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Cincinnati : For Good

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World's best pianists compete in Cincinnati

Cincinnati welcomes 22 of the world’s greatest pianists to compete in the World Piano Competition (WPC) this week. The annual competition has featured top performers from across the globe for the past 58 years.

The WPC promotes and celebrates classical piano as an artistic form by providing exposure for artists and building new audiences, ranging from children to senior citizens. The WPC expanded this year to collaborate with the world-renowned Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).

After many months of rehearsing and practicing, WPC competitors traveled from seven different countries—including China, Poland, South Korea, Russia, Macedonia, Canada and the United States—to compete for more than $45,000 in prize money as well as a debut recital in New York. 

“Of course there is a competitive aspect, and people want to win,” says Awadagin Pratt, WPC’s artistic director. “But, for the audience, it’s a great thing to watch emerging young talent make a really strong connection to the audience.”

The competition will take place at Corbett Auditorium in CCM Village on UC’s campus. The preliminary rounds, which take place June 23 and 24, will determine the six semifinalists. During the semifinalist rounds, June 25 and 26, those six semifinalists will perform a 60-minute solo of their choosing. The semifinalists will then be cut down to three.

Those three will rehearse with the CSO in preparation for the final round, in which they will perform a full concerto under conductor William Eddins to compete for first, second and third prize. The 2014 WPC winner will be announced during an awards ceremony following the final performances.

“The judges are looking for the best pianist,” Pratt says. “We're hoping it's someone with a great connection to the composers they play and who is passionate about communicating that to the audience."

Do Good:

•    Purchase tickets by visiting the CSO website or calling the CSO box office at 513-381-3300.
•    Donate to the WPC.
•    For volunteer opportunities, contact Mary Jo Barnett.

NKU students learn by giving

Northern Kentucky University students have helped award nearly $825,000 to more than 300 agencies in the past 14 years through the NKU Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project. Students awarded $22,000 to local nonprofits in just this year alone and will be awarding more funds this fall.

The project started at NKU in 2000 as way to teach students about philanthropy and nonprofits with the hope that graduates would be lifelong stewards of their communities. Since then, approximately 3,000 NKU students have taken courses as part of the philanthropy project. During Spring 2014 semester, there were 14 classes in eight different academic disciplines. 

The classes are designed to teach students a “learn by giving” approach. Professors combine philanthropy with learning outcomes—students identify a need in the community, such as drug treatment, tutoring, hunger, AIDS awareness and homeless shelters, and determine which nonprofits in the area are working to fulfill that need. Students award between $1,000 and $2,000 to the nonprofits after analyzing which agencies are likely to have the maximum impact. 

“These classes reflect NKU’s commitment to community engagement and especially to our efforts to connect classroom learning to real-world experiences that deepen stewardship immediately and after graduation,” says Mark Neikirk, Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement executive director.

The classes deliver funding to the community, and each one focuses on a different skill set needed for social engagement. A communication class, for example, might emphasize the power of persuasion, while an English class might focus on honing language skills. The kind of class also influences which needs are addressed. A social work class is more likely to look at social service agencies while a theater class is more likely to consider community arts agencies for funding.

NKU partnered with The Manuel D. & Rhoda Mayerson Foundation of Cincinnati at the inception of the program to make the project possible, and since then, funding has also come from ArtsWave, Citi, Vision 2015 and the Scripps Howard Foundation as well as other various donors in the community.

“We want students to be great in their chosen fields, whether that’s biology, English, history, nursing, marketing or any of the other disciplines,” Neikirk says. “But we also want to graduate students who care about their community’s needs and are prepared to help address those needs.”

Do Good:

•    Check out the student philanthropy handbook if you're interested in starting a similar program at your institution.  

•    Give a Buck to Mayerson Student Philanthropy.

•    Instead of giving away money, gave away your time by volunteering at a local nonprofit. 

