Our Evolution to Collaborate Cleveland

Dear Colleagues,

On May 1st we hosted our first public event as Collaborate Cleveland.

You see, for 20 years we were a different organization—one with a different name and primary focus on its donors. But in 2021, we started to ask hard questions. We asked ourselves and community partners, “What are the needs and gaps in our Cleveland community? What are our organizational strengths? How can we be of service?”

What we heard in the many, many external and internal conversations was that our region, like so many others, was failing women. And yet women, especially Black Women in Cleveland, are the heart and soul of our families, communities, and institutions. From our community conversations, we also learned that—though many organizations were working to provide direct services to women or advocating around gender issues—there was not currently a women’s fund (there was one, but it closed in the early 2000’s), local foundation or funder doing their work specifically through a gender justice lens. 

So, we set out, over a more-than-two-year period, to transform our organization to both center and respond to women and gender expansive social change leaders and to fiercely advocate for policies and practices that advance gender justice. 

As many of you know, change is never easy, but, in many cases (including ours), it was necessary.  And so, on May 1st, when we welcomed a sold-out crowd of almost 300, we felt so proud—we were now fully Collaborate Cleveland: For Women, For Community, For All.

Onward we go,

Abby Westbrook
Collaborate Cleveland
Executive Director

For photos of the event by Kamron Khan Photography, see this slideshow.


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