Racial Profiling Must End

Margaret Mitchell, YWCA Greater Cleveland President and CEO

Margaret Mitchell, YWCA Greater Cleveland President and CEO

by Margaret Mitchell, President and CEO of YWCA Greater Cleveland

If All Lives Matter, then why are we so willing to remain silent when unarmed black Americans are shot by police?

I didn’t watch Megyn Kelly and I don’t know what Anderson Cooper said —I rarely watch the news—but I sat in my office on the morning of September 20 and watched the murder of a man with his hands held high in the air. Swarmed by police, hands in the air this man— Terence Crutcher—was killed.

I sat in my office and cried. I cried for his family and mine. I cried for law enforcement. I cried for our community and our country. We are paralyzed as we watch and wait for someone else to do something.

Just 9 months into 2016 and U.S. police have killed at least 194 black people according to a project by The Guardian that tracks police killings in America. That’s nearly 21 shootings a month; 5 shootings a week!

I believe police officers are responsible for upholding the law. But I also believe their role is about respecting and protecting the lives of all members of society, including black men and women. The jobs of police officers are difficult and I fully recognize that their jobs are dangerous daily. However, the shooting of people of color—mostly men and (far too often) young men—across the United States has highlighted a widespread reality of racially discriminatory treatment by law enforcement officers and an alarming use of lethal force.

Vanity Fair recently reported a significant amount of data about police and racial bias. A study by University of California, Davis stuck out to me. It found that the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is, on average, about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police.

I don’t know about you, but the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers raises serious human rights concerns. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and the United States has a legal obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.

Human rights and human life rests on the badge of every officer. They are commissioned to protect life. Police officers are to use lethal force as a last resort in order to protect themselves or others from death or serious injury.

It’s time. We can take a stand, we can take a step, we can stop watching and we can do something.

The End Racial Profiling Act of 2015 (S. 1056/H.R. 1933) has been re-introduced in Congress and would nationally define and outlaw the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement. Stand Against Racism today and contact your Senators and your Representatives and tell them to: “End racial profiling, it destroys American values of fairness and justice. Please co-sponsor the End Racial Profiling Act of 2015 (S. 1056/H.R. 1933).”

Margaret Mitchell is President and CEO of YWCA Greater Cleveland. YWCA is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. For more information, visit ywcaofcleveland.org .

Posted in Advocacy, Inclusion, Inclusion and Public Policy, Racial Equity | Leave a comment

Cleveland/Cuyahoga County to House 100 Homeless Youth in 100 Days

County stakeholders commit that no youth will age out of foster care into homelessness

CLEVELAND, OHIO – September 9, 2016 – This week, Cleveland/Cuyahoga’s A Place 4 Me initiative set an ambitious goal to house 100 homeless youth ages 18-24 by December 18, 2016, which is 100 days from today. Further, the initiative aims to strengthen support systems so that by November 14, 2016, no child will age out of the foster care system into homelessness ever again. This goal was established as part of Cleveland/Cuyahoga County’s 100-Day Challenge to prevent and end youth homelessness.
“In Cuyahoga County, there are nearly 150 young people who age out of the foster care system each year. We know these young people are most at risk for facing homelessness or having an unstable housing situation; in fact, 40% are likely to experience some housing instability by the time they reach 24 years old,” said Kate Lodge, project director of A Place 4 Me. “Young people experiencing homelessness face nearly insurmountable obstacles to find and keep employment and build and maintain family relationships, which is why we are pouring our efforts into preventing and ending youth homelessness.”
Cleveland’s 100-Day Challenge Team, consisting of representatives from 12 organizations that respond to and prevent youth homelessness, determined the local 100-Day Challenge goal. This team will implement work, such as identifying “system navigators” to proactively guide youth to resources for housing, and prioritizing new and existing short- and long-term rental assistance to provide access to immediate permanent housing for youth living in shelters or on the streets. Representatives on Cleveland’s 100-Day  hallenge Team include the following:
• A Place 4 Me
• ADAMHS Board
• Bellefaire JCB
• Cleveland Metropolitan School District
• Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
• Cuyahoga County Jobs and Family Services
• Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services
• EDEN, Inc.
• FrontLine Service
• LGBT Community Center
• Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland
• Two youth leaders from the community who have experienced homelessness
• YWCA Greater Cleveland
Following a competitive nationwide search, A Way Home America chose three cities – Cleveland, Austin, and Los Angeles — to participate in 100-Day challenges and receive coaching support from the Rapid Results Institute, a national nonprofit organization with experience and results in time-limited initiatives.
Through the challenges, A Way Home America seeks to support and accelerate the local work of the selected communities and to inform national dialogue, learning and policy to prevent and end youth homelessness. Sign up to receive news from A Way Home America at http://www.awayhomeamerica.org.

