Myrna Loy Patton Corley Innovation Initiative

(Formerly the Myrna Loy Patton Corley Essay Contest)

We are fortunate to have a thriving metropolis in northeast Ohio! So many talented people are doing amazing things in the Land every day. Still, everything isn’t rosy in Cleveland. Unfortunately, the city and surrounding boroughs have ample problems, and we live with them every day. In a given day, you might encounter long broken streetlights, cavernous potholes, and abandoned buildings. You might also experience the frustration of living without fresh produce from a nearby supermarket (food desert) or the need to stand in the snow to take three buses to a location 10 miles down the road. At the same time, you might also find comfort in neighborhood block parties or enjoy communal solidarity at a local sporting event. This project is about investigating the details and moments in your day-to-day experience in your neighborhood that an affect your life.  You will select one issue, positive or negative, and complete a series of individual and group activities, and eventually present your work as a group at the Spring Celebration!

Learning Objectives:

  • To read a range of sources critically to assess context, purpose, and audience.
  • To engage with a range of sources to form and develop your own claim from those other voices.
  • To practice working with visual sources, as well as tables and figures, to develop and evidence your own claim.
  • To persuade a targeted audience using evidence, appropriate language, and a clearly articulated argument.
  • To practice presenting to a range of audiences.


Photo opinion piece—(1 photograph+350-500 words to be completed individually) For this assignment you will take a photo of an issue within your immediate community. It might be something good, like friendly neighbors hanging out on the porch, or it might be something not so good, like broken streetlights or an abandoned building. The key is that the photo should document something that you really care about and want to either promote or change. Then, you should write about why the object/landscape/etc. in the image is interesting and what problem it suggests. Write about that problem and argue for change. If it’s something you want more of, then suggest why we should spread the love. If it’s something you want to change, then explain why it’s a problem. Finally, argue why other people should prioritize your topic over others. Why is your topic something that the community should address now? Who does it affect and what are the material consequences? In addition to making this argument in your paper, you will also have to defend your topic in your group, so that you can all choose a topic that you will work together on for the duration of the Spring semester. For example, if I were writing about University Circle, I’d take a photo of the wine section in “Plum Market.” Then, I’d talk about food insecurity amongst the student population and how Plum Market makes that situation worse by offering food only to financially secure patrons. I’d talk about what food insecure students can’t access because there is no affordable supermarket near campus (fresh fruit/veg, healthy prepared meals, ingredients to cook for themselves), and why this needs to be addressed now as many of our first-generation students, including some international students, cannot properly feed themselves, leading to academic problems as well as mental health issues.

Personal Profile—(1 photograph+250-300 words to be completed as a group) Before this assignment, you will agree upon a topic within your group, based upon your photo opinion pieces. After selecting your topic, you will begin learning a little more about it. Perhaps you will go and investigate the site. You might also do some googling to find out if anyone has written anything about the same type of topic in your neighborhood before. You might also look for agencies within the community who might be able to help you make a change (government, non-profit, medical, etc.). As you do your research, identify one person within the community who can speak with you about this topic. Email or call that person and arrange an interview. As a group, write-up and revise interview questions, and if possible, interview your subject in person. In addition, to a photograph of the person that we can use in your final project and presentation. Then, write a brief profile of the subject you interviewed. Tell us a little about him/her/them, and where they live, how their experience relates to your topic, what they think about the problem, and how they think the problem might be addressed or solved. (These questions should suggest topics for your own interview questions). Your write-up should include quotes and paraphrases from your interview.

Pamphlet and Presentation—(photographs, tables and figures +1000 words to be completed and presented as a group) The final part of the project is to create an informational pamphlet or poster and short series of slides for a presentation. Purpose of the pamphlet/poster is to present a problem, lay out the specific details and circumstances that make up the problem, and argue for a practical solution. Your audience includes all the participants in the Provost Scholars, your parents, your teachers, administrative representatives from CWRU & your schools, and other stakeholder. Your audience might be aware that there are problems in your neighborhood, but you should assume that you’ll need to convince them that yours is both important and worth devoting resources to addressing. Your pamphlet/poster should include photographs, tables and figures (if appropriate), and descriptive sections that outline the context, problem, and solution.

Your presentation of the material will take on a couple forms. First, as a group you will present your pamphlets/poster to individuals at the Celebration. This will take the form of science/social science poster presentation. In addition, in your group, you will also produce 2-3 PowerPoint slides that will comprise a larger PowerPoint presentation to the whole audience during the Celebration.


  • Mental & Physical Health
  • Financial Literacy
  • Community Safety

Calendar of Activities (subject to revision)

Tuesday, Feb 22 (2:30-3): Photo exercise introduction with Mentor Blake, Scholars & Mentors

Tuesday, March 1 (2:30-3): Scholars photo share & cloud brainstorming w/Ms. Kate

Tuesday, March 15 (2:30-3): Mentor Blake introduces interviewing

Tuesday, April 5 (2:30-3): Poster planning with Dr. Parkin

Thursday, April 7 (4-5): Skills workshop and source integration with Dr. Parkin

Tuesday, April 12 (2:30-3):  Mentor-led poster workshop

Tuesday, April 19 (2:30-3): Revision exercise with Mentors

Thursday, April 21 (3:30-5): Final poster review with Dr. Parkin

Tuesday, April 26 (2:30-3:00): Fix what needs to be fixed

Thursday, April 28 (2:30-5): workshop with Dr. Parkin and Dr. Blake

Tuesday, May 3 (2:30-5): run through (w/Mentor audience & feedback)

Presentation: May 5, 2022 @ Spring Celebration

All working group materials will be housed in the Shared Google Drive

Questions or Help?

Contact Ms. Kate ( or 216-534-3498) or Mentor Blake: