Regional Spotlight: Shaker Heights

March 7, 2022

Our Regional Spotlight is back! The spotlight allows us to highlight the amazing work of all our neighborhoods by asking them questions including their goals for the year, priorities for youth development, and more! This month, we have chosen to feature Shaker Heights Youth Center. Sharon Bell, the Regional Coordinator of Shaker Heights, spoke in-depth about what the center's mission is and how they are working to achieve that. The following is a Q&A with a MyCom Communications team member and Sharron. 

1. Question: What are the priorities in Shaker Heights for youth development?

Answer: Shaker Heights continues to strive and work towards building a comprehensive, inclusive continuum of positive youth development services that are equally accessible to all youth throughout the Shaker Heights community. This is being achieved through the Shaker Engagement Collaborative a group consisting of more than 30 social services, youth development, academic and neighborhood programs agencies. These dedicated professionals and caring adults meet twice each month to share, collaborate and coordinate programs and events that include and often prioritize and support healthy youth development. Moreover, the collaborative effectiveness of this SEC group also serves as the Steering Committee for the Shaker My Com youth initiative which has served as an integral component of youth development in Shaker Heights.

2. Question: Does Shaker Heights have any plans for youth development?

Answer: Yes, Shaker Heights as a community is actively engaged in expanding and enhancing its neighborhood planning process to not only address the needs of its youth development services and facilities but to include the youth voice in every aspect of the process! Shaker My Com youth will play an active role by sitting on youth engagement sub-committees, library activities committees and serving as mentors to gather additional input from youth not otherwise engaged. Since the inception of the My Com youth initiative in 2008, there has been a heightened awareness of the need for youth input, respecting the voices of our youth population and valuing our youth as this community’s most important asset! Of course, as we struggle to come out of this terrible pandemic era, the planning priorities have had to shift to regaining the level of youth programs (in person), rebuilding of youth councils and re-engaging our young population who have had to be secluded from safety factors for so long.

3. Question: Who are the Shaker Heights My Com partners?

Answer: The Shaker My Com Neighborhood Partner committee consists of 13 members representing youth and social service agencies, churches, caring adults, Shaker City Council, Shaker school district, Shaker library system and neighborhood associations. This diverse, cross section of community stakeholders meet quarterly to review and discuss My Com updates, Youth Council events, collaboration opportunities, summer jobs program status, data reporting and any other issues pertinent to the continued success of the Shaker My Com youth initiative.

4. Question: What does your neighborhood plan include?

Answer: The My Com work plans are uniform addressing stakeholder programming, youth engagement, evaluation and data tracking, youth employment, etc. However due to the persisting restrictions resulting from the pandemic many of these work plan initiatives had to be put on hold until youth, school and overall work conditions returned to a level of normalcy! Despite these challenges, the Shaker My Com youth initiative continued to network with its stakeholders via virtual meetings, the summer youth employment program was significantly reduced in size with only 30 youth able to work the summer jobs programs being placed in small work sites due to the commitment of many community small businesses and the YPAR program was offered via zoom sessions and independent student projects. As society regained a healthier, safer environment the Shaker My Com programs resumed their in-person Youth Council meetings, long time mass work site placements have returned, the Shaker My Com Neighborhood Partner meetings continue to be virtual and youth community service projects are returning slowly.

5. Question: What are the goals for this year?

Answer: The primary goal was to rebuild and re-energize the Shaker My Com Youth Council which has been successfully achieved with 8 new student members who meet twice each month on a Thursday in the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Building. The next goal was to successfully work with our partners to design neighborhood programs/events that would be appropriate for funding with the My Com partner mini-grants and this goal has also been successfully achieved. Another deliverable was to increase the number of partner stakeholders by 3 to date. We have successfully engaged in 2 new partner stakeholder programs and will seek to obtain the third partner by the end of this fiscal year. Finally, we continue to work to improve data tracking for all of the My Com partners and publish a realistic youth summer program guide that does not replicate the guides published by the Shaker Recreation Dept., Shaker library, and Shaker school district. These among others represent the fundamental goals we, the Shaker My Com youth initiative, are working diligently to implement for a strong and more efficient youth-serving entity in Shaker Heights!

6. Question: One story of a youth who has been impacted by programming?

Answer: I am so very proud to report that we have had so many successful young participants it is hard to select just one. However, the most visible success story would be Ms. Ysian Hassle who joined Shaker My Com when she was in the 8th grade and today at the age of 23 she works part-time for My- ComCLE with the young adult program while working a full-time job and assisting me with the Shaker My Com youth council as my assistant!!



  • “MyCom Youth Development Initiative aims to engage via education, such amazing out-of-school opportunities as they recognize that youth who are bullied are more likely to feel disconnected from school."
    Curtis Benjamin
  • "MyCom has extended hundreds of youth exceptional opportunities to grow, expand their knowledge and express their voice in so many ways. I can honestly say that the youth are not the only ones who are learning, growing and having wonderful exposure opportunities. This adult is a beneficiary of countless blessing as well."
    Brenda Pryor
    MyCom Coordinator
  • "It was amazing, and really made me think of my community more, and how I can change it"
    Brandan Newton
    Anton Grdina FLOW Participant

MyCom will enact our mission with race and equality at the forefront of our work as we always have. We will use our thought-leadership, funding, advocacy, and network to redesign service delivery. Together we will rethink infrastructure and create solutions that eliminate access to healthcare, cyclical poverty, access to quality education, housing stability, and other barriers that have impacted black lives.

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Cleveland, OH 44120
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