Media contact:
Lori McClung
1-877-372-0166, ext. 1
lori@advocacyandcommunication.org
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About A Place 4 Me (Cleveland/Cuyahoga County)
A Place 4 Me is a cross-sector initiative that harnesses the strengths and resources of its partners to prevent and end homelessness among young adults age 15 to 24 in Cleveland/Cuyahoga County. A Place 4 Me is a collaboration led by a steering committee consisting of the YWCA Greater Cleveland; Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, including the Division of Children and Family Services and the Office of Homeless Services; FrontLine Service; the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.
About A Way Home America
A Way Home America (AWHA) is a national initiative to build the movement to prevent and end homelessness among young people. AWHA is made up of advocates, researchers, young people, local and state public sector organizations, homeless youth providers and philanthropists uniting behind the federal goal of ending youth homelessness by the end of 2020.
About The Rapid Results Institute
The Rapid Results (RRI) Institute is a nonprofit organization that creates transformative and sustained impact on tough societal challenges. RRI enables front-line teams to deliver seemingly impossible results, often in 100 days or less, and helps leaders leverage these initial results into sustained, long-term impact.

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We have the cause. You have the effect. Can we count on you to be a viable part of our Circle?

by Twyla Turner, Manager of Operations (Special Events & Learning Programs) at YWCA Greater Cleveland

Reposted from LinkedIn Pulse.

Why Helping Others Makes Us Happy

We are looking for 15-25 reliable, talented, and welcoming volunteers to assist with a powerful breakfast event we call The Circle on September 14, 2016.

Here is why I think you will want to volunteer and be a part of The Circle.

By volunteering with The Circle, you can support YWCA Greater Cleveland‘s Nurturing Independence and Aspirations (NIA) program, a trauma-informed system of care focused on helping young adults on the path to self-sufficiency. NIA supports young adults with housing, education, employment, health, permanence, and social engagement.

YWCA’s Independence Place is a 23-unit permanent supportive housing project for formerly homeless youth ages 18-24, many of whom came from the foster care system. All tenants have been homeless and now have access to the NIA program’s supportive services.

We are fortunate to have a compelling keynote speaker: Ilah Adkins, a Cleveland lawyer, activist, YWCA Woman of Professional Excellence, and former foster care youth. In addition to Ms.Adkins, women who have been empowered by NIA and Independence Place will also be sharing their stories.

If that’s not enough to get you interested in volunteering, here are 5 more reasons why you should consider volunteering:

  1. Understanding: the desire to learn new things and acquire knowledge.
  2. Esteem enhancement: feeling better about yourself and finding greater stability in life.
  3. Personal development: acquiring new skills, testing your capabilities, and stretching yourself.
  4. Sense of community: making the world, or your piece of it, better.
  5. Humanitarian values: serving and helping others, often with a strong religious component.

Please say yes and join The Circle as a volunteer. If you are interested in joining The Circle as a volunteer, send me an email at events@ywcaofcleveland.org no later than September 1, 2016.  This will be an unforgettable breakfast; can we count on you to be in The Circle as a Volunteer?

Posted in Advocacy, Circle of Women, Volunteers | Leave a comment

YWCA Greater Cleveland Seeks Nominees for 2017 Women of Achievement

Nominations for YWCA Greater Cleveland’s prestigious Women of Achievement Award are now open.  The 2017 Women of Achievement Awards Luncheon marks the 41st year of honoring the most distinguished and notable women in Northeast Ohio. At this highly anticipated community event, we will present one of the most prestigious awards to a select group of Greater Cleveland women who have made extraordinary accomplishments through career success, community service, dedication to the YWCA mission, and leadership and mentoring.

