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AWARDS: Cleveland Foundation grants will help advance job-development initiative, environmental improvements

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District was awarded three grants totaling $135,000 from The Cleveland Foundation to help further programs and green opportunities in the region.

The funds will be used to enhance the Sewer District’s Good Neighbor Ambassador Program and the Doan Brook Stream Restoration Project. The grants are for:

  • Neighborhood Revitalization Projects, Good Neighbor Ambassador Program ($40,000)
  • Case Study, Good Neighbor Ambassador Program ($20,000)
  • Consultants, Doan Brook Stream Restoration Project ($75,000)

Good Neighbor Ambassador Program

Last May, the Sewer District launched the Good Neighbor Ambassador Program, a progressive one-of-a-kind job development initiative designed to provide outreach to customers who are impacted by Project Clean Lake construction. Project Clean Lake is the Sewer District’s $3 billion initiative to reduce combined sewer overflows from 4.5 billion gallons to 500 million gallons. The current construction activity is a series of projects located in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland.

The Ambassador program hires underemployed or unemployed individuals for 30 hours each week with benefits. Staffed by seven ambassadors and a supervisor, the part-time ambassadors are assigned community improvement tasks, such as cutting grass, passing out project notices and talking with residents about Project Clean Lake, while receiving extensive professional development training. This training includes soft skills, safety procedures, conflict resolution, wastewater overview, and an explanation of the Sewer District’s wide-ranging construction activities. The Sewer District assists with job placement within the organization, as well.

To date, five ambassadors have secured full-time employment with the Sewer District, serving in a variety of capacities.  

“I’m very proud of the Sewer District’s Good Neighbor Ambassador Program,” said Julius Ciaccia, Sewer District Executive Director. “It allows us to more effectively address residents’ concerns and provide job opportunities to those directly impacted by our work.”

Once an Ambassador secures full-time employment, a new Ambassador is recruited. Over the course of the next 10 years of Project Clean Lake construction, the Sewer District anticipates providing full-time employment opportunities to between 60 and 90 individuals.

A case study of the Ambassador Program will be conducted to determine if it is as a model that can be replicated and to further improve the existing program.

Doan Brook Stream Restoration Project

The Sewer District will hire consultants to assist the Cleveland Museum of Art in the planning of the Doan Brook Stream Restoration Project.

This project, located immediately west of the Cleveland Museum of Art, will stabilize and rehabilitate approximately 1000 feet of stream channel and convert available contiguous land areas into hydraulically-connected floodplains. The proposed improvements will avert serious streambank erosion in the area as well as provide stormwater management for a portion of the contributing watershed.

When completed, this project will not only stabilize the streambank, but protect area infrastructure, provide floodplain relief, improve stream conveyance and enhance riparian areas. In addition, Doan Brook will benefit from aesthetic improvements and the public will benefit from improved public access to the stream.

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