Vibrant City Awards Lunch

The third annual Vibrant City Awards Lunch is quickly approaching. Cleveland Neighborhood Progress will proudly host 600 guests and we will once again celebrate the top efforts in neighborhood revitalization. But something will be very different this year – we’ll be outside! This celebration of Cleveland’s neighborhoods and the city’s robust community development system will take place at Edgewater Park and will certainly be something to remember.

The picturesque lakefront setting will be the backdrop as we present the Morton L. Mandel Leadership in Community Development Award, as well as eight other awards honoring CDCs, corporate partners, and dedicated individuals that make our city stronger. Please join us for lunch, applaud the wonderful efforts taking place in Cleveland’s neighborhoods, and commemorate the release of a new Cleveland book that we have been working on. All guests will receive a copy!

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Click here for sponsorship information.

Click here to purchase individual tickets.

Below are the 2017 VCAL award finalists:

CDC Community Collaboration Award   

Northeast Shores Development Corporation
The Ballot Box Project was a collaborative effort of 13 government, non-profit, and arts organizations to increase civic involvement amongst residents in Collinwood. It all began with project planning, when in small group discussions residents and artist leaders decided topics that were important to the community. Experts in those fields joined the monthly meetings. Facilitated discussions helped with a deep dive about why those topics were important and how artist proposals could best address them. Then the Board of Elections (BOE) joined the conversation when residents decided the rules and regulations for voting in The Ballot Box Project, focusing on equity around who gets to vote and ballot procedures.   Once all the rules were established, the fun began. Upcycle Parts Shop worked with artists and residents in creating visual displays for project proposals that were on site at all the voting locations. A team of Waterloo artists were charged with creating a loud and colorful parade that wove through residential streets, bringing the project to the people. Finally, voting locations were established throughout the neighborhood. As a result, 124 people were involved in planning, 520 ballots were cast, and 3,400 people participated in funded projects.

Metro West Community Development Organization
The Stockyards Bike-A-Thon (BAT) Neighborhood Ride for Neighborhood Pride is a collaboration between Metro West CDO, City of Cleveland Community Relations Board, Clark Elementary, Stockyard Constellation Schools and the Second District of the Cleveland Police Department, along with 45 other partners. The BAT was created to promote community building and resident engagement, educate youth on bike safety, enhance relationships between youth and law enforcement, and develop partnerships within the community.   Stockyard BAT’s month-long programming begins at the schools with assemblies to educate students on the importance of bike helmets. “Fix-a-thons” are later held as opportunities for youth to repair their bikes in preparation for the BAT. The BAT culminates with a neighborhood ride event that includes access to neighborhood resource organizations and programs. Additionally, families can interact with various facets of City of Cleveland services while enjoying food and local entertainment. The focal point of the day is the neighborhood parade, a youth bike ride through the Stockyard neighborhood with a police escort.   In its 13th year, the BAT has become a neighborhood institution. The neighborhood ride not only acts as a vehicle for community pride but also as manner to create a presence for youth who live within our neighborhoods.

Old Brooklyn Community Development Corp.
Old Brooklyn is a great place to grow; a place to raise a family or start a business and set down roots. In 2015, OBCDC created Cleveland Summer Cinema (CSC), a summer movie series held at the centrally located Loew Park. Aimed at providing a safe and friendly environment to welcome families all of sizes and makeups the summer saw thousands of guests – from Old Brooklyn, surrounding city neighborhoods and the suburbs. In 2016, OBCDC realized they would need to grow the event in order to respond to the increased interest and demand. When approached, Horizon Education Centers (HEC), having just opened a new center in Old Brooklyn, was eager to support the event. Beyond offering essential funding as a sponsor, HEC brought teachers and staff to every single movie to provide family-friendly games and activities. Their staff provided a big support to the CDC as volunteers and partners. Additionally, the Old Brooklyn Families Group (OBFG), a grassroots collaboration of residents in the community, came out each week and provided educational programing for guests. These included partnerships with local cultural and educational institutions like the Art Museum and Metroparks. Without the collaboration of the OBFG and HEC, Cleveland Summer Cinema, which brought out nearly 10,000 people, could not have happened.