Here is a list of the classes and the nonprofits chosen for funding by classes in the Spring 2014 semester:

Strategies of Persuasion, Professor Jeff Fox
Free Store Food Bank , $1,000
Elementz , $1,000
Music Resource, $1,000

Social Work Practice: Community Organization, Professor Jessica Averitt Taylor
Redwood , $1,000
Health Resource Center of Cincinnati, $1,000

Leadership for Peace & Sustainability, Professor Whitney McIntyre Miller
Community Shares, $1,000
KAEE, $1,000

Race, Gender and Theatre, Professor Daryl Harris
Cincinnati Men’s Chorus, $2,000

Honors Writing , Professor Jon Cullick
Center for Chemical Addictions Treatment, $1,000
Faces without Places, $1,000

Racism & Sexism in Educational Institutions, Professor Brandelyn Tosolt
Talbert House, $1,000
Northern Kentucky Hunger Relief - $1,000

Community and Public Health Nursing, Professor Adele Dean
WMATA, $2,000

Spanish Civilization and Culture, Professor Kajsa Larson
Covington Partners, $2,000

Grant Writing, Professor Janel Bloch
Covington Partners, $1,000
NKY Education Council One to One Reading Program, $1,000

Social Work in the Community, Professor Willie Elliot
Benchmark, $1,000

Multiculturalism, Professor Willie Elliot
Family Promise, $1,000
Emergency Shelter of NKY, $1,000

Time Warner Cable donates $80,000 to Cincinnati Museum Center

Time Warner Cable recently donated $80,000 to the Cincinnati Museum Center as an extension of its Connect a Million Minds project, a five-year initiative to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming in communities across the country.  

TWC is committed to inspiring young students to pursue a STEM-related education and careers. The program, along with President Barack Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign, launched in November 2009 and addresses the growing need for a STEM-skilled workforce. 

TWC’s donation to the Museum Center will serve as an educational resource for students to learn about STEM and develop related skills through the Museum Center’s various programs, particularly the Girls in Real Life Sciences (GIRLS) program. GIRLS is a series of hands-on activities that addresses girls’ (and boys’) confidence and interest in STEM programming. 

Women make up 47 percent of the overall workforce; however, fewer than 30 percent hold STEM workforce positions, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Museum Center is hoping to bridge that gap.

“[STEM] programs are an integral part of youth education,” says Lindsay Riehl, the Cincinnati Museum Center director of corporate relations. “We want girls to learn, explore and find out how [STEM] translates into other things they might be interested in.”
 
Explorer's University, another STEM-focused program, is a series of family workshops for children between the ages of 9 and 15. The program features interactive workshops where children can learn about biology and anatomy through dissecting a marine organism or learn how astronomers explore space. 

There are also programs available for children who aren’t able to visit the Museum Center. Programs-on-Wheels brings authentic learning opportunities and hands-on projects to the classroom of local schools. There are a variety of programs to choose from, including natural history, social studies and science, all of which align with Ohio and national curriculum standards. 

Do Good:    

St. Rita School for the Deaf exceeds campaign goal

St. Rita School for the Deaf raised more than $100,000 in its first-ever all-digital Community Challenge this year. 

Every dollar donated to St. Rita goes to tuition assistance — more than 40 percent of its students live below the poverty line, but 100 percent of them need help in some way. 

“We never turn a child away because of a family’s inability to pay,” says Julie O’Meara, director of advancement. “Every child receives the quality education they deserve.”

So the school sought to raise as much money as possible to help students in need and their families. 

Local businessman Rob Hollaender initially donated $32,500, the equivalent of one year’s tuition for one student, to the campaign and asked the community to match his contribution.  

More than $100,000 was collected in response to the school’s campaign. Individual donors contributed a total of $20,902, while an additional $80,000 was received from two anonymous donors, one from the local Cincinnati area and one from out-of-state, for general operating costs. 

St. Rita is one of only a few schools in the country to provide assistance for the deaf and hard of hearing while also offering enhanced educational programs to help children who have communication challenges like Autism, Apraxia and Down Syndrome.

