How Cleveland nonprofits plan to survive COVID-19 by Briana Oldham

Summary of Video forum from May 21, 2020 by Briana Oldham
The pdf is here
Rachell Dissell, moderator, Emily Campbell, Assoc Director, Center of Community SolutionsMelissa Graves, CEO, Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy CenterCynthia J. Ries, Exec Director, Greater Cleveland Community SharesSondra Miller, President & CEO, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

How Cleveland nonprofits plan to survive COVID-19
by Briana Oldham

COVID-19 has changed everything. Creating a new landscape for the future comes with adjusting to the times.

In a forum held Thursday night, a panel of representatives from several nonprofits in the city of Cleveland came together to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and how to adapt to the new normal.

The hour-long discussion, presented by the Shaker Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters Greater Cleveland opened with remarks from former Plain Dealer reporter, Rachel Dissell.

How can nonprofits continue to deliver services to Cleveland residents during a global pandemic?

Panelists Emily Campbell, Associate Director from the Center for Community Solutions, Melissa Graves, CEO of the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center, Sondra Miller, President & CEO of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, and Cynthia J. Ries, Executive Director of the Greater Cleveland Community Shares took to Zoom to answer this and so much more.

Graves, who has spent her career working with vulnerable families, noted that decisions on how to provide services during this time were made immediately. Due to all the uncertainty right now, which abusers don’t like, the center felt it best to keep critical services open.

“We knew it was going to be a very volatile and dangerous situation [having abusers at home around the clock] so we pivoted very quickly,” Graves said.

What Graves and the staff found when trying to provide remote services was that it forced the center to go in a direction that they had already been moving toward but had yet to complete. The staff has been able to attend virtual trainings and webinars to provide advocacy services to work with clients remotely.

“There is a curiosity around what’s been happening with domestic violence and child abuse,” Graves said.

With that idea in mind, the mission is now more important than ever, and their efforts have been well received. Since people still need housing, the center has also worked diligently to expedite permanent housing in order to provide some level of social distancing.

Pivoting was a resounding theme during the forum, as several agencies had to move to immediately decide how to proceed and without a lot of information at the time.

The Center for Community Solutions conducted a survey about problems agencies were facing and how they were dealing with them. Campbell wanted to look at data to get a sense of if the reports they received were across the board or just in some area pockets.

There were 734 groups across the state of Ohio over the span of two weeks in late April who participated in the survey. Though all 88 counties were represented, the core of the responses came from Cuyahoga County where community solutions has the deepest reach.

The biggest question was what the level of disruption was on the various agencies due to COVID-19 and/or the Stay at Home Order.

“We thought it was important to ask about those two things together because what we’re seeing is that it’s not just about the virus, it’s the response to the virus as well,” Campbell said.

What they found was the vast majority of service providers reported their services had been disrupted. Though 38% indicated that there was some disruption, but it was manageable, 20% listed significant disruption and they expect the return to services to be difficult.

“We are most concerned with the 20% because these are the groups that have faced some real challenges over the course of the last two months,” Campbell said.

A big takeaway was that over 75% reported shifting to providing services over the phone or via video chat as a way to adjust. The responses came from agencies ranging from a staff size of five people to those with over 500 employees.

There are pivots that pertaining to certain agencies had to make that most others might not have had to consider. This holds true for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center due to the inability to have in person visits and provide emergency room support.

Miller described coming up with goals at the beginning of the year to transition to providing services via telehealth but didn’t think they would be implemented so quickly. Telehealth is the ability to provide health services and support electronically using various means of technology.

“Staffing clients who started out being a little bit resistant to it, came to really enjoy it and feel like that it was an even better experience,” Miller said.

Some chose not to participate, as this method of receiving advocacy is not for everyone. The center also had to navigate the hospital emergency rooms since there were a lot of mixed reactions to new protocols in place.

Miller believes there is an opportunity for telehealth services to continue, especially in parts of the state where they do not have 24-hour sexual assault nursing units.

