The Cleveland Orchestra announces honorees of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Awards

In an extraordinary year, honorees include eleven Northeast Ohio organizations and partnerships

Award given to individuals and organizations for extraordinary service to the Northeast Ohio community in the spirit of Dr. King

CLEVELAND – Today, The Cleveland Orchestra announced its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award recipients in a special video presented by Jeffery Weaver, Chair of The Cleveland Orchestra’s Community Engagement Committee and Member of the Board of Trustees. Each year, the award is presented to individuals and organizations for extraordinary service to the Northeast Ohio community reflecting the spirit, example, and teachings of Dr. King. The complete list of thirteen recipients is listed below. This year, the Orchestra is honoring several organizations and leaders for service to the community in this extraordinary time of Covid-19 and racial reckoning.

“These awardees are just a few of the hundreds of organizations who have stepped up for our Northeast Ohio community during this most challenging year.” said Weaver. “Each one is working to meet the community’s most urgent and basic needs, address issues of systemic racism, or use the healing power of arts to build community. Dr. King was a lifelong champion for racial equity, unity, and community strength — qualities that the recipients of this community service award exemplify.”

“While the pandemic prevents us from giving these awards in person at Severance Hall, honoring these organizations virtually makes a fitting conclusion to our 41st annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration,” said André Gremillet, Cleveland Orchestra President & CEO. “Our community greatly benefits from the incredible generosity, leadership, and commitment of this year’s awardees. We are proud to have the opportunity to honor these organizations for extraordinary service in the spirit of Dr. King, especially during this unprecedented time.”

The 2021 award recipients are grouped into four categories:

  1. Community Leadership
  2. Improving Education
  3. Promoting Social Justice and Racial Equity
  4. Promoting Greater Understanding through the Arts

2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award Recipients

The awardees are listed by group below.

  • Cleveland Foundation – for leadership in convening the Greater Cleveland Covid-19 Rapid Response Fund which quickly brought together more than 80 corporate, civic, and philanthropic partners alongside individual donors, and swiftly gathered $8.6 million dollars in emergency funding. These funds were distributed to nearly 160 organizations across Northeast Ohio for emergency food, housing, personal protective equipment (PPE), telehealth, virtual learning, mental health access, and support of grassroots organizations.
  • Three Northeast Ohio CEOs working in partnership: Craig Arnold, Eaton Corp; William Lacey, GE Lighting, a Savant company; and Fred Nance, Squire Patton Boggs – for initiating an effort within the business community at the start of the pandemic to close the "digital divide,” providing thousands of laptops and internet connections for urban, rural, elderly, and disabled residents in collaboration with organizations like PCs for People and the Greater Cleveland Partnership.
  • Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) – for its work as a convener, advocate, and resource for the region’s employers to address systemic racial inequalities which hinder economic growth. GCP’s Equity & Diversity programs train hundreds of professionals, leaders, and volunteers from businesses and community organizations to close racial disparities in jobs, income, and wealth, by growing businesses owned by people of color and increasing workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) – for its massive effort to provide comprehensive support for learning and basic needs for students, families, and teachers. Abrupt school closures, rapidly changing Covid-19 conditions, and multiple shifts to remote and hybrid learning models created challenges that were compounded by a widespread lack of technology and internet access, and food and housing insecurity. CMSD worked in partnership with local foundations and organizations to address these issues and to develop innovative solutions including such as Academic Learning Pods – 24 spaces in the community for 700 K-8 students from 80 CMSD schools for daily, safe remote learning under adult supervision.
  • The George Gund Foundation – for its $1 million grant to CMSD to support digital access needs, including laptops, hotspots, high speed Internet, for students and families who were struggling to learn remotely in one of the worst-connected cities in the nation. This follows a $14 million gift in 2019 for Say Yes to Education Cleveland and many other gifts in support of CMSD schools
  • Urban League of Greater Cleveland – for issuing a clarion call to action in 2020 — along with YWCA Greater Cleveland, United Way, and others —focused on the broad and negative consequences of systemic racism, and forming a public/private partnership for change.
  • Cleveland City Council – for passing legislation declaring racism a public health crisis, and for assembling a broad coalition of organizations to deeply engage the community in dialogue and pursue policies and strategies to bring about racial equity in Cleveland.
  • Cuyahoga County Government – for the efficient distribution of millions of dollars in CARES Act emergency funding to help meet some of the most urgent Covid-19 needs in our community — health and safety Covid-19 protocols; personal protective equipment (PPE); rent and utility assistance; support for local restaurants; funds to support the local creative economy including artists and performing arts venues. The County is also recognized for its current work to reduce racial inequities in health and healthcare, economic opportunities, equitable quality of life, and criminal justice in Cuyahoga County as part of the county’s declaration of racism as a public health crisis.
  • Black Lives Matter CLE – for organizing rallies and partnering with organizations to combat racism, violence, and the need for police reform and accountability. And, for drawing attention to these issues through The Mural Project on East 93rd Street, a colorful and hopeful message created by Black artists, now a community touchstone for expression, reflection, and unity.
  • Karamu House –the oldest African-American theater in the United States, for its production entitled Freedom on Juneteenth, an artistic and creative response to the murder of George Floyd in 2020 that also educates viewers on the history of Juneteenth. Karamu used its many (virtual) performances of Freedom, and subsequent panel discussions, to educate and activate the community about next steps in eradicating institutional racism, bridging the city’s racial divide, police reform, and police brutality.
  • Cleveland Public Theatre – for raising consciousness and nurturing compassion through groundbreaking performances and life-changing education programs, including Cleveland Act Now and the Y-Haven Theatre Project, and performances such as …Or Does it Explode?, an exploration of what it means to be Black, male, and young in the 21st Century.

