Year of Awareness Building – March Recap

The Year of Awareness Building is off and running! Through March, more than
230 of our new closest friends have participated in the Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater Training and Racial Equity Workshop: Phase I. We also hosted two film screenings and discussions, including Ava DuVernay’s documentary, 13th (2016), which explores the sobering effects of America’s prison industrial complex.

We were joined by representatives of the following organizations:

  • Allegro – Real Estate Brokers & Advisors
  • Better Future Facilitators
  • Bike Cleveland
  • Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland
  • Breakthrough Charter Schools
  • Burten, Bell, Carr, Development Corporation
  • Campus District, Inc.
  • Case Western Reserve University – School of Medicine
  • Citizens Bank
  • The City Club of Cleveland
  • City of Shaker Heights
  • Cleveland Foundation
  • Cleveland Housing Network
  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Cleveland Public Library
  • Cleveland State University
  • Cleveland Transformation Alliance
  • Community Partnership for Arts and Culture
  • Coventry Land Company
  • Cudell Improvement, Inc
  • Cuyahoga Arts and Culture
  • Cuyahoga County Land Bank
  • Destination Cleveland
  • Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
  • Downtown Cleveland Alliance
  • East End Neighborhood House
  • ECDI
  • Famicos Foundation (Board of Trustees)
  • Fastsigns Downtown Cleveland
  • Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
  • Flats Forward
  • First Year Cleveland
  • Greater Cleveland Partnership (Commission on Economic Inclusion)
  • Health Tech Corridor
  • Ideastream
  • John Carroll University
  • Jumpstart, Inc.
  • LAND Studio
  • Leadership Cleveland
  • Methodist Theological School in Ohio
  • Metro West Community Development Organization
  • Pleasant Now Development Corporation
  • The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation
  • Neighborhood Connections
  • New Growth Group
  • Nonprofit Org Doctor LLC
  • Northeast Shores Development Corporation
  • Ohio City, Inc.
  • Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation
  • Philanthropy Ohio
  • PNC
  • The Raymond John Wean Foundation
  • Slavic Village Development Corporation
  • SVP Cleveland
  • Third Federal Foundation
  • Tremont West Development Corporation
  • United Way of Summit County
  • University Circle, Inc.
  • Trinity Cathedral
  • Western Reserve Land Conservancy
  • YWCA of Greater Cleveland

Thank you to everyone who participated, for your engagement, and your willingness to dig deeper with us. Special thanks to the staff at Bridgeport Café for catering the event!

At the beginning of each month during our Year of Awareness Building, we will announce new partnerships; share informative and thought-provoking content (i.e. articles, research, podcasts, etc.); and helpful resources to increase our common understanding of historical, structural, and institutional racism. This month:


  • We are proud to announce that the George Gund Foundation and the Fund for Our Economic Future have signed on as Champion-level sponsors of the Year of Awareness Building!
  • Cleveland State University hosted the March Groundwater Training (3/6) on their campus. More than 60 CSU faculty, leadership, and community partners attended the half-day training.
  • On Friday, March 24th, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress will be offering a Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) poverty simulation, in partnership with Think Tank and CareSource. The COPE is an experiential training and awareness tool that gives participants a chance to see for themselves the difficulties that low-income Americans face daily. It is a look into the obstacles that are faced, the decisions that are made, and the consequences that impact these families every day. This free simulation will fill up fast, register today to secure your spot.  For more information on the COPE, please contact Nina Holzer at
  • Cleveland Neighborhood Progress will be a community partner for the upcoming City Club of Cleveland Law Day 2017: The Fourteenth Amendment On May 5th, the City Club will feature a conversation with James Forman, Jr.,Professor of Law at Yale Law School, and author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, on how and why our society became so punitive and what we can do about the future of race and the criminal justice system in the United States. Use promo code CNP17 with registration for 20% off non-member tickets.

What we read

  • On February 8th, we joined Enterprise Community Partners to launch the Enterprise Ohio Racial Equity & Inclusion Book Club. This month’s selection was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Description: A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice – from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time (Publisher’s Summary).

Excerpt: “Unless this setback to black homeownership is addressed, black families will rent for more years before homeownership than they did a few years ago. This will shrink the landscape of housing choice available to black families, increase their exposure to displacement, and delay or close off a key wealth-building mechanism. All three of these outcomes will widen the inequality that underlies so many current struggles.”

Description: Through large-scale demolition and clearance, American urban renewal waged a war on perceived waste—and created a new tide of it.

What we listened to

On February 23rd, Dr. Glaude (the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies, and Chair of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University) discussed his latest book, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul and provided valuable insight into what he calls the Value Gap, the “belief that white people matter more than others,” and how this mindset is entrenched within American values, practices, and systems.

Description: Jackelyn Hwang discusses gentrification in America – how race and class impact who moves where and when. How can decision-makers encourage investment that protects long-time residents? Hwang is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton University.

Description: “There are a couple of ideas that drive how (Klein) see policy and politics. One of them is that most of what drives health outcomes has nothing to do with what happens in doctor’s offices. Another is that we overestimate the importance of the president national politics and underestimate the important of city officials and local politics. Dr. Leana Wen — and this episode — stands at the intersection of those two ideas. Wen is the Baltimore City Health Commissioner — a job she got when she was only 31, after a stint as an ER doctor, and a background as a Rhodes Scholar and medical activist. Her work in Baltimore coincided with the aftermath of Freddy Gray’s killing, a brutal opioid epidemic, and a renewed focus on urban health disparities (there are counties in Baltimore that have higher infant mortality than the West Bank).”

Resource: Racial Equity Tools – “Racial Equity Tools is designed to support individuals and groups working to achieve racial equity. This site offers tools, research, tips, curricula and ideas for people who want to increase their own understanding and to help those working toward justice at every level – in systems, organizations, communities and the culture at large.”

As always, please send any feedback, questions, or interesting reading materials to Mordecai ( ). Follow the links for more information and to register for April Groundwater Training (4/5) and Racial Equity Workshop: Phase I (4/6-7)