Evelyn Burnett and Mordecai Cargill
Jacques D. Evans
Dr. Joseph Coney
André “Deloris” Griffin
Hidden Philanthropist Jan Thrope builds bridges between police and teens. She eliminates racism and inspires hope. She also runs the Giving Circle which pulls together givers and community members seeking funds to make their community dream of change a reality.
Thrope has been said to, “Look into your eyes and speak a personal, almost prophetic, message of hope that encourages you to do the good that you believe in.” She personally invites people to her Giving Circles and gives everyone a
An amazing connector, Thrope created the Reverse Ride-a-Long which takes new police recruits on a trip around Cleveland to meet and hear some of the best youth organizations.
Thrope wrote the book, Inner Visions of Cleveland, and knows all of Cleveland’s nooks and crannies of goodness.
Emerging Philanthropist Waverly Willis has a passion to address social determinants of health and high blood pressure prevention and awareness through the Barbers, Beauties and Blood Pressure Program. She does this in collaboration with the American Heart Association and the Check. Change. Control community-based blood pressure management initiative.
Willis’ vision is to prevent life threatening medical situations stemming from high blood pressure, such as heart disease and stroke. Reaching clients in the urban community can reduce the risk facing many minorities and possibly save lives. One of the project goals is to encourage individuals to become more proactive, responsible and become advocates of their overall health and wellness.
Participating shop locations in the Greater Cleveland area received supporting informative literature for the project including brochures, American Heart Association materials, assessments and sign in sheets. The program is set up for self-service in addition to scheduled placement of volunteers to assist clients with health questions and one on one consulting.
Waverly is a local business owner who has a genuine passion for creating a healthier community through the work of The Urban Barber Association (an organization that he founded) and Urban Kutz Barbershops (owner). He has used his community influence and concern for others to create a powerful health.
Jowan Smith noticed, in raising her teenage son, that there are many young me in the African-American community which aren’t learning male etiquette. She started 1000 Ties, a new initiative which enlists male adult volunteers to teach young men etiquette while developing mentors at the same time.
February 23, 2019 was the first “1000 Ties” event aimed at 125 young, African-American men ages 7 – 20. Held at East High School, the event featured as its keynote speaker Dr. Antoine Moss, three workshops: How to Love Yourself, Male Etiquette and Why Wearing a Tie is Important and Cool. The young men
learned how to tie a tie and were given three to take home. Over 3,000 ties were donated from various sites and individuals.
For the moms who accompanied their sons or volunteered for the event, a licensed school psychologist facilitated a discussion on raising young men The day ended with an open forum, with young men sharing their takeaways.
Emerging Philanthropist Stephanie Wahome-Lassiter promotes mental, emotional and physical health education and opportunities for youth and adults in underserved communities.
Over the past eight years, Wahome-Lassiter has volunteered to create, organize and grow a team of over 80 committed volunteers to provide health summits, ongoing programming and mentorship for over 8,000 youth in Greater Cleveland. The organization, All About Your Health was created when several of her mentees asked, “How can we get our peers to learn about and experience
good programs in our city so they can live healthier and longer lives?”
All About Your Health is an organization that is volunteer-based and was built through a collaboration of many colleagues, organizations and community members of all ages.
Clarissa Russell is an Emerging Philanthropist who engages youth and adults in the Greater Cleveland area in health centered programming through organizing Boys and Girls Health Summits.
Over the last eight years, Clarissa has worked in collaboration with others to organize over 14 city-wide health summits that engages 400-800 young people and adults. Clarissa recruits volunteers, organizations, facilitators and works in collaboration with a team to create a program. All of this work is volunteer based.
Over 8,000 young people and parents have been connected to mentors, programs and organizations to enroll into throughout the community.
Clarissa communicates over social media, emails, phone calls, and newsletters. She is very positive, uplifting and supportive. She shares the work she knows through social media, workshops and at other programs that she volunteers or attends.
She donates her time to recruit workshop presenters, create a program and identify venues that are interested donating space for the city-wide events.
