PEP Rally for Kids Celebrates Growth and Change

This year’s PEP Rally for Kids raised more than $160,000 – a new record – to help kids learn and grow.

Thank you to the more than 300 individuals who attended our event on May 15 at Windows on the River. We are especially grateful for the support of our premier sponsors: Benesch, Case Western Reserve University, HylandThe NRP Group and Jane & Jon Outcalt Foundation. For a full list of this year’s sponsors, click here to view our program book.

“When we held our first PEP Rally 11 years ago, we raised $11,500 – just enough support to clear our costs,” said Ken Outcalt, chair, PEP Board of Directors. “The momentum that we’ve built over the last decade is a testament to our community’s belief that all kids can learn and grow. It’s also a testament to the 500 dedicated teacher-counselors who work tirelessly to bring out the best in the kids we serve.”

PEP CEO Habeebah R. Grimes added, “It is a tremendous joy to know our work is held in such high regard by the community we serve. I am especially grateful to the leadership of our PEP Board whose members give so generously of their time and resources to ensure PEP continues to thrive.”

This year, we had the pleasure of honoring Case Western Reserve University, which continually uses its knowledge and assets to create positive growth and change for our community and beyond.

Newly elected Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody J. Stewart, the first African-American woman elected to this position, offered the keynote address. Stewart, who grew up in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood and East Cleveland, spoke about her unique path to the state’s highest court. Her path took her first to a Conservatory for a degree in music, then to law school for her Juris Doctor, culminating at CWRU’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, where she earned her Ph.D.

Stewart’s passion for music traces back to her kindergarten class. When other kids would go out for recess, Stewart gravitated to the classroom piano. Years later, the kindergarten teacher who nurtured that early love of music attended Stewart’s dissertation defense.

“I believe everyone has gifts to offer,” Justice Stewart told the audience. “Everybody has the opportunity to contribute in some meaningful way to our society.”

Growth and change is a common theme in our work at PEP. We believe that every child – no matter their situation, struggle or circumstance – can learn, grow and even thrive.

Our honoree this year – Case Western Reserve University – appreciates our community and its people in very much the same way.

PEP and all of Greater Cleveland are stronger because of Case Western Reserve University.

Many of our community’s deepest challenges such as poverty, violence and trauma are disproportionately experienced by many of the families we serve. Each day, CWRU’s dedicated students, faculty and staff confront these challenges through groundbreaking research, community involvement, education and service.

PEP has directly benefited from much of this work.

We’ve participated in research projects through the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education.

We’ve forged a natural partnership with the Center on Trauma and Adversity given our mutual connections to Dr. Bruce Perry and The ChildTrauma Academy. We look forward to working together to advance our shared mission of building a trauma-informed community.

When PEP was looking to develop a new facility to serve children with autism, we reached out to Lynn Singer at the university. Dr. Singer took that conversation to heart and helped drive the development of the International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICARE).

The essential work of the Schubert Center for Child Studies, which leverages research in the direction of policy, and then translates policy to action, connects to many PEP priorities, namely early childhood development and the recent work around lead abatement.

PEP has a deeply personal connection to the Fowler Center for Business as Agent of World Benefit. We had the privilege to work with David Cooperrider who led our Appreciative Inquiry Summit. We have continued to use this process to ensure the agency evolves to best serve children and their families.

CWRU has been a powerful community asset throughout its history.

During President Barbara Snyder’s leadership, the institution has put a renewed emphasis on serving the community it calls home: Cleveland, Ohio.

VIDEO: PEP CEO Habeebah Grimes discusses how rhythmic activities calm the stressed brain, soothe the hyper-aroused stress response system and make the brain’s neuronal pathways for higher-order thinking accessible for problem solving and learning.

VIDEO: PEP staff and students, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody J. Stewart and CWRU President Barbara R. Snyder lead the audience in a therapeutic drumming exercise.

VIDEO: Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody J. Stewart’s keynote address

VIDEO: PEP Board Chair Ken Outcalt presents the PEP Rally for Kids Award to CWRU President Barbara R. Snyder.