The Collinwood Observer

Popular Categories

Neighborhood Leadership Development Program Seeks 2021 Applicants

If you are a passionate, committed Clevelander dedicated to taking an active role in improving your community and would like help enhancing your leadership skills, the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program (NLDP) is now seeking applicants to its 2021 program. NLDP is a free community engagement training program for residents of Cleveland, and its inner ring suburbs, who are working on projects within the City of Cleveland and who are determined to make a positive impact on their communities. It was established in 2006 by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.

“A large part of Cleveland’s future depends on the strength of its neighborhoods,” said NLDP Program Director, and former mayor, Michael R. White. “The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program identifies, engages and trains leaders working to improve their communities. Through an intensive, 16-session program over the course of ten months, NLDP develops skills and abilities that will benefit its’ participants, their neighborhoods and the City for years to come.”

NLDP has helped emerging neighborhood leaders reach their potential by expanding their knowledge base and personal development through education, coaching and ongoing interaction with their peers and other leaders. The program will cover topics such as program planning, marketing, communications, program fundraising, conflict resolution and negotiation, community engagement methods and more. After the application process, 20 committed individuals are chosen for the program year. NLDP participants and graduates are a diverse group with many interests and are working on a wide variety of issues to improve life in their communities.

KC Petraitis, a NLDP graduate, is one such person who is taking on an impressive community project. His program is The Burning River Soccer Club (BRSC), founded in 2016 to organize and conduct competitions between youth soccer teams, providing a safe environment for urban youth while encouraging active lifestyles, healthy eating, and regular exercise habits in children. Their activities promote education and inclusiveness, celebrate diversity, and work to eliminate prejudice and discrimination. Participants are not charged any fees for participating in the soccer programs. KC serves on the Board of Directors and as a coach for BRSC.
BRSC intends to spearhead the reinvigoration and revitalization of the Humphrey Park soccer field at the athletic facilities in North Shore Collinwood which is now an empty space. They believe the presence of soccer there will create a new sense of vibrancy, inspire and expose youth to the game, and generally strengthen and positively impact the community.
The plan will add significant financial investment and activation of an underutilized and under-programmed area of the park creating a consistent, convenient and playable location for use by the BRSC organization. This investment is intended to be part of a 5-year strategy that will give BRSC what is planned to be its first permanent home for community programs moving forward.
They are currently seeking 6-8 year old participants for their Soccer Saturdays at Humphrey Park. There is no cost and there are opportunities to earn free soccer gear!*
BRSC is also working with NLDP graduates Rhonda McLean and Caroline Peak who will help to improve community support and involvement with soccer programming at Humphrey Park.
Helping leaders create and implement a vision is part of the NLDP curriculum. KC knows first- hand about that. “I helped found Burning River Soccer thanks to the support and encouragement of NLDP. The network of alumni has continued to help our organization bridge gaps and seek new avenues for growth. I have made lifelong friends in NLDP who are all making a difference in Cleveland.”
Every NLDP participant and graduate also has ongoing access to the services of a Program Coach who will give advice and support tailored to the needs of the participant.
The 16 sessions are on Saturdays at Trinity Commons at 2230 Euclid Avenue beginning September 18. The application period is now open and the deadline for applications is AUGUST 15, 2021. For additional information and to view the 2021-2022 curriculum and online application, visit or call 216-776-6167.
Think you have what it takes? Apply to make a difference!!

* If you would like to learn more about Burning River Soccer Club, visit their website at or email .