Young Philanthropists Evelyn Burnett and Mordecai Cargill are the founders of ThirdSpace Action Lab, created to disrupt the vicious cycle of disinvestment and displacement that negatively impacts the vitality of low-income communities of color.
They founded a grassroots research, strategy & design cooperative, dedicated to prototyping creative place-based solutions to complex socioeconomic problems. They are institutional and community organizers, turning multidisciplinary research into evidence-based strategies; and activating “thirdplaces” to co-creating more liberated spaces for people of color.
Burnett and Cargill believe that the future of Cleveland’s neighborhoods depend on collective efforts to transcend the limitations of the popular imagination and consider what will be possible if we insist on the beauty of forgotten places, the value of the people who live there, and seize the opportunity to realize shared visions for an equitable and inclusive society.
Racial equity and inclusion, believe Burnett and Cargill, are central, non-negotiable components of a viable growth strategy. A human-centered design framework applied in communities of color should be inspired by all residents – especially those who called their place home before its revitalization.
Burnett and Cargill believe in the sanctity of humanity – that all humans have intrinsic value, deserve beauty, and need more than their basic needs satisfied.
Emerging Philanthropist LaRese Purnell connects the community with Black-owned businesses and teaches others the importance of saving, giving back and investing.
As founder of The Real Black Friday (TRBF), he promotes community growth and togetherness. TRBF has numerous functions throughout the year to connect black owned businesses with each other and the community. Examples are Christmas toy drives, voting initiatives to educate the community on the current issues on the ballot, business expos, workshops and networking events. TRBF is constantly looking and finding ways to engage the community, encourage others and to support and engage everyone on business and growth.
Many people look for guidance and leadership in the community and turn to TRBF for insight and direction because of the resources they have access to in order to help others on their journey.
Chantal Brown is a Shaw High School senior and an integral member of the original Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice (EYEJ) Impact 25 Youth Council. Recommendations and discussions regarding police/youth relationships, toxic stress and youth independence (life skills) promotion, research and implementation in the Cleveland community is the organization’s focus.
Chantal has spoken at many events including seminars for the Cleveland Police Foundation, written articles for The Plain Dealer, and spoken to Senator Sherrod Brown and his team about what youth are facing in Cleveland.
Chantal is honest, thoughtful, educational and informative. She knows how to create a story so that people can understand. She represents all youth in Cleveland. She is not afraid to explain the issues and story of Cleveland youth to individuals at any level.
Emerging Philanthropist nominee Andre Morton was motivated to do something about the high numbers of children and adults drowning in the African-American community. He created Rhythm and Strokes, a free program that promotes health and water safety through swimming lessons and water exercise. The classes are free via the Do It Afraid program.
As a former competitive swimmer, lifeguard and coach, “Coach Andre” understands the importance of water safety and he is a big fan of “each one, teach one.” He teaches his students so they too can share what they learn, so everyone can learn.
Coach Andre provides informative YouTube tutorial videos, and promotes the importance of learning to swim at community events, schools and churches.
Well into a 30-week pregnancy, Kelli Littlejohn, a registered nurse, gave birth to a stillborn child. A beautiful baby girl, she and her husband named her Camryn Averie. Although it wasn’t easy, Kelli wanted to overcome this experience by reaching out to others who had experienced the loss of a baby by
miscarriage or stillbirth.
From her experience she created The Camryn Averie Foundation where she assists others who experienced a stillbirth or miscarriage. Kelli’s family began collecting items to create Camryn Care Bags which contained items to comfort
families. Each bag contained a journal, pen, gel eye mask, relaxing items such as body gel and candles, inspirational readings and wristbands. They were delivered to Hillcrest Hospital Labor and Delivery Unit and OB/GYN offices.
By establishing the foundation, she was able to share with others and provide encouragement and inspiration. Her goal is to have an impact on African American communities. Through her church, she gives free blood pressure readings, shares healthy living and diet literature including resources to get reduced priced or free produce for people in the community including expecting and teenaged mothers.
