Goodbye Cohort XI
Hello Cohort XII

209...Is It a Number on a Cake or Is It More? 
11... Is It Ten Plus One or Is It More?

Twelve years ago over sixty neighborhood leaders squeezed themselves into children's day care center chairs and subjected themselves to a half hour of intense questioning. These sixty neighborhood leaders had all come seeking to be a participant in the inaugural cohort of something new...The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program (NLDP). NLDP is the manifestation of The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation's vision and commitment in 2006 to begin building an army of passionately engaged neighborhood leaders who are seeking true, positive and sustainable change in Cleveland by enhancing their leadership skills.
For twelve years they have come...engaged leaders from every neighborhood in Cleveland and its inner ring surburbs...from Kamms Corner to Collinwood to Mount Pleasant and from Slavic Village to Glenville and Old Brooklyn...and the 11 have become 209. 209 graduates of the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program and at this very moment 96% of NLDP's graduates are still engaged in making their City a better place for generations yet to come.
Congratulations NLDP Graduates...And Remember...Never Ask For Permission To Do Good!

The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program is a program that helps you make the change you want to see. The NLDP application period for Cohort XII ends on August 3rd...Email: Yuolanda Murray at for more information.

Graduate Spotlight
Chrishawndra Matthews 

Chrishawndra Matthews is a graduate of NLDP Cohort X, the founder of Literacy in the Hood, and a board member of the Faith United Community Credit Union. She is intensely passionate about literacy. If she gets a few minutes of your time, she is sure to tell you the benefits of reading to your child 15-20 minutes a day. It was while attending a professional development event at MetroHealth as an AmeriCorps VISTA that she first learned about the literacy crisis in Cleveland. As the mother of a young son, she knew she had to do something to ensure that her son and other Cleveland children were learning how to read. 

When she joined NLDP, Chrishawndra was volunteering with the Barbershop Literacy Project and had a vision for an organization that would help improve third-grade reading levels and provide books to children. She says when she left NLDP she was "on fire" and that vision is now a reality. Chrishawndra founded her own 501(c)(3) organization, Literacy in the Hood. Literacy in the Hood engages parents and caregivers in creating a culture in which reading, writing, speaking and thinking serve as the foundation for life-long learning. Literacy in the Hood partners with barbershops, salons, and other businesses and organizations to host parent engagement events where they give out free books, talk to parents about the importance of reading, and educate people on the impacts of the school-to-prison pipeline. Chrishawndra uses any opportunity she can find to engage parents. She will find them in the car, at the gas station, and walking down the street. 

Chrishawndra has become an expert in parent engagement and is frequently asked to speak at events such as the 2Gen Literacy Summit, Ohio Guidestone Women's Day, and many local library events. This summer, Literacy in the Hood will be donating free bookcases and books to families who do not have books in the home. They are partnering with the Meeting Place Reading Center, which focuses on children who are reading below grade-level, to identify families in need of the bookshelves and books. Another upcoming project for Literacy in the Hood will be a program called "Boys Do Read" in partnership with the Cleveland Public Library. This will be a book club for elementary school boys. Chrishawndra is already passing her leadership skills on to her son, who will be helping to engage boys in the book club. 

Chrishawndra says, "NLDP, to me, is like a yellow brick gives you a path." She has followed that path and is helping children and parents throughout Cleveland. Her vision for the future is to see Literacy in the Hood travel to other areas and she is already in conversation with the Cuyahoga County Libraries to begin the next step in that vision. 

Cooking with Grads
Jonathan Steirer

NLDP Cohort XI Graduate Jonathan Steirer is a passionate advocate for the Cudell Neighborhood. Jonathan is on  the board of Cudell Improvement Inc., is the Membership Chair for Global Shapers Cleveland, and is active in his community. He discovered a need in Cudell for residents to be able to access tools to help maintain their properties and has led the creation of a tool share. If you come to a block club meeting at Jonathan's house, he might treat you to....

Lazy Pancrepes 
From the Kitchen of Someone Who Does Not Cook and Once Tried to Make Crepes But Messed Them Up

All-purpose flour (Approx 3 cups)
Baking Soda (1 tablespoon)
Brown Sugar
Milk (dairy, almond, etc.)
Eggs (2 or 3)

Serving size: Approximately 5 to 8 pancrepes depending on how big you want them.
Step 1: Mix the flour and baking soda in a large bowl. Add in a few shakes of salt, more if you're feeling really in a crepe mood and less if you're more into pancakes. Throw in some brown sugar! Don't be shy! Put as much or as little as you want!
Step 2: Spices! Throw in cinnamon! Or don't, if you don't like cinnamon! Maybe some nutmeg! Whatever you want! There are no rules!
Step 3: Mix in the wet ingredients. If you're feeling crepe-y, throw in a third egg (or a fourth, no one is judging). If not, two eggs are fine. Mix in milk until the batter has the desired consistency (thicker batter for a thicker finished product).
Step 4: Throw that stuff in a pan or on a skillet! If you went with a more liquidy batter, you might only be able to make one pancrepe at a time.
Step 5: Garnishes! Again, there are no rules! I like to throw peanut butter on these bad boys, but you could do fruit instead! 
Suggested ways to serve: Thick pancrepes with peanut butter, bananas, and syrup. Thin pancrepes with brie, mulberries, and honey.
Enjoy! Share it with friends! And if someone criticizes your finished masterpiece then ignore them! It's the journey that counts!

