EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio - Just as summer vacation began, East Cleveland Neighborhood Center learned its Freedom Schools program would not receive funding from United Way and the 70 children signed up for the program would have one less option for summer learning.
According to a press release from ECNC , the organization was notified the program would not receive funding on June 13, three days prior to its projected launch date. United Way explained it has chosen not to support any of the presented Summer Learning Loss proposals, even though Summer Learning Loss was an idea from United Way as a strategy under the Education Investment Area.
The Freedom Schools program provides summer support for children and families through a model curriculum with five essential components: high quality literacy enrichment, parent and family involvement, civic engagement and social action, intergenerational leadership development, and nutrition, health and mental health.
"This decision blindsided our agency and more importantly left us with no time to seek alternative funding for the children of East Cleveland who once again are considered unimportant by those with the power and the means to make a difference," Dr. John Buckner, ECNC Board President.
To make matters worse, the location where Freedom Schools was held took heavy flood damage from the stormy weather on June 25, causing books and supplies to be destroyed. ECNC Executive Director Dabney Conwell said the supplies are central to the organization's mission and the educational component can not continue without books. Also, due to current budget limitations, replacement of the books further threatens an early program closing date.
United Way has funded the Freedom Schools program for three years, allowing the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center to provide a summer-long educational program for children from East Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Euclid and other surrounding neighborhoods.
Conwell explained there are 70 students currently enrolled in the program and attending five days each week. With the discontinuation of United Way funding, Freedom Schools will close prematurely, leaving East Cleveland youth with one less option for summer enrichment and literacy programming.
ECNC has requested United Way provide $25,000 out of emergency funds to ensure the program can remain in place through its original scheduled end date of August 15, 2014 and to help to replenish its library and school supplies.
In the meantime, ECNC's Associate Board, made up of young professionals, has created an indiegogo.com page to raise the $25,000 through donations from the public. Currently, about $350 has been raised for the program through the page. You can donate to keep this program alive by visiting indiegogo.com . Search for East Cleveland Neighborhood Center.
Also, though the program needs to replace specific books for its curriculum, NewsChannel5 wants to help the center by asking those who attend Wade Oval Wednesday tonight from 6-9 p.m. to stop by our NewsChannel5 booth and donate any children's books they would like to give to the program. Half Price Books has also agreed to donate some books to the program. For a list of the specific book titles the Freedom Schools program needs to replace, view this document.
The mission of the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center is to strengthen community and improve the quality of life by offering social services, public education, prevention and intervention services. The agency’s broader purpose is to serve as the human service provider in the East Cleveland community by supporting the social, economic and political participation of residents. East Cleveland Neighborhood Center is a non-profit organization that provides human services within a community based setting that are based on understanding the local needs, and conditions within that community.
For further discussion or to make a donation to the program, please contact Dabney Conwell, ECNC Executive Director, at (216) 932-3626 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.