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NKU student to gain hands-on business startup experience through funded UpTech internship

Northern Kentucky University’s College of Informatics will produce a funded intern who will gain experience in the business startup world, thanks to sponsorship from Frank Caccamo of UpTech.
Caccamo serves on UpTech’s Board of Directors, and was a founding chairman of the College of Informatics’ Dean’s Advisory Board. 
“For over a decade, Frank Caccamo has been a leading force in shaping NKU’s College of Informatics and connecting it to the business community,” says Kevin Kirby, dean of the college and UpTech board member. “His work has led to countless great opportunities for students to engage in meaningful projects, and his generous support of the UpTech-NKU relationship will benefit both students and our startups."
UpTech offers a six-month accelerator program for startups that want to gain traction via marketing, fundraising, engaging in market research and excelling when it comes to pitching ideas.
Through its work with other businesses, hands-on experience will be provided to a student studying data analytics — fully immersing them in the field, while also allowing them to further his or her education.
“Through thick and thin, good and bad, ups and downs, Frank’s commitment to both of these institutions is unwavering and just remarkable,” says UpTech Board Chair Tom Prewitt. “He has given of himself in terms of time and talent, and now he has followed with his treasure.”
Do Good: 

•    Learn more about program offerings within NKU's College of Informatics.

•    Interested in becoming an UpTech mentor? Connect with the accelerator so you can begin utilizing your knowledge and skills to help startups. 

•    Consider ways in which you or your business could assist students.

Local musician uses his music to fuel anti-bullying initiative

Keenan West's life trajectory changed four years ago when he released a song titled "Never Ever." Without even knowing it, the Cincinnati musician started a wave of change.

A friend of West's wanted to take the lyrics to his song and make a music video to help raise awareness about bullying. He agreed and partnered with local high school students to release the video, and the rest was history. 

After an outpouring of support from the community and thousands of views on YouTube, West began his motivational speaking career and launched an anti-bullying campaign. Since then, he has had many different partnerships — with P&G, Warren County Violence Free Coalition, Pacer’s National Bully Prevention Center and Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Every year, schools across the country request for West to speak to their students about bullying. He started out visiting about 100 schools each year, and now plans to visit more than 300 schools during the 2016-17 academic year. 

His latest partnership resulted in a card game, Exposed, which challenges opinions on bullying by asking questions about the five main types of bullying: classroom, workplace, cyber, domestic and disabled. 

"It's a great opportunity to bring families together and create a dialogue," West says. 

Another of West's products is a school safety app, NoXclusion, which allows students to anonymously report bullying or safety issues.

"There is a great need for our young people to have the courage to speak up and stand up," West says. "Sometimes they feel like they need to do it in an anonymous way."

West also recently partnered with FTS Works, which started an anti-bullying initiative by reaching out to more than 6,000 schools across the country. The schools that are chosen will receive $2,000 to use toward an anti-bullying campaign in their school. 

Most people assume West was either a bully or the bullied. But he was neither. 

"I was what most students are — a bystander," West says. "Most students see bullying or someone being mistreated and look the other way. When you act like that, you're just as bad as the person doing the bad behavior."

West thinks most students have the power to fix the problem, and he's dedicating his life to showing them how. 

"No one is standing up and saying anything," West says. "It's their responsibility to do something. Instead of breaking up fights, they are recording them and posting them to YouTube. Kids have lost their lives, and some have been bullied bad enough that they committed suicide. This isn't about putting guilt on the kids, but to celebrate the kids who are getting involved."

Do Good:

• Bring Keenan West to your school to speak about how to combat bullying by contacting 513-486-6320 or by emailing info@keenanwest.com.

• Connect with Keenan on Twitter

• Learn more about FTS Works.

Hive helps undiscovered musicians reach new audiences

Early stage musicians can now reach a larger audience thanks to Hive, a music discovery and distribution platform that recently released an app to add to its partnerships with artists and organizations in the music industry.

Hive exists to connect the right listeners to artists who haven't been discovered quite yet, allowing music to be delivered in 30-second clips to help listeners swipe through what they do and don’t like. When a user swipes right on a song, it sends that clip to six random users with similar music preferences to help share that music and get the artist discovered.
Hive was one of eight startups to graduate from UpTech’s fourth accelerator class in February. 

“The one thing I’m most excited and passionate about — which is the core of what we’re doing — is helping change the way newer musicians get heard and spread the word about their music,” Hive CEO Andrew Savitz says. “The way the industry currently works is very difficult. It can be difficult to make money and get shows booked.

