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LNGC to host 26th annual adult community-wide spelling bee on April 27


Spellcheck and autocorrect may be today’s norm, but the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati is keeping spelling relevant with its 26th annual Adult Team Spelling Bee, which is slated for April 27 at The Holy Grail at The Banks.

Local businesses, organizations and individuals are invited to sponsor teams of three who will compete for the title of Cincinnati’s best spellers, with all proceeds benefitting the LNGC and the programs it offers.

“The Spelling Bee is a fantastic way to help those in our community who struggle with basic reading,” says Michelle Otten Guenther, president of the LNGC. “With thousands of adults and children in Cincinnati fighting to overcome illiteracy, events like this make our much-needed programs possible.”

Not only does the Spelling Bee promote literacy awareness, but it also promotes teambuilding as corporations, small businesses, schools, families, friends and nonprofit participants take on a competitive yet encouraging spirit.

“It is a win-win for us,” says Harry Cappel, partner at Graydon Law Firm and LNGC board member. “The event instills a sense of pride and teamwork among colleagues in the firm. We are proud to be part of this unique event to help improve literacy.”

Graydon is conducting an Internal Spelling Bee, which is new this year. Employees will use a provided toolkit to conduct a Bee of their own leading up to the event to make sure top spellers will compete at the community-wide event.

The LNGC will award prizes to the top two teams, in addition to the team with the most spirit. For those who want to sit back and enjoy the show, happy hour admission ($20; includes two drink tickets) can be purchased at the door.

DO GOOD:

- Sign up to sponsor a team today.

- Want to be a spectator? Mark your calendars for 4:30 p.m. on April 27 to watch the Spelling Bee fun.

- Support the LNGC by volunteering or donating today.
 


Michael Coppage is using art to start discussions about mental health


For one local Talbert House employee, thinking about the population served within the workplace extends well beyond the hours of a normal workday.

As a Housing Supervisor, Michael Coppage works with individuals facing mental health issues on a daily basis, and as an artist, he has the ability to shed light on some of those issues in a creative way. He aims to prompt discussion and promote inquiry through his art.

“The need to fit in and ‘be normal’ is often the biggest barrier to medication adherence and routine mental health treatment for the young African-American male population diagnosed with mental illness,” Coppage says. “We need all the help and support we can get.”

Coppage was recently honored with the Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Foundation’s Enlightenment Award for his artwork, which has enabled him to explain different topics, such as mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it, to adults and children alike.

Currently, his mural is on display in Over-the-Rhine, courtesy of ArtWorks, at Goetz Alley at 13th Street. His previous work has been displayed in Columbus at the FRESH A.I.R. Gallery on a multitude of occasions.

“Thanks to Michael’s efforts and passion for our clients’ wellbeing, our community is better educated on this important topic,” says Talbert House’s president and CEO Neil Tilow. “And our clients are more likely to be welcomed by a community that sees them for more than their mental illness.”

DO GOOD:

- Work to encourage your family and friends to both acknowledge and address issues of mental health.

- Support the Talbert House by donating.

- Connect with the Talbert House on Facebook.
 


Music Resource Center hosting quarterly youth showcase tomorrow night


Cincinnati youth will have the opportunity to showcase their talents and potential tomorrow evening at The Sampler. The event provides a public outlet, on a quarterly basis, for Music Resource Center performers.

Housed within the MRC — an Evanston/Walnut Hills-based nonprofit that offers a rehearsal space and studio time for teens, grades 7-12, who can then learn from and receive mentorship from industry professionals as they create and hone their craft — is The Venue. The lounge-style space is where The Sampler will make its debut.

“Providing members with an opportunity to bring their ideas to the stage feels like the perfect way to celebrate how far they’ve come as young artists,” says Nick Rose, MRC's program manager.

From 5:30 to 6 p.m., community members are invited to mingle over a casual dinner, which is provided by Snack in a Sak — a nonprofit that regularly provides nourishment for MRC members who may not otherwise have access to a healthy meal — prior to the live performances, which will take place from 6 to 7 p.m.

"I love how our Sampler brings together people from all walks of life,” says MRC's founder and executive director, Karen D’Agostino. “Students, volunteers, donors and staff share a meal and celebrate the music being created at MRC.”

And the music produced, which students have the opportunity to create at a membership rate of just $2 a month via private instruction at an equipped space, is empowering.

“Music Resource Center’s youth take great care in developing their songs and learning about music,” Rose says. “It’s amazing to see them bounce their creative lyrics and beats among our teaching staff.”

DO GOOD:

- Attend The Sampler tomorrow night. The event is free with parking available in the lot adjacent to the MRC.

- Like what you see? Support the MRC by donating.

- Spread word about the MRC, and like its page on Facebook.
 


Studio C announces new class, focuses projects on poverty reduction via family-centered approaches


Studio C, a free project incubator for nonprofits, is now underway as 17 teams are in week one of the program. The 12-week curriculum is aimed at reducing poverty via family-centered approaches.

The topic for this week’s session is Project Framing.

While most of the chosen nonprofits have some idea as to what they want to accomplish throughout the course of the program, the first three weeks are really about “defining that purpose,” says Design Impact’s Sarah Corlett, a co-facilitator for the program.

“We’re throwing a lot of new ways of thinking at them,” she says.

After the initial three weeks spent thinking about systems and people, getting a feel for the time commitment Studio C requires (27 hours of Studio C sessions and about 20 hours of outside work on their projects) and the feasibility for the implementation of a new project within each respective nonprofit, informal interviews will be conducted and the playing field will be narrowed yet again.

Only 8 teams move forward in the program," Corlett says. "After the first three weeks we look at team commitment, organizational leadership support and potential for community impact."

The current listing of chosen teams is as follows:

“We had more of a focus this year, which I think will be good in that they’re working toward a common goal,” Corlett says.

Seven of the 17 nonprofit teams are Studio C “repeats,” as they have found new and successful approaches to move their ideas forward and implement change in past sessions.

“They have new challenges and new things they want to work on,” Corlett says. “They’re back because they found it so helpful.”

Look for more on Studio C teams to see how they’re progressing in coming issues.
 


ReelAbilities Film Festival to showcase 60 films about living with disabilities


In years past, the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival has attracted more than 8,000 attendees, but this year’s Festival is shaping up to be bigger than ever.

With celebrity guests like Breaking Bad's RJ Mitte (Walter White "Flynn" Jr.), various discussions and workshops, themed parties and celebrations and 60 film screenings — all of which will be showcased at the Duke Energy Convention Center, this year's Festival is becoming what Director of Public Relations Lisa Desatnik says is a true Hollywood style film event. 

“The films are world class,” she says. “A number have won awards — they’re coming from all over.”

Organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled, RAFF aims to showcase the lives, stories and artistry of those with disabilities.

According to Desatnik, 1.3 billion individuals worldwide — a number equivalent to the population of China — are living with a disability, and face challenges with dexterity, cognition or the senses. This section of the population includes veterans and those with mental health issues.

“People will leave the Festival with different ideas of what disability is,” Desatnik says. “It’s a beautiful way to break down barriers to the community with questions about diversity and difference.”

To enrich the lives of those with disabilities, proceeds from the Festival will benefit 28 local nonprofits. Previous years’ festivals have helped local organizations tremendously. For example, the 2015 RAFF generated $50,000 for 17 local nonprofits, but this year it is on target to raise much more.

“Each screening is matched with a nonprofit that serves people with a disability,” Desatnik says. “They share a work that’s all about strengthening lives of those with disabilities.”

This year’s event also includes a tribute to veterans, an Interfaith Breakfast that will kick off a year-long effort of religious institutions supporting inclusion efforts through art and film and Family Fun Shorts — a showing that will feature a variety of animated short films.

“I love that it’s getting young kids involved and opening the community up to talking about difference,” Desatnik says. “It should make Cincinnati proud to see how many businesses, nonprofits, academic and governmental institutions are supporting the festival. Its impact is broad and far-reaching.”

DO GOOD:

- RAFF is still in need of volunteers. You’ll receive a free T-shirt and two tickets to a film if you sign up to help.

- Purchase tickets to this year’s festival. RAFF will run March 9-12, with all film screenings at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

- It’s not too late to sponsor the event. Contact the Cincinnati RAFF today.
 


High school musicians will work with the CSO and Pops to put on a concert in April


Local high school students are practicing for what's bound to be a memorable performance.

On April 11, a combined orchestra — made up of students from Indian Hill, Mariemont and Madeira high schools — will perform under the conductorship of Cincinnati Pops’ John Morris Russell.
 
Along the way, they’ll receive coaching from Russell, as well as from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Pops assistant conductors and musicians.
 
The concert is part of a longstanding and collaborative effort that is a key aspect of the CSO’s education and community engagement initiative.
 
“I’m thrilled we are continuing this collaboration for the fifth year in a row,” Russell says. “It’s a joy to see how this program has developed as well as the intense dedication of the student musicians and faculty members in rehearsing and performing together on this very special event.”

The opportunity to perform under the guidance of a top-notch and respected conductor fosters talent and discipline, says Ahmad Mayes, the CSO’s director of education and community engagement. “As the leading music organization in the region, the Orchestra embraces instrumental instruction as a tool for learning and change.”

And when students are highly engaged and inspired, they are capable of producing content that allows them to further recognize their creativity and strength.

“One of the most gratifying endeavors as Pops conductor  is working in the community with music educators, developing self-discipline, creativity, teamwork and love of beauty in our students," Russell says.

Do Good: 

•    Mark your calendars for April 11. Students will perform at 7 p.m. at Indian Hill High School. 

•    Explore ways you can create musical opportunities for students within the classroom.

•    Know a talented young musician? Check out the various opportunities for growth offered by the CSO and Pops.
 

Annual Securing the Future Conference to challenge and inspire nonprofits


It’s time to end the “Nonprofit Hunger Games,” says Vu Le, author of the blog Nonprofit With Balls
 
Le will serve as keynote speaker at this year’s Securing the Future conference — an annual event aimed at helping nonprofits build their resources and skills — which will be held on Feb. 23 at Xavier University.
 
This year’s topic — because nonprofits have a lot of balls to juggle — is Nonprofit Juggling: People, Perspectives & Priorities. 
 
“This is a one-of-a-kind event in our region, and it is something the nonprofit community looks forward to each year,” says Jenny Berg, executive director of the Leadership Council for Nonprofits, which provides programming for other nonprofits, enabling them to build capacity and gain a network of support. “It brings together nonprofit leaders, funders, board members and businesses to network, learn, challenge, inspire and support the nonprofit community.”
 
This will be the first year the Leadership Council has taken ownership of the annual conference, which began in 2002 as a project of Class XXIV of Leadership Cincinnati, and Berg is excited to take part in hosting it as the lineup of events is a “don’t miss” opportunity, she says.
 
In addition to a keynote address from Le, local leaders will host breakout sessions focused on effectively utilizing individuals connected to nonprofits, whether they be internally or externally involved, ensuring a variety of perspectives are heard and considered, and staying true to one’s mission in spite of pressures that may arise.
 
“It is important to the success of our region to invest in and build up a strong foundation of nonprofits, which in turn makes our community stronger, and more attractive to great talent, development and culture,” Berg says. “If you want to be challenged, encouraged, uplifted, uncomfortable, entertained and to grow, then this is the conference for you. You’ll walk away wondering, ‘What’s one thing that’s too important for me/my organization to juggle — that one thing I simply can’t afford to drop — and how will I ensure it doesn’t get juggled?’”

Do Good: 

•    View the schedule for Securing the Future to learn more.

•    Register by Feb. 17 if you would like to attend Securing the Future.

•    Follow the Leadership Council on Twitter.
 

Female philanthropists to award nonprofits with more than $400k in 2017


For the third straight year, Impact 100 has sustained its member base and will again be able to offer four local nonprofits grants of $101,000 each.
 
With more than 400 women ranging in age from their early 20s to their 80s, the all-female philanthropic group makes it a point to individually pledge $1,000 per year. This allows the organization to pool their money and provide nonprofits with the funds and capacity needed to transform lives. The group will recognize grant recipients at its annual awards celebration on Sept. 12.
 