41st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

Today’s video announcing the 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award winners is the finale of the social media portion of this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. The 41st MLK Celebration includes the following virtual activities:

  • The 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert, available to watch for free on the Adella digital streaming service (and at until Wednesday, April 14, 2021
  • Videos celebrating Dr. King’s life and legacy — including concerts by Cleveland Orchestra musicians featuring the work of Black composers, performances by community partners, and documentary-style videos showcasing Dr. King’s connections to Cleveland — released on social media. A full playlist of videos can be found on The Cleveland Orchestra’s YouTube channel.
  • TV and radio broadcasts of past Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concerts by The Cleveland Orchestra through a collaboration with ideastream® (WVIZ-TV, WCLV 104.9, and WCPN 90.3).

For more information about the Orchestra’s 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, read the full press release here.

Support for the 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

The Cleveland Orchestra extends its gratitude to KeyBank, our Community Access Partner, for its support of the 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.

The programs detailed in this release are supported in part by the Ohio Arts Council, which receives support from the State of Ohio and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the residents of Cuyahoga County through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

The Cleveland Orchestra’s Education and Community Programs Serving Northeast Ohio

The Cleveland Orchestra’s commitment to education and community service was central to the establishment of the Orchestra in 1918, and has never been more important. Over the past hundred years, The Cleveland Orchestra has introduced more than four million young people to symphonic music through live concert experiences. Today, with the support of many generous individual, foundation, corporate, and governmental funding partners, the Orchestra’s education and community programs in recent years have reached more than 100,000 young people and adults annually, helping to foster a lifelong relationship with music. As Music Director Franz Welser-MÓ§st leads the Orchestra into its second century with a renewed commitment to music education and community engagement based on his belief that every child’s life should include music, he continues to emphasize that the arts are critical to a well-rounded education and that learning is a lifelong pursuit and journey.

As we look to the future, we strive to be Cleveland’s Orchestra, engaging our diverse citizenry and building community through music, removing barriers to participation, advocating for and helping to facilitate equitable access to comprehensive music education in schools, nurturing the next generation of musicians and audience members, and harnessing the life-changing power of music to make the world a better place through new initiatives developed for even greater impact. For more information visit these links: Education, Community, and Learning Resources.

High resolution photos and video clips available upon request.