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Current Events and Foundation News

Updated 6/21/2022

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.


Mt. Sinai Announces 2020 Saltzman Award Recipients

Join us for Channel 3 News at 6 PM, June 23-24, as we salute Cleveland’s Health Heroes and on June 25 when we present them with the 2020 Maurice Saltzman Award as part of the 6 PM news!

The 2020 Maurice Saltzman Award is presented to Cleveland’s Health Heroes who put their lives on the line to care for COVID-19 patients and prevent further spread of the disease. Those honored include not only those working in hospitals, but also those in group homes and long-term care facilities. They include not only doctors, nurses and other caregivers, but sanitation, foodservice and transportation workers, home health workers, public health practitioners and all who have worked tirelessly to keep our communities safe in this time of global crisis.

2020 Maurice Saltzman Award Selection Committee

Enid B. Rosenberg, Chair
Tom Abelson, MD
Nathan A. Berger, MD
Beth Wain Brandon
Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD
J. David Heller
Jeffrey L. Ponsky, MD
Susan Ratner
Ronn Richard
Fred C. Rothstein, MD
Judge Dan A. Polster, Board Chair
Mitchell Balk, President


Study of ‘downstream’ effects of childhood lead poisoning reveals racial, economic disparities in adulthood

20-year study involving more than 10,000 children tracks consequences of lead exposure from birth through early adulthood

A new study from Case Western Reserve University, funded in part by the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, shows that numerous negative issues associated with lead poisoning follow children well into adulthood—building on evidence linking elevated blood-lead levels with a host of harmful outcomes in education, behavior and health.

These so-called “downstream” consequences include increased involvement in the juvenile justice system, adult incarceration and homelessness, according to the study conducted by researchers at the university’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

The findings stem from a research project that—using data over a 20-year period—tracked the life outcomes of more than 10,000 children in Cleveland with elevated blood-lead levels, compared to a control group of students who did not have elevated lead levels. By comparing these carefully matched groups, researchers were able to zero-in on the impact of lead poisoning on both people and public systems.

“The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition believes that no child should ever be lead-poisoned,” said Blaine Griffin, City of Cleveland Councilman and Coalition Steering Committee Member. “This research from Case Western Reserve University underscores the painful reality that lead poisoning not only affects a child’s developing body and robs them of their potential but has a costly impact on our entire community. It doesn’t matter where you live or work—whether you’re a landlord, caregiver, elected official, or resident—we all have a responsibility to address lead poisoning together.”

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

Image of Lead Safe Cleveland press release


Mandel Foundation Approves $5 million to the Lead Safe Home Fund

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation has committed $5 million to the Lead Safe Home Fund, which will provide families and property owners resources to make homes lead safe. This, along with investments from the city of Cleveland, state of Ohio and philanthropic partners, brings the total pool of funds to more than $18 million, according to a news release

“As the COVID-19 pandemic forces us to shelter-in-place, we are reminded how important a safe and decent home is,” stated Mitchell Balk, president of the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation and chair of the governance committee of Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition. “All children, no matter their backgrounds, should be afforded every opportunity to live up to their fullest potential. Lead poisoning is an issue of equity, and now is the time to invest in this most basic human need for children today and into the future.”

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

Mandel Press Release


Mt. Sinai, Partners, announce Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition

Click the video below to listen to Mitchell Balk’s announcement at January 22, 2019, press conference in the rotunda of Cleveland City Hall.


Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition announces inaugural Steering Committee

During the Lead Safe Home Summit (June 21, 2019), Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation President Mitchell Balk announced the creation of the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition Steering Committee.

“The appointment of Steering Committee members marks an important milestone for the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition,” said Balk, who also chairs the Coalition’s Governance Committee. “This group brings to the table a remarkable depth and breadth of leadership, a diversity of lived experiences, and the critical perspectives necessary to address lead poisoning in our community.”

Read the Press Release here (PDF)

Steering Committee Announcement


Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation Appoints Program Officer

January 2, 2019 (Cleveland, Ohio) – Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation President Mitchell Balk announces the appointment of Cleveland native Ali Foti to the position of program officer. Ms. Foti will begin her duties on February 4, 2019.

Ali FotiFoti is a Hawken School alumna and University Hospitals/ Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital NICU graduate. She is currently completing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and is a summa cum laude graduate in Political Science of the University of Michigan.

Among her varied professional experiences, Foti created health equity trainings for cancer care providers as Health Education & Training Coordinator at the George Washington University (GW) Cancer Center. She also oversaw government relations to increase patient access to their health data as Health Information Technology Policy & Outreach Coordinator at the National Partnership for Women & Families. Also in Washington, DC, she served on the Health Equity and Accountability Act Community Working Group and the Consumer Work Group of the Federal Advisory Committee to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. More recently, Foti contributed to capacity-building trainings to support Boston non-profit organizations in planning health promotion programs through the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Center for Community-Based Research.

“Mt. Sinai is fortunate to have someone with Ali’s skills, intellect and passion for improving the public’s health join its program staff,” said Foundation President Mitchell Balk. Working with Mt. Sinai Vice President, strategy, Daniel Cohn, Foti will support the Foundation’s strategic agenda related to primary prevention, population health, and health policy.