Do Good:

•    Give a gift. Donate money for tuition assistance.

•    Like St. Rita on Facebook.

•    Visit St. Rita School and learn more about what goes on there.

Colliers employees give back to community

Employees of Colliers International in Ohio recently volunteered their time at hospices and senior centers across the state of Ohio as part of their Building Up Communities program, a quarterly volunteer event that allows them to give back to local communities and charitable organizations.

Colliers is heralded as the second-most recognized commerical real-estate firm in the world and has more than 485 offices in 63 countries, but busy schedules don't keep employees from giving back and keeping their communities healthy. 

More than 50 volunteers from the the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton offices helped their local communities by cleaning facilities, landscaping, setting up for meals and spending one-on-one time with residents. More than 15 volunteers from the Cincinnati office served lunch and played bingo with the residents of the Lincoln Heights Senior Center.
 
Colliers employees have previously volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House and foodbanks across the state.
 
Colliers provides its employees with the tools to be the change in their community and goes a step further by surveying which organizations are important to them.

“Community is one of our core values,” says Laura Day, Colliers' communications & PR manager for Ohio. “It’s something we hold near and dear to our hearts. We like to give employees the opportunity to give back.”

Do Good:

•    Submit an organization suggestion for the Building Up Communities program.

•    Follow Colliers on Twitter.

•    Encourage your fellow employees to engage in community service.

Gold Star Chili continues partnership with The Cure Starts Now

Cans for the Cure originated as a tribute to local 6-year-old Elena Desserich and her fight against brain cancer. The Cure Starts Now, which is in its third year, launched the campaign as a partnership with Gold Star Chili, which donates a portion of canned chili sales to benefit pediatric brain cancer research.

More than $32,000 has been raised through the Cans for the Cure campaign since its inception, and The Cure Starts Now has funded more than $2 million in the past seven years for research and awareness. 

Part of Gold Star’s overall mission is to care about its neighbors and communities, and to actively participate in events and causes that are important to the company. Gold Star Chili plans to donate $18,000 to The Cure Starts Now in the coming weeks to continue the Cans for the Cure campaign. 

The Cure Starts Now has been recognized by Good Morning America, The Today Show, People Magazine, CNN, and Inside Edition for its efforts.

“There are so many different causes to give to,” says Jen Gault, The Cure Starts Now's public relations and marketing coordinator. “But by doing something as little as eating—something you do every day—you can help raise money for cancer research.”

Do Good:

•    Buy a can of chili at any particpating Kroger or Gold Star location.

•    ‘Like’ The Cure Starts now on Facebook. 

•    Inquire about volunteer opportunities with The Cure Starts Now.

Fidelity Investments volunteers mentor local students

Employees of Fidelity Investments recently celebrated a successful first year of empowering and educating local students through an email mentoring program, Fidelity Email Pals. 

Fidelity Investments partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative to bring the virtual program to life. 

Fidelity mentors were paired with local students in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati in Lower Price Hill, Over-The-Rhine and Covington.

Students emailed their mentors once each week, discussing topics related to the Boys & Girls Club Diplomas to Degrees program, hobbies, activities and career-related aspirations. Volunteers learned early on, however, that most of the students didn’t possess soft skills, like how to write an email. 

“We discovered that students needed guidance on basic communications skills," says Nicole Gordon, Fidelity Investments community relations manager. "Our mentors worked with their mentees to help them share their thoughts more clearly and communicate more effectively via email."

Mentors coached students on how to articulate what they were thinking while also inspiring them to take more active roles in their lives, including getting to school every day, studying and learning about college.  

“This is a crucial time for a lot of students,” Gordon says. “They need positive role models coaching them and cheering them on.”

At the end of this year’s program, mentors and mentees worked together to create 200 school supply kits to be used as summer learning materials for local students in the community. 

Fidelity Investments hopes to expand the program in the future to allow for more face-to-face interaction between mentors and students.

Do Good:

•    Follow Fidelity Investments on Twitter.

