FutureHeights offers community-building workshops and mini-grants this spring

Graduates of the Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series.

FutureHeights offers several tools to help Cleveland Heights residents leverage their neighborhoods’ assets through its Community Capacity-Building Program, including a series of workshops for neighborhood leaders and small grants for neighborhood projects. 

Since 2015, FutureHeights has awarded approximately $13,000 in mini-grants toward 18 projects in the city. Residents can apply for up to $1,000 for citizen-led projects and events. In addition, 39 residents from neighborhoods across Cleveland Heights have completed the workshop series, which takes place each spring.

“Community organizing is a little like planting seeds and waiting to see what emerges. A little water, fertilizer and sunlight, and strengths emerge that a community may not even know it has,” said Tom Gibson of Oxford Community Garden. “The FutureHeights mini-grant to the Oxford Community Garden in 2016 has not only allowed us to purchase perennial food-forest plants—its ostensible purpose—but has brought in neighborhood volunteers not previously connected with the garden, and connected the garden with Oxford Elementary School. Those connections, in turn, have brought in almost $6,000 in additional funding, which supports gardeners instructing fourth-graders in gardening basics.”

“We have several principles that guide the program,” said Mark Chupp, an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, and former chair of the FutureHeights Civic Engagement Committee, which organized the sessions. “We believe that institutions lead best by stepping back and supporting residents and voluntary groups, and that everyday people have the power to do extraordinary things right where they live.”

The program takes an assets-based community development approach, building on neighborhood strengths. “For example,” said Chupp, “the Cain Park neighborhood has this tremendous asset—Cain Park—that it can leverage and build upon. The “dog project,” in which residents came together to urge the city to allow dog-walking in the park, is a good example of this. We also see residents of other neighborhoods, such as Noble, coming together to organize neighborhood cleanups and open houses. The small grants give us a means to better support neighbor-led activities like these.”

The 2018 Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series will take place on six Sunday afternoons, between March 11 and May 20, 3-6 p.m. Topics for the sessions are neighborhood leadership, asset-based community development, policy and advocacy, the history of Cleveland Heights and its neighborhoods, leveraging community resources and building community.

All Cleveland Heights residents are encouraged to apply to participate in the workshop series. Applications for neighborhood mini-grants will be accepted twice this year, with deadlines on March 15 and Sept. 15.

For more information and applications, visit www.futureheights.org/programs/community-building-programs/, e-mail sbasu@futureheights.org or call 216-320-1423.

Sruti Basu

Sruti Basu is director of community-building programs at FutureHeights.

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 1:22 PM, 03.01.2018