“I see telehealth being woven into what the future could look like there,” Miller said.

Financial challenges agencies are facing have also become a huge topic of discussion when it comes to nonprofits. Ries began to hear from agencies the Greater Cleveland Community Shares partners with and serves almost immediately at the peak of the pandemic.

Ries mentioned getting a lot of calls and a lot of questions. This is in large part due to most of the members being performing arts groups. Ries notes there being a lot of anxiety about canceled events and what that means for funders.

Though many organizations received loans, the help provided only temporary relief and what the future looks like would still need to be addressed.

“I think what we’re going to see in the next couple months and next year is that fundraising is definitely going to be different,” Ries said.

Ries thinks Cleveland is a generous community and will rally together. She mentions that several foundations have already stepped up and that it has been impressive to watch.

The arts groups have gotten creative when coming up with ways to serve young people and keep them connected and engaged.

“Our arts groups, our members have really stepped up, and have been doing great community based, family based, meaningful work,” Ries said.

The concept of community shares is the idea of being able to help each other. People still have the desire to do this even during such an unprecedented time and it is clear the support is a mighty force.


How will some of Cleveland’s most critical non profits survive Covid-19?
A video forum on May 21, 2020
with Rachel Dissell, former Plain Dealer Reporter and panelists:
•Emily Campbell, Assoc Director, Center of Community Solutions
•Melissa Graves, CEO, Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center
•Sondra Miller, President & CEO, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
•Cynthia J. Ries, Exec Director, Greater Cleveland Community Shares

2020 Women’s Empowerment Series (Starting Feb 27, 2020)

the series flyer is here
Another series flyer is here

Beyond Suffrage: Women’s Reform Networks
and the Road for Women’s Rights
Einav Rabinovitch-Fox
Visiting Assistant Professor, History, CWRU

Talk will be at CWRU Siegal Facility on Richmond Rd
25700 Science Park Dr Beachwood, OH 44122

Thursday February 27 7-8:30 p.m.

This talk will explore how the local activism of women in various reform causes in Cleveland and elsewhere led to their involvement in the suffrage movement, thus situating the right to vote in a broader activist agenda to advance women’s rights and equality before and after the ratification of the 19th Amendment. This series is held in partnership with The Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program Case Western Reserve University and the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland.

Free and open to the public.
RSVP here


A Collector’s Tale: Memorabilia Of The American Women’s Suffrage Movement

Angela Clark-Taylor
Director, Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, CWRU

Talk will be at Lakewood Public Library, Main
15425 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107

Thursday March 26  6:30 – 8 p.m.

This interactive lecture will utilize artifacts and ephemera from the American Women’s Suffrage Movement and the Anti-Suffrage Movement to provide a brief history of women’s suffrage and the memorabilia suffragists created to develop a mainstream market appeal for their movement to the American people. This series is held in partnership with The Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program Case Western Reserve University and the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland.

Free and open to the public.
RSVP here


Symposium Link



From The 19th Amendment to the Occupy
Movement: 100 Years Of Women’s Social Movement Activism

Heather Hurwitz
Lecturer, Sociology, CWRU

Talk will be at One University Circle
10730 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106

Wednesday May 20 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

This talk will explore the range of social movement activism that women have engaged in since the passage of the 19th amendment. Topics include the pursuit of racial and gender equality, women in environmental movements, feminists in the Occupy movement, and more. Since suffrage, women have continued to fight for equality even within progressive movements. This series is held in partnership with The Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program Case Western Reserve University and the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland.

