Current Events and Foundation News
Ira C. Kaplan Elected Board Chair
CLEVELAND, OH—Civic leader Ira C. Kaplan has been elected Chair of the 27-member Board of Directors of the Mt. Sinai Health Foundation at the organization’s June 8, 2022, Annual Meeting held at Severance Music Center. He succeeds Judge Dan A. Polster, who served as board chair for three years and who was elected Life Director of the Foundation.
Mr. Kaplan previously served as vice chair and treasurer of the Board of Directors and has been an active member of the Grants Committee and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force. He currently serves as Executive Chairman and Executive Committee Member of the law firm Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, where he focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions as well as public and private debt and equity financings. He has served as Board Chair of the Menorah Park Center for Senior Living and is former Board Chair of Bellefaire JCB and the Wingspan Care Group. For the United Way of Greater Cleveland, Mr. Kaplan currently serves as Vice Chair and previously served as Campaign Co-Chair. He also formerly served as the Board Chair of the Cleveland Leadership Center and Engage! Cleveland. After serving as Chair of the Community Planning Committee and longstanding member of the Board, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland recognized Mr. Kaplan in 2018 with the prestigious Gries Family Award for his lasting impact on Cleveland’s Jewish and general communities. He and his wife Amy reside in Lyndhurst and are the proud parents of three children and a granddaughter.
“Philanthropy is the heart and soul of Cleveland, and Mt. Sinai has been the driving force behind so many high-impact efforts over its 25 year history. Stewarding the Mt. Sinai legacy to care for those who have been historically marginalized is a privilege and responsibility I take very seriously,” Kaplan said. “I am humbled to serve as Board Chair and honored to use this platform to continue to strengthen the Jewish and general communities.”
Other officers elected at the Annual Meeting were James A. Ratner, and Beth D. Rosenberg, vice-chairs; Michael Goldberg, treasurer; and Jeremy A. Paris, secretary. Newly elected Directors include Peter Golden, Jr., MD, J. David Heller, Mariely Luengo, and Alan Rosskamm.
Mitchell Balk, President of the Mt. Sinai Health Foundation, expressed a sense of promise for the organization’s future. “From the darkest moments of the pandemic to the hope of finally achieving a lead-safe Cleveland, the past three years have been truly remarkable under the leadership of immediate past-chair Judge Dan Polster.” He continued, “I know I speak for the entire Mt. Sinai family when I share how excited we are for the leadership of Ira Kaplan and for the new and returning members of our Board.”
Mt. Sinai Board Directors can serve up to three, three-year terms. Officers of the Board of Directors, including the chair, may serve up to three, one-year terms.
Mt. Sinai Foundation Appoints New Program Officer
March 23, 2022 (Cleveland, OH) — The Mt. Sinai Health Foundation has appointed Rachel Oscar to the position of program officer. Ms. Oscar will begin her duties in late April 2022.
In January 2020, Mt. Sinai Directors approved an expanded strategic approach beyond grantmaking to improve population health in Greater Cleveland. Central to this expanded vision is recognition that philanthropy can only go so far in driving health improvement and that cross-sector collaboration, public-private partnerships, and policy change—supported by greater human capital as well as financial capital—are pivotal to creating lasting impact. Program staff expansion is the realization of this enhanced vision.
Ms. Oscar comes to the Foundation from the Campus District, Inc. Community Development Organization where she has served as Director of Programming and Community Engagement for the past five years. In this role she increased collaboration, built relationships and advanced neighbor-identified goals in order to build a stronger connection between institutional and residential members of the Campus District.
Ms. Oscar earned a Bachelor’s Degree in history from Kenyon College and a Master’s Degree in urban planning and development from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. A native Clevelander, Ms. Oscar is a graduate of Gross Schechter Day School and Shaker Heights High School. She grew up at B’nai Jeshurun Congregation and among her many accomplishments, in 2018 co-created Ad HaKol, the Racial Equity Passover Seder, bringing together Jewish Clevelanders and Black Glenville residents to celebrate the Jewish holiday of freedom from slavery.
“We are fortunate to have someone with Rachel’s background join our program staff,” said Foundation President Mitchell Balk. “With Rachel’s appointment, Mt. Sinai is doubling-down on its commitment to pursuing health equity through convening, advocacy, and strategic grantmaking. Rachel’s track record in racial equity reflects the Foundation’s continued movement upstream to address the causes of health disparities that disproportionately burden Black people and other people of color. With Rachel’s unique skills, the Foundation will be even better positioned to support our region’s health and human services agencies in ensuring all Clevelanders have the opportunity to be as healthy as they can be.” Working with Mt. Sinai Vice President, Strategy, Daniel Cohn, and Program Officer Adam Nation, Oscar will support the Foundation’s strategic agenda related to primary prevention, population health, and health policy.
FCCR releases new vaccine uptake initiative RFP
Despite skyrocketing infections, the evidence remains clear: vaccination against the coronavirus drastically reduces the likelihood of symptomatic COVID-19 as well as the likelihood of severe disease and death in cases of so-called “breakthrough” infection. Still, only two-thirds of eligible Cuyahoga County residents and just 39% of Cleveland residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. As of December 2021, some Cleveland census tracts have vaccination rates as low as 12%.
The Funders’ Collaborative on COVID Recovery is seeking proposals from nonprofit organizations aiming to catalyze vaccine uptake at a hyper-local level, with a special focus on neighborhoods where vaccination rates remain far below those of the surrounding area.
Nine (9) grant awards of up to $50,000 are available. Proposals for 6-month projects will be reviewed on a rolling basis through February 25, 2022.
