The origins of Cleveland Inner City Ballet can be traced back to a 1998 chance meeting between Chanda Ford- White and Ward 7 Cleveland Councilwoman Fannie Lewis. Soon thereafter, Ms. Ford was recruited to teach ballet classes at Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood under the name of Hough Dance Company. Within three years well over 300 kids had benefited from professional dance education through ballet, modern dance, jazz and tap dance classes. This valuable exposure was conducted through afterschool and summer dance programs; live dance performance; and field trips to Playhouse Square, the country's largest performing arts center outside New York City, located in downtown Cleveland. The classes at Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center soon expanded to other community centers, daycare centers, and churches.
Cleveland Inner City Ballet was officially formed in 2001 under the direction of Founding Artistic Director Chanda Ford and soon expanded into its current programming. The organization's creation coincided with budget cuts that eliminated students exposure to the arts in local public education. Later in 2011, the nonprofit Pink Tutu Outreach Company was established to help the organization fully deliver on its mission. Since that time both components have been committed to identifying new and creative ways to engage students and the community in arts education and performance experiences at every level.