Strengthening Cleveland’s CDCs

Cleveland CDCsCDC Capacity BuildingCDC Advancement ModelGrantmakingCDC Staff Working GroupsOrganizers and AlliesClimate Resiliency & SustainabilityEconomic DevelopmentParks, Green Space & PlanningReal EstateWorkforce Development Development

Community Development Corporations (CDCs) Community Development Corporations (CDC) are neighborhood-level, placed nonprofits dedicated to improving their geographic area of operation. Improvements are focused on physical, social, and economic wellbeing and are the result of plans developed by and for the community members. They are governed by a Board of Directors composed of community residents and businesses as well as others and adhere to their unique mission statement and culture.

Burten, Bell, Carr Development
Campus District, Inc.
Downtown Cleveland Alliance
Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation
Famicos Foundation
Flats Forward
Greater Collinwood Development Corporation
Harvard Community Services Center
Historic Gateway District Cleveland
Historic Warehouse District, Inc.
Jefferson- Puritas West Park CDC
Little Italy Redevelopment Corporation
Metro West Community Development
Midtown Cleveland, Inc.
Northwest Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation
Ohio City, Inc.
Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation
Slavic Village Development
St. Clair Superior Development Corporation
Tremont West Development Corporation
Union Miles Development Corporation
University Circle, Inc.
Westown Community Development Corporation

CDC Capacity Building

Our mission is to foster equitable revitalization in Cleveland’s neighborhoods through strengthening the community development ecosystem. For this to occur, understanding the important work that community development corporations are currently responsible for, as well as their self-accessed level of capacity in these areas of work are our priority. 

We have taken multiple steps in accordance to our last strategic plan (2022-2027) to place CDC advancement and resilience at the center of our work. This is reflected in the team of Relationship Managers that we hired in 2022 to rebuild trust with Cleveland’s network of CDCs.

Since 2022, they have built strong, trusting relationships with CDC leaders and staff, helping them navigate the many joys and challenges of neighborhood development. Our impact is built on the transparency and accountability that CDC Relationship Managers have developed with CDCs.  

CDC Advancement Model

Understanding the pivotal role of community development corporations (CDCs) is paramount in fostering community resilience and growth. The CDC Advancement Model offers a comprehensive framework for measuring and enhancing the work CDCs do. Anchored by five core domains, including Engagement, Development, Planning, Marketing, and Partnering, the model provides a strategic roadmap for resource allocation and progress tracking of CDC activity. As communities navigate evolving challenges, the Advancement Model stands as a beacon of support, guiding the CDCs that support Cleveland’s neighborhoods towards sustained excellence and community empowerment.

spent 2022 and 2023 facilitating conversations with CDC leaders and ecosystem stakeholders, partners, and funders to produce a new way of investing in the CDC network. This new tool, the “CDC Advancement Model” (Advancement Model) provides a baseline for measuring the wide range of activities CDCs perform in their communities and creates a mechanism for tracking progress and directing resources. The Advancement Model is directly paired with the new Advancement and Resilience Initiative (ARI) which connects the needs of CDCs with the resources in grants, technical assistance, and capacity building. 

Through a yearlong process the following five areas were determined to be the core functions of a CDC: (1) Engagement, (2) Development, (3) Planning, (4) Marketing, and (5) Partnering. An additional category of the Advancement model, Operations, focuses on assessing an organization’s ability to sustain high quality performance as a nonprofit. Within each of these areas are categories for neighborhood development activities that provide a broad but clear picture of the core functions of a CDC

A key piece to supporting CDCs’ continuous improvement and sustained operations is found in the Advancement Model. Designed to replicate various “maturity models” used across industries, the Advancement model considers the diverse needs, challenges and opportunities CDCs face in their communities. Organizational health and neighborhood strength are not necessarily correlated and so it remains an imperative of CNP to ensure that all CDCs achieve baseline resilience and provide their communities with the core functions of a CDC.