Free and open to the public.
RSVP here


Cosponsored by


Before RBG, a Cleveland judge made history; it’s time to recognize Unstoppable Florence Allen: Andrea Simakis Plain Dealer June 30, 2019

Florence Ellinwood Allen is sworn in as a Common Pleas Court Judge for Cuyahoga County in 1921. Prior to her historic election to the trial court bench, Allen, a mean piano player, wrote music criticism for The Plain Dealer. (Kent State University at Ashtabula)

Before RBG, a Cleveland judge made history; it’s time to recognize Unstoppable Florence Allen: Andrea Simakis

Plain Dealer June 30, 2019
The link is here

Longtime political strategist Arnold Pinkney dies at 83 WKYC Jan 13, 2014

Longtime political strategist Arnold Pinkney dies at 83

Longtime political strategist Arnold Pinkney dies at 83

CLEVELAND — He managed Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign, was the political consultant who helped put Louis Stokes in Congress and was a well-known political figure whose name was often mentioned in the same breath as brothers Louis and Carl Stokes and Mayor Frank Jackson.

Arnold R. Pinkney, 83, died Monday after being in hospice care for leukemia. Born in Youngstown, he was the youngest of five children.

Hospice of the Western Reserve released a statement on behalf of the Pinkney family late Monday afternoon:

Prominent businessman and political consultant Arnold R. Pinkney passed away at 1:30 p.m. today at David Simpson Hospice House. The family wishes to thank friends and family for their encouragement and expressions of love during this difficult time. Funeral arrangements will be handled by E.F. Boyd & Son. Arrangements are still pending. More information will be forthcoming. The family requests that their privacy be respected at this time.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown released a statement: “Arnold Pinkney leaves behind a legacy of public service and dedication to others that should serve as a testament to the way he lived his life. Pinkney’s role in leading Jesse Jackson’s 1984 Presidential bid and managing Lou Stokes’ Congressional campaign and Carl Stokes’ mayoral campaign changed Northeast Ohio and this country. He helped to reshape our political landscape and united people from all walks of life. Jesse Jackson once called him ‘one of our untapped national treasures,’ and I could not agree more. Through his service on the school board, Pinkney was also instrumental in his work rebuilding Cleveland’s schools. And he provided wise counsel to me and so many other leaders across our state. Connie and I offer our prayers and thoughts to his family and rest assured knowing that his legacy lives on.”

In a one-line statement, the NAACP also wrote: “The Cleveland NAACP joins the community in expressing our sincerest condolences to the Pinkney Family for the loss of our dear friend Arnold R. Pinkney; we are deeply saddened by his passing.”

Cleveland City Council consultant Mary Anne Sharkey posted on her Facebook page that the council’s Finance Committee meeting Monday afternoon honored Pinkney with a moment of silence. She called Pinkney “my friend and mentor.”

U.S. Rep Marcia Fudge also posted on her Facebook page: “With the passing of Arnold Pinkney, the Cleveland community has lost a remarkable public servant who cared deeply about the future of our children and the well-being of all people. Mr. Pinkney has been a friend and an astute political mentor to many, including me. My thoughts and prayers go out to Betty and all other members of his family.”

The 1966 campaign of Judge Charles W. White for Common Pleas Court of Cuyahoga County was Pinkney’s first campaign. Pinkney served as Campaign Manager for Lloyd O. Brown, judge of the Cleveland Municipal Court.

He served as Campaign Manager for Louis Stokes’ election campaign in 1968 when Louis Stokes became the first Black Congressman from the state of Ohio.

He also managed Stokes’ re-election campaign in 1970.

Pinkney managed Carl Stokes’ 1969 Mayoral re-election campaign. Stokes was the first African-American mayor of a major American City.

Pinkney was the National Deputy Campaign Manager for Senator Hubert H. Humphrey’s Democratic nomination for U.S. President.

Pinkney served as Deputy Campaign Manager for the re-election of Governor John Gilligan State of Ohio in 1974 and was Deputy Campaign Manager for Richard F. Celeste for Governor the State of Ohio in 1982.

He served as National Campaign Manager for Reverend Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign which was the forerunner for the election of Barack Obama for President in 2008. Pinkney was Campaign Manager for Mayor Michael R. White’s re-election for Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio in 1997.

