You’ve heard of “too big to fail.” Well, Kathy Matthews, program director of the Enterprise Community Partners’ Nurture an Idea Award says the second annual $30,000 prize package is a way of giving small non-profits who “can’t afford to fail” a shot at innovation.
“They may be risk averse,” says Matthews. “We don’t ask if they have other funding; we’re angel investing.”
Last year, Enterprise and Ohio Savings Bank awarded The Warehouse District, for its Small Box, both its jury prize of $10,000 and a $10,000 grant for raising the most money in its crowdsource competition.
Small box upcycled three, metal shipping containers as retail spaces on a parking lot at W. 6th and St. Clair. It will have its ribbon cutting this Thursday, November 6—nearly a year to the day the 2014 competitors will have to close out their fundraising efforts.
Nurture an Idea upped the ante this year—with two $10,000 grants for the projects that garner the most individual support, through Crowdrise, plus the $10,000 jury prize. The deadline for your vote/donation is 11:59 p.m. November 7 (all entries keep their individual donations even if they don’t win).
We spoke to the four finalists in the 2014 Nurture an Idea Competition about what makes their ideas innovative and worthy of your dollars to help them launch.
West Side Bike Share
Ohio City, Tremont and Detroit-Shoreway want to team up to expand the bike share system that a group of small-business owners and non-profits launched on the Near West Side this summer. The area’s community development groups would offer the prize money to business owners to purchase bikes and stations in the network, which is operated by Zagster. Targets for expansion include Gordon Square and points in between.
The founders recently struck deals to expand into University Circle, Tremont and the Warehouse District. The Cleveland Metroparks, a partner who placed a bike share station at Rivergate Park (the west bank) in the Flats, have plans to add at station at Edgewater.
Is this the bike share system that will be built into a Cleveland-wide network like Columbus’ CoGo or Cincinnati’s 300 bike / 30 station Red Bike fleet?
“It’s cheaper per hour than other systems I’ve seen,” says Adam Davenport, a Detroit-Shoreway/VISTA volunteer tasked with the Nurture an Idea project. “Ours have an independent lock so you’re not limited locationally. Columbus spent $2.5 million for its 30 station 300 bike system. It would be nowhere near that cost for Cleveland to reach those numbers.”
The Ohio City initial launch had 36 bikes at six stations. The cost to add a station and bikes is $7,500, Davenport says. The three CDCs would split the $10,000 (or $20,000 if they also win the jury prize) into at least 9 station subsidies. It is unclear if the three neighborhoods would continue the collaboration without the Nurture an Idea money, but, clearly, for a system to work, coordination is needed.
“We can bring partners to the table to find the best sites for everyone involved,” Davenport adds. “If we can connect Ohio City to downtown to CSU to Midtown to Case, we’ve done a good job.”
The bike share program is currently in second place. Go here to donate and support it in the competition.
Known for their part in the Cleveland Flea and an Upcycle District, St. Clair-Superior Development hopes to team up with Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative to upcycle a house with their entry in this year’s Nurture an Idea Award. They would bring the design skills of the Kent State University Graduate School of Architecture students to bear on a bricks-and-mortar question—how to make vacant housing in Cleveland appealing and marketable again.
Michael Fleming, St. Clair-Superior Executive Director, says the award would build on lessons from 2013’s Loft Home, a gut renovation and a subsequent renovation of another abandoned home into an open floor plan loft done with Kent students.
“Do we really have to demo those homes?” Fleming says. “Instead, they’ll do design work all semester and engage the community in what this could be.”
If they win the award, they want to pair up again to convert a house that the Smrekar Hardware family lived in.
“We’re going through with it either way, but funding means we can take this to scale,” Fleming said. “The pilot proved this can happen. We have people interested in purchase and banks interested as well.”
“We’re proving a model here with Kent,” he continues. “I could envision a Home-a-Rama where we could take several blocks, gather them together and do it in an impactful way. (CUDC Director Terry Schwarz) also has amazing landscape architecture program that we could be looking at doing something with those vacant properties.”
Design [Re]Build is currently in fourth place. To donate and support its chances to win the grand prize, click here.
The Historic Log House village (in the city)
Union Miles also has designs to polish up a neglected diamond in the rough. What the Community Development group has in store for its Historic Log House built by Anton Zverina for his family in 1908 goes beyond renovation. They want to make it the centerpiece in an Hale-Farm-like village in the city that would be programmed with pioneer and African-American settler history and new cottage industries. The plans include bringing back Mr. Zverina’s fruit orchard plus the herb gardens that were planted by the community in the 1960s. Not contented with passive green space, they would use the Nurture an Idea Award to jumpstart a weeklong summer camp for area school kids.
“We would have interpretive story tellers, like Harriet Tubman, who would present pioneer life through the eyes of the child,” says Union Miles Sustainability Manager, Michelle Brown. “It ties into wealth building, and self sufficiency and sustainability.”
Win or lose, Brown says they’re determined to move forward with the village and camp. They have a verbal commitment from the Rid-All Green Partnership to help, Brown says. She also has hope that Union Miles’ relationship with Cleveland Botanical Garden, whose Green Corps program maintains a learning garden at E. 93rd and Harvard, will spill over into the village.
“We’re talking about three days of hands-on horticulture—digging in gardens or dipping beeswax candles—followed by a youth vendor’s market and a wealth building workshop,” Brown explains. “It’s a pilot, and we would hope for that to expand and grow.”
The Historic Log House Village is currently in third place. If you would like to donate and support their bid for the grand prize, click here.
Building up Lakewood
Lakewood Alive is doing a yeoman’s job building up community and place in two of Lakewood’s neighborhoods of need. The community group rolls up sleeves, organizing volunteer work days on houses in need of immediate repair in the city’s Birdtown and Scenic Park areas.
“They have great housing, but they’re struggling and we want to assist,” says Lakewood Alive Executive Director Ian Andrews. “We want to develop a program to get these homes in compliance. It’ll lift up the whole street.”
Award money would be used to hire a staff person to do full-time outreach in these two neighborhoods, and start swinging more hammers.
“This isn’t about a hand out,” Andrews explains. “We want to empower homeowners and build that neighborhood pride.”
Lakewood Alive is currently in first place. To ensure that they get their community outreach program up and running, donate here.
On Friday, Nov. 7 the Nurture an Idea crowdrise competition ends. On November 12 from 4-6 p.m. an open to the public awards presentation will be held at CSU’s Levin College of Urban Affairs in the Atrium.