Cleveland, Ohio

Now the 45th largest city in the United States, the City of Cleveland’s prime location on the Great Lakes made it one of our country’s key transportation hubs and commercial and manufacturing centers by the late 19th century.  In fact, due primarily to its strong economy, Cleveland became the fifth largest city in the United States in 1920, and reached a population high of 914,808 in 1949.

Similar to many “rustbelt” cities, key trends including suburbanization, layoffs due to technological advances, industrial flight to places with lower labor costs, and globalization had severe economic and social impacts on Cleveland. As of the 2010 census, Cleveland had a population of 396,800, well under half of what its population was at its peak 60 years prior.  Today, just over 53 percent of the city's population is African-American, 37 percent is white, and about 10 percent Latino or Hispanic.

Community wealth building institutions have played an important role in promoting the revitalization of Cleveland neighborhoods. For example, in the late 1970s, Cleveland created a land bank to handle tax-delinquent properties, directing many of the properties to community development corporations.

An important factor behind Cleveland community wealth-building organizations’ success has been these groups’ ability to forge effective cross-sectoral collaborations.  For example, the significant redevelopment within the City’s University Circle district would not have been possible without strong partnerships between the City, area anchor institutions, and private developers and business as part of the Greater University Circle Initiative.  Support from the Cleveland Foundation, which awards about $80 million a year to City organizations and projects, has also played a pivotal role. 

Further illustrating the increasing level of collaboration among diverse city groups, in 2014, 10 Cleveland organizations planning to spend billions of dollars on construction projects over the next several years agreed to sign a Community Benefits Agreement pledging to set goals for hiring local and minority workers, expand training programs, and study best practices for improving diversity and inclusion in the construction industry.  University Hospitals Health System, a key city anchor institution, laid the foundation for this agreement when it developed its Vision 2010 initiative, which commits to targeting its construction spending on local businesses and workers.

Below are some of Cleveland's leading community wealth building organizations and initiatives:

Anchor Institutions

Cleveland Clinic

As the largest employer in the region procuring more than $1.5 billion in goods and services on an annual basis, Cleveland Clinic has worked more consciously over the past several years to support its surrounding region.  For example, it has altered its purchasing to support local and minority vendors, spending more than 10 percent directly in Cleveland and 17 percent in NE Ohio in 2010.  Cleveland Clinic has also supported several neighborhood revitalization initiatives, including the Greater Circle Living program and Evergreen Cooperatives, and has increasingly worked closely with Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation in the neighboring community.

Cleveland Foundation

The oldest community foundation in the country, the Cleveland Foundation was established in 1914 to pool the charitable resources of Cleveland’s philanthropists into a permanent endowment for the betterment of the city.  The Cleveland Foundation currently has assets of $1.87 billion and has made over $1 billion in grants.  One of its priorities is the Greater University Circle Initiative, which has generated hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment in the community by leveraging the economic strength of the area’s large anchor institutions.  Through this initiative, the foundation played a key role in catalyzing the Evergreen Cooperatives.  Another unique program is Neighborhood Connections, which has made over 1,600 small grants totaling over $5 million since 2003 to support the ideas and projects of community residents.

University Hospitals (UH)

The second largest employer in Northeast Ohio with more than $800 million in purchasing, University Hospitals intentionally strives to leverage its economic impact to improve the local economy.  Its Vision 2010 initiative, which laid the foundation for a ground-breaking, citywide Community Benefits Agreement, set specific goals to procure from local, minority- and women-owned businesses and continues now to create new supplier capacity within the city.  Most recently, UH used its purchasing power to persuade a key supplier, Owen & Minors, to move its operations into Cleveland's urban core. UH has also been a key supporter of the Evergreen Cooperatives, investing more than $1 million in Evergreen's internal loan fund and through its efforts to direct procurement.

Community Development Corporations (CDCs)

Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Incorporated (BBC)

Founded in 1990, Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Incorporated (BBC) is a non-profit neighborhood development organization focused on empowering Cleveland citizens and revitalizing the blighted, underserved Central, Kinsman, and Garden Valley neighborhoods.  To do so, BBC is engaged in a range of initiatives including housing and commercial development, streetscape improvements, youth recreation and education, community security, healthy food access, social enterprise (such as the Bridgeport Café), business development services, and homeownership and financial education workshops and counseling.

