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Q&A with United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland

This year, the Aquarium brings back Difference-Makers Days in partnership with United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, a week-long event (Monday, January 15 – Sunday, January 21, 2024) highlighting UBF’s work and the achievements of African American innovators.

Guests save $5 on daily admission through the week, and $1 of every ticket sold directly benefits UBF, who will be onsite for MLK Day and January 20-21 to share their mission.

Ahead of Difference-Makers Days, we caught up with UBF Development Coordinator Adrianne Sims for a Q&A discussing the organization’s ongoing impact on Northeast Ohio’s Black community.

United Black Fund at Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Development Coordinator Adrianne Sims (Left)

Question: What is the mission of United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland?
Adrianne Sims: 
At the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, we believe in actively engaging with our agency partners to help them become sustainable and growth-oriented resources for their communities. We understand the importance of aiding those in need, and that’s why we strive to better prepare the nonprofits that serve them. We’re committed to making a positive impact on the Black community, and we’re here to support our partners every step of the way.

Question: How does UBF impact the Northeast Ohio community?
Adrianne Sims: We are deeply moved by the significant milestones we have achieved in our efforts to support the Black community. Our MORTAR Cleveland Program has successfully launched its first cohort of Black entrepreneurs, and we have been the unwavering financial foundation for several large-scale movements and events that empower the Black community, such as the FutureLAND Conference 2.0. Our commitment to supporting Black-led and owned businesses, particularly those led by Black women, is fueled by our understanding of the challenges they face. We strive to change the narrative that Cleveland is not a favorable place for them and are dedicated to making it a better place. Moreover, we have launched two $25,000 grant initiatives specifically designed to address Black needs. We pledge to continue our efforts to empower and support the Black community and to stand with them through their struggles.

Question: How can people in the community contribute to UBF’s mission? 
Adrianne Sims: We understand the importance of giving back to the community, and that’s why we at the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland are grateful for the incredible generosity of our donors and foundations. It’s their kindness that enables us to provide vital resources and support to various organizations, helping us further our mission of empowering and uplifting the community. We welcome you to join us in this inspiring movement toward positive change in the Black community by visiting our website or connecting with me (Adrianne Sims, Development Coordinator) to learn more about how you can contribute to this cause. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those who need it the most.

Question: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the Black community in Northeast Ohio today?
Adrianne Sims: It’s crucial to acknowledge the tough realities that the Black community in Northeast Ohio are facing. It’s heartbreaking to know that Cleveland has been designated as the worst city in America for Black women, but we understand that this is just a fraction of an even more significant issue. The environment in which our community lives has a profound impact on our access to quality healthcare, economic stability, affordable housing and quality education. We understand that immediate action must be taken to ensure that the Black community in Northeast Ohio receives the resources and support it deserves to thrive and have the quality of life that every human deserves. We feel the need to connect the dots of environmental justice and uplift Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of justice for all by linking it to the environment, climate, housing stability, healthcare and education because we firmly believe that every individual deserves to live in a safe and prosperous environment.

Question: What have been some of the benefits of the UBF and Greater Cleveland Aquarium partnership?
Adrianne Sims: There have been many benefits: This partnership has expanded the information, (our mission, programs, Grantees and Donor Advised Funds, etc.), of United Black Fund to Greater Cleveland Aquarium’s audience. Attendees have actively engaged with UBF about the new information regarding Greater Cleveland and the African American community. This collaboration has raised awareness of pioneering African American marine scientists and environmental researchers, along with highlighting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work not only in our nation, but in the Greater Cleveland area too!

For more information on UBF and Difference-Makers Day, visit the event page here. Can’t visit during Difference-Makers Days? Anyone interested in supporting UBF is encouraged to visit unitedblackfund.org and/or “Text to Give” by sending UBF to 50155

The aquatic adventures never have to end. Annual Passholders get invites to special programs, gift shop/event discounts and more!

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