First Year Cleveland Announces New Community-Led Executive Committee
First Year Cleveland (FYC), a public-private partnership aimed at reducing infant mortality and eliminating racial inequities in infant health outcomes, announced the appointment of members to its reconstituted Executive Committee. Installing the new committee will catalyze FYC’s shift in strategic direction to focus on combating racism as a root cause of maternal and infant mortality. Change in the initiative’s governance will be an essential guiding force for FYC’s evolution and a pivotal step to infuse considerations of equity and racial justice throughout its activities.
Expanding from 17 to 20 members, the Committee will lead FYC’s health care delivery and community-driven model of impact to include support for upstream and community-based initiatives that promote prenatal and infant health. The Committee will maintain representation from public and private sectors—including City and County government, health care institutions, and philanthropy—while broadening its decision-making to include Black leaders of nonprofit organizations that promote community health, grassroots organizers, faith-based leaders, social service executives, and policy experts.
“The appointment of new Executive Committee members marks an important milestone for First Year Cleveland,” said Mitchell Balk, President of The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation and Chair of the FYC Governance Committee. The Governance Committee was charged with appointing the new Executive Committee members through a community-wide search and public nomination process. “This group brings to the table a remarkable depth and breadth of leadership, a diversity of experiences, and a commitment to addressing racism, toxic stress experienced by Black people, and other upstream factors that contribute to infant mortality in our community.”
Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition urges Congress to launch national fund
The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition is calling upon the Senate Appropriations Committee to launch a new, $100 million National Lead Safe Home Fund within the Department of the Treasury.
The National Lead Safe Home Fund would provide flexible grant funding to proactively support low-income property owners in making the necessary home repairs to prevent lead poisoning. Many local municipalities have worked to enact statutes that require residential lead hazard inspections, remediation, and certification of lead-safe status, especially in rental properties. However, currently existing resources to support property owners—many of whom are low-income themselves—are not adequate to meet the need. Often, loan criteria cannot be met or the process for accessing funds can be so challenging that the remediation ultimately does not occur.
The new National Lead Safe Home Fund would enable trusted non-profit organizations across the country to disseminate funds to property owners to remediate lead quickly and effectively while also creating sustained jobs for local contractors, inspectors, and other lead safe work professionals. This funding source would complement ongoing efforts through HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes and enable local communities to leverage investments from banks, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), nonprofit health systems and other private-sector agencies to create new home repair financial products that include low-cost, low-dollar loans, grants, and incentives to support home repairs.
In 2020, the Coalition launched a local Lead Safe Home Fund, a first-of-its-kind, public-private partnership that provides incentives, grants, and low-interest loans for low-income property owners to assist with remediating the homes they rent and comply with Cleveland’s new lead safe certification law. Financial supports can be used for inspections, assessments, and the remediation of lead hazards. The Fund is administered by CHN Housing Partners, in collaboration with Environmental Health Watch.
Nearly 100 partners across the country submitted a letter of support to Sen. Sherrod Brown and his Senate colleagues. That letter can be accessed here (PDF).
Mt. Sinai, partners, submit sweeping testimony on State biennial budget
The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation and its grantmaking partners submitted sweeping testimony to the Ohio General Assembly on the State Senate’s substitute bill for the biennial budget.
The Foundation’s remarks highlight urgent matters concerning:
- Affordable housing;
- Medicaid redetermination;
- Conscience clause;
- Step Up to Quality (SUTQ);
- Municipal taxes; and
- Broadband access.
Mt. Sinai, partners, oppose H.B. 248
The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation and its partners in the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund (RRF) submitted to Ohio State Senator their firm opposition to H.B. 284. If passed, the legislation would expose more Ohioans to COVID-19 and would substantially increase the risk for other disease outbreaks. H.B. 248 has the potential to harm the health and safety of communities statewide and disrupt our economy.
Mt. Sinai, partners, submit recommendations to Governor DeWine on the American Rescue Plan
Last week, the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation and its partners in the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund (RRF) submitted to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recommendations for how the administration could deploy American Rescue Plan Act funds to improve conditions across Ohio.
With support from the Center for Community Solutions, the RRF convened more than 100 interested parties, including local government, philanthropy, non-profit, and community-based organizations to identify areas of greatest need and provide recommendations for allowable uses consistent with Federal guidance.
Priority areas included:
- Childhood Well-Being
- Food Security
- Housing Stability
- Public Health
- Workforce Development
Mt. Sinai, partners, work to prototype school-based COVID testing
Mt. Sinai Foundation staff, operating on behalf of the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, are collaborating with Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), MetroHealth System, and Greater Cleveland Congregations to create a school-based COVID-19 testing program. School-based testing will allow CMSD students, families, faculty, and staff to be diagnosed with coronavirus infection, so that they can seek treatment and prevention ongoing transmission. Together with other prevention strategies, school-based testing has proven to reduce outbreaks. Partners have formed a School Testing Task Force to design and deploy a testing prototype, to be scaled across the District in the coming months.
Rapid Response Fund seeks partners for COVID-19 vaccine communications
COVID-19 vaccines are just around the corner for our community. But there is a fine line between availability and access.
That’s why the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund has convened a COVID-19 Vaccine Communications Task Force—comprised of leaders from the faith-based community, health care, government, and community organizing groups as well as resident leaders—to drive the RRF’s vaccine uptake strategy.
Now, the Task Force is seeking one or more firm(s) to assist in delivering a comprehensive COVID-19 vaccine communications and marketing plan that will catalyze vaccine uptake, especially among Black people, immigrants, and other people of color—populations historically skeptical of vaccination due to well-known injustices and personal experiences with mistreatment while navigating the healthcare system.
Please consider applying to partner with us on this urgent journey, or share with your colleagues who might.