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Current Events and Foundation News

Updated 7/13/2020

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.”

The full press release can be accessed here (PDF).

FYC Press Release image


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.

The full written testimony can be accessed here (PDF).


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.

The full letter can be accessed here (PDF).


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

The full set of recommendations can be accessed here (PDF).


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.

A concept paper outlining school-based testing options can be accessed here (PDF).

School testing


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.

The full Request for Proposals (RFP) can be accessed here (PDF).


CareSource Invests $5 Million into the Lead Safe Home Fund

CareSource, Ohio’s largest managed care organization, has committed $5 million to the Lead Safe Home Fund (the Fund) to provide Cleveland families and property owners with the resources they need to make homes lead safe. This unprecedented investment by a managed care organization to make lead safe home repair loans brings the total pool of dollars in the Fund to more than $25 million.

“Lead poisoning is a public health crisis with a housing solution. When healthcare and community leaders like CareSource invest in projects like this, they underscore that safe housing improves health outcomes,” said Mark McDermott, vice president and Ohio market leader, Enterprise Community Partners, and a member of the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition Steering Committee. “Today’s announcement is both a commitment to Cleveland’s future as well as an invitation to public and private investors, from all sectors, to join us in this critical effort.”

The full press release can be accessed here (PDF).


Preventing lead poisoning at the source

Case Western Reserve University researchers examine implications for lead-safe housing in Cleveland through lens of rental properties and their landlords

More than 103,000 rental units spread across Cleveland proper are potentially vulnerable to lead contamination because they were built before 1978 when lead paint was outlawed. According to a new study from Case Western Reserve University’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, over one-third of these units are in poor condition and of very low market value. This can present the dual challenge of requiring potentially costly repairs in buildings where there is little equity to leverage financing, and results in potential risk of lead poisoning to children who may live in them.

Using a variety of public records—including assessed market value, sales, foreclosure and tax history, code violations, building permits and rental registry data—the researchers examined every rental property in the city from 2016-18 on factors related to the likelihood that the property could have lead-safety problems. Property owners were categorized according to whether they were companies or individuals, the number and types of properties they held and the property values and conditions represented in their portfolios.

“The issue is that the majority of families with young children in Cleveland rent homes in the private rental market,” said Claudia Coulton, the study’s co-author, a Distinguished University Professor and co-director of the poverty center. “Improving these properties—and working with these property owners— is a key element in moving toward a lead-safe Cleveland.”

“The majority of the city’s rental housing stock carries a significant risk of lead exposure to children because of age, deferred maintenance and low-market value, so understanding the rental landscape is crucial,” said Rob Fischer, an associate professor at the Mandel School and study co-author.

The full press release can be accessed here (PDF)

Press release


Mt. Sinai Foundation Appoints New Program Officer

July 13, 2020 (Cleveland, OH)—The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation has appointed Adam Nation to the position of program officer.  Mr. Nation will begin his duties on August 3, 2020.

In January 2020, Mt. Sinai Directors approved an expanded strategic approach that looks beyond grantmaking to improve population health. Central to this expanded vision is a 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.

Mr. Nation holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University. He has over a decade of experience in coalition building, communications, government affairs, and public policy. Among his varied professional experiences, Nation managed the government relations portfolio of a major medical center in Columbus, OH, and helped launch a public-private partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health aimed at primary prevention and early intervention of that city’s most pressing health challenges.

Nation has served in multiple leadership positions in community-based cancer prevention, including with the Illinois Cancer Partnership and Illinois HPV Roundtable. He was a member of the team charged with implementing that state’s comprehensive cancer control plan and led the creation of a nationally-recognized vaccination program in Chicago Public Schools. He also managed business operations for a Chicago-based federally qualified health center (FQHC), overseeing federal reporting, organizational evaluation, and agency-wide patient satisfaction initiatives. Most recently, Nation served as Communications Director for the Cleveland Department of Public Health, leading comprehensive internal and external communications, representing the department publicly, and facilitating the creation and dissemination of the joint Cleveland-Cuyahoga County community health needs assessment and improvement plan.

“We are fortunate to have Adam join our program staff,” said Foundation President Mitchell Balk. “With his appointment, Mt. Sinai is doubling-down on its commitment to pursuing real systems change through convening, advocacy, and strategic grantmaking. Adam’s expertise in both public health and health policy are symbolic of the Foundation’s ongoing evolution from grantmaker to changemaker.” Working with Mt. Sinai Vice President, Strategy, Daniel Cohn, and Program Officer Ali Foti, Nation will support the Foundation’s strategic agenda related to primary prevention, population health, and public policy.