LakewoodAlive/Lakewood’s Birdtown Wins Grant From Charter One Foundation

The Charter One Foundation announced today that LakewoodAlive’s “Birdtown Neighborhood Project” is one of three projects to receive grant awards from Charter One’s Growing Communities competition. The winning projects will help revitalize neighborhoods and boost economic development in Cuyahoga County.  

The grants are the most recent installment of Charter One’s Growing Communities initiative, which has contributed more than $575,000 to numerous Cleveland and Akron area projects since the initiative launched in 2010.

“Charter One is committed to improving neighborhoods in Greater Cleveland and helping them grow, and we are very pleased to be awarding this grant to LakewoodAlive,” said Ken Marblestone, President of Charter One and RBS Citizens in Ohio.  “Lakewood is such an important part of Greater Cleveland, and the Birdtown neighborhood is an important part of Lakewood.  This grant will result in numerous improvements for Birdtown residents.”

Growing Communities aims to revitalize urban neighborhoods with innovative solutions to community development challenges, incorporate collaborative partnerships to improve life for residents, promote economic development through job creation and demonstrate a plan for long-term sustainability.

“Thanks to the support of Charter One and our collaborative partners including the City of Lakewood and GCRTA, we will be able to couple transportation links and economic access with neighborhood beautification,” said Ian Andrews, LakewoodAlive Executive Director. “Strengthening our connection to the Red Line, providing safe waiting environments, growing our ability to cater to cyclists while incorporating public art is a win for the neighborhood and the city.”

Charter One is awarding $27,000 to the Birdtown Neighborhood Project, which will help improve economic vitality, access to jobs and the quality of life for neighborhood residents. Public art enhancements, bus shelters, benches, bike racks and trash receptacles will be installed on a main corridor in the Birdtown - Madison Avenue area and will improve connectivity to the West 117th/Madison Rapid Station. Nearly 20 percent of Birdtown residents rely on public transportation as their primary means of transportation to work.

This project will strengthen the neighborhood’s identity and improve amenities. This investment will leverage additional investment by the City of Lakewood and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Project partners include The City of Lakewood, the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, Madison Avenue Merchants Association (MAMA) and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA).

Dru Siley, Lakewood’s Director of Planning and Development, said, “Charter One’s grant will help implement key streetscape elements of the Madison East plan that make for a safer and more user friendly transportation corridor. Madison is on the move and more good things are coming in the year ahead.”

Charter One launched the Growing Communities initiative in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood in 2010. To date, the Charter One Foundation has awarded more than $520,000 in grants to support the Ohio City neighborhood and the West Side Market, which resulted in decreased storefront vacancies, launched five new businesses, provided 11 grants for West Side Market vendors to improve their stands and created 38 jobs in the neighborhood. A sixth small business, the Cookery at Market Square, was announced earlier this week and is expected to open in 2013. It won start-up funds through the Ohio City Inc. Charter One Growing Communities small business competition in 2012. More than $55,000 in grants were also provided through the Growing Communities initiative to support small business grant competitions in Akron’s University Park neighborhood and Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

 “The winning projects that we are announcing today demonstrate a great deal of innovation and collaboration that will really improve the quality of life for residents for many years to come,” said Marblestone.

The St. Clair-Superior Development Corporation will also receive a Charter One grant to finance its “Retail Ready” project where 10 new retail stores will open, helping to contribute to the development of an instant, new, vibrant neighborhood from East 55th Street to East 72nd Street. The project will also improve the physical appearance and safety of this neighborhood.

Land Studio’s “Bike Box” project will use grant money from Charter One to improve biking access and encourage recreational and commuter cycling by providing safe, sheltered and conveniently-located bike parking from recycled locally-sourced shipping containers. The bike shelters will be placed in the Cleveland neighborhoods of Detroit-Shoreway, Tremont and St. Clair-Superior.

In addition to funding from the Charter One Foundation, all three projects will receive volunteer support donated by Charter One employees. They will provide financial education for neighborhood small businesses and residents and participate in neighborhood clean-ups.

About the Charter One Foundation

Charter One Foundation is a subsidiary of the Citizens Charitable Foundation, which is a charitable contributions vehicle of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., RBS Citizens, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. The foundation’s support is focused on human services, affordable housing and economic development. Charter One’s website is <> 

Katie Boland

Publisher, Lakewood Observer, Inc.

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Volume 8, Issue 18, Posted 5:06 PM, 08.22.2012