A record number of applications were submitted this year from five focus areas: culture, education, environment, family and health and wellness.
 
Final applications from those receiving letters of intent are due March 24, at which point they will be further reviewed.
 
According to Impact 100 president Donna Broderick, it’s both exciting and encouraging to see women step up for the good of the community and empower themselves by voting on the nonprofit they feel most passionate about.
 
“It is a testament to the humanitarian spirit of the women of our region that Impact 100 has gone from offering one grant in 2002, to offering four $101,000 grants in just 15 years,” Broderick says. “More importantly, these dollars have improved, and in some cases, changed the lives of many of those served by the organizations that have received our grants.”

Do Good: 

•    Learn more about previous grantees to see how they're transforming lives and communities.

•    If you're a female interested in philanthropy, join Impact 100. New members are always welcome.

•    Connect with Impact 100 on Facebook.
 

La Soupe on a mission to double its reach in 2017


Looking for a special way to enjoy Valentine’s Day?
 
Whether it’s with that special someone, a family member or a friend, La Soupe is offering a way for you to celebrate by “paying with your heart.”
 
The nonprofit, which rescues nutritious ingredients from otherwise wasted food and then prepares dishes in an effort to combat food insecurity, will serve its soups at Union Hall on Feb. 14.
 
The goal: to immerse itself within the startup movement while aiming to double its expansion efforts.
 
“Cincinnati is ranked the no. 2 city in the U.S. for childhood poverty; at the same time, 40 percent of all food in the U.S. is wasted,” says Jessica Kerr, La Soupe’s director of development. “La Soupe’s mission is to bridge this gap.”
 
According to Kerr, the nonprofit has rescued more than 125,000 pounds of food and donated 95,000 servings of soup to people in need.
 
“That equates to saving 270 cubic yards of landfill,” Kerr says. “However, we are at our capacity with our 900-square-foot building. We are fundraising to expand our location so we can double the amount of food we rescue and soups we share.”
 
Next week’s Union Hall event will feature #StartUpCincy member companies, most of which are physical in nature. But for Kerr, the hope is this: “That people will stop by to taste some soups, see what Union Hall has to offer and shop around for any last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts.”
 
The event will feature soups from its Bucket Brigade chefs, including Orchids at Palm Court’s Todd Kelly, Salazar’s Andy Hiner and Maribelle’s Mike Florea. Soup will be free of charge, though donations will be accepted to help the nonprofit reach more individuals in the days to come.
 
“We are so excited to be welcomed into the #StartUpCincy community,” Kerr says. “Cincinnati’s startup scene revolves around innovation of all kinds (not just tech), and our goal is to show the city — and the country — that increasing collaboration among tech and social companies can solve major problems through innovation. We are dedicated to utilizing technology to bridge Cincinnati's food waste and food insecurity gap.”

Do Good: 

•    Check out La Soupe at its Feb. 14 event, or via its Soupe Mobile at Mariemont Square on Feb. 28. 

•    Interested in La Soupe and its Soupe Mobile? Follow the schedule on Facebook and Twitter at @SoupePassionne. 

•    Support La Soupe by donating today.
 

Calling nonprofits: Studio C incubator accepting apps now through Feb. 20


For nonprofits interested in better serving others via creative means — specifically for those aiming to address issues of poverty from a family-centered approach — Studio C is accepting applications now through Feb. 20.
 
Studio C is a 12-week project incubator for nonprofits and community organizations that are looking to “spend more time than usual getting acquainted with a problem, studying it and checking it with the community,” says Design Impact’s Sarah Corlett, who is a co-facilitator for the program.

Check out the takeaways of some of Studio C's past participants below:


 
For Mike Baker, United Way’s director of community impact, it’s a way for organizations to pair up with others who approach problems differently and ultimately find a way to move their ideas forward.
 
“The impact we are most proud of is when we see organizations shift their culture to be more human-centered,” Baker says. “They change from approaching opportunities with a mindset of ‘What do we know?’ to a mindset of ‘What can we learn?’”
 
United Way, which is funding the initiative, partnered with Design Impact — they're providing the curriculum for the 12 weeks of discussions, workshops, coaching and hands-on activities.
 
“We believe there are unproven — but potentially transformational ideas — and we have a responsibility for supporting the creation, development and implementation of these ideas,” Baker says. “We are particularly interested in the role that human-centered design can play in helping nonprofits and community organizations more intimately understand the aspirations, strengths and challenges of the people they are trying to help.”

Do Good: 

•    Are you a nonprofit interested in a family-centered approach to alleviating poverty? If so, apply for Studio C's spring session by Feb. 20. 

•    Curious about the Studio C curriculum? Learn more here.

•    Questions or comments? Don't hesitate to reach out to share your ideas or concerns. Contact those who are part of Studio C today. 
 

Local STEM Bicycle Clubs gain momentum in fourth year


Students at 12 local schools will receive 160 bicycles this week, which they will learn to disassemble and reengineer — eventually ending up with a finished product and a new mode of transportation.
 
The project — initially debuted at Woodward Career Technical High School — is now in its fourth year. It has grown significantly over the years, and is a huge success, says Mary Adams, project manager of the Greater Cincinnati STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Collaborative — the nonprofit organizer of GCSC Bicycle Clubs.
 
“Twelve clubs means that in year four, we are reaching more kids, getting them engaged, making learning fun and creating an impact,” Adams says. "That impact, repeated in data and heard last week during the professional development training for club leaders, is that STEM Bicycle Clubs give kids experiences that build confidence and get them to think about career possibilities they didn’t even know exist.”
According to Woodward’s Resource Coordinator Casey Fisher, students tend to have “tunnel vision,” thinking the only STEM careers out there are in the medical fields — doctors and nurses.
 
Through her three years of experience as a Bicycle Club project leader, Fisher has witnessed first-hand the direct impact mentors, including those from GE, have had on students’ lives.
 
“[Students were] shy, not as social, reserved and intimidated at first,” Fisher says. “By midway, these kids were engaged, asking questions without prompts, learning how to be a family and relating to science, technology, engineering and math.” 

Do Good: 

•    Learn more about the GCSC by connecting with the nonprofit on Facebook.

•    With more support, the GCSC can continue to expand its Bicycle Clubs, reaching even more students. Support the GCSC today.

•    The GCSC is accepting applications for its Summer of STEM 2017 mini-grants through Feb. 17. Learn more, and apply today.
 

DePaul Cristo Rey's work study program allows students to excel at school and work


This year is already off to a great start for DePaul Cristo Rey High School, as its students are showing continued academic success while building connections within the local community.

For the third year, DePaul Cristo Rey seniors have achieved a 100 percent college acceptance rate. Meanwhile, the school’s Corporate Work Study Program, which allows students to not only gain soft skills, experience and knowledge via a workplace setting and save their families money by earning funds that are applied to tuition — making private school affordable and accessible — is expanding.

Eight additional companies, including well recognized corporate entities and a minority-owned firm, recently joined the CWSP.

“Adding new partners to the CWSP allows DPCR to provide a private, college-prep, quality education to even more students in our community whose families can’t afford other private schools,” says Margee Garbsch, the school’s director of communications and marketing. “Because the CWSP is a fundamental part of a Cristo Rey education, we must have a job for every student, and since our enrollment continues to increase each year, we must add partners as we add students.”

According to Garbsch, adding more partners also adds a larger knowledge base for students with varying interests.

“New sectors like manufacturing, for example, as well as growth in sectors such as healthcare and banking continue to expand our students’ vision of what their future opportunities, careers and goals can be,” Garbsch says. “It also exposes them to professional role models, mentors and opportunities.”

It’s initiatives like the CWSP that play a role in DePaul Cristo Rey's students’ success and drive to continue education post-high school, evidenced by the placement of the school’s alumni from previous years.

“Most graduates of the classes of 2015 and 2016 are enrolled in colleges — some as close as the University of Cincinnati — some further away,” Garbsch says. “The list includes The Ohio State University, Loyola in Chicago and Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania.”

Do Good: 

•    Is your company interested in supporting DePaul Cristo Rey students? Become a corporate partner.