CDC Neighborhood Placemaking Award

Ohio City Inc.
In the fall of 2016, The Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion focused on one community and one theme – street art in Ohio City. Artists lived in Ohio City and engaged with community groups in addition to creating large scale public art installations – one sculpture and 11 murals. Sites were selected strategically to encourage walking and to create safer, more welcoming connections along Detroit Avenue. To engage Ohio City’s youth and ensure the public art was reflective of the community, artists and hosts worked with community groups to do artist workshops and brainstorm mural concepts.   Host organizations OCI, Hingetown, Transformer Station, Cleveland Public Theatre, SPACES, Cleveland Print Room, and Ingenuity worked closely for over a year to plan and implement the residency. This collaboration leveraged a $260,000+ investment into public art and community engagement in Ohio City.

Campus District Inc.
A Bridge that Bridges mural project was developed to physically connect the Campus District while publicly addressing the longstanding division of race in Cleveland. Innerbelt I-90 divides the Campus District, with Downtown Cleveland to the north and the Central Neighborhood to the south, and serves as a physical representation of the racial and cultural barriers in our city. Throughout this 6-month project a diverse group of community stakeholders who work, live or go to school on either side of the highway engaged in intentional conversations about race, racism, privilege and segregation while co-designing a mural. The team targeted one of the few links between Downtown and Central, the walls of the East 22nd Bridge over I-90. The final image names elements of both interpersonal and structural racism while illustrating the intention for a more equal and integrated future. Where there were once grey walls there are now bold colors inviting both pedestrians and drivers to cross the bridge. The project served as a true placemaking opportunity as it visually transformed the experience of crossing the East 22nd Bridge while also socially connecting neighborhood and acting as catalyst for conversation on racial equity.

Slavic Village Development
Fleet Avenue has been the historic heart of Slavic Village. This mile-long road was once lined with butchers, bakeries, restaurants, and other staples of daily life and surrounded by thriving residential side streets. By 2012, Fleet Avenue was a shadow of its former self. In 2013, the partnership of Slavic Village Development, the City of Cleveland, URS, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and Councilman Tony Brancatelli developed the plan to rebuild Fleet Avenue as Cleveland’s First (and to date, only) Complete and Green Street. Fleet Avenue is now fully reopened as a lively main street that serves neighborhood residents and businesses as well as the environment. Slavic Village’s standing as Cleveland’s “Active Living Neighborhood” is strengthened by the bike lanes and wide, landscaped sidewalks that connect the Cleveland Metroparks Washington Park Reservation and Golf Course to Broadway Avenue. Improved transit waiting environments with benches complement regular RTA bus service. Public art installations, colorful signage, holiday lighting, and NEORSD green infrastructure and bioswales all contribute to a vibrant streetscape. Since the streetscape was completed Fall 2016, two new businesses have opened and Cleveland Chain reaction has named Slavic Village as its host neighborhood.

CDC Economic Opportunity Award           

Metro West Community Development Organization
Metro West joined the Build Health Challenge in 2015 to identify bold, integrated, and data-driven solutions to improve health equity in low income communities. The effort is a partnership between The Environmental Health Watch, Metro Health Hospital, The Cleveland Department of Public Health, The Hispanic Alliance and The Spanish-American Committee. Through its leadership in the community, Metro West has been able to work with residents through one-on-one outreach, conducted dozens of in-home surveys to identify causes of environmental health ailments, and identified funding to remedy situations that contribute to conditions like asthma, lead poisoning and COPD. As a result of Metro West efforts, the city, local hospitals and neighborhood groups will have better lines of communication in dealing with public health problems and citizens will have greater access to information about the homes they live in. Most significantly, its work in Build Health is leading to a robust and enforced rental registry that will hold landlords accountable to healthy home standards.

Northeast Shores Development Corp.
Northeast Shores Development Corp. responded to the calls from residents to improve educational opportunities within the neighborhood. Struggling to keep working families with children in the neighborhood, NSDC recruited Lakeshore Intergenerational School and assisted in finding them their new Collinwood home. The school is the Collinwood campus of Breakthrough Schools’ city-wide Intergenerational School, nationally recognized for an innovative intergenerational approach to learning. The school was founded on two mainstay principles: 1) learning is a lifelong developmental process, and 2) knowledge is socially constructed. Our students are challenged, nurtured, and encouraged by teachers, peers, and senior mentors in multi-age clusters on their journey to becoming life-long learners.       The school, CDC and neighborhood benefit from continued collaboration, as the CDC and TIS Lakeshore each have representatives on each organization’s Board of Directors.