Kathyrn Hall is a Hidden Philanthropist committed to diversity and inclusion and community engagement. She has volunteered her services to a number of nonprofit organizations over her more than 30-year professional career. Her passion can be traced throughout her professional career: From the Ohio Civil Rights Commission as a Supervisor and Investigator to her current position as
Manager of Diversity at the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.
She was instrumental in bringing the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and was responsible for all aspects of the exhibit including securing corporate funding, developing audience engagement opportunities in support of the exhibit, and promoting the exhibit at a grassroots level to ensure that the broader community would have access. Her efforts resulted in the Museum of Natural History having one of its highest attendances ever for an exhibit.
Over her career many nonprofits have benefitted from her expertise. Her impact is felt in ways large and small: By always reminding organizations of their responsibility to ensure an inclusive environment, including hiring practices and recruitment strategies, as well as to ensure that organizational dollars that are spent, wherever possible, within the community. This was especially true during her time with Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), where she played an important role in the diversity initiative, which included supplier diversity. Ms. Hall’s efforts enabled local women-owned and minority-owned businesses to earn contracts from CWRU that totaled in the tens of millions.
Forever the philanthropist, Kathryn always contributes financially to every nonprofit to which she commits her time and talents. She was instrumental in getting the Board of CEOGC to become more philanthropic by challenging them to give. She was the first to write a check to the organization within months of joining the Board.
Hidden Philanthropist Monica Green’s goalis to raise the consciousness of people in the beauty industry. Her favorite saying is, “This is a career path, not a hustle.” She wants to improve the economic condition of the community by upgrading the professionalism of beauty industry service providers. She has been doing this for over 30 years.
Green has a program called Success Steps where she helps individuals increase their self-worth and net worth. She puts on events in the community where independent startups can get access to consumers and grow their businesses. Over half the individuals who have come through the Success Steps programs now own beauty businesses.
She has the only Cleveland Municipal School District vocational hair program. There has not been a beauty program in Cleveland schools for over 10 years. Her program gives students an opportunity of a lifetime. Once they graduate, they are licensed to work in a salon.
Green obtained her cosmetology license in high school. She holds a bachelors and masters degree. Throughout her journey, she has worked for some of the largest hair care companies in the world. She has consulted multiple salon owners across the country assisting them in scaling their salons.
She has participated in numerous philanthropic opportunities for those who are less fortunate, providing makeovers for entire families.
Young Adult/Professional Philanthropist Danielle Sydnor works to see greater opportunities and economic development for persons of color. For years, Sydnor has volunteered with the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP, ensuring that Black small business owners have advanced opportunities, that children and youth have a fair education, and that our voiceless communities were heard.
Voted as the President of the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP in 2019, her compassionate and listening ear draws people to her. She is a natural problem solver and often looks for issues that can be attacked. Prior to her presidential win, Sydnor was often called upon to address issues that affected the Black community because of her decisiveness and diplomacy.
Sydnor initiated a partnership with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Aramark, and the NAACP for Black restaurateurs to learn about marketing, pitching, and scaling their businesses. 2019 marked the second annual competition that allowed these businessmen and women to hone their craft, get significant exposure, and win a chance to have their business featured in Quicken Loans Arena now the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Eleven-year-old Logan Williams addresses issues concerning homeless adults and children and children in foster care. She created a program called Blanket Blessings where she collected over 300 blankets to give to homeless adults, which she personally handed out. Her project is now a film that was shown at the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival. She keeps care bags in her Mom’s car to give out at random to homeless people on the streets. Logan has chosen to celebrate her birthday by raising money and collecting items to give to homeless adults and children. She has collected over 60 gifts and $200 in gift cards to give away to Laura’s Home and the YMCA.
Children and adults look at Logan as an inspiration. She also performs in various plays by acting and dancing. She encourages the children in her school, her friends and family to do the right thing by helping others. Her actions reflect her kind heart.
Jacques D. Evans, a Young Adult nominee, noticed while in high school at Cleveland Heights, funding options were limited for students that were in pursuit of creating and building a business. This challenge fueled his ambition to create amazing brands and provide money and mentorship to high school students. As a result, in 2017, Evans founded the Golden Opportunity Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 which oversees the Jacques D. Evans Entrepreneurial Grant Program.