•    Give to DePaul Cristo Rey.

•    Support DePaul Cristo Rey students by volunteering.
 

Pops to host NYC jazz band for NYE speakeasy-themed concert


If you’ve yet to formulate plans for New Year's Eve, have no fear; the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra has you covered.  
 
New York City-based jazz band, The Hot Sardines, will join the Pops at its Dec. 31 speakeasy-themed concert, which will feature old-time favorites from the likes of George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, in addition to some of The Hot Sardines’ originals.
 
“Sometimes life requires a party,” said Evan Palazzo, The Hot Sardines’ bandleader. “But one that conveys a rich emotional experience which people today sometimes need permission to feel, otherwise known as fun.”
 
And that’s what the two musical groups plan to bring to the Taft Theatre — perhaps the perfect setting for a speakeasy-themed event where patrons are encouraged to come dressed with their beads and boas.
 
“We love high-energy music from the first half of the 20th century,” Palazzo said. “Our mission is to show its relevance and power as we usher in 2017.”
 
Tickets are still available for the special New Year’s Eve performance, which begins at 8 p.m. 

Do Good: 

•    Purchase your concert tickets before they sell out. 

•    Check out a couple of The Hot Sardines' latest hits here and here

•    Connect with the Pops on Facebook.
 

Best Buy awards GCSC grant to continue operations of local 3D printer clubs

Two 3-d printer clubs received a $5,000 grant from Best Buy to fund students who are eager to design, create, and problem-solve.
 
Corryville Catholic Elementary School students like Aleia Samuels from Avondale, for example, will gain exposure to technology.
 
“I’d never done anything like this before,” Samuels said. “Now I see so many possibilities and how to use technology in different ways.” Samuels’ favorite creation to-date is an egg-rabbit-chicken keychain.
 
According to Brian Stevens of Best Buy, the Best Buy Community Grant initiative provides teens with places and opportunities to develop 21st century technology skills to inspire their educational and career choices.  
 
“In a nutshell, the clubs are teens and technology,” Stevens said. “The opportunity for students to design, create, see problems and fix them is tremendous. They are getting the best STEM learning from the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative (GCSC).”
 
The GCSC, a nonprofit whose vision is to create a “technologically rich, vibrant community with the most talented STEM workforce in the country that is representative of the region’s population,” applied for the grant and continues to find ways to fund the clubs — currently there's more interest than funding available.  Twenty-eight schools have applied, and three existing clubs are still waiting to see if funding will allow for another year of the club’s implementation.
 
“It’s an awesome opportunity to support something really cool that’s good for kids and our community,” said Mary Adams, GCSC Project Manager. “You can be part of making that happen for elementary and middle schools.” 

Do Good: 

•    Help fund the work of the GCSC. For example, $700 funds one 3-d printer. 

•    Support the GCSC in other ways — perhaps through volunteering.

•    Learn more about Best Buy Community Grants, including how to apply for one in the future.

 

Local creatives raise nearly $10K for Make-A-Wish


Halloween has come and gone, but the impacts of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Cincinnati chapter’s latest fundraiser are long lasting.  The group hosted GUTS: Creatives Carving for Kids at Washington Park last month and raised nearly $10,000 for Make-A-Wish Southern Ohio. The “pipeline of eligible children” continues to grow with the proximity of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
 
“We raised more than enough for one wish,” said Jay Shifman of Make-A-Wish Shifman said noting that they work to grant the wish of every child facing a life threatening illness in our community.
 
AIGA to surpassed fundraising goal of $8,000 (the average cost of one wish) by $1,200.
 
The winning Team LPK carved “Haunted OTR"  four pumpkins, side-by-side, depicting the local streetscape.  
 
“GUTS is a part of AIGA Cincinnati’s larger ‘Design for Good’ initiative,” said Phil Rowland, architect and AIGA member. “We believe design can make a difference in our community.”

Do Good: 

•    It's not too late to donate. Contribute here.

•    Sign up to be a sponsor for next year's GUTS. It's never too early.

•    There are many ways to help grant wishes. Learn about them here.
 
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