Reflections from the 2018-2019 Mann Externs

Marissa Jones (second from right) and externship supervisor Kristen Milzelbank (middle) with other members of the programs and advocacy department

Marissa Jones, Fall 2018

Greater Cleveland Food Bank is a nonprofit that focuses on the mission of providing nutritious meals to the people of Northeast Ohio. The food bank is comprised of a warehouse where food is donated, stored, and distributed, a kitchen where meals are made, a help center to assist people in applying for public services, and administrative space. Not to be confused with a food pantry, Greater Cleveland Food Bank does not serve meals or food items directly from the warehouse. Instead, the food bank orchestrates programs to feed vulnerable populations, such as senior citizens and children, while maintaining partnerships with local food pantries.

During her time at Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Marissa Jones was able to work within the Advocacy department. Working with other departments, Marissa collated data concerning participation with the food banks’ programs and the need in the counties served. Speaking on her experience, Marissa explained, “being able to read policies and programs are one thing, but being able to use data through the Census and our electronic databases allow nonprofits, like Greater Cleveland, to comprehend the impact in the community and what are the possible successes or failures of the program”.  While at Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Marissa worked closely with the Programs staff with a program called Kids Cafe, which provided children with meals after school. This experience allowed Marissa to have a deeper understanding of food insecurity in Ohio and America as a whole and fueled her passion to work in the nonprofit sector in the future.

Case Western Reserve University extern Zoë Sykes-Varnhagen posed with two other females

Zoë Sykes-Varnhagen, Spring 2019

Invest in Children (IIC) is the Cuyahoga County Office of Early Childhood’s initiative to provide resources and support to parents and caregivers to ensure that all children in Cuyahoga County are healthy and safe. IIC also focuses on building awareness and advocacy in the community around issues that pertain to children and families. Some of the programs that IIC administers in Cuyahoga County include Home-Visiting Services, an Early Childhood Mental Health Program, Early Literacy Services, and an evidence-based Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) Program.

Under the supervision of Rebekah Dorman and Shawna Rohrman, Zoë Sykes-Varnhagen analyzed UPK enrollment data, conducted research on Ohio’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, attended meetings with local policymakers, and compared Cuyahoga County’s UPK Program to similar programs in other U.S. states and cities. She also had the opportunity to conduct monitoring visits at local preschools to ensure that UPK providers are remaining high-quality and upholding their contracts with the county.

Zoë’s experience at IIC has helped her better define her long-term career vision and believes that with the knowledge gained from this opportunity, she will one day take her work in child policy to the next level.