The Centers

In 2011, three well-respected human service agencies – Center for Families and Children, West Side Ecumenical Ministry and El Barrio – joined together as one new organization – The Centers – to expand services, reach more people, and take on new challenges. The Centers operates on the belief that lasting, positive change begins with access to opportunities, and is committed to bridging the opportunity gap by connecting as many people as possible to effective health care, education and essential human services. The Centers serves 25,000 people each year with a wide variety of services that are easily accessible from its 19 locations and community outreach across Greater Cleveland.

  • Center for Families and Children (CFC)

In 1968, inspirational community leaders Leona Bevis, Louise Humphrey and Nancy Lyon Porter shared the belief that a more cohesive approach to the problems facing families could be achieved by bringing several agencies together to form a more integrated service delivery system. This initial vision inspired five historic agencies to join forces in 1970 to form the Center for Human Services. The agencies that participated in this unique merger, Family Service Association, the Day Nursery Association, Traveler’s Aid Society, Cleveland Homemaker Service Association and Youth Service, all had rich histories of service to our community dating back to the mid-1800’s. With core strengths in early learning, behavioral health and youth and family services, the combined agency became one of the largest health and human service agencies in the Greater Cleveland area. In 1993, the agency’s name was changed to the Center for Families and Children (CFC) to more accurately reflect its focus and reach.

  • West Side Ecumenical Ministry (WSEM)

Founded in 1966, WSEM was created by members and clergy of five West Side churches who realized that by pooling their human and financial resources, they could do a better job of meeting the needs of the community than they could as individual congregations. As the organization expanded and changed, so did its partnerships with dozens of neighborhood and faith-based organizations, but it always stayed true to its fundamental believe that more could be accomplished by working together than by working alone. Over the years, WSEM expanded its services to include early learning, food distribution, behavioral health care and a stronger focus on workforce development, after its merger with El Barrio in 2004.

  • El Barrio

El Barrio was founded in 1990 to meet the needs of a growing Hispanic population on the near west side of Cleveland by two charismatic ministers who realized the need for helping people adjust to life in the Cleveland community. The agency provided a wide variety of basic services with a strong focus on workforce development and training. In 2004, the agency leaders approached the West Side Ecumenical Ministry with a desire to merge as the need for job creation and job development grew. The merger provided a bigger employment platform for services for El Barrio which has evolved into a nationally recognized program.

Today, The Centers employs more than 500 staff who reach more than 25,000 people annually and partners with leading hospitals, educational institutions and capacity-focused organizations to give as many people as possible the chance to build a better future.


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