The Ohio General Assembly will soon take up a state capital budget that will top the $2 billion dollar mark. Several health and human service organizations in Greater Cleveland are making the case for why their organizations should receive some of these funds via a community project designation. In the last state capital budget, 13 health and human service projects were funded in Cuyahoga County; totaling just over $5.5 million. These human capital projects seek to enable thousands of Greater Cleveland to fully realize their human potential and thereby to contribute to the economic wellbeing of the community.
The Ohio General Assembly will soon take up a state capital budget that will top the $2 billion dollar mark.
Earlier this year, Community Solutions surveyed Greater Cleveland health and human service organizations to determine which organizations were seeking funding in this upcoming state capital budget. We were interested in how the Covid-19 pandemic had influenced their request, and whether organizations were considering issues related to racial equity, diversity, and inclusion. Fourteen organizations told us that they were seeking $14.6 million in state capital funding. This is not a comprehensive list; there are other requests that were not shared.
Pandemic-influenced Ohio State Capital Budget requests
Jazmin Long, the Chief Executive Officer of Birthing Beautiful Communities which is seeking funding for building a birthing center, stated simply “the COVID-19 pandemic turned our everyday worlds upside down, especially for pregnant people who now are re-examining the risks and benefits of giving birth in the hospital setting and may be seeking alternatives,” like the birthing center that Birthing Beautiful Communities is proposing to build.
Several projects referenced responding to increased demand for behavioral health services in the wake of the pandemic. This includes projects being proposed by The Centers, the May Dugan Multi-Service Center, the Hitchcock Center for Women, and Sisters of Charity Health System. Each of them is remodeling or expanding space to allow them to serve more clients.
Several requests are seeking to mitigate the learning loss that occurred among young people. Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Ohio is seeking funding to establish a new education and wellness center. The Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio is seeking funding for a new facility that would provide STEM programing. New Bridge of Cleveland is seeking capital support to buy their headquarters so they can invest more funds into expanded training program offerings for entry level healthcare careers. University Settlement says their project named “Broadway Rising” in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood will aid their efforts to boost their tutoring curriculum to be more robust and intense and bring the students back to where they should be academically. The YWCA of Greater Cleveland is seeking capital funds to support their programs for homeless youth and youth who may have aged out of foster care.
The Journey Center for Safety and Healing is seeking capital funds to repair their shelter facilities that experienced increased use during the pandemic as incidents of domestic violence spiked during the pandemic. Providence House, a Cleveland crisis nursery, saw demand for their services grow as parents and families need more support because of the uncertainties of the pandemic. Spikes in calls and service inquiries are also driving a capital funds request from United Way of Greater Cleveland to support their 211 program which last year answered over 100,000 phone calls 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
One of the most pressing needs during the pandemic has been for food.
One of the most pressing needs during the pandemic has been for food, and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, May Dugan Multi-Service Center and University Settlement are seeking capital support to help address that growing need. It was hoped that demand might start to subside as the pandemic diminished. Unfortunately, that is not the case and demand has started rising again as federal aid ends, and surging food inflation steals money out of the pockets of low-income people.
Addressing racial equity, diversity and inclusion is increasingly a demand
This is the first state capital budget since the murder of George Floyd and what has been described by some as an awakening to the nature of systemic racism and its insidious effect on our community, state, and country. Because of that Community Solutions was interested in whether groups were thinking broadly about issues of racial equity, diversity, and inclusion as they developed their capital projects and proposals. The short answer, is that they are all thinking about these issues, and many commented on how their projects might address unequal access to services, or restructure services so they were more culturally responsive to Black, indigenous, and other people of color.
Even though women are 47% of the workforce they comprise only 28% of the workers in STEM fields.
Birthing Beautiful Communities said their goal is to “reduce and eliminate racial inequalities in infant mortality, maternal mortality, and ensure all Ohio families experience healthy birth outcomes.” The Centers commented that equity had moved to the core of everything they do including their proposed capital project; “this project aims to help in the fight for health and educational and wealth equity through the three main services we provide. It also addresses equity issues related to mobility by addressing the current accessibility of the building.” Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio wants to increase opportunity for women through their STEM project, saying “women are underrepresented in STEM fields. Even though women are 47% of the workforce they comprise only 28% of the workers in STEM fields. We say those are jobs for a Girl Scout.”
University Settlement did something not often seen in a non-profit project. The project is guided by a community benefits agreement, which established as an aspirational goal a construction workforce exceeding 35% Black, Indigenous, and people of color, a goal that they have consistently exceeded throughout construction.
The Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the Sisters of Charity Health System commented how they were involving the people they serve in designing their programs and shaping their capital requests; making them more in tune to issues of equity. New Bridge Cleveland said their project would lead to more Black persons being employed in the health care systems which could help dismantle health inequities. The YWCA of Greater Cleveland has been a leader in the fight for racial equity both externally and internally; developing action steps for how each or their program will drive racial equity for participants, staff, and/or the community.
Additional City and County groups are also seeking state capital funds
In early March, the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP), Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, along with the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County leadership picked 10 projects, all but one located in the City of Cleveland, as their “Greater Cleveland state capital budget priorities.” Unlike previous capital budgets, the GCP list did not include any health and human service projects. It may also be the case that elected officials who signed this letter may end up backing some of the health and human service capital requests as well. Local governments throughout Cuyahoga County are also likely to seek state funding for a variety of capital projects, these are often popular with state legislators. Other applicants will include Cleveland’s many arts and culture organizations.
Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services Proposed Community Projects (that we know about)
|Birthing Beautiful Communities||Build a birthing center to help reduce and eliminate racial inequalities in infant mortality, maternal mortality, and ensure all Ohio families experience healthy birth outcomes|
|Hitchcock Center for Women||Remodel or expand space to serve more clients|
|Sisters of Charity Health System||Remodel or expand space to serve more clients|
|Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Ohio||Establish a new education and wellness center|
|Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio||Build a new facility to provide STEM programming to address the underrepresentation in STEM fields|
|New Bridge of Cleveland||Buy their headquarters to expand training programs for entry level healthcare careers, that more Black persons will become employed in the health care systems which could help dismantle health inequities|
|The Centers||Equity projects to support health, educational and wealth equity; issues related to mobility by addressing the current accessibility of the building|
|University Settlement||“Broadway Rising” program in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood to boost their tutoring curriculum|
|YWCA of Greater Cleveland||Support programs for homeless youth and youth who may have aged out of foster care|
|Journey Center for Safety and Healing||Repair shelter facilities that experienced increased use as incidents of domestic violence spiked during the pandemic|
|Providence House||Grow and strengthen the crisis nursery to support parents and families after the uncertainties of the pandemic|
|United Way of Greater Cleveland||Support the 211 program which saw a spike in demand in calls and service inquiries last year, with over 100,000 phone calls 7 days a week, 24 hours a day|
|Greater Cleveland Food Bank||Programs to combat food insecurity, a growing and on-going concern during the pandemic|
|May-Dugan Multi-Service Center||Remodeling or expanding space to allow them to serve more clients|