When we’re talking about diversity, it’s not a box to check. It is a reality that should be deeply felt and held and valued by all of us. ~ Ava DuVernay
Black History Month isn’t a time for segregation; rather, it’s an opportunity to celebrate the stories of our Black neighbors and friends. Here in Cleveland, we know that minority-owned and operated organizations have created significant social impact in our communities. So what better way to wrap up Black History Month than by sharing the histories and impact of just a few of the many?
- Karamu House
Karamu in Swahili means “joyful gathering.” Since 1915, the Karamu House has been the home for African-American theater and has earned its place in American history as the oldest African American producing theater in the nation. Always true to its name, the Cleveland landmark is a beacon of pride for many generations. Their vibrant performances and interactive workshops are experiences that everyone can appreciate. On February 29, for instance, guests can enjoy a musical tribute to artists Biggie Smalls and Lou Rawls. You can also plan to attend Hoodoo Love, which starts March 19 and runs through April 12th.
- United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland
The United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland serves 80 organizations yearly and has distributed over $12 million in grants in its 36-year history. Commissioned in 1981 by George W. White to gather and distribute funds for local organizations providing social services, the fund is the only one of its kind in the state of Ohio. Giving is simple and convenient: text the letters UBF to the number 50155 from your smartphone. You can also donate here.
- Birthing Beautiful Communities
Cuyahoga County delivered 13,925 babies in 2019. Unfortunately, 120 of those babies did not survive to see their first birthday. What’s worse, 71% of the infants who did not survive were African-American. Birthing Beautiful Communities aims to prevent these infant deaths by providing free services for at-risk mothers. Resources include doulas, parenting education workshops, and breastfeeding and stress relief courses. Since its inception in 2014, BBC has served 500 women, guiding them through postpartum depression, goal planning, and lifestyle changes that will protect their babies’ lives. Birthing Beautiful Communities currently plans to open a birthing center this fall–visit their website to explore how you can get involved.
- CLE Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Education Program
Cleveland MOTTEP is affiliated with the Center of Dialysis Care to provide education on the need for organ, eye, and tissue transplants. Minorities are at a higher risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, which often leads to kidney failure. In fact, one third of those waiting for an organ transplant in Northeast Ohio are African-American. Minorities also wait 2 to 4 times longer for a transplant than their white counterparts. MOTTEP has a number of community outreach programs that welcome volunteers. You can also help by donating here.
- Literacy in the H.O.O.D
Research has shown that 66% of Cleveland adults are functionally illiterate. Literacy in the H.O.O.D (Helping Out Our Disenfranchised) is a grassroot initiative to provide immediate resources to the community. Program volunteers attend local events to distribute free books and share information about where to receive free tutoring. Today, Literacy in the H.O.O.D is located in four CMSD schools.
- Rollin’ Buckeyez Foundation
If you can’t wait for the arrival of summer activities, then stop right here! Put on your rollerblades, and join the Rollin’ Buckeyez party! Rollin’ Buckeyez is a Cleveland non-profit with a plan to provide recreational activities, such as the always popular pop-up roller rinks, for children and families to address health and wellness concerns. Volunteers are the driving force behind the foundation–sign up with family and friends to exercise for fun with a purpose!
- Mended Inc.
Mended Inc. is an innovative program that strives to restore broken mother-daughter relationships by offering services and programs that change family dynamics. Its most recent support service is counseling sponsorship, allowing mothers and their daughters to seek counseling assistance through the organization. Another valuable service is The Girls2Women Program, an outreach to high school-aged girls, designed to enhance communication and respect in their homes. Contact Mended Inc. to host a workshop in your community or local church or to find out more about how you can help to support their programs. To make a donation, visit here.
- Living Rich
Sharia Livingston and her daughter, Sha’Miah Richardson, incorporate fashion with community uplift. Their clothing brand is not a short-lived trend but rather a lifestyle that promotes self-esteem. Sharia Livingston is not a stranger of hard times and believes value can be discovered in the best and worst moments in life. To encourage young entrepreneurs, Living Rich plans to host entrepreneurship training for local high school students. Since its beginning in 2015, Living Rich has expanded its online business with the opening of its first physical store, located in Glenvillage.
- Greater Cleveland Junior Golf Scholarship Fund
Since 1980, the Greater Cleveland Junior Golf Scholarship Fund has actively supported minority students in their educational pursuits. The instructional program is open for youths ages 6 through 18, teaching them how to golf under PGA guidelines. Students also have the opportunity to compete in tournaments, preparing them to qualify for collegiate sports scholarships. The young participants are mentored and trained by volunteer instructors. You can make a donation toward student training expenses and collegiate scholarships here.
February is a short month, so Black History Month goes by quickly. Fortunately, you can celebrate these and other Black American stories in Cleveland all year, every day. Lend support by making a donation, volunteering, or simply spreading the word about their vital contributions to our community.