Famicos Foundation
Stonebrook Montessori serves the individual needs of Cleveland’s urban children from birth through age 15, in Montessori classroom environments that meet the highest standards and through regular interactions with nature, the neighborhood and each other. They nurture children and cultivate community. Famicos Foundation was instrumental in bringing Stonebrook Montessori into the Glenville neighborhoods. The CDC, which owned the school’s present location, helped recruit Stonebrook, get them established, recruit students, and complete a successful first year in 2016. The school is named as a combination of the Amasa Stone House that serves as the new school building and Doan Brook that runs alongside Rockefeller Park and the Cultural Gardens. The former Amasa Stone House honors the neighborhood’s rich heritage, and Doan Brook signifies the importance of preserving the urban environment.

CDC Neighborhood Branding and Marketing Award         

Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) landed CNBC’s Cleveland Hustles reality television series to bring 4 businesses, more than $1 million in investment, and 45 jobs to Gordon Square. The nationally televised show served as an 8-week commercial for the neighborhood and the city of Cleveland, highlighting the city’s entrepreneurial spirit. CNBC and DSCDO generated outstanding social media attention with episode teasers, live updates during the show and follow up posts about the newly created businesses. The local and national media picked up on the feel-good story and the neighborhood was featured in print, online and on television. DSCDO planned multiple events to market the show, engage residents and community leaders, and drive business to the winning Cleveland Hustles businesses. Watch parties orchestrated by the CDC at neighborhood restaurants also helped existing businesses benefit from the show’s success. DSCDO and GSAD organized four post-series tours to engage stakeholders and community leaders in the on-going revitalization of the neighborhood. These tours told the remarkable story of Cleveland Hustles showcasing a neighborhood “open for business.”

Old Brooklyn Community Development Corp.
In 2014, a new brand promise and motto that reflected the history of the neighborhood and the quality of life there: Old Brooklyn is a Great Place to Grow. As a large neighborhood that was quickly diversifying, OBCDC recognized that the community was filled with unique stories and diverse opinions on what made the neighborhood so great. The social media campaign, #WhatsYourOldBrooklyn (WYOB) was born from this idea. In 2016, the WYOB campaign took a three-pronged approach to neighborhood branding.   First, a small group of Social Media Ambassadors were convened and trained in the voice of OBCDC’s social communications. Their roles created the framework for social media engagement and helped create the initial buzz. Secondly, OBCDC held WYOB themed events aimed specifically at promoting the community to visitors and newcomers with targeted social media ads. Lastly, the hashtag was promoted and adopted by local residents and businesses. Following #whatsyouroldbrooklyn provides a glimpse into the many ways people call our neighborhood home and has been adopted as a community supported brand.

St. Clair Superior Development Corporation
For the last twelve years, St.Clair Superior Development Corp. has worked with sponsors across Cleveland with the Year of The Zodiac project. This year’s “Year of The Rooster” will be the last installation of these sculptures. The installation showcases Cleveland’s AsiaTown community as well as St. Clair Superior’s blossoming arts district and thriving business community. Through education programs and other events throughout the year, the Year of the Rooster project promotes investment in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood, celebrates citywide cultural awareness and supports arts education and the local artist community. Not only does this make the community more vibrant but it also helps tell an important part of the neighborhood’s amazing story.

Urban Developer Award

Daryl Anderson, Mustard Seed Development
Mustard Seed Development is a community based business that specializes in the renovation of real estate for rental in the near West Side of Cleveland. Daryl Anderson and family members are committed to providing housing for newcomers and refugees to the city of Cleveland.   Mustard Seed is buying foreclosures in both the Detroit Shoreway and Metro West service areas that are distressed and/or condemned. Over the last six years through the skills of five full time employees, some of whom are newcomers themselves, 50 units have been renovated. Daryl has identified workers who are interested in learning a construction skill and has hired them for work on the properties as apprentices. Daryl works closely with the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland. His tenants are from war torn areas of the world, such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Syria, Ivory Coast, Nepal, Rwanda, or Iraq. Daryl also is currently a partner in the International Village, a larger redevelopment strategy in the Metro West service area.

