Trends for Fall (Ball) 2015

I’ve had conversations with many of the Millennial staff members here at United Way of Greater Cleveland and one question remains; what will we wear to Fall Ball?

Rock the Red CarpetFall Ball is the annual fundraiser for United Way’s Young Leaders. This year’s event is at the House of Blues Saturday, October 17, and the theme is Rock the Red Carpet. But what fall trend should attendees “rock”?

Autumn is often the equivalent of trendy styles and many are suitable for Fall Ball’s semi formal atmosphere.

For the ladies: Women's Fringe

  • Handbags, shoes and dresses all come adorned in fringe and add a touch of playfulness to your outfit.
  • History repeats itself and this season flash backs to the 70s with high waists and flare trousers.
  • Swap the pastel colors for darker hues. Floral blouses or maxi and skater skirts are popular for autumn in shades of green, navy and violet.

For the fellas:Men's Plaid

  • Shades of green are popular this fall, especially olive tones.
  • Turtlenecks are versatile. Wear one to Fall Ball in any color or pattern and it can be worn alone or paired with a blazer.
  • Plaid is also a versatile, trendy style this fall. Patterned shirts, jackets and slacks are sure to add interest to your Fall Ball attire.

Since we’re talking trends, here’s a startling one. Did you know kids from low-income households are less likely to read at grade level and more at risk of dropping out of high school than their counterparts born to parents with moderate to high incomes? That’s why Young Leaders are devoting time, voice and dollars (including all proceeds from Fall Ball) to close the low-income achievement gap in our community. Young Leaders have made this commitment to Greater Cleveland.

So, before you figure out what to wear, join us in this important cause. Purchase a single ticket for $95 or a pair for $175. Keep your eye out for a flash sale this weekend!

For the second year in a row, Fall Ball features music by DJ Steph Floss plus hors d’oeuvres and endless cocktails. And United Way Young Leaders have teamed up with Uber for discount rides (use code UWGC) and the Hyatt Hotel for discounted room rates.

Check out this video of last year’s event!

We hope to see you October 17 rockin’ the red carpet in your favorite fall fashion trend and supporting Young Leaders’ community commitment!

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School Starts and So Does Attendance Awareness Month

Attendance Awareness Month 2015
Andrew Katusin

If you’re not at work, you can’t get work done. If you’re not at home, you can’t cook dinner or clean. If a student isn’t in school, he or she cannot learn. September is “Attendance Awareness Month” to ensure students start the year strong creating good habits for school attendance. Students who miss 10 percent or more, about 20 days of an academic year, are more likely to fall behind and drop out than students who attend school regularly. If you think about it, 20 days is essentially a month’s worth of school – a significant loss of time in the classroom!

Missing an entire month of anything makes it hard to catch up. Anyone who has taken a week off of work knows what catch-up can look like. In the early years, students with low attendance fall academically behind by about three months over the course of a calendar year with cumulative impact; by the time they reach middle school this gap has increased to almost two years! Two years! Making up this time is a huge challenge, but for some families it’s even harder to get their children to school on-time, every day.

There is a wide array of barriers that make it hard for kids to get to school. Some students miss school because they walk but don’t have a proper winter coat (in Cleveland, no coat = no going outside in January and February). Maybe the student comes from a low-income family with a single-parent working three jobs to put food on the table. For the oldest child this means he or she has to get the younger siblings to school, making the eldest late every day. Or maybe that student also has to work outside the home to help put food on the table.

United Way of Greater Cleveland is working to address this issue on a year-round basis through our Community Impact Agenda. We’re working with children and their families in elementary and middle schools to identify and address factors that may be contributing to attendance problems because we know these are warning signs that put our kids at risk of school failure.

Every member of the community can do something to show education is a priority in your neighborhood. Check and see if your local school has an attendance campaign – call them to see how you can help make sure students start off on the right foot! The Cleveland Metropolitan School District has just launched an intense war on absenteeism called “Get to School – You can Make It” – you can follow them on Instagram and Twitter @Get2SchoolCLE or stop by your local school to pick up a yard sign. This sends the message that education is important for your community.

Kids can’t learn if they’re not in school. The ripple effects of not having a solid education are severe. Support your local schools and make sure kids get there on time, every day.

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Cultural arts enhance summer learning at East Cleveland Academy

Summer learning and retention have been a red-hot focus for United Way of Greater Cleveland this season, with several academic locations engaging students in reading and math during traditional vacation months.

In addition to its academic emphasis, East Cleveland City Schools offered a Cultural Arts Enrichment Academy at Caledonia Elementary School.

Arts3Funded by United Way and operated by the Rainey Institute – which was represented at the event by Lee Lazar, executive director, and Karen Carter, development associate – the summer program added a dozen cultural learning opportunities to the academics for its kindergarten to eighth grade scholars.