Cleveland Housing Network

Cleveland Housing Network, founded in 1981, is a coalition of 15 CDCs and 130 multi-cultural staff that develop affordable homes and provide training and counseling services to help Cleveland families escape poverty and build wealth. Since 1981, Cleveland Housing Network and its member CDCs have helped generate over $620 million in investments in Cleveland neighborhoods. Read more about Cleveland Housing Network ...

Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation (FRDC)

Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation (FRDC) is a CDC focused on strengthening Northeast Ohio.  Since 1996, FRDC has produced over 348 new single-family homes and 100 multi-family units, and rehabilitated over 650 additional units.  An important initiative it administers is the Greater Circle Living program, which offers financial assistance and other supports to encourage people working at institutions within the Greater University district to live near their place of employment.  FRDC’s comprehensive work also includes neighborhood cleanups, home energy assistance, after-school activities for youth, and a range other health, wellness, and community-building programs.

Famicos Foundation

Founded in 1969 in response to poverty and civil unrest, the Famicos Foundation has acquired, renovated, or constructed over 700 units of affordable housing. The CDC owns and operates 326 units of affordable housing in Cleveland and also manages 276 Cleveland Housing Network lease purchase homes. Read more about Famicos Foundation...

Neighborhood Progress, Inc.

Neighborhood Progress is a regional organization that acts as a local intermediary, raising funds from corporate, foundation, and city sources and offering operating support and technical support to CDCs throughout the city. It currently provides $1.5 million per year to Cleveland CDCs, as well as up to $5 million per year in low-interest loans for neighborhood development. Neighborhood Progress and its local partners have developed over 7,400 affordable homes. Read more about Neighborhood Progress, Inc. ...

University Circle, Inc.

Founded in 1957 as University Circle Development Foundation to administer the first Master Plan for the University Circle district, the group was restructured in 1970 as University Circle Inc. (UCI) so that it could have a more pro-active role in the area’s development.  In 2007, UCI launched a Five-Year Action Plan focused on building a safe, clean, and attractive neighborhood on the foundation of the University Circle anchor institutions and partner businesses.  To do so, its current work includes facilitating, supporting, and leading economic development initiatives; providing the direct services needed to maintain a clean, safe and attractive district and to help its partner organizations save resources (e.g., cooperative purchasing); and advocacy to attract more people to the district.

Cooperatives (Co-ops)

Evergreen Cooperatives

Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the Evergreen Cooperatives are pioneering models of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability. Their companies are employee-owned and for profit and are proud to say they are based locally and hire locally. The create green jobs that are meaningful to the Cleveland community and keep important financial resources within the Greater University Circle Neighborhoods. Worker-owners at Evergreen earn a living wage and are able to build equity in the firms as owners of the business. 

  Read more about Evergreen Cooperatives...

Ohio City Bike Co-op

In the spring of 2001, a volunteer group of cyclists began an informal Earn-a-Bike program, teaching neighborhood kids bike repair and safe riding skills. In 2002, incorporated as the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC), the group secured a storefront where it could renovate and sell its surplus of donated used bikes to cover expenses, and started a membership program to attract additional volunteers. Over time OCBC has expanded its Earn-a-Bike program, and is now teaching courses at schools and recreation centers, primarily on a fee-for-service basis. Read more about Ohio City Bike Co-op...

Steiner House Cooperative

Founded in the 1940s, Steiner House is a 21-member university student-run housing cooperative at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The 70 year-old cooperative regularly attracts international students from around the world to come together under one roof to live together. Read more about Steiner House Cooperative ...

Evergreen Cooperatives

Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the Evergreen Cooperatives are pioneering models of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability. Their companies are employee-owned and for profit and are proud to say they are based locally and hire locally. The create green jobs that are meaningful to the Cleveland community and keep important financial resources within the Greater University Circle Neighborhoods. Worker-owners at Evergreen earn a living wage and are able to build equity in the firms as owners of the business. 

  Read more about Evergreen Cooperatives...

Worker Cooperatives

Evergreen Cooperatives

Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the Evergreen Cooperatives are pioneering models of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability. Their companies are employee-owned and for profit and are proud to say they are based locally and hire locally. The create green jobs that are meaningful to the Cleveland community and keep important financial resources within the Greater University Circle Neighborhoods. Worker-owners at Evergreen earn a living wage and are able to build equity in the firms as owners of the business. 

  Read more about Evergreen Cooperatives...

