finding community solutions

Under the umbrella of the multi-phased anchor project Transforming Greater University Circle into a Great Urban Place, the Social Justice Institute's debut project is poised to redefine one of Cleveland's most troubled areas by expanding and deepening cooperation between the university, area residents, and private and nonprofit organizations; redefining the relationship of University Circle to all surrounding neighborhoods; and promoting a revitalized social and civic space for the greater University Circle community.

The second largest city in Ohio, Cleveland was the poorest major city in the country in 2003 and 2005, and is currently second only to Detroit. A few blocks from Case Western Reserve is East Cleveland, the poorest municipality in Ohio.

A city of 3.1 square miles and about 24,500 people, East Cleveland suffers from a housing crisis—20 percent of residential parcels are vacant—and a recent surge of government corruption. From 1988 to 2006, East Cleveland was in a fiscal state of emergency.

In 2008, a Case Western Reserve advocacy course benefited from the establishment of a partnership with East Cleveland. The collaborative effort includes ties with city hall, other municipal agencies and community-based organizations. Since then, the university's focus on East Cleveland has been expanded to five advanced courses in the community and social development curriculum at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

The East Cleveland debut collaborative has the opportunity to coordinate existing East Cleveland connections at the university and initiate new opportunities to promote justice in this struggling community.

The debut East Cleveland collaborative will bring together diverse stakeholders to identify and advance community priorities, conduct an oral narrative project to document and understand community change, and design and sponsor critical dialogues that will empower residents of the community.

For more information on the institute's debut collaborative project, contact SJI director Rhonda Y. Williams.

To learn more about social justice initiatives at Case Western Reserve and how you can be involved, contact the Social Justice Institute at 216.368.2515 or