Thursday, February 02, 2012

Nonprofit Thursday Returns!

Today is a promising day in Cleveland’s nonprofit world. Regular readers in this space are familiar with how underperforming we find so many of the nonprofits whose principal mission is to serve the African American community. But even the local NAACP has at least bestirred itself to address one of the burning issues of the day — the election of the next Cuyahoga County prosecutor. They are sponsoring a debate among the five candidates next Tuesday, February 7 from 7-8:30PM at St. James A.M.E. Church, 8401 Cedar Ave.
The Society of Urban Professionals has for the last several years been one of the brightest lights on our local nonprofit scene. S.O.U.P. knows how to put on a party and how to have fun, but they also put together some top-notch lunches with speakers who address topics of special interests to African American professionals. Now the group is expanding its horizons with the establishment of the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival, set to debut April 19-22 at the Shaker Square Cinema.
The festival will showcase local emerging talent as well as established artists in the world of independent filmmaking. GCUFF’s programming objective is to educate, entertain and highlight the African American experience via films and documentaries that represent the African American journey. They also hope to encourage area students to consider a career in the film industry.
GCUFF’s artistic director is Neal Hodges, a fixture on Cleveland’s arts scene via his work with Karamu and other organizations. Hodges told The Real Deal that Cleveland has given birth to or nurtured much outstanding talent in the movie industry, including Hallie Berry, Terrence Howard, Bill Cobbs, and Kym Whitley. He thinks their success and connections can help foster both GCUFF’s success as well as the development of new local talent.
The Festival is reaching out to film programs in the region’s institutions of higher learning in a call for films for this year’s inaugural event. Festival principals also hope to land one or two nationally known actors for the premiere.
In a prepared statement, co-founder and executive director Donna Dabbs said the Festival has been established itself as a as a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of African American and African Diaspora cinema as well as the education of media arts, said Donna Dabbs of SOUP. The organization's board will consist of community minded citizens and business leaders dedicated to the promotion and marketing of the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival.
Alton Tinker, co-founder of both S.O.U.P. and the Festival, said in the Festival press release that "We are continuing to build our brand and promote our image in Cleveland and the film festival is one more way that SOUP can contribute to building and connecting our urban professionals in Greater Cleveland". Tinker serves as the director of funding and sponsorship for GCUFF.
For more information, contact Neal Hodges at 216-214-6383, email, or visit the Festival website at

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The local chapter of the National Black MBA Association also has some positive initiatives going. On Tuesday, Feb. 7, it will host a webinar on "Sustainable Business 101: Re-Thinking How We Conduct Business in Tomorrow's Economy". Local attorney David E Nash, partner at McMahon DeGullis, an environmental law firm, will present.
To register, visit; for more information contact program and events co-chairs Starlyn Priest or Tammy Monroe at
The chapter also is sponsoring an academic leadership and enrichment   program, Leaders of Tomorrow, to serve area high school students who demonstrate leadership potential. The program offers a special curriculum that focuses on mentoring, cultural exposure, experiential learning, and college preparation.
For more information contact Catrina Palmer at
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One of the strongest and most positive area nonprofits in the black community is the Consortium of African American Organizations [CAAO].
CAAO is now looking for new leadership following the retirement of the one-of-a-kind Connie Atkins.  Resumes are currently being accepted until February 25 for a new Executive Director of the Consortium. Go to the website to see the job description -

If you are passionate about CAAO's mission, energetic, and an excellent communicator (and able to raise money), this may be for you.
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Black History Month at the Maltz Museum

In recognition of Black History Month, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage has announced two special programs related to the Black Experience in America.

On Wednesday, February 8, Cleveland Public Theatre director Beth Wood and members of the cast of Antebellum will talk about and perform selected scenes from this provocative drama that unfolds against the backdrop of a southern plantation, a German concentration camp and the 1939 Atlanta premiere of Gone with the Wind; a play that resonates with the entwining realities of Nazi cruelty and Hollywood dreams. Program beings at 7pm; advance tickets available $10 ($8 Museum members) - call 216.593.0575 to purchase.

The Museum will be open on Presidents Day (Monday, February 20) 11am - 5pm. At 1pm there is a special program, free with Museum admission, featuring portrayals of Abraham Lincoln and four other U.S. Presidents of the past. The performers will tell the audience about their life and times, and be available for questions after the presentation. No reservations required.

Maltz Museum Executive Director Judi Feniger notes, "The core of our work at the Museum is outreach to people from all backgrounds, races, religions and cultures. As The Museum of Diversity and Tolerance, we're always looking for ways to share experiences and foster community collaboration and conversation." The Museum's most recent special exhibition was Hardship to Hope: African American Art from the Karamu Workshop, and for the fourth year it was open free to the public on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, welcoming nearly 1,200 visitors.

The Museum is located at 2929 Richmond Rd.  Beachwood, Ohio 44122
(216). Learn more:, 216.593-0575.

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Nonprofit Directors and Trustees:
If you struggle to manage and retain your volunteers or if you are unsure of how best to use volunteer talent to help your organization grow, then Grassroots Networking Night: Tapping into Talent may be the event for you.
On Wednesday, February 8, 5:30 —7:30 pm, you can meet, greet, ask questions, make connections, and have some fun in a version of “speed dating” with invited presenters who will share tips from their successful real-world experiences building a movement around their organization’s mission.
Featured presenters are Joy Banish, Executive Director of Greater Cleveland Volunteers; Jeff Griffiths, Founder and Executive Director of HandsOn Northeast Ohio; and Ann Kent, Vice President, Services to Nonprofits at Business Volunteers Unlimited.
WHERE:  The Foundation Center-Cleveland 1422 Euclid Ave. Suite 1600, Cleveland, OH 44115
 REGISTER: or call 216-861-1933 x325.
COST:  Free.
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George Jenkins said...

Brother Richard - thanks for sending me the link to your blog. It's always great to read your articles, which are filled with encouragement for folks trying their very best to make Cleveland a better place to live, work, and most importantly, to share love and compassion to all.
George Jenkins

Richard said...


What a delight to hear from you! And thank you for your kind words. It is often a challenge to find encouragement when looking around our community to imagine how much better it could be. Good intentions alone seldom suffice, and you are right in acknowledging that there are many people who are striving daily to make our city better. There are some nonprofits in particular, the Urban League and CAAO, working to bring recognition to some of these unsung citizens. I will be reporting on this in future posts.
I hope to see you around these parts this year.