“We lost an icon. We lost a great man. We lost a civil rights leader,” said Cleveland City Councilman Zach Reed. “I remember when Jesse Jackson came to Cleveland and the legacy was ‘Run Jesse Run.’ It was Arnold Pinkney that did that.”

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Cleveland paid its respects with a moment of silence, and words about the man and his legacy.

“We are recognizing a lion of the civil rights movement, who didn’t just change our part of the country, but changed the country,” said Councilman Joe Cimperman.

“We all owe him a great debt for what he did. The doors that he opened. The paths that he blazed,” said Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland.

He was also Campaign Manager for then-City Council President Frank G. Jackon’s successful run for Mayor of Cleveland in 2005.

“It’s a tremendous loss to our city. I’m sure from here out, in the history of our city, we will always ask the question: What would Arnold have done?” said The Rev. Hilton Smith, current president of Cleveland’s branch of the NAACP.

Early childhood education still the best ticket out and up for poor, inner-city Cleveland youth: Brent Larkin 9/18/15

Early childhood education still the best ticket out and up for poor, inner-city Cleveland youth: Brent Larkin

Silvana Ferri, adult at center, receives a group hug from kids at the Cleveland Children’s Academy in October 2010 after the surprise announcement that she’d won a national $10,000 Early Childhood Educator Award.

(Thomas Ondrey, The Plain Dealer, File, 2010)

In his powerful eulogy of Louis Stokes, the Rev. Otis Moss Jr. repeatedly marveled that the longtime congressman was able to “rise above his circumstances,” escaping a life of poverty for one filled with memorable accomplishments.

The single most important requirement to rise above those circumstances, to earn that ticket out of life in the projects, was education.

Lou and Carl Stokes both spoke often of their mother, Louise, and her relentless focus on the subject.

“My mother had scrubbed floors, cleaned clothes and served dinners in order to make a life for us,” recalled Stokes, in an interview at his home just a month before his death Aug. 18 at the age of 90. “When you felt those cold hands and calluses, you began to understand what she was trying to say to us in terms of getting an education.”

It’s a common theme, especially among successful minorities who grew up poor.

Former Cleveland City Council President George Forbes, the last of eight children born in a segregated Memphis, talks similarly of his mother — “she was a great lady; to this day, I miss my mother” — sending her children north, where they would have a better chance to earn an education beyond high school.

And though a mother’s obsession with the future of her children is hardly unique to any culture, for children who grow up in poverty — especially black children — history tells us that education is pretty much the only way out.

The evidence is overwhelming. Consider the most successful black elected officials of the last 50 years:

Virgil Brown, Lloyd Brown, Charles Carr, Forbes, Marcia Fudge, Frank Jackson, Leo Jackson, Perry Jackson, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Peter Lawson Jones, Arnold Pinkney, the Stokeses, George White and Mike White.

Every one of them went to college. Most earned two degrees. Lawson Jones went to Harvard. Mike White was the first black student body president of Ohio State University.

Over time, Mayor Frank Jackson’s school reform plan — with a huge assist from the Cleveland Foundation, the Gund Foundation and corporate leaders — will bring incremental improvements in student performance. There are more good schools in Cleveland today than there were four years ago.

Last year’s statewide report cards showed that Cleveland school students were learning a bit more. Nevertheless, Cleveland still ranked a dismal 607 out of the 610 districts.

That same report card showed that nine of the state’s 14 worst-performing school districts are in Northeast Ohio. Six of the 14 are in Cuyahoga County.

This year’s statewide report cards are likely to provide more documentation that efforts to fix Cleveland schools are enjoying a degree of success. But expecting “transformational” results anytime soon is unrealistic, especially given Cleveland’s daunting poverty rate.

The 1970 census found that 17.1 percent of Cleveland’s 750,903 residents lived below the poverty line. A census update issued last year estimated that 35.4 percent of Cleveland’s 389,521 live below the poverty line.