"Leadership is an action, not a position."
-Donald McGannon

Save the Date!
NLDP Graduate Summer Picnic

All NLDP Grads are invited to attend the NLDP Graduate Summer Picnic. This is the perfect opportunity to meet graduates from our newest cohort, connect with old friends, and eat some great food! The picnic will be held at Edgewater Park on Sunday, August 26th from noon to 3pm.  If you wish to volunteer to help with set-up,  please e-mail Marissa at 

Graduate Capacity Building Session 

The next Graduate Capacity building session will show Graduates the way towards discovering and accessing the resources to accomplish their project dreams. This session will be led by capacity building and fundraising expert Jennifer Madden. Please join us on Saturday, October 20th at Trinity Commons at 8am for this amazing session. 

Graduate Shout Outs
Special Congratulations to...

Gwen Garth  on being a finalist for the Cleveland Neighborhood Progress Civic Champion Award. 

Stephanie Pope-Earley on her graduation from Cleveland Marshall College of Law with a Master's in Legal Studies.

Ariana Johnson  on being selected to serve on the Rainbow Babies and Children's Associate Board and reappointed to the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Executive Committee.

Valerie Jerome  on being elected to the Democratic Party Central Committee.

Jonathan Steirer  on being elected to the Democratic Party Central Committee.

Joe Black  on being elected to the Democratic Party Central Committee and being appointed a CMHA Commissioner. 

NLDP Demographic Profile
A look at some of the data captured in the new Demographic Profile

On an annual basis NLDP collects data which helps with program organization and execution. NLDP participants and graduates come from a wide variety of backgrounds and this data allows NLDP to keep track of changes from year to year. NLDP also tracks graduate engagement in the community through the Demographic Profile. Below are some statistics about graduate engagement in 2017-2018. 

Graduate Engagement Statistics

NLDP Neighborhood Tour
A glimpse into an NLDP session

Each year, one of the NLDP sessions is dedicated to exploring Cleveland neighborhoods and seeing real Cleveland leaders doing what they do best. The cohort visits various locations in the city and hears from neighborhood leaders about their work and their personal journey to where they are now. Among several stops on this year's tour, we had the pleasure of stopping at the Children's Museum of Cleveland. During our visit, Cohort XI had a chance to tap into their inner-children as they explored the space. Maria Campanelli, a Cohort X graduate of NLDP, described the challenges and joys of leading the Children's Museum through their transition from University Circle to their newly renovated space in MidTown. She shared with us their efforts to make the museum a museum "for all," which includes discounts for low-income families as well as supports and spaces for children with sensory sensitivity. The new Children's Museum has exceeded expectations for attendance and membership since its opening in November. The space is a wonderful asset to the MidTown community and attracts visitors from all over the region. 

Leadership cannot just go along to get along. Leadership must meet the moral challenge of the day.
-Jesse Jackson

NLDP Graduates Serving on Nonprofit Boards
Making a difference in Cleveland

NLDP Graduates are making a tremendous impact on non-profit boards throughout Cleveland.  To date, 28% of NLDP Graduates are serving on nonprofit boards. While board service was never a specific goal of NLDP, it has become clear in the past few years that graduates of NLDP are participating in their communities in this way and bringing the skills they learned in NLDP to nonprofit boards across Cleveland. Graduates are serving on boards with a wide variety of organizations: CDCs, hospitals, youth organizations, historical societies and more. Recognizing the importance of these contributions, NLDP has added a board participation segment as part of the curriculum for NLDP participants.  

Click here  to view the current listing of NLDP Graduates who serve on non-profit boards. 

If you are an NLDP Graduate currently serving on a board and it is not listed here, please send an e-mail to with the name of the organization and any roles (president, secretary, etc.) that you have on the board.

If you are an NLDP Graduate who is interested in sitting on a nonprofit board and would like to be considered for board positions in our community, please e-mail Marissa at

Upcoming Events...

Friday, August 3rd
Cohort XII Application Period Ends at 5pm
Thursday, August 23rd
Cohort XII Launch at Trinity at 6pm
Sunday, August 26th
Graduate Summer Picnic Noon-3pm
Saturday, October 20th
Capacity Building Session at Trinity at 8am
Thursday, December 13th 
Graduate Holiday Party

The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program is a Program of 
the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.