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Neighbor Up Academy

You are invited to join Neighbor Up to learn with us and others how to build a stronger, more powerful community in your neighborhood through the Neighbor Up Academy.

We are looking for five neighborhood teams with four or five enthusiastic and committed community members interested in learning with us how to create a more robust community — one that functions more interdependently, that draws on a broad range of perspectives and creates more opportunities for mutually beneficially exchanges of value.

Neighbor Up Academy is a great opportunity to build bridges through connecting, learning, practicing and building community with other people from Greater Cleveland.

Goal of Neighbor Up Academy

The goal of Neighbor Up Academy is to explore and experiment with how to spark a more robust community network that can authentically engage with their neighbors to make positive social change. Our intention with this “Academy” is to catalyze an environment of co-investment where we can collectively try out evidence-based practices in our context but also experiment with what we do not know.

Our Hypothesis

In the Neighbor Up Academy, we will be testing the following broad hypothesis:

IF we catalyze a more informed, engaged and connected network of people living and working in a targeted economic growth region THEN we can ignite a co-investment approach to community wealth building that will yield expanded opportunities for all community stakeholders and will reveal a multitude of untapped assets. In other words, we believe that where you live and who you know (or don’t know) has a huge impact on the odds of one’s success.

As community network builders, we do not have all of the answers to restore our community but we believe that functioning interdependently has something to do with the following hypotheses:

IF we create different kinds of physical spaces and intentional practices in these spaces that bridge across difference, THEN we will facilitate authentic engagement and the platform for building trust.

IF we reveal, name and effectively confront the conflicts around power and privilege, THEN we will raise consciousness about structural inequality and develop practices to counteract its subtle and debilitating effects.

IF we create multiple and easy on-ramps for civic engagement, THEN we will recognize a treasure chess of untapped resources and strategies to revitalize neighborhoods.


The Neighbor Up Academy will be built around five core components:

Working in neighborhood teams to start building a neighborhood network, in real-time in your neighborhood.

Experimenting with practices in creating trusted space and building relationships among the Neighbor Up Academy participants.

Developing a clear and common story about your community and about Neighbor Up

Mapping our interconnected networks and assets to serve as a tool for moving forward.

Understanding the philosophy and strategy that undergirds community network building.

Neighbor Up Academy Expectations

What YOU Can Expect from Neighbor Up:

  • a rich and nurturing environment for personal growth and group transformation
  • a competitive opportunity for seed money to launch an innovative Neighbor Night in your neighborhood
  • consultation from Neighbor Up experts in the field of community network building
  • supported learning from diverse community leaders

What Neighbor Up Expects from YOU:

  • Commitment to participate for 2 months and attend each session
  • Develop co-created actions that enhance your neighborhood
  • Teach peers based on your experience and knowledge
  • Be willing to experiment
  • Be part of the Neighbor Up Network
  • Be open-minded and have fun!

Timeline & Session Overview

Learning Session 1:

Community Network Organizing 101, Tuesday, June 27th, 5:30pm to 8:30pm

Description: We will learn about the philosophy, strategy and values that undergird Community Network Organizing approach and how community network building is being implement in the Neighbor Up Network. Note: this session is heavy on content.

Practice in the Field: Tuesday, June 28th through July 17th. Participants will attend a Neighbor Night or Network Night in one community, participate in Neighbor Up’s Community of Practice, and attend a Neighbor Up Action Clinic.

Learning Session 2:

Getting Started: Understanding the importance of People, Practices & Environment, Tuesday, July 18th, 5:30pm to 8:30pm

Description: This session will focus on creating the intentional spaces and inviting people into the space to build the network. Topics will include learning how to set up a purposeful environment, set intentions, and learn the practices that build trust and community that lead to change.

Learning Session 3:

Taking Action: Stepping Out on Principles, Tuesday, July 25th, 5:30pm to 8:30pm

Description: Session three will explore how to move from conversation to action. We will explore the various ways of acting and look at how to spark both entrepreneurial and collective action using community network building.

Learning Session 4:

Storytelling: Getting Out the Good News, Tuesday, August 1st, 5:30pm to 8:30pm

Description: This session will focus on how to capture and share your network building success stories to build energy and bring more people into the network in your community. Will include information on creating elevator speech, developing narrative, using social media and more.

Practice in the Field: Participants will work together to plan for the closing session and celebration on August 22nd.

Closing Session and Celebration:

Putting Theory into Practice, Tuesday, August 22nd, 5:30pm to 8:30pm, Location to be determined.
Description: Participants will host their own Neighbor Night, inviting their friends, family, and community to attend to spark their community network.

Application and Selection Process

The total cost to attend Neighbor Up Academy is $500 per group (up to 4 people), which includes meals and parking. Discounts are available for employees of nonprofits and Neighbor Up members.

  1. Complete application HERE by May 22, 2017
  2. Participate in a 30-minute conversation with Neighborhood Connections staff.
  3. Sign Participation Agreement
  4. Enrollment decisions announced

About Neighbor Up

Neighbor Up is a diverse network of over 2,000 Greater Clevelanders working together to make positive change in our neighborhoods. Launched in 2013, Neighbor Up brings people together across lines of difference – racial, geographic, socio-economic, professional and generational – to create a web of interdependence where people get connected to good and timely information, where neighbors are supported by each other, and where co-investment occurs that makes a stronger, vibrant neighborhood for all.

Neighbor Up’s vision is for a “united Cleveland, supported by thousands of engaged residents, where we recognize our community assets, where bridges are built across lines of difference, where authentic relationships lead to a new culture of trust and a more just, equitable and inclusive community.”

Neighbor Up works locally to build new networks of relationships that otherwise hamper effective progress and functionality in our city. These new networks are designed to unleash the kind of creative and optimistic energy – and a more functional community – to tackle tough challenges and drive positive change in the 21st century.

In four short years, with a primary focus in the neighborhoods adjacent to University Circle, Neighbor Up members have: created three career pipelines that have hired over 250 Greater University Circle residents to full-time employment; brought together major health institutions and community members to spark new innovations around reducing infant mortality and lead poisoning in children; developed a training arm – Neighbor Up University – that trains nearly 1,200 people each year; and has created thousands of small and large acts of mutual support and entrepreneurial action across the city.

Supported by Neighborhood Connections, the community building and small grants program, Neighbor Up intends to continue to build a powerful, broad, and diverse network across Greater Cleveland that makes change at the personal, community, institutional and systemic levels.

Neighbor Up’s Core Beliefs and Values

Neighbor Up believes that active citizens, connected to each other and working together, are at the heart of every thriving community. Positive community change and increased community vitality and resilience are most likely to occur when people who are most directly affected are actively involved in the change process from the beginning and have a clear stake in the outcomes.

Neighbor Up further ascribes to a strengths-based approach to community development, supporting the evidence that it’s more effective to build on what’s working, rather than what’s broken, but still within the context of the very real circumstances that exist.

More specifically, we believe:

  • We are all interdependent. Our individual well-being is connected to that of our neighbors
  • Building trust is at the core of what we do
  • Every person has gifts and strengths they bring to the community table and all communities have assets that include individuals, groups, organizations and institutions
  • Everyday people are the heart of genuine democracy
  • We experiment with new strategies and reflect on what happens; we are not satisfied with the status quo
  • We actively name and confront the challenge of power and privilege
  • We embrace tension to spark new learning and innovation
  • Small projects and acts can have major impact when connected by building trusting relationships

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