Community organizations offer students after school help & more
by Kristin Labuz

(Plain Press, January 2005) Trading morning cartoons for multiplication tables and spelling bees, nearly 60 Cleveland school children file into the basement of University Circle’s Church of the Covenant each Saturday. During two-hour tutoring sessions, students receive individualized help with shoring up on basic skills, completing homework assignments, and reviewing for the proficiency exams.

With the Cleveland Municipal School District expanding class size and eliminating extracurricular activities, the Saturday morning tutoring provides helps that is often not available in the classroom.  
“One seventh-grader I work with tells me she always raises her hand in class, but the teacher never has enough time to give her extra help,” tutor Pavan Thangudu said. “She’s a bright girl, but she’s not getting the things she needs in school. Without tutoring, she would have a lot less confidence in her abilities.”

Last month, Cleveland voters overwhelmingly defeated Issue 112, an operating levy projected to raise $68 million in revenue for the district.  

The failure of Issue 112 marked the latest blow in a string of financial hits to Ohio’s largest school district; Cleveland public schools have also suffered from declining enrollment and reduced property tax revenues.  

According to the financial forecast presented at the Nov. 14 School Board Meeting, the Cleveland Municipal School District currently faces a $25 million deficit, which translates into another round of cuts on everything from teachers to transportation. The deficit also means earlier school closings, decreased enrichment activities, and fewer opportunities for parents to interact with teacher at events like school plays or open houses.  

The impact of Cleveland school district’s financial struggles isn’t just felt in the hallways of public schools - it impacts the entire community. As board chair Dr. Margaret Hopkins said at the meeting, “We as a community need to come together to support our children or we will let another generation of children down.”

In America’s modern mixed economy, public needs are often met by an extensive interaction between government organizations and nonprofit groups. In response to the government failure of Cleveland public schools, many nonprofit and neighborhood organizations that serve children have stepped up to the plate.  

Janice Eatman Williams, Assistant Director for Educational Service-Learning Programs at CWRU’s Office of Student Community Service, anticipated the budget crunch last spring. In response, Williams increased the number of community partners she works with.  

Williams noted that while the school district may be financially strapped, many Cleveland neighborhoods offer a number of “wrap-around” services. “People who value education and children’s development know that teachers don’t have to do everything,” she said. “This city is resource-rich, but [community organizations] can always do more. You can never serve too many children.”

Don Freeman, director of League Park Center, noted parents need to explore options for positive after-school activities. “With extra-curricular activities terminated, parents have to look to neighborhood centers and nonprofit organizations to provide what is not possible at the schools,” he said.  

A spokeswoman for the Cleveland Municipal School District was unable to provide specific information, but noted that the district has successfully partnered with the Cleveland Foundation and the Gund Foundation in the past.  

There are many public-serving, nonprofit organizations throughout the city. To more about available tutoring and after school programs, call Cleveland Reads at 436-2222, or check out services in your neighborhood or online on your computer.  

Kristin Labuz wrote this article special for the Plain Press as part of her coursework in City as a Classroom at Case Western Reserve University. The course, taught by Professor Rhonda Williams, focused on public education this semester.

Educational Youth Resource Guide
Ohio Department of Education: If you want to know what your child needs to learn in every subject, at every grade level, from pre-kindergarten to senior year in high school, there are free resources available for families and students on the Ohio Department of Education website.  A list of the most popular resources for educators and families is available here.

Cleveland Public Library branches offer a number of resources to help students pass the Ohio Proficiency tests. OPTimum and Show What You Know Software to help with the 4th, 6th and 9th grade proficiency tests are available in the Plain Press readership area at the Fulton Branch, 3545 Fulton, and at the Jefferson Branch, 850 Jefferson Ave. The software is also available at the Main Library downtown. Students can practice for the proficiency test on computers at the library branches or check out copies of the software to take home. The library system has also compiled a brochure, “Ohio Proficiency Test Resources at the Cleveland Public Library. To obtain a copy call the Social Science Department at 623-2860 or the Branches and Outreach Services at 623-2822.
Cleveland Public Library Branches also offer a variety of after school activities and workshops for students. Visit your local branch to pick up the latest information.