“The thing we’re truly most passionate about is that we’re making it so it doesn’t matter if you have the money or knowledge or not. All you need to focus on is making the best music you can.”

Hive allows independent artists to have a distribution tool that reaches a large network of music lovers and allows musicians to view real-time data on who is listening to their uploads.
Do Good:

• Download Hive in the App Store.

• Stay up-to-date with Hive on Twitter.

• For more information, visit Hive's website.

Center for Great Neighborhoods launches Healthy Corner Store Initiative

The Center for Great Neighborhoods recently launched the Healthy Corner Store Initiative to give Covington residents access to healthy food choices.
The Center is partnering with Kenton County Plan4Health (KCP4H) and four corner stores — Kimmy’s Korner, Bill’s Food Mart, Gutierrez Deli and Bob’s Food Market — to increase the amount of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables available for Covington residents. The stores were chosen based on the amount of families living below the poverty level in the area and the stores’ proximity to local schools.
“Kentucky is at the bottom 10 percent of most health indicators, and Kenton County is no exception,” says Kate Esarey, program manager for community development. “According to the USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas, 7 percent of Kenton County residents are considered to have limited access to healthy foods. We want to make sure every Covington resident has access to healthy foods, and we’ve formed some strategic partnerships to help us reach this goal.”
The initiative will also encourage students at local Covington schools to choose healthy snacks by providing them with Healthy Bucks they can exchange for snacks like fruits and vegetables.
“We want to teach children in Covington how to make good and healthy eating choices to help fuel them with energy, grow strong and develop good habits,” Esarey says. “The stores we’ve partnered with are dedicated to providing healthier food and invested in their communities.”
Do Good:

• Learn more about the Healthy Corner Store Initiative.

• Help support the Center for Great Neigborhoods by making a donation.

• Find your own ways to be healthy by choosing fruits and vegetables. 

Local group celebrates one year of random acts of kindness

Local group Random Acts of Kindness is celebrating its one-year anniversary by repeating a citywide clothing drive and hosting two fundraisers.
Rivertown Stomp will take place Jan. 22, while RAOK the Casbah will take place Jan. 30. Both will be hosted at Leapin Lizard Lounge in Covington.
Random Acts of Kindness started when Liz Wu saw a photo of scarves wrapped around trees circulating on the Internet after last year’s big snowstorm left the region hovering in single-digit temperatures. The scarves were not lost but a random act of kindness for strangers to take if they were cold.
Wu didn’t act on it right away, but the second time she saw the same photo she was inspired and wanted to pay it forward in the Greater Cincinnati area. She created a Facebook event for a citywide clothing drive, hoping a few friends would help her gather gloves, scarves, hats and other warm items.
Little by little, more than 100 people began showing their interest in the event, and within a span of 10 days more than 2,000 items were bagged and distributed throughout 35 Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods.
Since then, the group has continued to pay it forward through monthly community outreach projects, #Kindflash.
“One of the important integral assets to any of our monthly events is the interactive part,” Wu says. “We don’t just take donations and leave them. Our intention is to create a quality moment where people feel there is a one-on-one connection being made.”
And for a lot of volunteers, the relationships go beyond the visits. Many of them stay connected and have created lasting friendships with people they’ve met. For example, a volunteer is pen pals with a Brighton Center member. 
Wu hopes the Random Act of Kindness model will be replicated by others in their own lives and will help feed groups or initiatives who are interested in paying it forward.
Do Good:

• Join the Random Act of Kindness clothing drive.

• Attend Rivertown Stomp, 6 p.m.-12 m. Jan. 22 at Leapin Lizard Lounge, 726 Main St., Covington.

• Attend RAOK the Casbah 5 p.m.-12 m. Jan. 30 at Leapin Lizard. 

OTR eco garden teaches local youth how to grow organic vegetables

The eco garden that sits at 1718 Main St. across from Rothenberg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine teaches neighborhood kids self-reliance through the growth of organic fruits and vegetables. Managed by Permaganic owners Luke and Angela Ebner, it provides organic fruits and vegetables for Rothenburg as well as other organizations in the city, like the Freestore Foodbank.
Each summer, Permaganic hires 15-20 inner-city youths as part of its after-school internship program (originally a program of IMPACT Over-the-Rhine) and teaches them how to plant, harvest, grow and cook organic fruits and vegetables.
The garden also teaches kids to be kind of their neighbors through its CSA program.This year, Permaganic donated to a local women’s shelter on the West side. In previous years, food was donated to a local daycare center.
“The garden is a place where kids known they can come and learn, somewhere that’s positive for them," Ebner says. "It’s an oasis in this neighborhood, kind of a break from the chaos and concrete."
 Do Good:

• Donate to help support Permaganic’s mission and help raise $8,000 by their fundraising deadline, Dec. 31.

