One of the core pillars of the CAFE is our ability to bring key stakeholders together to gain a deeper understanding of the education landscape, spark rigorous conversation, and identify actionable next steps. CAFE Conversations explore topics in education (or topics that affect education) as seen through the lenses of leaders in the field and their innovative approaches to those topics.


To Be Announced. Please check back soon.



3rd Annual Women in Leadership Reception honoring African American Women newly named to their leadership roles.



Join us as we discuss Monique Morris’s Documentary “PUSHOUT” Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools.



Philanthropy: A New Approach

Friends of The CAFE, 

Please join us for our next CAFE Conversation as we explore the topic of Philanthropy: A New Approach on September 22nd at 8:45amCDT. 

We have all, in some way, changed our philanthropic strategies as a result of the previously unimaginable events of 2020.  I look forward to moderating a robust discussion with two extraordinary leaders, Beth Swanson and Liz Dozier, as we explore the journey they have both begun to forever redefine the way their organizations operate. Please join us for this conversation where we will leave no stone unturned at this critical moment in our industry’s, and our nation’s, evolution.


Financial Literacy: What’s the Health of you Portfolio Pt. 2 Darrell Hacket, President, BMO Wealth Management and Paul King, Mark Moultrie, Levoi Brown and Todd Gilleyen.

In Part 2 of our financial literacy series, we took a deeper dive to discuss more specific topics on Banking and Investing. Because of the significance of the information being presented, this session was open to both African-American men AND women across the financial literacy spectrum.

In order to accommodate a more intimate discussion, we had simultaneous breakout sessions on these 2 topics.

Banking: Home Financing, Real Estate investing and Small Business Financing

  • Breakout facilitated by Levoi Brown & Mark Moultrie, BMO Wealth Management

Investing: Short -Term and Long-Term Investing Principals

  • Breakout facilitated by Paul King & Todd Gilleylen, BMO Wealth Management


Financial Literacy: What’s the Health of you Portfolio Pt. 1 with Darrell Hacket, President, BMO Wealth Management, Paul King and Levoi Brown

On August 12, Our colleagues and friends from BMO Harris Wealth Management Office provided part.1 of a 2- part series on Financial Literacy entitled : “What is the Health of Your Financial Portfolio?” We hosted an invaluable discussion, targeted specifically for Black Men. This first session provided the historical framework on the Black Wealth Gap and on building wealth.


Guy Talk: A Virtual Conversation on Black Men’s Well Being with Dr. Thomas Fisher Jr. MD, MPH, UChicago Medicine & Dr. Edwin McDonald IV MD. UChicago Medicine

As many of you already know, Don and I started The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education (The CAFE) several years ago to help students and professionals on their paths to leadership. One of the most important aspects of The CAFE is our desire to convene people around relevant topics across the broad education landscape. In recognition of Men’s Health Month (June), our initial intent was to convene a group of Black men to discuss important topics related to COVID-19 and other pressing health issues. However, in light of recent events, we updated the topic to  cover Men’s overall Well-Being. Women frequently get together to discuss topics like this, but men tend to gather with much less frequency for these types of discussions. Our hope was to change that. 



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Please SAVE THE DATE for our next CAFE CONVERSATION on Alternative Ways to Fund College with Daniel Rogers of A.M Money Inc., Marie-Claire Cartwright of Purdue and Kevin James of Better Future Forward.

We know this to be true…college affordability is an issue for the vast majority of students and families in our nation. And, as many people suffer under the enormous weight of financing a college education, there are organizations trying to come up with better solutions for the ever-increasing costs of higher education, including institutions of higher learning themselves. But, there is criticism around the very foundation of some of these options and we want to get to the bottom of the debate.



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Hello Friends,

With the holidays just around the corner, we invite you to join our CAFE team as we show appreciation for your support throughout 2019!

