise in the next year? Why is the teacher’s contract unavailable to the public? Why were teachers not asked to make concessions or retain their levels, when the district has said to parents concerning the purchase of books, computers, extra-curricular activities, elective classes, and transportation, there is no money?
• Why were Race to the Top dollars awarded, yet turned down by our school district?”

At Tuesday’s meeting, board president Josh Kaye promised to get back to the parents by Monday on a date for the community forum. He also promised to make the teachers contract available soon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unity and Class Issues in the Black Community, Part I

A wonderful op-ed in this past Sunday's Los Angeles Times about a certain kind of integration reminds us of a vibrant time when the late Judge George W. White was a city councilman.

White was laid to rest last Saturday, rightfully celebrated for many achievements, among them his founding of B.O.S.S. [Blacks Organized for Social Services], a self-help group that later merged with the Negro Community Federation to create the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland. UBF will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary next year.

White was representing Cleveland’s Lee-Seville community in May 1968 when Cleveland mayor Carl Stokes proposed building 274 single-family houses in White’s black middle-class ward. The development was to be on 51 acres of vacant land the city had acquired from the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. 

Coincidentally — or not — White, along with fellow councilmen George Forbes and Leo Jackson, had just been soundly thrashed earlier that month by Louis Stokes, Carl’s brother, in the Democratic primary for the newly-created 21st Congressional District. It is interesting to note that all five of these politicians went on to bigger things.[1]

Councilman White led the opposition to the housing development, arguing that the community already suffered from a dearth of adequate city services, especially police protection. Mayor Stokes labeled White and fellow councilman Clarence Thompson “black bigots” for using tactics similar to those employed by white suburbanites to exclude blacks from their communities.

Economic class was the elephant in the room. White’s constituency was primarily middle-class homeowners; the proposed residents of the development were to be families displaced by urban renewal. The housing was never built, as the all-white anti-Stokes faction in Cleveland’s thirty-three member council were all too happy to side with White and Thompson to punish the mayor.

What happened in Cleveland in 1968 was not unique to that time or this location, as the essay by L. A. Times contributing writer Erin Aubry Kaplan points out:

It wasn't always like this. Economic diversity used to be a given in black communities, and it made them far more cohesive and resilient. Black people now, including my neighbors, talk longingly about those days when the poor lived among the professionals and the working class, and about how we need to get that kind of unity back. The irony is that that cohesion was largely a product of segregation; my father grew up in a segregated neighborhood right in the heart of L.A. While nobody I know is suggesting that we return to the good old days of Jim Crow, the "unity effect" is sorely missed.

These days black unity is a cherished ideal rather than the fact of life that it used to be. Part of the reason is that, since the 1960s and the end of Jim Crow, blacks have lost the thread of their own story. As we have scattered out from our compact communities, a freedom narrative that was once clear and urgent has become muddy and uninspiring, replaced with tons of downward-trending data and statistics that move no one.

The catalyst for Kaplan’s piece is the entry into her Inglewood neighborhood of a Section 8 family. It’s a brief but compelling read. We urge you to check it out and then return here with your thoughts tomorrow for Part II.

[1]  White was appointed a federal judge in 1980. Jackson served on the Eighth District Court of Appeals from 1970 to 1986.  Forbes was president of city council from 1974 to 1989. Lou Stokes won election to Congress in 1968 and served until he retired 30 years later. Carl Stokes completed two terms as mayor and then moved to New York where he became a television reporter and news anchor. He returned to Cleveland in the 1980s and became a Cleveland municipal court judge. His public career culminated with service as US ambassador to the Seychelles.

Note: An earlier version of this post reversed the order of Stokes' judicial and diplomatic service. Thanks to eagle-eyed reader Dick Peery for alerting us to the error.