As part of Day 8 of "10 Days of Giving," the Cleveland Browns announced the inaugural recipients of the First and Ten Grants program, presented by Medliminal. The initiative, launched at the start of the season, will contribute a total of $20,000 to 10 well-deserved organizations that endeavor to make a difference in Northeast Ohio.
Winner ($5,000 grant): Cleveland Kids' Book Bank
Second selection ($3,000 grant): Be a Better Me Foundation
Finalists ($1,500 grant): Cleveland Police Athletic League, EN-RICH-MENT, Hiram Farm Living & Learning Community, Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, Merrick House, OHgo, The Up Side of Downs and W.A.G.S.4 Kids
Following a nomination process and evaluation by panel members, the non-profit organizations were selected based on their focus on education, youth football, social equality and volunteerism. Fans had the opportunity to nominate their desired local non-profit organizations to be considered for the grants.
"We continue to be inspired and appreciative of our fans who recognize the importance of giving back, and we were thrilled to have Medliminal join us for this unique First and Ten opportunity," said Vice President of Community Relations Jenner Tekancic. "There are a tremendous amount of incredible organizations in our region, and we hope we can do our part to celebrate, encourage and create awareness for current and future leaders in our community."
"We are thrilled to be the first place recipient of the First and Ten Award. Through this program, the Browns are not only supporting us with a financial gift, they are highlighting the importance of volunteers— the backbone of our operations," said Thea DeRosa Cerra, Executive Director of Cleveland Kids' Book Bank. "We here at The Book Bank could not serve as many children as we do without the 6,000 volunteers who sort, pack and deliver our books. Thank you so much for helping us put books into the homes of children this winter."
"I am beyond honored to receive such an amazing award from a great organization like the Cleveland Browns," said Officer LaMar Sharpe, President of Be a Better Me Foundation. "I want to thank all of our supporters who nominated BABM and supports us as we continue to provide needed services for the youth in our community."
The Browns and Medliminal partnered to create the grants to further their mission of supporting non-profit organizations, people and projects that improve Ohio neighborhoods by providing them with opportunities to advance and extend the meaningful work that they do throughout the year.
Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to #give10 and help their communities by volunteering for 10 hours each year. Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community. To date, more than 2.75 million hours of volunteering have been pledged through First and Ten. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team's website and by sharing their stories with #give10.
Throughout "10 Days of Giving," Browns players, coaches and staff members will share unique stories about community initiatives and contributions as part of the team's yearlong commitment to education, youth football, social justice and inspiring others to support their communities through the First and Ten volunteer movement.
Following "10 Days of Giving," the Browns host the AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium for Monday Night Football on Dec. 14. The team will highlight many significant initiatives as part of Browns Give Back's "Season of Giving" during the game, including recognition of local community partners and individuals who have made a meaningful impact on Northeast Ohio and beyond this season and throughout 2020.
In addition to the team's First and Ten volunteering efforts, "10 Days of Giving" encompasses the Cleveland Browns Foundation's "Stay in the Game! Keep Learning, Every Day" Network and Browns Youth Football. The "Stay in the Game!" Network is focused on promoting equal educational opportunities for all students and school districts in Ohio, as well as combatting chronic absenteeism, while Browns Youth Football remains devoted to assisting the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout the state by helping inspire a love of the game.