Please RSVP to




It is Possible: Closing the Degree Completion Gaps at Georgia State University

Senior Vice President for Student Success, Professor of Religious Studies

Since 2008, Dr. Timothy Renick has led strategies, initiatives and programs that have established Georgia State as an internationally recognized leader in student success and enrollment efforts. Under Dr. Renick’s leadership, Georgia State has produced one of the fastest growing graduation rates in the nation and has eliminated achievement gaps based on students’ race, ethnicity and income levels.Dr. Renick was named one of 2016’s Most Innovative People in Higher Education by Washington Monthly, was the recipient of the 2015-16 Award for National Leadership in Student Success Innovation and was awarded the 2018 McGraw Prize in Higher Education.

Georgia State University, through its innovative use of data, student advising redesign and other institution-wide initiatives, is widely regarded for improved college graduation outcomes among students of color, first generation students, and low-income students. With a specific focus on equity, Georgia State University is an example of how colleges and universities can, through focusing on students and removing barriers to their success, eliminate persistent degree attainment gaps across racial and socioeconomic lines. Come hear about the much lauded success of GSU from one of the primary architects of this turnaround, GSU’s Senior Vice President of Student Success Dr. Tim Renick.




Elected V. Appointed School Boards

Please join us for a Pop-Up Cafe Conversation

Elected VS. Appointed School Boards




Trauma Informed Education with Dr. Selwyn Rogers and Dr. Micere Keels

The jarring reality of trauma affects our community physically and emotionally, and has lasting implications on our future, especially for the youngest members of our community. On February 3rd, renowned trauma surgeon Dr. Selwyn Rogers, Founding Director of the Trauma Center and Executive Vice President for Community Health Engagement of the University of Chicago and Dr. Micere Keels, Associate Professor in the University of Chicago’s Comparative Human Department provided expert insight into trauma; how to identify key characteristics, and what we could learn about the implication of trauma in our schools. Please see a recap of the conversation, authored by Dr. Micere Keels, below:

  • Trauma has many different facets that require an accurate assessment and the appropriate supports to diminish its impact. This conversation served as one of many that has happened and will happen as we continue to address these issues in our city.
  • Trauma begins as exposure to traumatic events that overwhelms one’s coping resources, and traumatization is the psychological wound that lingers when people don’t receive interpersonal or institutional coping supports that restore their sense of safety. When traumatization occurs early in life many core aspects of development are disrupted, resulting in a loss of core cognitive, interpersonal, and self-regulation capacities
  • There are distinct types of trauma from historical trauma, to acute and chronic trauma, to system-induced trauma.
  • The intergenerational transmission of inequality occurs because of an interlocking system of historical trauma that sets up each new generation for different levels of exposure to traumatic life experiences and different levels of access to coping supports. 
  • Exposure to interpersonal violence, particularly gun violence and homicide, is significantly associated with income inequality, and is disproportionately experienced by African Americans. Neighborhood level disparities in income and violence significantly affect health and longevity. In Chicago, a distance of a few miles is associated with large gaps of up to 16 years in life expectancy.    
  • Many schools are serving student populations where it is reasonable to assume that all of the students are coping with traumatic stressors that create cognitive, emotional and behavioral dysregulation. These traumatic stressors include: housing and food insecurity, involvement with child protective and foster care systems, household and neighborhood violence, juvenile justice system involvement, etc.   
  • Research in neuroscience, psychological, clinical, and educational studies can be used to understand how trauma shows up in students’ classroom behaviors, and identify the educational practices and school policies that are responsive to the needs of traumatized students. The Trauma Responsive Educational Practices Project (TREp Project) is one research-translation project that is working on creating trauma-informed schools (



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A conversation with Dr. George Anders, American Business Journalist.

New York Time bestselling author, Pulitzker Prize winning journalist and Linkedin Editor, George Anders will examine the opportunities and obstacles that define today’s college-to-career pathway, with a particular focus on our most vulnerable students. He blends on-the-ground reporting with cutting -edge insights from LinkedIn’s Data resources.

Stay in touch: