In 2019, the Board members of The Cleveland Professional Twenty-Thirty Club began taking a closer look at its membership data. We quickly realized that 50% of our members were new to Cleveland or had recently returned (boomerang). With this data, we saw an opportunity to offer an event welcoming newcomers to the city. Thus began the inspiration for "Welcome to Cleveland. "
Initially, we aimed to attract 100 newcomers to an event featuring dynamic panel discussions highlighting our four pillars (education, networking, social & philanthropy), networking opportunities, and so much more. Unfortunately, the idea was paused when the 2020 pandemic occurred.
As unfortunate as it was then, it allowed our organization to reimagine what this event could be for our members. After evaluating our goals of what this event should be, we quickly realized this was meant to be more than just a one-time event. This is when "Welcome to Cleveland "transformed into the current four-month program model. When new to a city, one often looks for opportunities to make friends and connections, which is hard to do through a one-day event. A four-month program provides adequate time to build friendships and long-lasting connections. After three years of imagining, in August of 2021, we launched the first of many "Welcome to Cleveland" cohorts.
When the program was launched, the goal was to have 25 people per cohort. After successfully welcoming 25 members into the first cohort, the following three cohorts received forty to fifty registrants. The need for this program was real, and there continued to be newcomers arriving in Cleveland every day. The cohort participants are some of the best advocates of the program and often refer new people to the program.
The 150 cohort members have moved to Cleveland from over fifty major U.S. cities and eight international locations. While cohort four kicked off in March, cohort five will begin in August 2023.
What happens during this four-month program? On the first day of the program, everyone joins together for the first time over a networking brunch. The day starts with a variety of icebreaker games. Usually, within ten minutes of the kick-off event starting, laughter fills the room and remains throughout the hour. It then sets the tone for the additional events centered around our four pillars. We also create communication methods for all members to keep in touch over the coming months to foster genuine connections with one another.
If you or someone you know is interested in joining this incredible program, don't hesitate to get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or visit www.cleveland2030.org/welcome