Among these Women of Achievement are business leaders, authors, judges, philanthropists, physicians, nonprofit executives, and many other distinguished women from our community. Women chosen to receive this award are role models and mentors. They have played a significant role in helping other women achieve their goals.

Over the past 41 years, YWCA Greater Cleveland is proud to have honored more than 200 of Northeast Ohio’s most successful and accomplished women. YWCA Greater Cleveland’s Women of Achievement Awards Luncheon hosts more than 800 community members who join YWCA in celebrating these leaders for tomorrow.

The selected honorees will be presented their awards at the 41st Annual Women of Achievement Awards Luncheon on May 3rd, 2017 at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.

Margaret Mitchell, President and CEO of YWCA Greater Cleveland, says this of the Women of Achievement Awards: “Recognizing trailblazing women over the years has helped to heighten the successes of women in order to ensure that the next generation of women leaders will have a seat at the table.

 

HOW TO NOMINATE

If you’d like to nominate a woman leader for this award, please fill out the online form at http://bit.ly/WOA2017app . We will ask you to include a maximum of three letters of recommendation. We will also ask for a resume detailing her career and leadership achievements.

Please ensure that nominations are made in strict confidence. We appreciate efforts to not inform the nominee that she is being considered for this award.

There will be questions about the following topics on the nomination form, reflecting the areas of success we look for in candidates:

  1. Career Success
  2. Community Service
  3. Commitment to YWCA Mission of Eliminating Racism and Empowering Women
  4. Mentoring
  5. Leaders for the Future

 

2016 WOMEN OF ACHIEVEMENT:

  • Micki Byrnes, President and General Manager, WKYC Channel 3 – Cleveland
  • Lee Friedman, Chief Executive Officer, College Now Greater Cleveland
  • Kathryn “Kit” Jensen, Chief Operating Officer, ideastream
  • Kym Sellers, Founder, Kym Sellers Foundation; television and radio personality
  • Robyn Minter Smyers, Partner-in-Charge, Thompson Hine LLP – Cleveland Office
  • Maryrose Sylvester, President and Chief Executive Officer, Current Powered by GE
  • Nancy Tinsley, President of Parma Medical Center, University Hospitals
  • Sue Tyler, Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer, Medical Mutual of Ohio
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NATIONAL INITIATIVE TO END YOUTH HOMELESSNESS SELECTS CLEVELAND/CUYAHOGA COUNTY, AUSTIN AND LOS ANGELES TO LAUNCH 100-DAY CHALLENGES

THREE COMMUNITIES TO SET AMBITIOUS GOALS TO ACCELERATE LOCAL PROGRESS TOWARD ENDING HOMELESSNESS AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE

Reposted from Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 25, 2016 – Following a competitive nationwide search, A Way Home America today announced that Cleveland/Cuyahoga County, Austin and Los Angeles will launch 100-day challenges to advance efforts to end youth homelessness. Through the challenges, A Way Home America seeks to support and accelerate the local work of the selected communities and to inform national dialogue, learning and policy to prevent and end youth homelessness. The three communities will receive support from The Rapid Results Institute to drive toward ambitious goals over 100 days, starting September 7th.

 

Cleveland/Cuyahoga County’s 100-day challenge will be coordinated by A Place 4 Me, a cross-sector initiative of more than 50 public and private agencies. The initiative has developed a strategic plan to prevent and end youth homelessness that prioritizes youth transitioning from foster care, a population particularly vulnerable to housing instability. A Place 4 Me is a collaboration led by YWCA Greater Cleveland; Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, including the Division of Children and Family Services and the Office of Homeless Services; FrontLine Service; the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, which has provided technical assistance and catalyzed funding partnership to support this initiative.

 

“Throughout the 100-day journey, we look forward to honing and testing new partnerships and strategies to better support the housing stability of youth transitioning from the foster care system,” said Thomas Pristow, director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services. “We enthusiastically embrace this opportunity from A Way Home America, and we are excited to share our learnings nationally.”

 

The Rapid Results Institute’s past 100-day challenges around veteran homelessness have shown that the limited timeframe provides the urgency needed to identify, innovate and fuel effective approaches for communities. The challenges announced today are part of the national movement to end youth homelessness, represented by A Way Home America. The Rapid Results Institute will provide coaching and support to the communities, with the support of theAdministration on Children, Youth and Families, Casey Family Programs, Melville Charitable Trust and Raikes Foundation.

 

Rafael López, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said “The Department of Health and Human Services is thrilled to support these unique 100-day challenges because we have no time to waste in generating solutions. The federal government is committed to ending youth and family homelessness by 2020. We need to support and accelerate community generated ideas to deliver better results. Together with the cities of Austin, Cleveland, and Los Angeles, we are confident that the 100-day challenge will create urgency for action and serve as a catalyst to more safely house and stabilize thousands of our nation’s homeless youth.”

 

“We are fully committed to A Way Home America’s goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020,” said Janice Elliott, Executive Director of the Melville Charitable Trust. “To achieve this ambitious goal, we know we need big, bold, and creative ideas. That’s why we’re so excited to support and learn from these 100-day challenges in Austin, Cleveland, and Los Angeles.”

 

“Thousands of young people across our country will spend tonight alone without a safe place to sleep. A crisis of this magnitude requires a level of urgency to match, which is why The Rapid Results Institute’s 100-day challenge approach is such a perfect fit,” said Katie Hong, youth homelessness strategy director at the Raikes Foundation. “These communities will be at the leading edge of innovation that others across the country can learn from as we help this often hidden homelessness population.”

 

Organizations and communities interested in following the lessons learned by the three communities on their Youth Homelessness 100-day challenges can sign up to receive news from A Way Home America at www.awayhomeamerica.org.

 

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About A Place 4 Me (Cleveland/Cuyahoga County)

A Place 4 Me is a cross-sector initiative that harnesses the strengths and resources of its partners to prevent and end homelessness among young adults age 15 to 24 in Cleveland/Cuyahoga County. A Place 4 Me is a collaboration of YWCA Greater Cleveland; Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, including the Division of Children and Family Services and the Office of Homeless Services; FrontLine Service; the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.

 

About A Way Home America

A Way Home America (AWHA) is a national initiative to build the movement to prevent and end homelessness among young people. AWHA is made up of advocates, researchers, young people, local and state public sector organizations, homeless youth providers and philanthropists uniting behind the goal of ending youth homelessness by the end of 2020.

 

About The Rapid Results Institute

The Rapid Results (RRI) Institute is a non-profit organization that creates transformative and sustained impact on tough societal challenges. RRI enables front-line teams to deliver seemingly impossible results, often in 100 days or less, and helps leaders leverage these initial results into sustained, long term, impact.

Posted in Advocacy, Foster Care | Leave a comment

Ramadan 2016: June 5, 2016 – July 5, 2016

ramadanby Heather Steranka-Petit

Content adapted from: Brookfield Global Relocation Services 2015, http://www.brookfieldgrs.com/ramadan/

This year, the holy month of Ramadan will be observed by more than 1.6 billion people around the world, and by more than 5 million people in the USA.  During this month, Muslims all over the world observe fasting from sunrise until sunset. This year Ramadan is started at Sunset on Sunday, June 5th, and will continue for 30 days until July 5th.

In many parts of the world, you can expect the pace of work to slow down during the month of Ramadan.  Some countries like the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait have laws to reduce the working hours during this month.   In observant Muslim countries, almost no critical decisions are made at this time and it is advisable not to start a new project during the fasting month.

Ramadan is considered one of the five pillars of Islam. During this month, Muslims who are physically able are required to fast, abstain from food or drink, from sunrise to sunset (this includes gum and water). Children, pregnant women, and nursing women are not required to fast.  Adults who cannot fast during the holy month due to a health reason may make up the days at a later time.

Fasting is used as a way to purify the soul, to refocus attention on God, and to protect oneself from evil and learn patience, humility and control. For those who cannot fast and are financially able to do so, it is their duty to feed the poor. Evenings, after sundown, are spent enjoying family and community meals, engaging in prayer and spiritual reflection, and reading from the holy book – the Quran.

The dates for Ramadan may vary according to location as they are based on the expected visibility of the hilal (waxing crescent moon following a new moon).

