Neighbor to Neighbor Cleveland

At its core, Neighbor to Neighbor is a door-to-door canvassing effort that helps deepen connections between local Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and their neighbors – the residents they serve. Canvassers from neighborhood CDCs educate residents on programs they may be eligible for, as well as ask questions to understand the gaps that exist due to a lack of resources or programming that is symptom-based and not solution-based. Based on these conversations, Neighbor to Neighbor partners and residents will work toward co-developing lasting, sustainable programs that provide long-term solutions to intractable issues.

Resident feedback will also allow Neighbor to Neighbor partners to understand the needs for broadband infrastructure, neighborhood tech hubs, digital literacy programming and more. If you see a Neighbor to Neighbor canvassers on your street, do not worry! They are working to collect surveys from residents which will inform how nonprofits and philanthropies approach funding. 

Neighbor to Neighbor is generously supported by the Rocket Community Fund, George Gund Foundation, and the Cleveland Foundation.  The program was first launched by Rocket Community Fund in Detroit in 2017; due to its success and the similarities between Detroit and Cleveland, the program is being brought here. Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and specifically the CDC Advancement Team, is implementing and managing N2N Cleveland by partnering with the CDCs.

Digital Equity in Cleveland—Why did CNP bring Neighbor to Neighbor to Cleveland? 

Many cities across the United States continue to struggle with a digital divide that is the result of the years of disinvestment and other discriminatory practices that have come to be termed digital redlining. According to the latest data from the U.S. Census, at least 30% of households in 185 large and medium-size U.S. cities still lack a wireline broadband connection in 2019. 

Cleveland is the only city of more than 100,000 households where more than 30% lack broadband of any type, including cellular data plans. Removing cellular data plans, nearly 46% of Cleveland households lack broadband internet.  

Digital and internet access issues have created a significant divide in Cleveland’s communities, where there are dire disparities in terms of access, speed of internet connectivity, and affordability, among others. This has acted in unison with other socio-economic factors to prevent a substantial portion of Cleveland’s school children from accessing learning resources at home, telemedical resources, job opportunities, and other opportunities presented by the internet. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the inequities within the system and makes the need for solutions even more urgent.

Figure 1
Source: National Digital Inclusion Alliance(NDIA) – Prepared by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress 

Since the 2007-2008 housing market crash, Cleveland has continued to struggle with an escalation in property tax delinquencies, residential tax foreclosures, and a deterioration in housing quality. The east side of Cleveland has been impacted the most on many fronts, accounting for nearly half of all residential delinquencies in Cuyahoga County. Although there is available data at the state and national levels, granular neighborhood-level data necessary for intervention design, policy prescriptions, and strategic investment making to address the digital divide remains scarce. Cleveland’s past racist practices and its enduring legacies in Black communities especially, make it even more critical to collect such granular, neighborhood-level data focused on internet access, technology, and smart device accessibility, and digital literacy needs. The goal is this type of data collection will help define what additional commitments need to be made & where there are gaps in the system and opportunities for strategic investments to address the problem. However, for the data collection to be effective and empowering to residents, it must happen within the context of a comprehensive community engagement framework. There is a strong need to develop a network through the Community Development Corporation (CDC) system to enhance community engagement strategies already being deployed.  

Participating Community Organizations: 

Bellaire Puritas Development Corporation

Burten, Bell, Carr Development

Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation

Famicos Foundation

Greater Collinwood Development Corporation

Harvard Community Services Center

Little Italy Redevelopment Corporation

Metro West Community Development Organization

MidTown Cleveland

Mt Pleasant NOW Development Corporation

Northwest Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation

Ohio City Inc.

Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation

Slavic Village Development Corporation

Tremont West Development Corporation

Union Miles Development Corporation

West Park Kamm’s Neighborhood Development

Westown Community Development Corporation

Partners and Resources 

Case Western Reserve University, Community Innovation Network: CIN is a growing network of passionate community builders, working at the intersections of research and practice, people and organizations, and residents and institutions. CIN provides consulting and training in asset-based community development.

Case Western Reserve University, The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development: The Poverty Center uncovers effective and creative solutions to the causes and diverse effects of poverty using data and by putting data-driven tools in the hands of the community. They developed the survey questions and will perform data analysis.

Cuyahoga County Internet Speed Test: Test your internet speed and help the County collect data which can be used to better understand internet quality across the region.  

ConnectedNEO: ConnectedNEO is a grassroots organization informed and powered by residents of Northeast Ohio. They believe in Digital Justice and Autonomy and whose efforts support the goal that everyone has access to the internet and allow folks to have ownership of the service they use.  

DigitalC : Getting our community connected to low-cost high-speed internet through device distributions and grassroots community engagement. 

Digital Navigators at ASC3: The mission of ASC³ is to bridge the Digital Divide gap in our disinvested communities by addressing the technology needs of mature and older adults with limited income via education, resources and training through technology literacy and access to technology. 

Greater Cleveland Digital Equity Coalition Resource Guide – This site is a one-stop shop for digital equity resources.   

PCs for People: Offers low-cost devices and hotspots for families with low-income. PCs for People accepts older computers and other electronics to save them from the landfill and refurbish them to make them useful once again.

Verizon: JumpStart and Verizon are officially opening the Cleveland Learning Centers in early 2022, providing community members—from youth to adults—with digital skills and entrepreneurship training, STEM education, and workforce development opportunities through advanced technology and educational resources at no cost and available in two convenient locations.