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Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland Grants $100,000 to The Innovation Mission Fellows to Implement Their Big Ideas to Fight Poverty

June 12, 2019 – CLEVELAND – Through 18 months of innovation coaching, independent research, professional development and community networking, the five fellows of The Innovation Mission grew their inspiring ideas to fight poverty into implementable programs to support Cleveland’s most vulnerable populations. Now, the Cleveland-based fellows are ready to put them to the test, each receiving $20,000 in seed funding from The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.

In 2017, The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland in partnership with the Cleveland Leadership Center, launched The Innovation Mission, an initiative to disrupt, transform and energize the fight against poverty. This groundbreaking program supported and empowered five local experts throughout a journey to explore, examine and develop their own big ideas. By using a hands-on experience to teach them how to harness the power of innovation, each fellow had a unique opportunity to grow their idea into a scalable solution to drive real change in the community.

 The five fellows are all considered experts in their respective fields of aging, entrepreneurship, mentoring, housing and workforce development:

  • Dabney Conwell, who is launching a pilot program for aging adults being discharged from the hospital to provide adequate nutrition and wellness support.
  • Julie Cortes, who is gathering community organizations to establish business curricula and create a service center for low-income entrepreneurs.
  • Bill Leamon, who is partnering with local high schools to connect low-income graduating seniors with mentors to help with their transition to college.
  • Hazel Remesch, who is working closely with Cleveland City Council to implement a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction.
  • Penny Smith, who is developing a web-based software application to help low-income fathers find skills and training necessary for employment.

The ideas generated by these five inspiring fellows are only the beginning of the value created by this initiative.

“The Innovation Mission has taught us the importance of applying innovation to poverty and the results it can achieve,” says Susanna Krey, president of The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. “Dedicating time and resources to deeply understand a problem and how it is perceived by those affected has led to new approaches and improved quality of life for low-income individuals. I hope this idea of innovating for community change is one that organizations continue to explore and uplift, because we recognize the incredible potential of Clevelanders to break the cycle of poverty.”

This Wednesday, June 12, to celebrate The Innovation Mission and this bold, innovative approach, The Sisters of Charity Foundation will host a dynamic event from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Global Center for Health Innovation. The evening will include lively, candid panel discussions with the fellows and community leaders who worked with the fellows throughout the innovative process. Key players will share not only their ‘big ideas,’ but they will also discuss lessons learned from thinking differently, the importance of working together and why new approaches to societal challenges, like poverty, are so important.

In addition to hearing from the fellows, the following partners will be participating in a second panel discussion: City Council President Kevin Kelley; ThirdSpace Action Lab co-founder Evelyn Burnett; business consultant and former EVP at Forest City Realty Trust Andy Passen; and adviser to The Innovation Mission, Dennis Beatrice. They will share their perspectives on the state of poverty in Cleveland and how they think the power of innovation can truly make a difference.

For more information on this event, which is open to the public, or to register, visit EventBrite.


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