Advancement and Resilience Initiative

The Advancement and Resilience Initiative (ARI) replaces CNP’s long operated Strategic Investment Initiative as the flagship investment program from the intermediary. The ARI fund is supported by The Cleveland Foundation, George Gund Foundation, St. Lukes Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, The Mandel Foundation, Rocket Community Fund and Key Bank. 

 The new initiative moves the focus of funding toward specific and direct investments in CDC capacity, programs, and projects. All CDCs who submit their completed Advancement Model will be eligible for an unrestricted grant and then CDCs in Good Standing will be eligible for additional grant support.  

This year, the investments outlined represent a new strategy of investing in the capacity of these organizations based on the needs and priorities of the neighborhoods they serve. View the $2M in investments going to CDCs beginning July 1, 2024 below.

See the 2024 grants awarded here.

Community Engagement Working Group

Contact CNP’s Manager of Organizing Community Engagement, Lindsay Wheeler for more information.  

Economic Development Working Group
Contact CNP’s  Vice President of Neighborhood Economic Development, Michael Elliott
for more information.

Real Estate Working Group
Contact CNP’s Vice President of Real Estate, K.C. Petraitis for more information.  

Workforce Development Working Group
Contact CNP’s Director of Workforce Development, Sheri Dozier for more information.

What is Organizers & Allies? 

Organizers & Allies (O&A) is a self-governed networking group working to further the practice of organizing as the foundation of community development and helping nonprofit outreach staff connect with each other. Organizers and Allies grew out of a brown-bag lunch series hosted by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress that’s been ongoing for more than 20 years. 

Building Relationships

O&A meets on the second Thursday of the month at 10:00 a.m. for networking and professional development. Our meetings are run using the NeighborUp! power-sharing model of facilitation. Members get the chance to set the agenda in real time, talk about relevant issues they face around professional development, advocacy, community organizing and community development. Meetings are hosted by Neighborhood Progress.

Weaving our community organizing network creates a strong community of nonprofit professionals and helps us recognize and build on the talents within our system.

Join the O&A Newsletter 


Email Lindsay Wheeler at with questions and to get meeting details.  

In Cleveland, the intersection of climate resiliency and sustainability with community development efforts is clear. As the city grapples with the mounting impacts of climate change, from rising temperatures to increased storm intensity, the urgency to strengthen communities against these challenges is apparent. In a city that experiences sprawl, intensifying the concentrations of poverty, the pursuit of climate resilience is necessary to ensure that vulnerable communities are not disproportionately burdened by environmental risks. Integrating climate resilience strategies into community development endeavors, Cleveland can foster inclusive growth, creating more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive neighborhoods that thrive amidst evolving environmental dynamics.

Resilient Cleveland

Climate change presents unique challenges in the Great Lakes region such as rising temperatures and an increase in high heat days. According to the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program (GLISA), temperatures in Cleveland are rising three times faster than the national average. Additionally, we face heightened risks of heat waves, flooding, and more intense storms.  
Cleveland’s social conditions and land use patterns exacerbate these challenges, with sprawling development leading to concentrated poverty, redundant infrastructure, and increased impervious surfaces. The Cleveland Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Plan assesses these vulnerabilities and maps out strategies to address them while mitigating risks. Through targeted efforts and collaboration with local partners, the Cleveland Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Plan aims to build a more resilient and sustainable future for our city and region. 

This plan is focused on four Cleveland neighborhoods:

  • Central-Kinsman: Perhaps the most distressed neighborhood in the city, Central-Kinsman has a high poverty rate; many abandoned buildings, vacant sites, and brownfields; and a sparse tree canopy. The neighborhood is home to one of the city’s two eco-districts. It has a strong community development corporation with innovative programs to increase food access/food security and reduce public health disparities. The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority has made significant upgrades to public housing in the neighborhood in recent years.
  • Detroit-Shoreway: This neighborhood is economically diverse, including some of the poorest and most affluent households in the city. It has excellent transit access and a thriving cultural district. It is home to the city’s other (and original) eco-district.
  • Glenville: This neighborhood has some of the oldest housing in the city, including grand mansions, multi-family buildings, and small houses, along with pockets of new residential development. The neighborhood has highly engaged residents who meet at regularly scheduled Network Nights to advance local projects and address emerging concerns. 
  • Slavic Village: As the neighborhood at the epicenter of Cleveland’s foreclosure crisis, Slavic Village has many vacant houses and vacant lots, along with a high concentration of low-income households. Neighborhood assets include excellent transit and bike infrastructure and on-going programming that promote active lifestyles. 
Circular Cleveland