Evergreen Cooperatives

Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the Evergreen Cooperatives are pioneering models of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability. Their companies are employee-owned and for profit and are proud to say they are based locally and hire locally. The create green jobs that are meaningful to the Cleveland community and keep important financial resources within the Greater University Circle Neighborhoods. Worker-owners at Evergreen earn a living wage and are able to build equity in the firms as owners of the business. 

  Read more about Evergreen Cooperatives...

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Oswald Companies

The original Oswald Company was formed in 1893. In 1985, the insurance broker company established an employee stock ownership plan for its employees. Oswald's 100-plus workers now own 30 percent of the company. Read more about Oswald Companies ...

Tap Packaging Solutions

Tap Packaging Solutions was recently established to consolidate The Chilcote Company's operating divisions. The company, established in 1906, produces a variety of photography, printing, and presentation-related products and has annual sales of $55 million. Chilcote's 200-plus employees own a 33 percent share in the company.  Demonstrating its commitment to environmental stewardship, Tap uses recycled/recyclable materials whenever possible and recycles over 600 tons of material annually.

Individual Wealth Preservation

Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP)

ESOP was founded in 1993 to address the issues and challenges facing neighborhoods in Cleveland, Ohio. Formerly East Side Organizing Project, ESOP changed in name in 2007 to reflect its broadened focus toward the entire state. Its core goal is to preserve homeownership by preventing foreclosures and curbing predatory lending practices. Through community organizing, ESOP maintains campaigns concerning payday loans, vacant properties, and local development. ESOP also offers housing counseling and can directly negotiate with lenders to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. In 2002, ESOP negotiated a 5-year Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) agreement with Charter One bank—the first CRA agreement between a bank and a community group in Cuyahoga County in over a decade.

Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland

Founded in 1975, Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland aims to help people achieve and maintain homeownership through a range of programs and services, including homebuyer education, down payment assistance, foreclosure intervention, reverse mortgage counseling, home improvement loans, and credit counseling.  Since merging with the Community Land Trust of Greater Cleveland in 2011, it has used the land trust to develop seven, permanently affordable, energy-efficient homes. NHSGC’s initiatives are also credited with contributing over $105 million to the Greater Cleveland economy, generating $14 million in tax revenues, and sustaining 153 jobs on an annual basis.

Local Food Systems

Gardening for Greenbacks

Aiming to establish Cleveland as a model local food system and ensure all city residents have access to fresh, healthy and affordable food, this city program offers grants of up to $3,000 to members of cooperatives and community supported agriculture programs.  Participants can use the grants to purchase equipment needed to grow or sell produce, such as tools, display tables/booths, irrigation systems, rain barrels, greenhouses, and signage.

Rid-All Green Partnership

Founded in 2010, Rid-All Green aims to transform Cleveland communities through urban agriculture.  Its projects are located within the City of Cleveland’s Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone, a 28-acre vacant tract in a disinvested, inner-city neighborhood.  To date, the organization has developed a 1.3-acre farm, which is credited with creating four new jobs, harvesting more than 4,000 tilapia fish and more than 14,000 pounds of produce, and processing up to 40,000 pounds of food waste per week.  As a regional training center for the Milwaukee-based Growing Power, it also has trained over 150 people in urban agriculture techniques.

Municipal Enterprise

Cleveland Public Power

Founded in 1906, Cleveland Public Power is Ohio's largest public power company and the 35th largest in the nation. In the 1970s, the city was almost forced to sell the company. In 1977, then Mayoral candidate (now Congressman) Dennis Kucinich (D) ran on a platform to stop the sale. Two years later, city residents voted 2-to-1 against privatizing their municipal power system. In 1986 then-Mayor (now U.S. Senator) George Voinovich (R) introduced legislation to enable the utility to expand its service system. Read more about Cleveland Public Power...

New State & Local Policies

Local and Sustainable Purchasing Preference

In 2010, the City of Cleveland adopted a Local and Sustainable Purchasing ordinance, which offers a bid incentive to local producers, local-food purchasers, and sustainable businesses applying for city contracts. Known as the Buy Local ordinance, this policy enables the city to apply a two percent discount on all bids made by businesses that are sustainable, locally-based, and/or purchase 20 percent of their food locally. Preferences can be combined for a maximum discount of four percent.

Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone

By changing the zoning code to permit urban agriculture as a permanent land use, the City of Cleveland catalyzed the creation of its Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone in 2010.  Encompassing 28 acres of vacant land in a “forgotten” inner-city neighborhood, the zone currently includes Rid-All Green Partnership’s urban farm and a farming incubator for local gardeners.  Burten, Bell, Carr Development serves as the Zone’s “facilitator,” a role that encompasses promoting the district, attracting resources, and planning for new development.  Future plans include acquiring additional vacant tracts and developing an Urban Ag Zone Greenhouse Training Program, which will include a food preparation kitchen, a retail store, interior urban gardens, a second aquaponics system, and training for those interested in urban agriculture careers.

Program Related Investments

George Gund Foundation, Program Related Investments

The George Gund Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to investment in Cleveland, is a leader among regional foundations in using program-related investments to leverage foundation assets in support of community wealth-building projects. The Foundation's first PRI was made in 1984 when $333,000 was loaned to the Famicos Foundation for construction of the Lexington Village Project, a 183 unit housing development in the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland. Since then, nearly 26 separate PRI transactions have been completed. Read more about George Gund Foundation, Program Related Investments...

Social Enterprise

Bridgeport Café

Launched in 2012 by Burten, Bell, Carr Development (BBC) in an effort to create a healthy alternative to traditional fast-food establishments that are overly prevalent in the neighborhood, Bridgeport Café serves a variety of healthy foods and sells fresh, locally-grown produce directly to area residents.  The Café is located in CornUcopia Place, a community facility also developed by BBC that offers nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, a harvest preparation station for local market gardeners, and space to the community on a rental basis.  In 2013, the Café began a food truck program, known as the Mobile Market, which circulates through the community to ensure as many residents as possible can access fresh produce.

Vocational Guidance Services (VGS)

Headquartered in Cleveland, Vocational Guidance Services (VGS) is a nonprofit that provides a comprehensive range of free vocational rehabilitation services to nearly 5,000 individuals with barriers to employment on an annual basis.  Social enterprises, through which clients gain on-the-job experience, are a key part of its approach.  Operating in a variety of industries including custodial, sewing, packing/assembly, machining/inspection, and food services, VGS’ social enterprises are credited with employing more than 1,500 people and paying more than $9 million in wages a year.

Transit-Oriented Development

HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit

Cleveland’s HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) connects Cleveland’s two major economic hubs:  the downtown district and University Circle, which includes a cluster of universities, hospitals, and cultural institutions. The BRT line is a centerpiece of City efforts to use transit to support development along Euclid Avenue, which connects the two employment districts.  The transit agency has estimated that the $168 million project has helped support broader economic activity to the tune of $4.3 billion.

University & Community Partnerships

Center for Nonprofit Policy & Practice, Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University has been a national leader in university-community partnerships, with efforts dating back to the 1970s. The Center for Nonprofit Policy & Practice (CNP&P) at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University, arose from the College's involvement with community and neighborhood organizations. The CNP&P was founded to support and foster local nonprofit activity. Read more about Center for Nonprofit Policy & Practice, Cleveland State University ...

NewBridge Center for Arts and Technology

Based on Bill Strickland’s successful Manchester Bidwell job training program, NewBridge Center provides career training for adults and after-school arts programs for urban high school students.  Its adult training programs are designed to meet the employment needs of local hospitals and other institutions and focus on jobs that offer above-average wages, benefits, and opportunities for advancement. At present, New Bridge offers two adult workforce development programs for phlebotomy technicians and pharmacy technicians, both of which provide living wage jobs at area hospitals. In keeping with Strickland’s belief that environment shapes behavior, all NewBridge classes are held in a contemporary high-tech building, filled with art and light.

Social Enterprise

Bridgeport Café

Launched in 2012 by Burten, Bell, Carr Development (BBC) in an effort to create a healthy alternative to traditional fast-food establishments that are overly prevalent in the neighborhood, Bridgeport Café serves a variety of healthy foods and sells fresh, locally-grown produce directly to area residents.  The Café is located in CornUcopia Place, a community facility also developed by BBC that offers nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, a harvest preparation station for local market gardeners, and space to the community on a rental basis.  In 2013, the Café began a food truck program, known as the Mobile Market, which circulates through the community to ensure as many residents as possible can access fresh produce.