• Visit Permaganic’s website for more information.

• Stay up to date on events hosted at the garden on Facebook.  

Women-centered soHza partners with YWCA Cincinnati to connect with women across globe

In an effort to expand its reach locally and globally, soHza recently partnered with YWCA Cincinnati to connect women in developing countries across the globe with local women in need through handmade jewelry.

Some of the jewelry is made from melted down bullet casings and weapons, others from upcycled tin and bull horn. Anyone can purchase jewelry and accessory items online, where they can also choose the local organization they’d like to support with their purchase. 
Co-founder Debbie Lupariello launched soHza in April 2013 with her sisters Melissa and Vicki with the philosophy that, when women are at the center of change, anything is possible.
“When women buy these pieces of jewelry, they become part of the change and connect the story,” Lupariello says. “I think that is where women’s power is. We have the ability to see through so many barriers and connect with one another. That’s what we’re about, that’s the point of soHza.”
Approximately 15 percent of purchases will support various organizations that help women. Proceeds also help create sustainable income for women in 11 different countries like Vietnam, Ecuador, Colombia and the Philippines.
The recent partnership with YWCA Cincinnati will continue to empower and support women here in the U.S. as well as also across the globe.
“The whole idea of soHza is to partner women with other women to change the world,” Lupariello says. “We’re the same no matter where we come from. The more we tell that story, the more we can make positive change in the world.”
Do Good:

• Learn more about soHza’s mission.

• Support women around the world by purchasing a piece of jewelry.

• Read a story about one of soHza's artisans.

Toss for Techs to raise money for Per Scholas IT training

Per Scholas is hosting its inaugural fundraiser in the form of a cornhole tournament, Toss for Techs, Oct. 27 at CityLink Center.

Per Scholas provides free IT job training for low-income or unemployed individuals. Applicants are given technology and professional development skills training needed to get a job, and approximately 90 percent of the jobs Per Scholas graduates are landing provide benefits like medical insurance and paid vacation time.

The fundraising event will help Per Scholas continue to provide job training and job placement.
“We want employers to know we are here as a resource,” says National Director of Communications Jessicah White. “But we also need community support to stay here.”
The fundraiser will feature light food, drinks and general play cornhole. Aaron Mingo, a Per Scholas graduate, will share his experience in the program — he worked in the restaurant industry for more than a decade before going through the program and is now working as a support analyst at The Christ Hospital. 
More than 100 individuals have graduated the Per Scholas program in Cincinnati, but there are hundreds of graduates who have moved through the pipeline at Per Scholas’ other locations in Columbus, New York, Dallas and Washington, D.C. Per Scholas has been nationally recognized in WIRED Magazine, The New York Times and by the White House
Although Per Scholas has been in Cincinnati for a few years, the organization gained more traction after moving into the CityLink Center earlier this year.
“This move was transformational for us and helped us become more united with the community,” White says. “CityLink provides a holistic community approach, and we want to be a part of it. We want to make the community better.”
Do Good:

• Purchase tickets to the Toss for Techs fundraiser, 5-8 p.m. Oct. 27 at CityLink Center, 800 Bank St., West End. Tickets are $50 for general admission or $75 to play in the cornhole tournament.

• Help Per Scholas by donating or volunteering your time. 

• Follow Per Scholas on Instagram to see student testimonials. 

Next round of Creative Community Grants are available for Covington projects

Anyone with a creative solution to challenges in Covington can receive up to $5,000 through the Creative Community Grant program.

The program, funded through the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington (CGN), debuted last year. Throughout the next three years, officials hope to accomplish six rounds of grant funding for several creative projects. Each round will address a different issue identified by surveys, focus groups and community groups.

The second round, focusing on celebrating the bicentennial, is winding down and will close sometime in December. The third round is now open to interested applicants and will focus on inclusion in any shape or form, ranging from accessibility and disability to racial and social inclusion.

“These projects have allowed us to tackle things in a different way than what we would traditionally do,” says CGN Program Manager of Community Development Kate Esarey. “These are unique strategies that we, as a community development corporation, might not even think of.”