On July 22, more than 100 parents and guardians attended the East Cleveland Arts Enrichment Academy’s annual Culminating Program, to see the results of a summer’s hard work.

During the two-hour event, coordinated by Jeanne Lyons and Miriam Livingston, there were demonstrations of sports such as soccer, tennis, basketball and sparring, with students showing basic and complicated passing and ball handling skills.

Some students filled the air with music, through bucket drumming, tap dancing, ballet, Arts2hip-hop dancing and singing. Other scholars contributed original monologues; one group offered a reader theater version of “Gingerbread Man.”

Visual arts were also on display, through exhibits of photography, paintings and 2D and 3D art projects.

Principal Vanessa Moore closed the program, thanking the students, staff, East Cleveland Schools, the Rainey Institute and United Way.

“This summer offered amazing opportunities for our students,” she said. “We are grateful for all the support and help from everyone who made this possible.

Myrna Loy Corley, superintendent of schools for East Cleveland City Schools, said she was extremely proud and impressed by the high attendance rates and the hard work the students and staff displayed.

“These were actively engaged students who found new ways of self-expression,” she said. “It was a major opportunity to present this program this summer.”

To learn more about United Way’s year-’round education initiatives, visit

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Student takes reading to heart, helps Stuff The Bus

Ainsleigh book donationAinsleigh, who will enter eighth grade this fall, is quick to express gratitude for her access to books.

“Some kids don’t get the opportunity to get an education,” she says. “I feel very lucky to go to the school I do and to be able to read and go to the library.”

When Ainsleigh’s father received an email from United Way of Greater Cleveland regarding an opportunity to “Stuff the Bus” with books, he knew the middle child of his five daughters would be inspired.

“Ainsleigh was looking for a summer service project, and I thought Stuff the Bus was perfect for her. It was a quick connection; United Way, books, and kids,” he says. “My wife and I have been United Way donors since 1997. United Way is international, but monies taken in here stay in the local community. And such a high percentage of what is donated to United Way actually gets to the people who need it.”

After seeing the United Way email, Ainsleigh went to her parish pastor and asked for permission to place a book collection bin in the church. A notice was placed in the church bulletin, she made signs for the bin, and within weeks, the collection was overflowing and books were being stacked on the floor. Ainsleigh’s efforts garnered nearly 250 books, and her family donated new ones as well.

“I’ve always had the privilege of reading and I wanted other kids to have that privilege, too,” Ainsleigh says. “It was really satisfying to collect the books. It made me feel good to see it fill up and to know we were helping.”

While the ratio of books to children in middle-income neighborhoods is 13 books to one child, the ratio in low-income neighborhoods is one book to 300 children. United Way of Greater Cleveland led the drive to “Stuff the Bus with Books,” Sunday, June 21, at Progressive Field. Volunteers helped collect and sort more than 10,000 books from dozens of locations, which were then distributed to 23 local schools. Partners included the Cleveland Indians, RTA, UPS and Nationwide, and sponsors Hartland and WKYC.

UPS picked up from more than 30 collection points and delivered the books to Nationwide, whose employees volunteered to sort and box them. Once the books were sorted by grade level they were distributed to local schools and United Way’s summer programs for distribution to the kids. Each kid will receive at least one, and maybe two books.

“The people in our parish are so generous. I love to volunteer and will help whenever I can,” Ainsleigh says.

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Pull up a chair and join us at the public policy table

Anne FeleppelleWe’re so fortunate to live in a generous community with a strong history of philanthropy, a vast network of great organizations, and an army of caring volunteers and advocates who are making a difference in the lives of others.

While philanthropy provides critical funding for health and social services, did you know government funding provides the lion’s share? According to an analysis by The Center for Community Solutions, 25 percent of every dollar invested in health and social services in Cuyahoga County comes from philanthropy, while the remaining 75 percent comes from local, state and federal government funding. Continue reading

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How do we get every child reading at grade level?

Margaret BernsteinGuest blogger, Margaret Bernstein is a local ambassador for literacy. She’s also the director of advocacy and community initiatives at WKYC. 

Teaching Cleveland’s children to love reading could solve a boatload of other problems.

Here’s why: Students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school, studies show. And an estimated two-thirds of students who can’t read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Continue reading

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Determination to Graduation

Orlando - BW ScholarsMy name is Orlando Hopson, an 18-year-old graduate of John Adams High School. Graduation day was just last week and I have no choice but to reflect on the last four years. Those years were full of fun and accomplishment.

Freshman year started off strong; I was doing great. But then I began to slip into peer pressure, socializing with friends and a desire to be popular. Then Principal Damon Holmes stepped in; he introduced a program called Baldwin Wallace Scholars. It was an opportunity that only came around every four years for male, freshman, at-risk John Adams students. The BW Scholars program kept students on track for graduation, and prepared them, us, with the skills and tools needed to be successful in college and life. I signed up. Continue reading

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