Jewish Federation of Cleveland

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s sister city of Beit She’an, Israel, is collaborating with five Cleveland communities.

This cross-cultural exchange will influence how community development corporations measure success through the use of a new tool called the GEAR, according to a press release from the Federation.

The GEAR, which stands for governance, economy, activism and relationships, was created to help local community builders and stakeholders measure and evaluate complex change in community development over time. The tool was developed by an Israeli community revitalization organization in Beit She’an called Bridge to the Future, which is supported by the Federation.

Oren Baratz, senior vice president of international operations for the Federation, called it “an exciting collaboration.”

“The GEAR is an evidence-based tool that combines fact and informed opinion to assess the effectiveness of community development initiatives,” Baratz said in a press release. “We have recognized its usefulness in analyzing the impact of initiatives in our sister city of Beit She’an, and we look forward to seeing how it will also support the important work of CDCs here in Cleveland.”

Michael Fleming, executive director of the St. Clair Superior Development Corp., joined the Federation on a recent trip to Israel to learn about Bridge to the Future’s neighborhood revitalization efforts in Beit She’an.

“What I saw in Beit Shean is helping me put into focus what I see in St. Clair,” Fleming said. “Cleveland and Beit Shean are both very diverse neighborhoods, and its residents are community-driven people who want to make their city better.”

While in Israel, Fleming was introduced to the GEAR and saw how the tool visually expressed the community’s issues and opportunities. He was inspired to implement the GEAR in St. Clair and share the possibilities with neighborhoods across Cleveland.

This month, representatives from Bridge to the Future will join Cleveland Neighborhood Progress – a nonprofit that works in partnership with CDCs, local foundations, the business community and governments to try to improve many of Cleveland’s neighborhoods – to implement a pilot project with five CDCs, including St. Clair Superior. Other neighborhoods include Circle North, Detroit Shoreway, Northeast Shores and Union-Miles.

“This partnership is a great chance to connect with the Federation and other organizations in Cleveland and in Israel,” said Joel Ratner, president and CEO of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.

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