Radhika Reddy, Ariel Ventures LLC
Radhika Reddy has made Cleveland her home. Since she moved here from India nearly three decades ago, Radhika has worked hard to build a business, get involved in the community and make Cleveland a more welcoming place for immigrants. In addition, she has become a developer willing to take on difficult buildings and find creative ways to make costly renovation work.     Most recently she tackled the historic Pearl Street Saving and Trust building at Pearl and Broadview Rds., one of the most visible corners in Old Brooklyn. Before she purchased the building, Ms. Reddy engaged Old Brooklyn CDC to discuss their vision for the building and neighborhood. Since acquiring the building, she has been an excellent partner, working each step of the way with the CDC to develop a project that is financially sustainable AND serves the neighborhood. Ms. Reddy has shown her willingness to take risks on neighborhoods with developing markets. In addition to the projects Ms. Reddy’s company has personally developed, Ariel Ventures, LLC through their expertise in financing, have helped bring more than $150 million in development to the Cleveland area since 2001.

Sustainable Community Associates
The Wagner Awning Building is another successful redevelopment completed by Sustainable Community Associates in the Tremont neighborhood. This mixed-use project was completed in late 2016. The Wagner Awning Building is the re-purposing of an 1893 Cleveland Landmark into 50+ apartments and 10,000 square feet of office space. This redevelopment project follows the 2014 transformation of the historic Fairmont Creamery building into 30 new residences and 6 commercial spaces. The next project for the Sustainable Communities Associates is The Mueller Electric Co. building on East 31st in Cleveland’s Asiatown neighborhood, where they have plans to build 59 apartments. Naomi Sabel, Josh Rosen, and Ben Ezinga are the founding partners at SCA.

Civic Champion Award  

Sean Watterson
Since opening the Happy Dog, Sean Watterson has worked tirelessly to bring educational and fun programming to the University Circle and Detroit Shoreway neighborhoods. Sean is engaging the community and offering something for everyone while they enjoy his famous hot dogs and tater tots! He works to bring in engaging speakers, assembles dynamic panel presentations, and attracts diverse musical acts. Sean is driven by a desire to build community through creative and inclusive programming. He also extends his passion through board service to Cleveland Arts Prize, Community Partnership for Arts and Culture and the Gordon Square Arts District.

Dawn Arrington
The nickname for Dawn Arrington is super neighbor. Dawn and her family live in the Buckeye neighborhood, where almost four years ago, they started a monthly Exchange with neighbors where they exchange food or other items. If someone has too much mayonnaise and someone else needs a jar, they meet regularly through the summer to make those exchanges. Dawn also leads Neighbor Up’s Community of Practice teaching folks about community network building.     She organizes sessions for the jobs pipeline Step Up to UH. When she took over that work last summer, we soon began drawing record numbers of residents to those sessions, which help them get jobs at University Hospitals.   She is a regular participant at the Greater Buckeye Network Night and also a member of the Larchmere Porchfest planning committee. Dawn is a committed, tireless advocate for our city and its residents working behind the scenes to build community and launch a variety of neighborhood events both large and small.

Shemariah J. Arki
Shemariah Arki identifies as an educator, an activist and an organizer. She is an interdisciplinary scholar with expert knowledge and skills to develop, implement, facilitate and evaluate curricula that promote institutional equity, communication, and access for traditionally marginalized students and families. She is the Founder and Lead Experience Curator for Sankofa Circle Studios and is currently a doctoral candidate in the college of education at Northeastern University, where her dissertation focuses on mothering in the wake of #BlackLivesMatter. As an auto/ethnographic researcher and author, her most recent publication, Ruminations From A #BlackMommyActivist focuses on the joy, trauma and drama of raising two Black sons in today’s rapidly changing global society. As a proud native Clevelander, Shemariah provides culturally relevant strategies by producing programs and events that speak to the most marginalized voices of our constituency.

Alex Robertson
Alex Robertson works tirelessly to bring innovative programs into city neighborhoods and develops organizations to have a strong beneficial impact with wide appeal. He is the Founder/Creative Director at Recess Cleveland ( which is a non profit program that creates safe spaces for play during pop up “recess” events at schools, community gatherings, and private events in and around Northeast Ohio. He is also the Founder/Director of Cleveland Youth Landscaping ( which promotes entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and community in our youth by providing landscaping services to our neighbors in Greater Cleveland, Ohio. Alex’s dedication and passion has been recognized through grants and honors from various organizations in Northeast Ohio. In addition to all this, Alex is extremely collaborative in spirit, warm-hearted, organized, professional, playful, visionary, reliable, and raises the bar wherever he goes.

VCAL 2016 summary
VCAL 2015 summary