Circular Cleveland is a collaborative initiative between Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and the City of Cleveland. In partnership with Neighborhood Connections, Circular Cleveland helps with the transition of Cleveland from a linear economy to a circular economy to improve the health and wellbeing of the residents of Cleveland, while creating more local and green jobs.  

Learn more about the circular economy and Circular Cleveland, visit the Sustainable Cleveland website:

Circular Economy in Cleveland

Building a Circular Cleveland

Clean and Green Cleveland

Through the generous support of the Citizens Bank Foundation, the Clean & Green Cleveland Trailer is available through Cleveland Neighborhood Progress for loan to City of Cleveland residents and community volunteer groups. The Clean & Green Cleveland Trailer is stocked with landscaping tools and cleanup supplies to assist with beautification and clean-up efforts and events in Cleveland’s neighborhoods. 

Book the Clean and Green Trailer

Prior to the Event

  • A project lead must be assigned and he/she must complete the application 
  • Waivers and Responsibilities form must be completed 
  • Trailer needs to be booked 2 weeks in advance and it can be utilized for a period of up to 3 days maximum 
  • Review the Information Packet before your event 

After the Event

  • Make sure all equipment is returned to the trailer in the designated spots 
  • Ensure all debris and trash is properly removed and/or discarded. Clean & Green Cleveland assumes no responsibility for trash/debris removal 
  • If there are any damages to the equipment, email immediately 
  • Fill out the Post Cleanup Report

Our commitment to neighborhood economic development is rooted in our mission to promote equitable revitalization. We recognize that sustainable growth and prosperity cannot be achieved without addressing economic disparities. We work to create an environment where local businesses can flourish, job opportunities are plentiful, ensuring all residents can build wealth and stability. By supporting entrepreneurship, workforce development, and access to capital, we help to catalyze economic growth that benefits all members of our community.

We believe that by empowering neighborhoods to drive their own economic development, we can create a more equitable and prosperous future for all residents of Cleveland.

Economic Development Working Group

The Economic Development Working Group (EDWG) provides a forum for CDC economic development practitioners to come together regularly to network, share information, and collaborate on addressing common challenges. By facilitating these interactions, CNP aims to enhance the collective capacity of CDCs to drive economic development initiatives effectively. 

This group exchanges best practices, lessons learned, and innovative ideas, so members can leverage each other’s expertise and experiences to overcome obstacles and capitalize on opportunities. It also provides a platform for building relationships and partnerships with external stakeholders, such as government agencies, funders, and other community organizations. These connections strengthen the overall ecosystem for economic development in Cleveland.

Are you a new economic development CDC staff member? Complete the sign-up form to join.

Looking to connect with other CDC economic development practitioners? Click here.

Ward 12 Initiative

The Ward 12 is a comprehensive programmatic effort aimed at revitalizing strategic commercial corridors within the Slavic Village, Old Brooklyn, and Metro West neighborhoods. Led by Councilwoman Maurer, businesses in these areas will receive grant dollars to improve the conditions of their establishment. 

Through this initiative, we seek to spur investment, retain and create jobs, and increase the overall quality of life in these communities. To achieve these goals, we have developed two targeted programs and initiatives focused on addressing various aspects of neighborhood revitalization. 

Woodhill Choice

The Woodhill Neighborhood Commercial Corridor Grant Program offers vital support to eligible small businesses within the community. Through this initiative, businesses can access grants to cover various expenses, including construction or renovations, storefront facade enhancements, signage improvements, eligible furniture and future costs. By providing financial assistance in these key areas, the program aims to revitalize and strengthen the commercial corridor, fostering economic growth and enhancing the overall vibrancy of the Woodhill neighborhood. 

