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Six SVP Investees Share What’s Exciting in 2021

Posted by cleveland

Six current and emeritus SVP Investees* are brimming with enthusiasm for 2021—including new programs, new partnerships, and even new headquarters! This year holds a lot in store for Family Connections, Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank, Kinnect, Progressive Arts Alliance, University Settlement, and Youth Opportunities Unlimited. But we won’t steal their thunder. Read what they have to say!

Family Connections

Ellen Barrett, Family Support Specialist

Family Connections is excited to see the results of our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan come to fruition. With a move to one main office location, the streamlining of playroom spaces, and realignment of our school-based program, we are poised to expand our partnerships and bring our family support to even more families. We look forward to being able to provide a full spectrum of programs to reach more families in more locations in 2021.


Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank
Thea DeRosa Cerra, Executive Director

The Kids’ Book Bank’s newest outreach program revolves around the idea of meeting families where they are. To us, this means making free books available to families and kids at places they are already going. We began building on the synergy of food and book distribution to support families and are now partnering with several food distributions in Cuyahoga County. We’re incredibly excited about this new “Well Read, Well Fed” program! Families now receive a bag of 3-4 books, bi-monthly, at Greater Cleveland Food Bank drive-through food distributions at the Municipal Lot, and we are in the early planning stages of similar distributions in Summit and Lorain counties. This would help us reach potentially thousands of additional families with books. With many kids out of classrooms, having books in the home is more important than ever. We hope these books offer a bright spot for kids and families who are in need of extra support right now.

Shannon Deinhart, Executive Director

We are excited about the possibility of returning to in-person work and to serving more families and children with our programs. This year, our 30 Days to Family program will be expanding into more counties in Ohio. We are also launching the Ohio Kinship and Adoption Navigator Program throughout the state; this program provides information, resources and support to kinship and adoptive families. Additionally, plans are being developed to replicate our services that support LGBTQ+ young people in foster care to help them achieve permanency. Last but not least, we are looking forward to seeing our family, friends, and supporters in person in 2021!

Progressive Arts Alliance
Rick Grahovac, Executive Director

We are excited to be expanding our arts-based social and emotional learning programs (now all remote) this year. We are looking forward to providing arts-integrated STEAM programs (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) for students in K-8th grades. While school is 100% remote, we are creating art supply packs that are delivered to the schools; students pick them up so they can use them at home. Of course, the real excitement will come when we are able to return to the classrooms and see all of the students’ smiling faces again!

University Settlement
Earl Pike, Executive Director

In 2019, University Settlement (US) launched a capital campaign to construct a new building with The NRP Group that will provide affordable housing units, as well as a brand-new space for US to provide quality programs and services in Broadway Slavic Village. This year, construction will begin, and we are excited to watch the new building take form. Having a physical marker of progress will bring about so much excitement, not just for staff, but for community members as well. Already they are expressing to us how they cannot wait for the new building and that they want to be a part of the process (and they are). Seeing how excited community residents are about this project is so motivating and truly what inspires us to keep going. We are also inspired to see that Slavic Village resiliency in action. This year, we look forward to watching residents overcome the challenges that the pandemic has brought and supporting them as they achieve new successes, demolish barriers, and thrive once again.


Youth Opportunities Unlimited
Missy S. Toms, VP. Development & Communications

Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.) continues to provide programming for teens and young adults virtually. This includes our Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates (JOG) classes for high school juniors and seniors, credential training, and job readiness training for young adults. We are particularly excited about continuing our engagement with teens who participate in the Summer Youth Employment Program. Newly launched at the end of 2020, Y.O.U. case managers began providing monthly programs on career exploration and planning for the future. This program will continue this year. Additionally, currently in the planning phase, Y.O.U. will again host the JOG Youth Career Olympics virtually. Nearly 200 JOG students compete in 10 business skills events, including job interviewing, public speaking, and resume writing. We hope to engage with volunteers in the community to judge the students. The biggest news for Y.O.U. is we have moved to our new permanent home in the historic Halle Building after years of planning!


*SVP Investees are our nonprofit grantees with whom we partner for 2-3 years offering unrestricted grant funding and capacity-building support tailored to each organization’s unique growth opportunities.