Muslims believe that this month is filled with blessings, and it is appropriate to wish them well. Some traditional or common Arabic greetings that one may hear during Ramadan include:

  • “Ramadan Kareem!” (“Noble (or Generous) Ramadan!”)
  • “Ramadan Mubarak!” (“Blessed Ramadan!”)
  • “Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair!” (“May every year find you in good health!”)

At the end of the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a three-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking). It is a time to give in charity to those in need, and celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy. In most Muslim countries, the entire 3-day period is an official government/school holiday.

Dos and Don’ts

Do:

  • Do say “Ramadan Kareem” to your Muslim friends and colleagues.
  • Do give to the poor and help the needy. Ramadan is a time to be charitable.

Don’t:

  • In the Arabian Gulf countries, non-Muslims are restrained from eating and drinking in front of those who fast. If you are a non-Muslim visiting a Muslim country, do not eat or drink in public during fasting hours.
  • In the USA, be conscientious and aware of your Muslim clients and colleagues. For example, this may not be the best month to bring in donuts for the break room or offer to treat your clients to lunch.

Something you may not know…
The biggest Islamic populations in the world are not in the Middle East. Actually, they are in Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

Content adapted from: Brookfield Global Relocation Services 2015, http://www.brookfieldgrs.com/ramadan/

For more, check this CNN article on Ramadan: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/04/us/ramadan-non-muslims-etiquette-guide/ 

Posted in Inclusion, Racial Equity, YWCA Greater Cleveland | Leave a comment

Dinosaurs and Early Childhood Education

by Malcolm Schmitz, guest contributor and freelance writer

IMG_0187.JPGWhenever I meet a kid for the first time, I ask them this question: “Do you like dinosaurs?” Most of the time, the answer is “yes.” I can’t count the number of interesting dinosaur facts I’ve learned from talking to kids. Younger kids—as young as three or four—can sometimes pronounce complicated dinosaur names like Quetzalcoatlus and Pachycephalosaurus. They know how dinosaurs’ footprints were preserved as fossils and that Deinonychus had three long, sharp claws that it used to hunt its prey.

Kids are information sponges. They soak up as much knowledge as they can about the world around them, whether it’s the rules that the world follows, the way that people talk, or the interesting dinosaur facts that they saw in their favorite book. They’re growing and developing in so many ways that the influences surrounding them can shape their lives forever.

Parents and teachers need to help kids learn and grow. They also must let kids have opportunities to explore and make choices. Instructors and mentors let kids play, while also teaching them the basics of how to be a healthy human being. Early childhood education is critical in this development and progress.

Unfortunately, not all kids have the same level of support. Kids growing up in severe poverty, kids at risk of homelessness, kids who are refugees or foster children, and kids who’ve fled from abusive families are all at risk. Through adverse and traumatic circumstances, some kids learn to believe that the world is a scary place and that they should be perpetually frightened. Those children could have trouble growing, learning, and developing at the same pace as peers.

Early childhood education is absolutely crucial for all children, but especially these kids. If they have access to a good early childhood education program—and their families have support from the community—children who have faced trauma can catch up to peers who have faced less challenges. These children can make progress, get ready for kindergarten on time, and learn that it’s okay to be inquisitive and creative.

YWCA Greater Cleveland has an Early Learning Center that’s designed specifically to help children who have faced adverse conditions or trauma (such as homelessness). This innovative program is the only one like it in the state. YWCA’s teachers are degreed, well-trained, and able to implement customized education plans, working to focus on children’s social and emotional development goals. These teachers are supported by Family Engagement Specialists who focus as much on the parent and family unit as they do on the child. This innovative model also incorporates an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant, coaching staff to ask children and families questions like “What happened to you?” instead of “What’s wrong with you?”

The Early Learning Center (ELC) works with both kids and their families to help kids get ready for kindergarten. The ELC helps kids’ families set goals and create game plans to help them attain the highest possible level of self-sufficiency. The ultimate goal is to help kids reach their developmental milestones and empower families to advocate for themselves.

As a community, we can support the ELC with volunteer work, donations, and spreading the word. Let’s ensure that kids who have faced trauma spend less time struggling to cope and catch up with peers and more time excitedly learning the differences between a plesiosaur and a pteranodon.

Posted in Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Educations, YWCA Greater Cleveland | Leave a comment