#GivingTuesdayCLE: The social enterprise edition

Upcycle Parts Shop/Nicole McGee

How can we thank Cleveland’s local heroes and changemakers for all the good they do? Easy! You can make a donation, purchase a “GOOD” hat, and/or join us at “The GOOD Hat Bash” at the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern on Giving Tuesday, December 3. Tickets and hats can be purchased and donations made here. And if your favorite nonprofit isn’t on the donation list, then it’s not too late to get them involved. When you purchase a GOOD hat or event ticket, any registered nonprofit can benefit from your support.

Each week until December 3, WISH Cleveland will publish a #GivingTuesdayCLE story highlighting the missions of nonprofits that will share your generous donations. This week’s story, the second of our series of five, focuses on three local social enterprises that live in the space between business and social good.

Business as Usual? Not So Much

Social enterprises exist at the intersection of the private and volunteer sectors. They seek to balance successful businesses with social goals. They tackle social problems, improve people’s lives and futures, support local communities, and/or help the environment in ways that benefit their neighbors and their neighborhoods.

Let’s take a closer look at three social enterprises that work hard to benefit the Greater Cleveland community.

Motogo is a mobile shop class that travels throughout the greater Cleveland area, offering a class on wheels. Through providing hands-on instruction in motorcycle maintenance, Motogo also provides students with an opportunity to build confidence and develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills.  An underlying premise of the class is that higher learning and vocational careers should not be mutually exclusive and that ALL students benefit from understanding how machines work.

Unfortunately, many schools don’t have the resources to offer shop class in-house or transport students to an off-site location.  Motogo fixes that by meeting students where they are, making use of a portable trailer that brings everything students need to disassemble and repair a motorcycle — a huge convenience and cost-savings for schools with small budgets.

Molly Vaughan of MotogoMotogo benefits students in many ways. They learn basic hand-tool skills through motorcycle building and engine maintenance, as well as skills that are typically part of a STEM curriculum, such as metric and standard measurement. While they master an understanding of combustion and gapping spark plugs, they also develop skills that broaden and enrich their career opportunities. Motogo also fosters qualities such as leadership and determination through providing students with hands-on problem-solving in a non-traditional setting.

Molly Vaughan, Executive Director of Skidmark CLE’s Motogo Program, asks if you “remember tinkering in your Grandpa’s garage. You loved it, right? While schools no longer offer those opportunities, our kids still love it.”

Vaughan explains that “Last year, Motogo worked with 283 students in over 220 hours of programming. This school year, we are on target to double those numbers,”  adding that she’d be grateful for our support in helping Motogo “bring back shop class to students across Northeast Ohio.”

Upcycle Parts Shop
Founded by Nicole McGee and Devon Fegen-Herdman, Upcycle Parts Shop is the leader in sustainable art and craft supplies in Cleveland, Ohio. This non-profit is dedicated to provoking creativity and promoting community through reuse.  At Upcycle Parts, you can donate used art and craft supplies and can also purchase such items at modest prices.  The shop serves thousands of participants each year by supplying materials to creative endeavors, leading programming, and building community in Cleveland’s St. Clair neighborhood.

Since opening in 2014, Upcycle has diverted over twenty-seven tons of waste from the landfill. In grateful recognition of this achievement, on November 15, Upcycle Parts plans to host a celebration on the street to honor everyone who has helped in their five-year journey.

Co-founder Nicole McGee says that “it’s been fun to pause and reflect on the past five years of Upcycle Parts Shop…. We truly mean it when we say we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the support of hundreds of people.”

Cosmic Bobbins
At Cosmic Bobbins, they create apparel that empowers community. Through trauma-informed practice in art-based education, screen printing, sewing, embroidery services, and workforce development, Cosmic Bobbins’ work defines the spirit of hope in the Greater Cleveland area.

Founded in 2002, Cosmic Bobbins has as its mission the creation of jobs for those who are typically underserved through promoting art-based entrepreneurship, providing sewing education, and establishing outreach in the community.  In 2015, the Cleveland Sews/Cosmic Bobbins Foundation was created to support and fund this mission.

While the business of Cosmic Bobbins continues to focus on the screen printing and embroidery services of the social enterprise, the Foundation diligently works to impact the lives of local underrepresented participants, including youth, refugee, and immigrant populations.

Aruna Padhan, 17, an arts-based education student from Nepal, says that through Cosmic Bobbins, she has “learned lots of things I didn’t know before, and I learned a lot here,” adding enthusiastically, “ I am still trying to learn more.”

Cosmic Bobbins is committed to creating a community where social good becomes a lifestyle, a community where people are meaningfully employed and the core essence is a spirit of hope.  Aruna Padhan’s comments show us that their efforts are not in vain.

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