The solution doesn’t have to be art in the traditional sense but instead can be a mural, performance or even culinary art. Some of the applicants don’t have a background in art but found a way to creatively engage the community.

Once the project proposals are submitted, a panel and community members choose which projects they would like to see move forward.
Applicants can be individuals, a group or a businesses. The only caveat is that the project does have to take place in Covington.
The grant money can be used to compensate the artists themselves, or they can use some of it to invite the community to celebrate their finished product.
“A lot of these artists are seeing the value of coordinating with the community and doing things that fit in the social fabric of Covington,” Esarey says.

Do Good:

• Take a look at previous projects that have won Creative Community Grants.

• The deadline to apply for the next round is Nov. 16.

• For more information on the Center for Great Neighborhoods, visit its website.

ReSource, Phillips Edison launch "On the Rise" initiative to connect YPs with nonprofits

When ReSource isn’t helping area nonprofit organizations by distributing corporate donated furniture and office supplies, it's connecting them with talented young professionals.

ReSource’s new YP program, On the Rise, is the product of a partnership with Phillips Edison real estate investors.

Maybe a nonprofit needs help setting up its website or taking a closer look at its finances. Maybe it need someone who knows a little about marketing or event planning. On the Rise will pair those non-profit organizations with Cincinnati area young professionals who have experience in relevant subjects.

“This allows young professionals to help nonprofits in a meaningful way beyond just volunteering,” says ReSource Executive Director Christie Brown. “They might not have money early in their careers to support a cause, but they do have talents and skills.”

ReSource plans to host a series of networking events designed to pair its nonprofit members and their business needs with skilled young professionals, essentially playing matchmaker.

“We are excited about this partnership because it allows us to impact multiple organizations at the same time while also accessing a key talent base in the Cincinnati area that we will need to engage in order to support our growth as a company,” says Phillips Edison COO Bob Myers.

Do Good:

• Like ReSource on Facebook to learn more about how they serve the nonprofit community in Cincinnati.

• For more information about the On the Rise initiative, contact Christie Brown.

• ReSource is always looking for gently used donations to redistribute to nonprofits in need.

Rank & select area healthcare providers through new searchable databases at Your Health Matters

Area residents can make better choices about their healthcare, specifically when it comes to choosing a primary care physician or hospital, thanks to YourHealthMatters.org. The online rating tool was developed locally by the Health Collaborative based on patient experience data.
Results are calculated from a survey mailed to patients who have recently visited their doctor. To eliminate bias, patient responses are randomly sampled and compiled by an independent research company, which are then submitted to Your Health Matters. 
Practices are measured in four core areas: getting care when needed, how well doctors communicate, courteous and helpful office staff and overall rating of the doctor.
“Everyone needs a provider,” says Health Collaborative Director of Communications Shannan Schmitt. “Everyone wants to know who is doing well and who’s listening. This is exactly what we want Your Health Matters to be — a one-stop shop for finding the right doctor.” 
Your Health Matters also rates practices on diabetes care, cardiovascular health and colon cancer screenings.
Since its launch in 2010, YourHealthMatters.org has seen an overall improvement in doctor and hospital ratings, with Cincinnati ranking higher than the national average.  
"Your Health Matters has become a model of our region,” Schmitt says. “Not everyone has this platform. This is a model that can be replicated in other cities and is definitely something our community should be proud of.”
New ratings are set to be released later this month or in early October.
Do Good:

• See for yourself and compare ratings of area medical providers.

• Stay connected with Your Health Matters on Facebook.

• To learn more about YourHealthMatters.org, visit the website.

Cincinnati Zoo promotes Go Bananas! Challenge to recycle old cell phones

Cell phone users can recycle their old phones and save endangered gorilla habitats thanks to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

The zoo’s recycling program, Project Saving Species, is part of a national competition, the Go Bananas! Challenge. Coltan, a metallic ore used in cell phones, is mined in endangered habitats in Africa, which causes gorillas to be displaced or poached due to the destruction of their homes.

In an effort to reduce the need for coltan, the zoo is collaborating with The Gorilla Glue Company and Eco-Cell for the fourth year in a row to ask organizations, schools and community youth groups to create to collect and recycle cell phones to help save gorillas.

Cincinnati Zoo Project Manager Molly Szabo says the previous campaign recycled 8,096 devices and raised $5,848.60 between Aug. 1, 2014 and April 14, 2015.

The Go Bananas! Challenge is pretty simple: Collect old phones and turn them into the zoo. The school, business or scout group that collects the most phones wins $4,000. Once a group is registered, it will be provided cell phone collection bins and postage labels or pick-up service.

