MARCH 2021

Monthly updates
and information from
The Institute
1) Caste is up next for the Community Book Club
NLI is excited to announce the next edition of its Community Book Club! Beginning April 6th, we will convene a discussion group for Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. Once again, GiGi Elder will serve as the group facilitator over the anticipated 8 week span. Click here to access the Book Club registration page. We'd love to have you join us!
2) Vaccine options are increasing
COVID-19 vaccinations are on the rise in northeast Ohio. After more than a year of addressing this nationwide health crisis, effective vaccines are now becoming widely available. In addition to locations all across the region, Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center is currently serving as a FEMA mass vaccination site - administering approximately 6,000 doses per day. Click this link from the Ohio Department of Health to check your eligibility and availability:
3) Civics Workshop Series returns in Spring
NLI will be offering its next Civics Workshop Series in May. Now that the general election is behind us and the new administration has a few months of experience in the White House, we will explore all of the avenues for post-election engagement for local citizens. National policies and agendas impact our neighborhoods and local residents can and should play a part in activism and advocacy. We’ll discuss this and more with Jacqueline Gillon from the Thriving Communities Institute of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. Stay tuned for more details!
SNR Summer Tennis will return in July
As the Schools as Neighborhood Resources programming comes to a conclusion, NLI's Youth Engagement team has begun planning for another successful season of Summer Tennis. In the next couple months, we look forward to sharing more details about this recreational opportunity for Cleveland kids.
The Cleveland Consent Decree Community Conversations
NLI is pleased to support the efforts of United Way of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland Branch of NAACP in hosting monthly Community Conversations that address police reform mandated by the 2015 Consent Decree between the City of Cleveland and the United States Department of Justice.
Every month, we will explore topics that impact our community, such as use of force, bias-free policing, and citizen complaints, among others.

The next meeting is Wednesday April 14th at 6:00 PM. Learn more and register for the entire series here.
NLI SPOTLIGHT: Philena Seldon
Raised by her Grandmother in the Central/Fairfax community, it all began with Philena Seldon growing up where people celebrated community, food and civic pride. “You remember,” Philena says with a laugh, “…the time before smartphones, texting and social media. Back when kids played outside until the streetlights came on and neighbors were extended family members.”

Philena describes her upbringing with pride; it was the 20th century and like many  fortunate enough to be in an environment where people grew local food in backyard gardens, swapped clothes with neighbors, recycled as much as possible, and walked neighborhoods, she got indoctrinated into being community-centric and environmentally conscious early on. In those formative years she discovered her interests in her surroundings - neighbors, the natural and built environment, and doing her part to preserve and protect it. 

Nearing 15 years as a Public Administrator in local government with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in the City of Cleveland, she serves as the Outreach and Education Liaison. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, and is a member of National Forum Black Public Administrator’s (NFBPA), where she serves on the National Conference Events and Planning Committee. She is a member of the Black Sustainability Network, serving on both the fundraising and 2021 conference planning committees, and she is also a member of the Black Environmental Leaders in Cleveland.

Currently completing her undergraduate degree at Ursuline College, Philena expects to graduate this August with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Legal Studies and a certification as a paralegal. In her spare time, Philena serves as a Eucharistic minister, an End-of-Life/Death Doula serving as a senior and terminally ill advocate and is completing her yoga teacher training certification. Philena is also an avid “fair weather” cyclist, an “inspired” runner with the Slow AF Run Club, and aspiring writer.

She is a Class 31 graduate of NLC and notes that its leadership training provided her the opportunity to hone in on her community organizing efforts and build relationships with other community leaders. It also reinforced the influential advice given to her by her late grandmother: “what goes over the devil’s back buckles under his stomach” which loosely translates to “what goes around comes around.” It was her grandmother’s way of reminding Philena to lead with truth, honesty and sincerity while always understanding you reap what you sow. These words are on a constant mental loop for Philena, reminding her of the Golden Rule she applies to all aspects of life.


The Community Health team, especially our Neighborhood Navigators, continues to work with new and expecting mothers on issues of infant vitality. As of February 28, 2021, We remain on pace to reach our goal of serving 1,180 residents by September 30, 2021.  

We are partnering with RTA, Cuyahoga County Board of Health and other organizations to bring Baby On Board to three zip codes (44108, 44110, and 44112). These communities need a little extra transportation support, because they have high rates of infant mortality and are disproportionately impacted by the need for public transportation. This service will begin in mid spring of this year and will serve families (yes, Dad is included) that are pregnant or have babies from 0-1 years old. More details to come!

Neighborhood Leadership Cleveland, the flagship leadership training program for grassroots leaders in Northeast Ohio, is poised to welcome its newest class this week. Beginning March 18th, NLC Class 37 sets off on a 19-week course that includes a leadership retreat, group projects, coaching, and neighborhood tours.
Key components of the class include:
• Finding your strengths, values and leadership style
• Cultural & political history of Cleveland
• Discovering tools and resources
• Understanding systems of power
• Managing conflict and change
• Power and privilege

Due to the Neighborhood Leadership Cleveland Class 37 retreat over the weekend of March 26+27, NLI has cancelled the March 26th Virtual Alumni Check-in. We look forward to seeing you in April!


NLI’s Schools as Neighborhood Resources program encountered many challenges within its latest program year. 2020/2021 presented COVID-19 restrictions and other obstacles and limited our attendance goals. But even with these difficulties, we are proud to report that we hosted another successful round of SNR activities. This year, we again hosted in six sites across the city and offered fun, recreational activities for family members of all ages. Please join us in thanking our host sites that helped us provide safe and welcoming locations where neighbors could find social and recreational outlet during a time filled with limited activity and social distancing. We extend our thanks to:

St. Paul AME Church (4118 Brookside Blvd.)
Five Pointe Community Center (813 East 152nd Street)
Thea Bowman Center (11901 Oakfield Ave.)
Pilgrim Congregational UCC (2592 W.14th St.)
Pearl Road United Methodist Church (4200 Pearl Road)
Woodhill Community Center (2491 Baldwin Road)

Mentoring for Cleveland 8th graders is in full swing! Our students and mentors are in the midst of session #4 and covering the topic of “Who I want to be?” This session is designed to help students think more about what they value, how they can manage the impressions they make, and who they are. It places emphasis on the issues of self-management, self-awareness and social awareness. There is one more session next month and the True2U Finale Celebration is scheduled for May 6th.
As students begin their hybrid learning, True2U activities will remain virtual. Out-of-school experiences for 8th graders have begun and our 9th graders will begin virtual college visits in May.

NLI is a leading community education organization in Cleveland, Ohio. We impact the city through our work in: Neighborhood Leadership, True2U Mentoring,
Community Health and Youth Engagement
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