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It is my honor to lead the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland. For more than half a century this institution has emphasized the importance of early childhood education and has been available to provide encouragement when area residents need it most, from cradle to career and beyond. While we have done great work serving hundreds of thousands of people – more than 20,000 last year –  we can better describe our mission, the services we provide and serve more residents in need.

This blog will tell the stories of our customers and our organization’s evolution: real Clevelanders who are striving to live better lives, one challenge, one day at a time.

There are more than 234,000 people who struggle to make ends meet in Greater Cleveland. Our youngest clients have literally been on the planet for mere days. The Council’s Early Head Start program serves children from birth to age three and Head Start from ages three to five. Our four-and-five-star rated preschool programs stimulate exploration, growth and learning both in and out of the classroom and actively involve mothers, fathers, guardians, aunts and uncles.

The learning does not stop there. We provide adult-level personal and family development programs ranging from basic life skills to constructive ways to handle stress and a variety of parenting topics. The Council’s job and career development program offers professional growth assessments and goal-planning sessions, as well as job readiness and customer service training workshops and job placement. For clients who need a financial helping hand, we administer the county’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which aids eligible individuals and families with cooling and heating bills.

In my first few months as president the Council has seen achievements, change, and progress. Please stay in touch with us as we enter 2016 – sign up for our enewsletter and “like” us on Facebook. Consider volunteering your time for our upcoming Spring early childhood learning enrollment campaign. More details coming soon. We appreciate your continued interest and support!

Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm is the President and CEO of the Council for Economic Opportunities