Participating students are empowered with the resources to advance their leadership capabilities, build strong relationships and affect positive change through entrepreneurship, all while gaining expertise in life skills that will help them advance their college and career goals.
Evans is also President and Founder of Floh Spirits, a premier brand of Vodka. His leadership has created upward mobility from which the brand has embarked on a global presence. A true visionary, Jacques not only sees the big picture, but he participates in the intricate steps to realize the dream. His competitive advantage comes from taking the necessary risks.
Gaby Taylor was nominated as an Emerging Philanthropist who, along with her classmates at the University in Steubenville, OH, is socially active for causes throughout the greater Cleveland area and beyond.
Gaby helps under-served communities, participates in marches, and other activities where she is constantly giving back. A natural leader, she and her classmates leave the community better than they found it by employing a variety of outreach methods to effectively impact those whom they seek to help.
Active in Christian efforts Gaby focuses on giving her time, effort, expertise and leadership while encouraging others to do the same.
Kevin Johnson, a Hidden Philanthropist, is a reserved and quiet giant in the world of philanthropy and advocacy. He and his wife, Connie founded the Glenwood Fund, a donor-advised fund at the Cleveland Foundation. The fund benefits education.
Established in 2009, The Glenwood Fund, is a combination of Johnson’s alma mater, Glenville High School, and Collinwood High School, his wife’s alma mater.
Johnson also worked with the Cleveland Foundation, to set up a scholarship fund honoring his brother who died in 2008. The Lamont S. Johnson scholarship is awarded to an undergraduate student majoring in speech pathology at Cleveland State University.
The Glenwood Fund, benefits education for minorities from disadvantage areas. Johnson’s leadership is exemplary. His acts of service go beyond his checkbook, as he is an advocate for minorities in the boardroom as well as in community forums. He is a crusader for minorities in tech and leads the charge to connect many startups with funding and resources beyond what is readily available through more typical sources of banks and high interest loans.
Johnson is a mentor who values making positive and productive connections. When there is work to do, he rolls up his sleeves to get the work done.
Joe Hathorn is a Hidden Philanthropist who left his corporate 6-figure job to purchase and run Carnegie Auto Wash and Detail Center. He hires teens and college-age students, mentoring them on work ethics and expectations, discipline, communications, timeliness, and customer interaction.
Many of Hathorn’s employees have gone on to college or employment. They stop back to thank hilm and encourage current employees. His ‘no-nonsense’, tough-love approach produces young people with improved soft-skills that significantly enhance their ability for future higher paying employment.
Soft skills and a keen work ethic are traits that professionals expect. However, youth lack these essential skills. Hathorn is able to use his experience and his approach to effect the changes needed in his employees.
Hidden Philanthropist Chanell Elston is a social worker who works with veterans experiencing homelessness or on the verge of becoming homeless. She has helped veterans secure permanent housing and stabilized medical care. She also provides case management services to those with barriers such as mental health, substance use and legal concerns.
Elston works with those who would naturally be apprehensive accepting services often times because of their mental state or substance use issues.
In addition to her daily work with veterans, Elston also participates in multiple community events centered around veterans in need. She also participates in the breaking barriers events which provides employment services, resume workshops and interviewing opportunities for those with legal barriers.
Demetrius Williams was nominated for developing and implementing a youth wrestling program for underprivileged youths in Cleveland’s inner city while in turn, helping them learn how to take control of their lives. He teaches them how to break the downward cycle, teaching life skills, physical fitness, confidence, compassion, leadership and teamwork.
He planned, organized and assisted in funding a field trip to Earlham College in Indiana for youth students to participate in a week-long Iron Sharpens Iron
Wrestling Camp. This opportunity exposed the children to the college environment, collegiate and semi-professional athletes as well as a diverse array of individuals with similar aspirations involved in wrestling.