•    Help mentor students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati.

•    Volunteer with Cincinnati Youth Collaborative.

Artsy motorcycle helmets benefit charity

Motorcycle helmets are generally purchased for their ability to prevent serious injury or death while riding, with their aesthetic value taking the sidecar. Local artists are changing lanes with that idea, using their creativity to protect skulls and raise funds for charity.

The Biltwell ART & MOTO show is a collection of artistically redesigned motorcycle helmets painted and crafted by independent artists and auctioned off for charity. The exhibit opened May 30 at Article Menswear in Over-the-Rhine and ran through June 7. It benefitted the LifeCenter organ donation network, which coordinates the donation of human tissues and organs transplants. Between $1,500 and $2,500 was expected to be raised by the helmet auction alone.

Biltwell Helmets teamed up with Cincinnati Cafe Racer and Mighty Ohio Scooter Club to organize a rally for Cincinnati's motor enthusiasts, from Segways and mopeds all the way to choppers. The event included a raffle, live music and a group ride.

The helmets, designed by nearly two dozen local artists, are still safe to wear, in most cases.

"Many of the helmets are un-altered in structure and no safety has been compromised," says Timothy Burke of Cincy Cafe Racer. "Others are purely fun art pieces that you could wear but would look pretty silly doing so (such as the wedding cake helmet or the one with spikes added)."

“The idea came from what the guys in Portland did a couple of years ago with the '21 Helmets' show in the fall of 2012,” Burke says, referring to a similarly styled helmet show that gained some attention in the biker and art worlds. “I thought, Cincinnati has a great art community, and I would love to do this locally to combine my love of motorcycles and my love of art. So in 2013, we did our first ART & MOTO show with only seven artists. This year, Biltwell signed on to sponsor and provide helmets which enabled us to get a bigger reach and not pay out of our own pockets to fund the helmets.”

Occupational therapist founds volunteer group for Summit clients

In her four years as an occupational therapist at Summit Behavioral Healthcare, Laura Menze says she’s noticed her clients’ strong desire to be helpful.
 
“They enjoy working around the unit, whether that’s wiping tables or watering plants, so they have a longing to engage in productive occupations,” Menze says.
 
Clients are sometimes limited, however, when it comes to engaging in meaningful work outside of the facility.
 
So Menze started a volunteer group that allows Summit’s clients to work with one another, in a safe environment, for a positive cause.
 
“Most have been on the receiving end of things for most of their lives and are grateful for the services they receive, but this puts them in the position of the ones who can give, and that’s significant,” Menze says.
 
The volunteer group meets once a week, and for the past few months, Menze says about 10 males have joined together to do things like plant seed trays for Peaslee Neighborhood Center’s Early Learning Center, make birthday cards for residents at Lydia’s House, craft packets for children at the Ronald McDonald House, and fleece blankets to donate to The Healing Center.
 
“I think they’ve taken pride in their work,” Menze says. “There’s just a great amount of stigma related to this population of folks; so to be able to hear, ‘Thank you for what you did. That was really meaningful. Someone will be grateful,’—that provides something for their self-esteem, their self-worth.” 

Do Good:

•    Contact Laura Menze if you're a nonprofit interested in a collaborative volunteer opportunity that could be completed on site at Summit. 

•    Volunteer with a local nonprofit.

•    Support a cause you're passionate about.

Fifth Third Bank offers free job toolkit

With so many means of finding employment, job seekers are apt to get overwhelmed. Fifth Third Bank is offering a free online toolkit to assist in the struggle of job hunting as part of its Reemployment campaign. It’s free for everyone, not just Fifth Third customers.

"The campaign makes online job training modules available to any job seeker who wants to freshen up their job search skills," says Maria Veltre, Fifth Third Bank's chief marketing officer. "The 'Job Seekers Toolkit' from NextJob, which is typically reserved for Fifth Third customers, includes useful resume, job search and interview preparation tips for job seekers."

This campaign highlights three different individuals who have a common goal: finding work.