Brooklyn Branch, 3700 Pearl Road, 623-6927
Carnegie West, 1900 Fulton Rd, 623-6927
Eastman, 11602 Lorain Ave., 623-6955
Fulton, 3545 Fulton, 623-6969
Jefferson, 850 Jefferson, 623-7004
Lorain, 8216 Lorain Ave, 623-7011
South, 3019 Scranton Rd, 623-7060
South Brooklyn, 4303 Pearl Rd, 623-7067
Walz, 7910 Detroit Ave., 623-7095

City of Cleveland Recreation Department facilities offer a number of sports, recreational and learning opportunities for Cleveland children. Note that beginning on January 6th a new policy requires that all patrons age 16 and older will be required to show a photo I.D. when entering a City of Cleveland Recreation Center.

Clark Recreation Center
Location: 5706 Clark Ave.
Phone: 664-4657
Hours: M-F noon – 7:30 p.m.

Cudell Recreation Center
Phone: 664-4137

Estabrook Recreation Center
Phone: 664-4139

Zone Recreation Center
Phone: 664-33-73

For students interested in art, theater, music and other creative pursuits, a number of options exist:

Art House, 3119 Denison, has winter 2005 session art classes for children, teens and adults. Winter session begins January 17 and ends March 12. The winter classes and workshops include: You Can Draw! -Beginning/Intermediate Teen Ages 15 years and up; Preschool Studio! Adults and Children Ages 3-6; Paint and Print the Masters Children’s Class; and Family Clay and Ceramics Workshop – Adults and Children New to Art House, family open studio will be held the first Saturday of every month from 1:30-3:30 p.m. excluding the following dates: January 1, April 2, and July 2, 2005. Family open studio provides a safe and fun environment for families to create art together. There will be self-guided activities at a drawing/painting station, craft station, and clay/ceramics station. Additional fees for ceramic projects.  Fees vary for all open studios, please go to our website,, for more information. To register for a class or workshop please call (216) 398-8556. Art House is open to the public Monday 10 a.m.- 9 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Friday by appointment only, and Saturday 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Cleveland Public Theatre Classes: ACTING AND DANCE CLASSES FOR KIDS AND ADULTS AT CPT! Winter session: Saturdays January 22 – March 12. Modern Dance for Teens, The Playhouse (ages 7-12), Writing for Solo Performance, and Acting for Lawyers. Fees vary per class; discounts available. Call 631-2727 ext.204 for more info or check the Cleveland Public Theatre website at

Cleveland Public Theatre STEP program: For more information about this Theatre Program for teens call Chris Siebert at 631-2727, ext. 201.

Broadway School of Music and the Arts

Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center

Other Community Centers offering after school programs or educational resources are:

Boys and Girls Club (West Side) , 459-2697.

Choices Program/Playhouse: 631-8686.

Church of the Covenant, 11205 Euclid Ave, offers free tutoring for students in grades 1-12 on Saturdays from 10 AM to Noon. Refreshments are provided during study breaks and free bus passes are available for students who need transportation to and from the tutoring sessions. Call 421-0482, ext. 281 to register.

Esperanza, 651-7178

Hispanic Youth Center, 4459-1222.

Merrick House Clark Fulton Center
Location: 3167 Fulton Rd.
Phone: 771-5077
Hours: M-F 2:15 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Ohio City Bicycle Co-op, 830-2667

Safe Haven: Ages 10-17,  3- 7 PM Monday – Thursday. Located at the rear entrance of Bridgeway at 8301 Detroit Avenue. Tutoring, activities and field trips.  Safe Haven is funded through a federal Weed-N- Seed grant.

St. Malachi Center
Location: 2810 Clinton Ave.
Phone: 771-3036
Hours: M-F 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

St. Paul’s Express, St. Paul’s Community Church, Corner of Franklin Blvd and W. 45th. Monday – Friday 2:30 –5:30,  Guys and Gals ages 12-17. Program offers crafts, gym sports, speakers, art, cooking, computers, games and homework help. Extra effort prizes and field trips. St. Paul’s Express is a fun-filled safe placer to be where everyone Directors Gary Mazzeo & Chris Johnson can be reached at 651-6841.

Westown Community Development Corporation Computer Center, 941-6492.

West Side Ecumenical Ministry, 651-2037


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