Demetrius was inspired by his own personal growth in wrestling and his 5-year-old, (somewhat reclusive) nephew who is now one of the leaders of the restling program. Now in the fourth grade, his nephew is an active participant and has evolved in the sport. He is now confident, socially adept, physically fit and academically motivated.
Active in the community, Demetrius attends Cleveland City Council meetings to promote the programs’ success and goals; gives presentations at elementary schools; meets with parents to share his aspirations and benefits; and attends
Boys and Girls Clubs to speak with the children. He regularly distributes informative literature regularly. Demetrius is enthusiastic, passionate and a true model for the children. He is not only engaging, but a true teacher by keeping youth focused and motivated by utilizing humor via personal and motivational experiences. Demetrius understands that in order for the community to flourish in the future, we have to devote our time and effort into the children.
Lynnie Powell, a Hidden Philanthropist nominee, is a living legacy with an over 25-year commitment to social justice, poverty and policy impacts. She invests her “cultural capital” to ensure that the voiceless and marginalized are always included in conversations about change. Powell combines a rare combination of cultural capital and street smarts with political acumen that has produced successful outcomes. She works through The Board of Elections,
Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, local unions and other organizations to ensure upward mobility for the “least of these”.
Powell served for over 14 years as the Deputy Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and remains politically active with the Ohio Democratic Party. In these roles, she translates the language from community needs to policy. She also intersects those from varying socio-economic and educational levels to ensure that there’s a win. She is a “secret weapon” for the cause of justice with her deep knowledge and insight of the social and political landscape. Without her, many would not have been elected to public office and many more would have remained in systemic poverty. Her continued fight is especially for Black people. She often says of her commitment, “You’ve got to love Black people to fight for them”. Additionally, she’s called on by many around the world to motivate, encourage and advocate. Powell gives from her cultural capital, time, mentoring and serving the community. She gives financially to local grassroots campaigns, organizations and her church.
Emerging Philanthropist Dr. Joseph Coney is a leading Ophthalmologist/Retina Surgeon and Diabetic Specialist in the Greater Cleveland area. He is a humanitarian that often conducts free eye screenings through church health fairs, and has volunteered his services at downtown Cleveland’s Norma Herr Women’s Shelter.
Dr. Coney was a board member, volunteer and contributor to the fundraising efforts of the non-profit organization “Diabetes Partnership of Cleveland.” He is very passionate about correcting and restoring vision loss due to diseases of the retina. He has traveled to Port Au Prince, Haiti for the past five years on a medical missions trip to teach medical school students techniques in eye surgery and provide free health eye care and surgical procedures at a Port Au Prince, Haiti Eye Clinic. He works extremely hard with local ophthalmology practices and pharmaceutical companies to secure free medicines and devices to donate to the Haiti medical mission trip.
As an African-American physician, Dr. Coney insures that all of his patients receive optimum eye care. However, he has an extreme passion for caring for the under-served in the Cleveland community. He has a major impact in Cleveland’s Black Community by providing the best eye care and often provides free eye care to his indigent patients.
Hidden Philanthropist André “Deloris” Griffin and her husband John heeded the call on their life in 2010 and became foster parents to four young girls, all sisters. Their ages were then 7, 7, 8 and 12. The youngest has Cerebral Palsy. She is bound to a wheelchair and has use of one handand little cognitive skills.
Deloris and John have since adopted two of the siblings. Three are now in her permanent care with one enrolled in Notre Dame College. Each weekend she assists other foster parents by providing respite care for them or their children. It is not unusual for there to be up to 10 or more children at a time each weekend in their Cleveland home.
Her daughters experience vacations to many places they may have never seen if they had not been in her care. Gatlinburg, TN, Florida, Atlanta, Alabama are places these girls have experienced. One daughter had the opportunity to sing opera in Italian for the Cleveland Orchestra! She is giving them opportunities
that would definitely not been afforded them otherwise. In her words, “This is something that I don’t have to do, this is something that I get to do. God said take care of the widows and children. There may be a child who couldn’t take affection who is now affectionate. Little steps make a big difference”.