Neighborhood Connections is a community building program of the Cleveland Foundation established in 2003 to empower people in Cleveland’s neighborhoods and encourage them to become more engaged with each other and the city around them. Neighborhood Connections invests in citizen-led neighborhood projects through its innovative small grants program that offers residents of Cleveland and East Cleveland grants of up to $5,000. Through June 2014, Neighborhood Connections has made more than 1,700 grants totaling nearly $7 million.
Those grants and the projects they fund are not the ending point, though. Instead, they are a beginning – a point of engagement. The grants invite “everyday people” – individuals and groups – to become genuine community leaders. Neighborhood Connections connects grantees with Neighbor Up, its powerful network of mentors, peers and civic leaders, that offers grantees the means to challenge their own assumptions about themselves, their neighborhoods and their neighbors, and to grow in confidence.
The goal: That grants buy not just events and projects, but a richer citizenry – role models who can lead their neighbors and neighborhoods – and ultimately their city – to an urban renaissance of community, block by block.