Vocational Guidance Services (VGS)

Headquartered in Cleveland, Vocational Guidance Services (VGS) is a nonprofit that provides a comprehensive range of free vocational rehabilitation services to nearly 5,000 individuals with barriers to employment on an annual basis.  Social enterprises, through which clients gain on-the-job experience, are a key part of its approach.  Operating in a variety of industries including custodial, sewing, packing/assembly, machining/inspection, and food services, VGS’ social enterprises are credited with employing more than 1,500 people and paying more than $9 million in wages a year.

Community Development Corporations (CDCs)

Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Incorporated (BBC)

Founded in 1990, Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Incorporated (BBC) is a non-profit neighborhood development organization focused on empowering Cleveland citizens and revitalizing the blighted, underserved Central, Kinsman, and Garden Valley neighborhoods.  To do so, BBC is engaged in a range of initiatives including housing and commercial development, streetscape improvements, youth recreation and education, community security, healthy food access, social enterprise (such as the Bridgeport Café), business development services, and homeownership and financial education workshops and counseling.

Cleveland Housing Network

Cleveland Housing Network, founded in 1981, is a coalition of 15 CDCs and 130 multi-cultural staff that develop affordable homes and provide training and counseling services to help Cleveland families escape poverty and build wealth. Since 1981, Cleveland Housing Network and its member CDCs have helped generate over $620 million in investments in Cleveland neighborhoods. Read more about Cleveland Housing Network ...

Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation (FRDC)

Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation (FRDC) is a CDC focused on strengthening Northeast Ohio.  Since 1996, FRDC has produced over 348 new single-family homes and 100 multi-family units, and rehabilitated over 650 additional units.  An important initiative it administers is the Greater Circle Living program, which offers financial assistance and other supports to encourage people working at institutions within the Greater University district to live near their place of employment.  FRDC’s comprehensive work also includes neighborhood cleanups, home energy assistance, after-school activities for youth, and a range other health, wellness, and community-building programs.

Famicos Foundation

Founded in 1969 in response to poverty and civil unrest, the Famicos Foundation has acquired, renovated, or constructed over 700 units of affordable housing. The CDC owns and operates 326 units of affordable housing in Cleveland and also manages 276 Cleveland Housing Network lease purchase homes. Read more about Famicos Foundation...

Neighborhood Progress, Inc.

Neighborhood Progress is a regional organization that acts as a local intermediary, raising funds from corporate, foundation, and city sources and offering operating support and technical support to CDCs throughout the city. It currently provides $1.5 million per year to Cleveland CDCs, as well as up to $5 million per year in low-interest loans for neighborhood development. Neighborhood Progress and its local partners have developed over 7,400 affordable homes. Read more about Neighborhood Progress, Inc. ...

University Circle, Inc.

Founded in 1957 as University Circle Development Foundation to administer the first Master Plan for the University Circle district, the group was restructured in 1970 as University Circle Inc. (UCI) so that it could have a more pro-active role in the area’s development.  In 2007, UCI launched a Five-Year Action Plan focused on building a safe, clean, and attractive neighborhood on the foundation of the University Circle anchor institutions and partner businesses.  To do so, its current work includes facilitating, supporting, and leading economic development initiatives; providing the direct services needed to maintain a clean, safe and attractive district and to help its partner organizations save resources (e.g., cooperative purchasing); and advocacy to attract more people to the district.

University & Community Partnerships

Center for Nonprofit Policy & Practice, Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University has been a national leader in university-community partnerships, with efforts dating back to the 1970s. The Center for Nonprofit Policy & Practice (CNP&P) at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University, arose from the College's involvement with community and neighborhood organizations. The CNP&P was founded to support and foster local nonprofit activity. Read more about Center for Nonprofit Policy & Practice, Cleveland State University ...

NewBridge Center for Arts and Technology

Based on Bill Strickland’s successful Manchester Bidwell job training program, NewBridge Center provides career training for adults and after-school arts programs for urban high school students.  Its adult training programs are designed to meet the employment needs of local hospitals and other institutions and focus on jobs that offer above-average wages, benefits, and opportunities for advancement. At present, New Bridge offers two adult workforce development programs for phlebotomy technicians and pharmacy technicians, both of which provide living wage jobs at area hospitals. In keeping with Strickland’s belief that environment shapes behavior, all NewBridge classes are held in a contemporary high-tech building, filled with art and light.