"Through our Reemployment campaign," Veltre adds, "we are working with three real-life unemployed job seekers who are willing to put themselves really out there,­ in hopes of shedding light on what unemployment is really like."

The videos feature Katrina Holmes, Elba Pena and Bill Laakkonen.

"Every time one of their stories is shared via social media, their virtual network will expand, Veltre says. Additionally, "retweets to reemploy" will also help fund one-on-one coaching for other unemployed job seekers. "For every 53 retweets, Fifth Third and Next Job will fund a scholarship for the one-on-one job coaching for one deserving individual, up to 53 total scholarships."

For more information on Fifth Third Bank's and NextJob's Reemployment campaign visit http://reemploy.53.com/about-nextjob-campaign.

Fan and air conditioning drive keeps city cool

With the 2014 Farmer's Almanac predicting an oppressively hot summer this year, most people in the city have already turned on their fans and air conditioning. St. Vincent de Paul is ensuring anybody who needs a fan or air conditioning unit has access to one with its annual drive.

If you are interested in receiving a free fan or air conditioning unit, contact a representative at St. Vincent de Paul on the company's website or call 513-562-8841.

"In order to receive an air conditioner, the person in need must have a medical need for the unit, or be over 65 years old," says Elysa Hamlin, senior communications coordinator at St. Vincent de Paul, who is coordinating the drive. "This will be verified by a doctor’s note (for medical need) or an ID (for people over 65)."

Bring a new fan or air conditioning unit for donation at Coney Island Amusement Park between now and September 1 to receive a free rides pass, valued at $12.95.

If you donate to any Greater Cincinnati YMCA location during the month of July, you will be entered to win a $500 prize pack of Gain products and restaurant gift certificates. The winners will be announced on July 24, 2014 at the Salsa on the Square event on Fountain Square. You must be present to win.

Donations are also accepted at any St. Vincent de Paul Outreach Center or Thrift Store and Donation Center, and at the Tedia Company in Fairfield.

"These fans and air conditioners are a critical need in our community," Hamlin says. "During visits to the homes of families in need, our volunteers often find sick and elderly neighbors living in dangerously hot apartments without proper ventilation and no source of relief from the summer heat."

United Way collaborates to move social innovation forward

United Way of Greater Cincinnati, in collaboration with the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Design Impact, is wrapping up its selection process for a seven-month “design thinking” project.
 
“We think design thinking is a really compelling way to support innovative approaches, because it encourages people to look at how they’re currently doing work and then find opportunities to do some things differently,” says Mike Baker, director at the UWGC.
 
Five local organizations—or design teams—will begin the process this month and work with participating organizations to design an approach that supports a two-generational strategy of finding ways to move families beyond poverty.
 
“We’ll pilot it to look and see what’s working, and then at the end of the year, kind of synthesize that into some knowledge we can share in the community,” Baker says.
 
For Ramsey Ford, design director at Design Impact, innovative approaches that come as a result of design thinking, are “good ways to solve existing problems and create social change.”
 
The design thinking approach to problem solving is commonly used in the private sector, but now it’s being applied to the social sector, and it’s encouraging all parties to think differently about how to unearth interesting solutions more quickly, says Shiloh Turner, vice president for community investments at the GCF.
 
“I think a lot of times, people think the grants we make are the most important things we do, and I’m not denying those are important,” Turner says. “But I think sometimes the nonmonetary assistance such as this effort translates into potentially being more powerful than a programmatic grant that we would also provide.”

Do Good:

•    Learn about about UWGC's Bold Goals for Our Region.

•    Get involved with Design Thinking Cincy.

•    Be a part of change by volunteering.



 

Cincinnati State's 1 Night, 12 Kitchens sets fundraising record

The Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State raised more than $100,000 dollars at this year’s 10th annual 1 Night, 12 Kitchens event.
 
1 Night, 12 Kitchens is a celebration of Greater Cincinnati’s culinary delights and a way for some of the region’s best chefs—many of whom are graduates of Cincinnati State’s Midwest Culinary Institute—to share their talents with the public. 
 