About the recipients of the First and Ten grants program, presented by Medliminal:
Be A Be a Better Me Foundation:
The Be a Better Me Foundation is a community-based foundation designed to help empower and encourage youth, on and off the right path in life, to see the good in themselves & others. The foundation also works to strengthen the relationship between police and the community by meeting people where they are and providing for various needs throughout the year. This is done with school supplies, Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas gifts, and more. https://beabetterme.org/
Cleveland Kids' Book Bank:
The Cleveland Kids' Book Bank aims to improve literacy and a love of reading by providing free books to children in need through collaboration with community partners. Our goal is to break the poverty cycle by exposing low-income children to language and reading from birth– fostering literacy skills, opening their minds to the world beyond their neighborhood and fueling their imaginations. https://www.kidsbookbank.org/
Cleveland Police Athletic League:
Established in the late 1930's, the Cleveland Police Athletic League has a rich history in providing quality athletic, recreational and educational activities for the city's younger citizens. Its purpose is to provide positive interaction between youngsters and police officers in a fun and safe environment, while focusing on physical fitness, healthy life choices, and becoming productive citizens. https://clevelandpolicefoundation.org/about-the-cpf/
EN-RICH-MENT is a Canton, Ohio-based nonprofit organization founded in 2012 that provides music, education, training, instruments, art, dance, voice, theater, steel drums, African drums, church drumming, drumline and agriculture classes free of charge to underserved urban youth ages 5 through 18 years. https://www.en-rich-ment.org/
Hiram Farm Living and Learning Community is a nonprofit organization that provides services for adults with developmental disabilities, with an emphasis on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The Farm provides opportunities for these adults to grow, learn, work, and live in a setting focused on respect and support for individuals and the environment. http://www.hiramfarm.org/
Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past:
A Youngstown, Ohio area group which participates in Sojourn to the Past under the direction of Jeff Steinberg, who designed the 10 day journey for high school students. This experience takes students to the South visiting the Civil Rights sites, meeting leaders of the Movement and learning the lessons of the Movement such as justice, nonviolence, civic responsibility, hope, compassion, tolerance and not being a silent witness. The goal is for students to incorporate these lessons into their daily lives and become leaders for social justice and nonviolence in their schools and community. https://mvsojourntothepast.com/
Merrick House is a vibrant Cleveland neighborhood center where everyone from the curious child to the committed adult is enriched through active, lifelong learning. Serving the Tremont neighborhood and surrounding areas, our inclusive programs and services have expanded over the years to educate and empower individuals and families alike. https://www.merrickhouse.org/
OHgo is a mobile food pantry takes food on the move. They set up a choice style pantry twice a month (every month) for income eligible families. OHgo has been serving close to 1000 people a month since we launched this program in June of 2016. They partner with Second Harvest Food Bank to provide food and fresh produce. Families can come to all pantries each month and will receive food for up to 4 days! https://www.ohgoreach.org/
The Up Side of Downs:
The Up Side of Downs is a nonprofit whose mission is to provide support, education and advocacy for individuals with Down syndrome, their families and communities. The Up Side of Downs envisions a community where people with Down syndrome have limitless opportunities and the ability to pursue their dreams. We currently serve 16 counties in Northeast Ohio and provide support to over 900 families and the professionals who serve them. https://www.theupsideofdowns.org/
W.A.G.S. 4 KIDS:
Founded in 2004, Working Animals Giving Service for Kids is dedicated to providing mobility and autism service dogs for children throughout northeast and central Ohio utilizing an award-winning Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction accredited Cell Dog Training Program. W.A.G.S. 4 Kids presents an opportunity for a child we see spending their life having things done to them and for them, to reach out physically, emotionally and engage with the world around them. https://www.wags4kids.org/
About the Cleveland Browns and Browns Give Back:
The Browns Give Back to Northeast Ohio with a commitment to education and youth football while engaging the community through the team's signature First and Ten volunteer movement. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/brownsgiveback.
Education – The Cleveland Browns are dedicated to improving the quality of education for students in Ohio by making investments that keep kids in school every day so they can succeed, highlighted by the "Stay in the Game! Keep Learning, Every Day" Network. The "Stay in the Game!" Network is a statewide initiative designed to promote the importance of school attendance and put an end to chronic absenteeism. The team engages local school districts and promotes quality education by using attendance data and feedback from families to build a school-going culture, uncover and reduce common barriers to attendance and support engagement opportunities for students to thrive. In the 2020-21 school year, the "Stay in the Game!" Network will partner with 14 school districts, benefitting nearly 90,000 students in Ohio. An adaptation of the "Get 2 School, Stay In The Game!" Network, the name change reflects the current environment where schools may not necessarily be able to host in-school learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter the circumstances, the "Stay in the Game!" Network will continue to encourage and support students to maintain a strong educational-going mindset to keep learning, every day, aligned with its overall goal to help end chronic absenteeism and provide all students equal opportunities to be successful. To learn more visit, visit Get2School.org.
Youth Football – The Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout Northeast Ohio with year-round programming for players, coaches, officials and parents. Through camps, clinics and other initiatives, the Browns' goal is to promote healthy, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of youth by enhancing opportunities for youth football participation and education.
First and Ten – Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to #give10 and help their communities by volunteering for 10 hours each year. Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community. To date, more than 2.75 million hours of volunteering have been pledged through First and Ten. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team's website and by sharing their stories with #give10.