SOURCE: The Cleveland Foundation

June 08, 2005 11:09 ET

Civic Innovation Lab Grants $50,000 to Combat Brain Drain and Support Local Artists

CLEVELAND, OH -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 8, 2005 -- An initiative designed to promote Greater Cleveland to high school seniors and one that will create a central source for regionally generated visual art have won a combined $50,000 from The Civic Innovation Lab of The Cleveland Foundation. In addition to the grants, the Lab has also matched each project with a community leader who will provide mentorship for one year.

"The Lab's mentors have chosen to support strategic civic initiatives that empower individuals to make our community a better place to live," says Jennifer Thomas, director of the Civic Innovation Lab.

Madeleine Bruml, who has just completed her sophomore year at Hawken School on Cleveland's east side, was awarded $20,000 to develop Brain Gain, a program that will promote the city's strengths and career opportunities to high school students throughout the region, before they leave for college. "While Cleveland is currently in a transitional period, it has the potential to reemerge as a thriving city. By fostering the retention of talented, well-educated young adults, Brain Gain hopes to inspire students to explore opportunities for the future," says Bruml.

Through live presentations in area high schools and both print and digital materials, she plans to illustrate the entrepreneurial and business opportunities Cleveland has for post-collegiate life. Additionally, she hopes to facilitate a chance for high school students to shadow entrepreneurs and professionals for one or two weeks at a time to make connections and discover their career interests in an interactive way.

Madeleine will work with (i)Cleveland, a network of local college students and professionals that work to retain the region's college graduates, to ensure that Brain Gain's goals are aligned with efforts to attract and retain college graduates. Tim Mueller, president of the Olutions Group and the project's mentor, says, "The ultimate economic impact of the Brain Gain project will be measured in years, rather than months. And the fact that we have a smart, high school-aged Clevelander leading the charge to sell our region to area students in her age group is evidence that the next generation wants to stay and improve Northeast Ohio."

Joan Perch was awarded $30,000 to undertake the Cleveland Flat Files Project, which will provide a central source for regionally generated visual art. Unlike a traditional art gallery that displays works of art on walls, the Flat Files store portfolios of flat or nearly flat small- and medium-sized artwork in drawers. The pieces, produced by artists in the region, will be offered at a wide range of prices, and can be seen and touched by potential buyers. The initiative is modeled after a similar, successful project in New York City.

Perch, the owner of gallery ArtMetro, sees the project as "providing an ongoing opportunity for many regional artists who do not currently have adequate venues for exhibition and sales to have their work seen and purchased by potential clients." The Flat Files will be housed in the Tower Press building, a renovated warehouse in Cleveland's St. Clair-Superior neighborhood, and is also a thriving live-work space for artists. The Flat Files will become a resource for the number of artists currently working nearby and will enhance the growing artists' enclave this district is becoming.

Additionally, the Flat Files strives to complement existing downtown activity by becoming a sustainable destination for arts, cultural tourism, and arts commerce. "From Playhouse Square in the 1970s to the Warehouse District in the '80s, Tremont in the '90s and now Midtown, individual artists have been important urban pioneers. Where artists invest time and talent, economic and neighborhood development follow," states Kathleen Cerveny, Program Director at the Cleveland Foundation.

Carol Staiger, owner of Vantage Point marketing consultants, will mentor the project. She adds, "Flat Files will serve as a catalyst for this emerging neighborhood arts district, as well as provide increased sales opportunities for many other artists who work in northeast Ohio, and will have a presence there."

The Civic Innovation Lab has received over 150 proposals since its inception in October 2003 and has funded thirteen initiatives, providing over $320,000 to help make these projects a reality. To learn more about the Lab, visit

The Cleveland Foundation is a public charity dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Greater Cleveland. It is the oldest and second-largest community foundation in the nation. Its establishment in 1914 is cited as one of 10 events that most heavily influenced the development of the nonprofit sector in the 20th Century and it continues to be a leader in its field. The Foundation has assets of approximately $1.63 billion and in 2004 awarded more than $86 million in grants and low-cost loans to Cleveland area nonprofit organizations. Since its inception, it has provided more than $1 billion to nonprofit organizations and causes.

The Cleveland Foundation is made up of more than 800 funds created by individuals, families, organizations and corporations. It offers donors of all means the opportunity to have a lasting impact on their community while maximizing income, gift and estate tax benefits.

For more information about the organization, visit

Contact Information

  • Civic Innovation Lab Contact:
    Jennifer Thomas

    Rick Batyko