Anchor Institutions

Cleveland Clinic

As the largest employer in the region procuring more than $1.5 billion in goods and services on an annual basis, Cleveland Clinic has worked more consciously over the past several years to support its surrounding region.  For example, it has altered its purchasing to support local and minority vendors, spending more than 10 percent directly in Cleveland and 17 percent in NE Ohio in 2010.  Cleveland Clinic has also supported several neighborhood revitalization initiatives, including the Greater Circle Living program and Evergreen Cooperatives, and has increasingly worked closely with Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation in the neighboring community.

Cleveland Foundation

The oldest community foundation in the country, the Cleveland Foundation was established in 1914 to pool the charitable resources of Cleveland’s philanthropists into a permanent endowment for the betterment of the city.  The Cleveland Foundation currently has assets of $1.87 billion and has made over $1 billion in grants.  One of its priorities is the Greater University Circle Initiative, which has generated hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment in the community by leveraging the economic strength of the area’s large anchor institutions.  Through this initiative, the foundation played a key role in catalyzing the Evergreen Cooperatives.  Another unique program is Neighborhood Connections, which has made over 1,600 small grants totaling over $5 million since 2003 to support the ideas and projects of community residents.

University Hospitals (UH)

The second largest employer in Northeast Ohio with more than $800 million in purchasing, University Hospitals intentionally strives to leverage its economic impact to improve the local economy.  Its Vision 2010 initiative, which laid the foundation for a ground-breaking, citywide Community Benefits Agreement, set specific goals to procure from local, minority- and women-owned businesses and continues now to create new supplier capacity within the city.  Most recently, UH used its purchasing power to persuade a key supplier, Owen & Minors, to move its operations into Cleveland's urban core. UH has also been a key supporter of the Evergreen Cooperatives, investing more than $1 million in Evergreen's internal loan fund and through its efforts to direct procurement.

Municipal Enterprise

Cleveland Public Power

Founded in 1906, Cleveland Public Power is Ohio's largest public power company and the 35th largest in the nation. In the 1970s, the city was almost forced to sell the company. In 1977, then Mayoral candidate (now Congressman) Dennis Kucinich (D) ran on a platform to stop the sale. Two years later, city residents voted 2-to-1 against privatizing their municipal power system. In 1986 then-Mayor (now U.S. Senator) George Voinovich (R) introduced legislation to enable the utility to expand its service system. Read more about Cleveland Public Power...

Individual Wealth Preservation

Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP)

ESOP was founded in 1993 to address the issues and challenges facing neighborhoods in Cleveland, Ohio. Formerly East Side Organizing Project, ESOP changed in name in 2007 to reflect its broadened focus toward the entire state. Its core goal is to preserve homeownership by preventing foreclosures and curbing predatory lending practices. Through community organizing, ESOP maintains campaigns concerning payday loans, vacant properties, and local development. ESOP also offers housing counseling and can directly negotiate with lenders to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. In 2002, ESOP negotiated a 5-year Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) agreement with Charter One bank—the first CRA agreement between a bank and a community group in Cuyahoga County in over a decade.

Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland

Founded in 1975, Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland aims to help people achieve and maintain homeownership through a range of programs and services, including homebuyer education, down payment assistance, foreclosure intervention, reverse mortgage counseling, home improvement loans, and credit counseling.  Since merging with the Community Land Trust of Greater Cleveland in 2011, it has used the land trust to develop seven, permanently affordable, energy-efficient homes. NHSGC’s initiatives are also credited with contributing over $105 million to the Greater Cleveland economy, generating $14 million in tax revenues, and sustaining 153 jobs on an annual basis.

Cooperatives (Co-ops)

Evergreen Cooperatives

Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the Evergreen Cooperatives are pioneering models of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability. Their companies are employee-owned and for profit and are proud to say they are based locally and hire locally. The create green jobs that are meaningful to the Cleveland community and keep important financial resources within the Greater University Circle Neighborhoods. Worker-owners at Evergreen earn a living wage and are able to build equity in the firms as owners of the business. 

  Read more about Evergreen Cooperatives...

Ohio City Bike Co-op

In the spring of 2001, a volunteer group of cyclists began an informal Earn-a-Bike program, teaching neighborhood kids bike repair and safe riding skills. In 2002, incorporated as the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC), the group secured a storefront where it could renovate and sell its surplus of donated used bikes to cover expenses, and started a membership program to attract additional volunteers. Over time OCBC has expanded its Earn-a-Bike program, and is now teaching courses at schools and recreation centers, primarily on a fee-for-service basis. Read more about Ohio City Bike Co-op...