All phones must be received by April 3, 2016. The winner will be announced April 24, 2016, Szabo says.

Do Good:

• Join the Go Bananas! Challenge and register your group online. 

• Don’t want to participate but have an old phone to recycle? Take it to the Cincinnati Zoo or one of the specified partner drop-off locations.

• For more information on how you can help, contact Molly Szabo.

Clovernook Center's manufacturing prowess featured on "Home Factory" TV show

More than 5 million biodegradable and compostable cups were produced last year right here in Cincinnati at the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Two million of those cups went to the U.S. Navy, and the remaining 3 million were sold through third party sales at local stores like Target, Party City and Whole Foods.  
Clovernook was recently featured on an episode of "Home Factory," an FYI Network TV show that tours production facilities in North America and reveals how everyday household objects are made.
The cups are available in 10 oz. or 16 oz. sizes in various patterns and colors and can be custom printed.

“People have seen these cups and don’t even realize they were made right here in North College Hill,” says Coral Dill, manager of communications & development.  

Clovernook, whose mission is to provide life-enriching opportunities to people who are blind and visually impaired, employed approximately 70 blind or visually impaired employees last year.

“A lot of people underestimate the power of people who are blind or visually impaired,” Dill says, “but the sense of community here is the most fulfilling. There’s such a sense of comraderie and self-empowerment.”

Clovernook is also one of the top two largest braille printing houses in the U.S., producing 40 million pages on an annual basis.

Do Good:

• Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is always looking for volunteers.

• Help support Clovernook's mission by giving.

• “Like” Clovernook on Facebook and stay up to date on fundraisers and events. 

Funke pottery studio encourages individual empowerment

Whether you’re looking to hone your ceramic skills or just starting out, Funke Fired Arts is a place where anyone can be an artist.
Funke’s instructors teach every level of a smorgasbord of classes: wheel throwing, handbuilding and sculpture. 
“People always say, ‘I don’t have a creative bone in my body,’” says Ben Clark, director of instruction. “But if you get them to take just one class, it opens a part of them they didn’t know they had. Creating something new makes people feel great. You realize how many talents you have beyond your day-to-day job.”
Funke is one of the largest clay studios in the country. The facility has multiple kilns and more than 50 spinning wheels. There are other studios, a gallery and a children’s education center as well.

But what makes Funke unique is its full-retail service shop, which sells clay, glaze, raw materials, tools, wheels, kilns, bricks, etc. They have formed several relationships with art teachers in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas in order to expand their reach. The money that comes in from art product purchases can be used to invest in education for local communities, Clark says. 

The studio is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m-5 p.m. Friday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Do Good:

• Get your hands dirty and register for a class at Funke Fired Arts, 3130 Wasson Road, Hyde Park.

• Become friends with Funke on Facebook.

• Support Funke by buying local art products.

UC Economics Center honors those who promote financial literacy

UC’s Economics Center hosted its eighth annual awards luncheon two weeks ago to honor students, educators and sponsors making a difference in society’s understanding and implementation of financial literacy. More than 700 business leaders and educators joined together for the event, in which General Electric’s Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt addressed economic empowerment and “The Next Industrial Era.”
“I learned there are four things that competitive societies focus on: education, small business, the infrastructure and more competitiveness from government,” Immelt said. “We see those things in the state of Ohio.”
Because of support from local businesses and individuals who value the mission of the Economics Center, it’s able to offer programming and resources to schools and teachers who can empower students with the knowledge needed to be successful in a changing economy.
The Center, for example, works with schools to implement the Student Enterprise Program (StEP), in which students earn currency — for things like turning in homework or arriving to school on time — which they can later spend at the StEP store. It fosters critical thinking and an awareness of entrepreneurship, spending and saving. (See the StEP video shown at the awards event here.)
Immelt, who grew up in Cincinnati, is a model for success and what one can attain when knowledgeable about economics, and said he’s determined to make sure our youth “have the hunger, the discipline and the skills to continue to go out and face the world with confidence.”
“We need great people to help them do that,” Immelt said at the March 16 event. “That’s our job — to teach the next generation how to compete, how to make a difference in the world, the value of economic strength and how to be focused on innovation and humility, accountability and purpose. When we do well we win together, and that’s what’s happening here.”

Do Good:

• Make a difference by giving to the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati.

• Make a difference by volunteering.

• If you're interested in becoming a corporate sponsor, contact the Center.
77 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All
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