Beyond the Classroom: Timothy Roberts interns with Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones


Image of Timothy Roberts and Basheer JonesIn recent years, Historic Hough in Cleveland’s Ward 7 has rebounded from a community transformed by shifting demographics to a place to prototype economic solutions.

A native of the area, Lake Erie College rising junior and political science major Timothy Roberts has spent his summer interning with Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones, a longtime community activist. The council member, who also grew up in the Hough neighborhood, now represents Ward 7’s historic Hough district, St. Clair-Superior, Midtown and Asia Town.

A graduate of Morehouse College and author of “I’ll Speak for Change,” Councilman Jones has been a guest correspondent on CNN, MSNBC, and CSPAN. He also served as a regional field director for Organizing for America and the Democratic National Committee over the course of the 2012 presidential election. He is laser focused on a number of issues, including education

Roberts’s work with Councilman Jones has afforded him numerous opportunities for networking, on-the-job experience and self-discovery. He has had the unique opportunity to work toward revitalizing his home community and has seen how initiatives like an urban grape vineyard, the world’s first “biocellar” or year-round greenhouse built in the basement of abandoned homes, comprehensive social services, and a “take a book, give a book” Little Free Library have put Hough on the rebound.

Day to day, Roberts shadows Jones at meetings about legislation, transportation and properties, among other public matters. The council member sits on the Development, Planning & Sustainability; Health & Human Services; Safety; and Workforce & Community Benefits committees.

After designating itself a Little Free Library Neighborhood in the spring of 2018, Hough received a two-year supply of books about Marvel characters from Disney Publishing and for its “Hough Reads” program. Fittingly, Roberts and his team chose Marvel’s “Black Panther” (2018) as one of the six films to be screened at a community film series this summer.

For events like these, Roberts has met with steering committees to gain approval for aspects such as locations and content. The perk of this process is having input and assistance from liaisons in housing, safety, senior affairs and other areas of government.Image of food being distributed

Service to the community runs on a swift timetable in Ward 7. Cleveland is exploring ways to ameliorate its schools’ high dropout rate and “F” grade from the State of Ohio. As an example of these efforts, Roberts participated in a community Field Day for local high achieving middle school students to gain feedback from students firsthand.

Through another initiative, regular produce distribution serves to help the Greater Cleveland Food Bank feed 2,000 residents a month.

“Every week, he [Jones] comes up with something. And he wants it done really fast,” Roberts said.

Under the guidance of a massively successful mentor, Roberts is finding his pathway to law school. Additional minors in business administration and communication will support his goal of helping underserved communities as an attorney.

Living the intended purpose of a liberal arts education, Roberts has done an incredible job applying classroom learning to the real world to make an immediate difference. We look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next.

Click here to view a video recap of Timothy Roberts’s internship experience in Ward 7.

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