Steiner House Cooperative

Founded in the 1940s, Steiner House is a 21-member university student-run housing cooperative at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The 70 year-old cooperative regularly attracts international students from around the world to come together under one roof to live together. Read more about Steiner House Cooperative ...

Worker Cooperatives

Evergreen Cooperatives

Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the Evergreen Cooperatives are pioneering models of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability. Their companies are employee-owned and for profit and are proud to say they are based locally and hire locally. The create green jobs that are meaningful to the Cleveland community and keep important financial resources within the Greater University Circle Neighborhoods. Worker-owners at Evergreen earn a living wage and are able to build equity in the firms as owners of the business. 

  Read more about Evergreen Cooperatives...

Local Food Systems

Gardening for Greenbacks

Aiming to establish Cleveland as a model local food system and ensure all city residents have access to fresh, healthy and affordable food, this city program offers grants of up to $3,000 to members of cooperatives and community supported agriculture programs.  Participants can use the grants to purchase equipment needed to grow or sell produce, such as tools, display tables/booths, irrigation systems, rain barrels, greenhouses, and signage.

Rid-All Green Partnership

Founded in 2010, Rid-All Green aims to transform Cleveland communities through urban agriculture.  Its projects are located within the City of Cleveland’s Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone, a 28-acre vacant tract in a disinvested, inner-city neighborhood.  To date, the organization has developed a 1.3-acre farm, which is credited with creating four new jobs, harvesting more than 4,000 tilapia fish and more than 14,000 pounds of produce, and processing up to 40,000 pounds of food waste per week.  As a regional training center for the Milwaukee-based Growing Power, it also has trained over 150 people in urban agriculture techniques.

Program Related Investments

George Gund Foundation, Program Related Investments

The George Gund Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to investment in Cleveland, is a leader among regional foundations in using program-related investments to leverage foundation assets in support of community wealth-building projects. The Foundation's first PRI was made in 1984 when $333,000 was loaned to the Famicos Foundation for construction of the Lexington Village Project, a 183 unit housing development in the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland. Since then, nearly 26 separate PRI transactions have been completed. Read more about George Gund Foundation, Program Related Investments...

Transit-Oriented Development

HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit

Cleveland’s HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) connects Cleveland’s two major economic hubs:  the downtown district and University Circle, which includes a cluster of universities, hospitals, and cultural institutions. The BRT line is a centerpiece of City efforts to use transit to support development along Euclid Avenue, which connects the two employment districts.  The transit agency has estimated that the $168 million project has helped support broader economic activity to the tune of $4.3 billion.

New State & Local Policies

Local and Sustainable Purchasing Preference

In 2010, the City of Cleveland adopted a Local and Sustainable Purchasing ordinance, which offers a bid incentive to local producers, local-food purchasers, and sustainable businesses applying for city contracts. Known as the Buy Local ordinance, this policy enables the city to apply a two percent discount on all bids made by businesses that are sustainable, locally-based, and/or purchase 20 percent of their food locally. Preferences can be combined for a maximum discount of four percent.

Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone

By changing the zoning code to permit urban agriculture as a permanent land use, the City of Cleveland catalyzed the creation of its Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone in 2010.  Encompassing 28 acres of vacant land in a “forgotten” inner-city neighborhood, the zone currently includes Rid-All Green Partnership’s urban farm and a farming incubator for local gardeners.  Burten, Bell, Carr Development serves as the Zone’s “facilitator,” a role that encompasses promoting the district, attracting resources, and planning for new development.  Future plans include acquiring additional vacant tracts and developing an Urban Ag Zone Greenhouse Training Program, which will include a food preparation kitchen, a retail store, interior urban gardens, a second aquaponics system, and training for those interested in urban agriculture careers.

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Oswald Companies

The original Oswald Company was formed in 1893. In 1985, the insurance broker company established an employee stock ownership plan for its employees. Oswald's 100-plus workers now own 30 percent of the company. Read more about Oswald Companies ...

Tap Packaging Solutions

Tap Packaging Solutions was recently established to consolidate The Chilcote Company's operating divisions. The company, established in 1906, produces a variety of photography, printing, and presentation-related products and has annual sales of $55 million. Chilcote's 200-plus employees own a 33 percent share in the company.  Demonstrating its commitment to environmental stewardship, Tap uses recycled/recyclable materials whenever possible and recycles over 600 tons of material annually.