Economic Development Incubator Programs

The Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI) will provide financial support for entrepreneurship and workforce development programs in Buckeye-Woodhill. This includes the development of at least six new neighborhood businesses in ground floor commercial spaces of mixed-use buildings. The program will offer funding, technical assistance, and access to resources for local entrepreneurs. The goal is to create wealth-building opportunities, attract customers, and improve perception and safety in the neighborhood.  

Retention and Growth of Existing Small Businesses

The document emphasizes the importance of retaining and supporting existing small businesses in Buckeye-Woodhill. The NIE’s economic development and small business programs and incentives will prioritize neighborhood businesses. The goal is to protect businesses’ health, support growth, and provide infrastructure and resources needed for local businesses to thrive. 

Attracting New Business and Jobs

The document mentions the acquisition and redevelopment of a former factory site to attract new light-industrial businesses. The goal is to create a range of potential jobs and anchor an important neighborhood gateway with significant investment. Additionally, the Housing Strategy includes the creation of ground-floor retail/commercial spaces in new construction initiatives, which will attract customers, create neighborhood jobs, and improve perception and safety.  
Overall, the document highlights a comprehensive approach to small business and economic development in Buckeye-Woodhill, including support for existing businesses, the creation of new businesses, and the implementation of public art and infrastructure improvements to attract investment and promote economic growth.

Business Growth Collaborative

The Business Growth Collaborative (BGC) convenes business development organizations, entrepreneurs and CDC members towards a common goal of making Cleveland the best place for business. In 2024, we will meet bimonthly to network, share successes and connect to member’s initiatives. Meetings will be held throughout Cleveland, introducing members to new businesses and organizations. 

In Cleveland, the intersection of climate resiliency and sustainability with community development efforts is clear. As the city grapples with the mounting impacts of climate change, from rising temperatures to increased storm intensity, the urgency to strengthen communities against these challenges is apparent. In a city that experiences sprawl, intensifying the concentrations of poverty, the pursuit of climate resilience is necessary to ensure that vulnerable communities are not disproportionately burdened by environmental risks. Integrating climate resilience strategies into community development endeavors, Cleveland can foster inclusive growth, creating more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive neighborhoods that thrive amidst evolving environmental dynamics.

Sidaway Bridge

The Sidaway Bridge in Cleveland has a rich history dating back to its original construction as a wooden bridge in 1909. Replaced with a steel suspension structure in 1929, it has since become the only suspension bridge in Ohio and holds significant historical landmark status. In the 1960s, the bridge became a symbol of racial tension as it connected the predominantly black neighborhood of Kinsman with the predominantly white community of Slavic Village. During this time, houses were demolished to make way for public housing on the Kinsman side, and black children were allowed to cross the bridge to attend schools in white neighborhoods. The bridge played a central role in the racial divide of Cleveland, especially during the 1966 Hough riots, and has remained closed since then, serving as a poignant reminder of the city’s turbulent past. **HOW IS CNP INVOLVED IN THIS??

In recent years, efforts have been made to refurbish the Sidaway Bridge and transform it into a symbol of unity and progress for the community. Community Development Corporations (CDCs) like Burten, Bell, Carr Development Corporation, led by Joy Johnson, and Slavic Village Development, led by Chris Alvarado, have recognized the bridge’s potential as a catalyst for positive change. Through neighborhood planning processes and highlighting the need for more recreational green space, these organizations have outlined a vision for the vacant land surrounding the bridge. With its designation as a National Register of Historic Places in 2022 and landmark status in Ward 5 in 2023, the Sidaway Bridge now presents opportunities for federal funding to support its restoration and revitalization efforts, symbolizing a hopeful future of unity and collaboration in Cleveland’s neighborhoods.

