Katie Kohn came up with the idea of an outdoor program that develops leadership skills for children in Greater Cleveland 10 years ago – an idea she hopes will attract the attention of the judges during Cleveland Leadership Center’s Accelerate 2018: Citizens Make Change. 

Kohn, 29, will be among 25 civic visionaries in Cleveland who will pitch their ideas to enhance Cleveland while generating positive change within the community Feb. 21. 

Ideas will be pitched within five areas including community change, economic and workforce development, educating for tomorrow, health and wellness, and quality of life. Kohn’s “Forest City Adventures” pitch will be part of the educating for tomorrow category. 

“Kids growing up in Greater Cleveland don’t have the opportunity to learn and grow alongside their peers from different neighborhood schools and identities and Forest City Adventures facilitates leadership adventures for high school students from Northeast Ohio,” said Kohn, who is a member of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood.

The idea stemmed from her summers at the Mandel Jewish Community Center of Cleveland’s Camp Wise, where she developed her own leadership skills, and grew after teaching at Brackenridge, a public high school she said had a high percentage of low-income students in San Antonio, Texas.

“Wherever I was, what I realized and what my kids where asking for ... was a really strong value of, and desire for diversity but a lack of opportunity and access to do that because of the segregated neighborhoods and schools they were going to,” she said. “I also saw them, in whatever setting they were in, demonstrate compassion and resilience and a love for one another. These things, I think, can be harnessed in a unique way in the outdoors.”  

The event is designed to develop Cleveland’s leadership through experiences that can connect and inspire individuals. Since launching Accelerate in 2015, the event has been a catalyst that can directly impact the community by giving money to help participants of all ages launch their ideas. The winning pitch receives $5,000 and the four runner-ups will each receive $2,000. 

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