I now own a $20 nametag. I also had an excellent mediterraneanly catered meal from Middle East restaurant. Their grape leaf rolls were the best I’ve had. I also got free parking in downtown Cleveland. [!]
Now that the important stuff is out of the way, I’d like to share my thoughts on my first meeting as an alternate on the Neighborhood Connections Grantmaking and Monitoring Committee which is sponsored by The Cleveland Foundation. Scott Muscatello, a fellow NEO blogger, is also an alternate on the Committee. The Committee is comprised of just under 20 folks who are engaged community leaders in their respective neighborhoods. As soon as I walked in I started networking with the people in the waiting room. Isiah Powell is another new member on the committee and is also doing field coordination for local and statewide politicians. He’s a cool guy. There is a fair representation of both east and west of the river and it is a pretty diverse bunch, which I found heartening. I’m still the youngest person on it, of course.
The GMMC is unique across the country. The members have real ultimate power in determining the logistics of each award. The relationship between The Cleveland Foundation and the members of the GMMC ensures that TCF trusts the decisions we make implicitly. They have a well defined conflict of interest policy, which is pleasing to me.
The grant review process is gruelling. TCF received a record number of applications this year, ensuring that each subcommittee will have around 30 proposals to examine. There is also an extensive interviewing schedule and discernment process. One of the most important things I concluded from the 4 hours I spent at the foundation last night, is that there are no losers in the process. Even those people whose grants are declined are assisted through work shops and other technical matters in order to improve their direction and presentation. I’m looking forward to learning more about Cleveland neighborhoods and the ideas that my fellow Clevelanders have about improving them.