Our Epiphany

Polis programming emerged out of a concern for Cleveland youth - youth whose futures are often determined by the lack of resources and stability.

As Claudia Coulton from the Center for Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University suggests, when youth have little or no access to employment (youth unemployment), and too much time on their hands (youth idleness), rates of youth violence increase. 

[Enter, Polis Woodworking]


Most woodworking shops are primarily concerned with the design and construction of custom products, and community-access shops with access to tools and equipment. Even if these shops provide programming, they lack a certain level of intentionality. But, Polis Woodworking brings together innovative product development, community access to tools and equipment, and youth and community development.

We are Cleveland’s first wholistic, community woodworking shop.

Overview of Programming

Polis engages kids and teens across the city through our Grassroots Initiatives, Empowerment Initiatives and Workforce Initiatives.

  • Grassroots Initiatives

Easy, accessible and fun, Polis’ Grassroots Initiatives offer short, two-hour workshops in both private and community settings. Where kids and teens can harness their imagination and discover their potential.

  • Empowerment Initiatives

Intensive and extensive, Polis’ Empowerment Initiatives are all about youth development. We intentionally use the Polis Triad as a rubric for assessing and tracking student progress, preparing students for their life beyond high school.

  • Workforce Initiatives

Students who have further interest in the design/build/marketing process or are looking for learning based work opportunities, have the option to join our wood product manufacturing business, Ethäs Emergence; giving students the opportunity to gain workforce experience as they prepare for their future careers.

Polis initiatives are designed to provide a bridge for youth to explore their imagination and creativity, to learn transferable skills and employable skills, in an atmosphere of that fosters social and emotional development (aka. The Polis Triad).

  • Transferable Skills

Via woodworking, students can obtain and develop transferable skills that equip them for their future, no matter the career path they choose.

  • Employable Skills

Students are given the opportunity to develop a solid work ethic while gaining work experience, increasing their employability.

  • Social and Emotional Development

As students are faced with challenges in the workshop, they are equipped with the tools to positively address their social and emotional response.

Ethäs Emergence is Cleveland’s first wood product manufacturer (specializing in cutting-edge jewelry displays) and Polis’ first DBA.  By providing workforce opportunities through DBA’s, like Ethäs, Cleveland youth are given an opportunity to learn and explore their interests while they are making money and collecting work experience.