So, while the city’s population is barely half what it was 45 years ago, its poverty rate has more than doubled.

I’ve been on this soapbox for a decade now, but the single best investment Cuyahoga County can make in its future is a massive investment in early childhood education.

Free, high-quality preschool for needy 3- and 4-year-olds, coupled with intensive parental mentoring and effective programs to reduce the alarming rate of births out of wedlock, might be the only way out.

History tells us County Executive Armond Budish is no risk-taker. But I believe Budish has concluded that a huge expansion of early childhood education should be his signature accomplishment as county executive.

If Budish wants to leave a legacy of change and accomplishment, he’ll ignore his cautious instincts and seize the moment.

So staggering is the cost of our underinvesting in the education of poor children that economists of all political persuasions, including Nobel laureate James Heckman, have concluded that quality preschool will, over time, save taxpayers trillions.

And Port Clinton native Robert Putnam, former dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, argues in his phenomenal best-seller, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” that “to ignore these kids violates our deepest religious and moral values” and “undermines our democracy and perhaps even our political stability.”

“Our Kids” should be required reading for every elected official. Members of Gov. John Kasich’s administration should have read it last year, before squashing a budget proposal by state Sen. Peggy Lehner to increase funding for high-quality preschool by $100 million.

That’s the Team Kasich way. If it’s not their idea, it can’t possibly be a good one.

“Of all the things we can do, the biggest single one is early childhood education,” Putnam said in an interview this spring.

With it, thousands of Cuyahoga County’s poor kids might just have a shot. Without it, most probably won’t.

A proud man, Lou Stokes enjoyed all the deserved attention that came his way late in life. But my guess is he’d gladly take his name off all those buildings that bear it in exchange for an investment that offers the poor kids in Cuyahoga County an opportunity to rise above their circumstances and lead better lives.

Brent Larkin was The Plain Dealer’s editorial director from 1991 until his retirement in 2009.

To reach Brent Larkin:

Roldo Bartimole writes about Lonnie Burten Jr. in 2009

original link is here

@CleCityCouncil Member Lonnie Burten (1978). Lonnie built homes in his neighborhood for residents of his ward. (photo: Cleveland Memory)

Roldo Bartimole writes about late Cleveland Councilperson Lonnie Burten Jr. in 2009

Sometimes you try to put people into boxes they don’t fit into. Mayor Frank Jackson is one of those people difficult to place. At least for me.

Is he just another politician? Or is he, as he says, “the right man” for the times. These not so good times.

I talked to Mayor Jackson because I happen to look at an old clipping that told me something about him and where he came from. I wanted to know more.

The clip was something I wrote in 1984 about the death of Lonnie Burten. Burten had been the Councilman of Ward 5, the city’s poorest ward, in Jackson’s Central area. Jackson didn’t succeed Burten after he died but he did eventually take that seat. He became a rescuer of that depressed ward. As its Councilman, Jackson brought it bundles of federal money.

Lonnie Burten had toppled two of the toughest old-time black politicians – Charlie Carr and Jimmy Bell. He got shot by someone during one of the campaigns against Carr. He survived that attack.

However, he died by heart attack at 40. I wrote upon Burten’s death: “Burten had the potential to become a true folk here. He did not achieve that status because he seemed to lack focus for his tremendous energy and thus the impact that creates legends.”

Burten and Jackson were youthful friends. When Jackson moved to 38th and Central, “Burten was the first person to knock on our door” and they became friends over the years. Burten went to college; Jackson to the Army.

People told Burten he was crazy” to run against Carr. Crazy enough to get shot but live to defeat the legendary Carr in 1981. Jackson and the late David Donaldson, despite the danger, campaigned with Burten.

Burten later tried to topple Council President George Forbes. He came within a vote of winning. Councilman Mike White put so much pressure on first-term Councilman (now judge) Larry Jones that Jones changed his vote from Burten to Forbes.