Learn more about the history of the Sidaway Bridge:
Sidaway Bridge nominated for landmark status, raising hopes for redevelopment and green space. – The Land
A historic Cleveland bridge remains suspended in time. – Ideastream Public Media

Shaker Square


Shaker Square, a historic commercial and cultural hub in Cleveland, Ohio, has been an integral part of the city’s landscape for nearly a century. Originally established in 1929 as one of the nation’s pioneering shopping centers and a nexus for public transit, it has remained a cherished landmark and communal gathering space, boasting distinctive architecture and undeniable allure. Despite its illustrious past, Shaker Square has faced periods of neglect and financial turmoil, prompting the need for comprehensive revitalization efforts. In response, community leaders initiated the “This is Shaker Square” planning study in 2019 to envision a brighter future for the square’s public space. However, challenges such as financial issues and foreclosure hindered the plan’s progress, necessitating a fresh approach to address the Square’s long-term viability.

To embark on this transformative journey, a new planning study is imperative, one that builds upon Shaker Square’s legacy while rectifying the shortcomings of previous endeavors. This study aims to craft a holistic and inclusive vision that resonates with the community’s values and aspirations. Key considerations include determining the optimal tenant mix, maximizing development potential, and fostering seamless integration with surrounding neighborhoods. Led by seasoned urban planning experts and bolstered by robust community engagement, the study will chart a sustainable path forward for Shaker Square, ensuring its continued relevance and vibrancy for generations to come. Through collective visioning and proactive engagement, Shaker Square is poised to reclaim its status as a thriving epicenter of commerce, culture, and community in Cleveland.

Learn more about the history of the Sidaway Bridge:
Sidaway Bridge nominated for landmark status, raising hopes for redevelopment and green space. – The Land
A historic Cleveland bridge remains suspended in time. – Ideastream Public Media

As an intermediary for the community development corporations, our real estate efforts are intended for us to act as a developer, investor, and asset manager of real estate. Our goal is to facilitate strategic real estate decisions through

Our main objective is to facilitate connections between community development corporations (CDCs) and workforce development providers offering job readiness, placement, and retention programs for low-income individuals. These programs focus on career pathways in industries like construction, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, IT, and more. We empower CDCs by providing resources and support to enhance community support for employment, establish job referral networks, and eliminate barriers to participation in pre/apprenticeship programs, thus increasing resident engagement.

Workforce Development Working Group

The CDC Workforce Development Working Group includes CDC workforce development staff, job training and placement providers, and employers. The convenings illuminate CDCs’ role in assisting with workforce programs that address unmet workforce needs, linking job seekers to training/employment opportunities, and informing CNP’s Equitable Neighborhood Revitalization workforce agenda.

We acknowledge that CDCs provide invaluable guidance to our efforts in constructing a resident-centered advocacy agenda that blends community, economic and workforce development goals. In addition, we offer micro-grant funds to CDCs to advance workforce initiatives, participate in professional development and training programs, build professional networks, and assist residents with work-related needs, etc. 

Interested in joining the Workforce Development Working Group?
Contact CNP’s Director of Workforce Development, Sheri Dozier for more information.

Built Environment Initiative

In January 2023, Cleveland City Council unanimously passed America Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) ordinance, investing $10 million in ARPA funds to grow the workforce pipeline for current and anticipated demand in “built environment” sectors (residential and commercial construction, infrastructure and transit, green infrastructure, broadband, and lead and brownfield remediation). OhioMeansJobs Cleveland-Cuyahoga County (OMJCC) is the designated project lead and is working alongside thirteen key execution partners, to connect 3,000 Cleveland residents to new and existing training programs tailored to meet employer needs.  

As a community-based outreach partner, we are performing outreach to residents to promote training, employment opportunities and accompanying support. We are implementing a CDC-inclusive outreach strategy that leverages their role as workforce liaisons in advancing the 4-year workforce initiative. This strategy will enroll Clevelanders in “built environment” training programs – in particular most vulnerable individuals and households which include people of color and/or women. 

We are currently partnering with CDCs and their Workforce Coordinators at Famicos Foundation (Lovell Payten), Jefferson Puritas West Park CDC (Tyia Powell) and Union Miles Development Corporation (Charone Gray) that service multiple neighborhoods in Cleveland to increase resident participation in trainings and improve employment outcomes.