I told Lonnie that he needed 13 votes not just 11 votes,” recalled Jackson.

Preston Terry III succeeded Burten with Jackson”s help. But, as Jackson puts it, things went awry” and Jackson ran and defeated Terry in 1989.

Jackson laughed. He didn”t really want to be a Councilman. He was a city prosecutor at the time. He laughed again because he said, I didn”t want to be Council President,” followed by I didn’t want to be Mayor either.” It seems Jackson rises without any visible passion for power.

And that’s the strange thing. I believe him. From time to time for years I would make it up to Jackson’s Council office for talks. He never gave me the impression of wanting a higher office. He did have very strong opinions and I’d say a streak of stubbornness for his views.

But he also always played his cards close to the chest.

Mayor Jackson’s re-election spokesman Tom Andrzejewski said, “It’s still painful” for Jackson when I asked to talk to the Mayor about Burten’s influence upon him.

Jackson, in his low key way, said, “He passed away. It bothered me. We were pretty close.”

Jackson did say that he often thinks of Burten.

Burten was a larger than life person though likely pretty much forgotten or unknown to most Clevelanders.

Burten, I wrote in 1984, was always a study in contrasts. Avoiding drink, meat and smoking and apparently in good physical condition, he died of a heart attack. He was stricken while demolishing a house he once lived in on East 38th Street. He had lived in a corner of the house, which was heated by a kerosene space heater. Damage from a fire had made the house uninhabitable.

The fire had destroyed many of Burten’s belongings. Among the rubbish a visiting reporter found a leather-bound copy of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. Burten gave the copy to him.

He was a politician, a ghetto philosopher, a carpenter, auto mechanic, even an artist. One of his pieces, a multi-media portrait of an elderly black man, hangs in an office at Case Western Reserve University.”

He had a natural and charismatic flair,” said a professor told me.

He told me Burten had aspirations of being an academic but he told Burton his future was in politics, not academia.

Isn’t that what Cleveland needs right now? Someone with charisma. Unfortunately, Burten died. And it’s not clear he ever would have been able to go as far as Jackson has.

Jackson says he’s the right man to be mayor of Cleveland at this time. It’s clear to me that he was in the right place to take advantage of Jane Campbell’s inability to understand Cleveland politics. She was there for the picking; he for the taking.

I’ve been curious about whether Mayor Jackson had an ideology behind his political ambitions. It doesn’t seem so.

He does say “You always remember where you came from. You always go back home.” That’s his political reference point.

I believe he means it, too.

However, Jackson has been a mayor – unlike, say Dennis Kucinich – who has gone along with all the major projects that don’t seem so favorable for the economically deprived. He favors the Medical Mart and Convention Center, the expensive Port Authority relocation and all kinds of development subsidies.

Though he says of his philosophy, “You can’t live large when others are suffering.”

I don”t believe he’s living large. He laughs when people say he doesn’t really live in his home in the deprived Central area. “They say I really live in Shaker,” he says laughing.

Maybe Frank Jackson is the right person to be mayor of Cleveland right now. But for how long? I asked him how long he thought he wanted to be Mayor of Cleveland.

He says he wants to build on his foundation. He sees balancing the budget as a major achievement. It is an achievement when so much of government is drowning in red ink. But it’s a holding action.

The closest he comes to giving a hint of when he’s likely ready to leave the office is this: “I don”t want to be an impediment to my own purpose.” It’s often hard for politicians to recognize that point.

Jackson is a low key kind of guy. He projects a steady hand at the helm, even if that”s the mark of a caretaker Mayor.

The person who upends him will have to offer Clevelanders – and voters will have to be ready to accept – some flair and excitement. They will have to be a sharp contrast to Jackson.

It may not be long, I believe, when Cleveland will want someone who gives them something to look forward to, some spark and flair. Someone who will promise more than a balanced budget.

I don’t think it’s this election. I don’t think we can wait too much longer. Cleveland needs a big lift.

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