“The event really demonstrates how amazing our restaurant and hospitality industry is, and how critical Midwest Culinary Institute is,” says Elliott Ruther, Cincinnati State’s chief of development. “Over 90 percent of our graduates remain in the area, and this is just an incredible experience—seeing the scene as it continues to grow.”
 
About 600 individuals came together, either to sample various dishes or to sponsor the event and students attending the Midwest Culinary Institute.
 
Ruther said the great food alone made the event a success, but the money raised for student scholarships is what’s most important.
 
“The top chefs are there working with our students and alums—some of which are both,” Ruther says. “And they talk about hiring students. There’s a strong interest in getting students to the scholarships to really help provide opportunities for them to take in a really good program.”

Do Good:

•    Support Midwest Culinary Institute students by dining at The Summit

•    Support Cincinnati State students by giving.

•    Learn about MCI's programs and courses.

CSYO provides networking, friendship, engagement to youth

Jackie Tso, a senior at Sycamore High School and concertmaster for the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra has been playing violin for 13 years.
 
“My brother and my mom each played together when we were younger, and when I was about two, I would always go to pick up my brother’s violin and try to play it,” Tso says.
 
“And so my mom thought it’d be nice to start me on violin because I’d always showed a passion for it, so I started with the Suzuki training method when I was four.”
 
Tso just wrapped up her final concert with the CSYO as first violinist, and her time with the orchestra is something she says she’ll never forget.
 
“I’ve really just learned so much about orchestra and being a leader,” Tso says. “It’s been a blessing. I’ve developed friendships that are real friendships, and they’ll continue after high school.”
 
Tso has played with the CSYO for the past four years, and during that time, she’s had opportunities to play solos in front of large audiences and to perform alongside members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
 
“I’ve learned a lot from sitting next to a professional, and playing solo with that orchestra is so cool,” Tso says. “Just to have a huge orchestra behind you—double the size of a normal one—it’s just so powerful and a good feeling as well.” 

Do Good:

•    Learn about, and consider auditioning for the CSYO.

•    Support the CSO and its programs. 

•    Connect with the CSYO on Facebook.

Young Professionals' Choral Collective continues venture as it transitions to nonprofit

About three and a half years ago, the Young Professionals’ Choral Collective hosted its first rehearsal, and about 35 singers showed up; but for the past two years, the organization has been going strong, says KellyAnn Nelson, managing artistic director.
 
“We’re at over 350 singers on our roster,” Nelson says. “It’s grown much faster than we expected it to.”
 
The yp/CC is a growing organization that funds itself through donations and ticket sales, but it’s currently in the process of transitioning into the nonprofit sector.
 
“We realized it’s bigger than one person’s business.” Nelson says. “Part of our mission is that we’re not only a choir that makes music, but that we’re creating connections with local businesses, local arts organizations, and we have this triangle in addition to being a performing arts organization.”
 
On any given rehearsal night, you could find about 60 singers in what Nelson refers to as a “nontraditional space” (this cycle, it’s at Japp’s) where yp/CC members patronize local establishments by purchasing cocktails before and after rehearsals.
 
As the organization evolves and begins to form its own nonprofit board, Nelson says she hopes it encourages yp/CC singers to go out into the local arts community and support and serve on other boards as well, to further the community relationships the organization continues to build upon.
 
The model has been so successful to this point that Nelson says other cities have reached out to her about creating similar ventures in their own spaces.
 
“I’m just so curious to see if this project is so successful because it’s just in people’s hearts and souls that they want to sing, and want to sing in a social, fun and accessible way, and that works everywhere—or if there’s something truly special about Cincinnati—that people just flock to this idea in a totally unexpected way,” Nelson says. “So that’s an interesting part of our experiment right now.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the yp/CC in its second annual crowdfunding campaign by helping the organization reach its $5,000 dollar goal by May 23.

•    Attend the yp/CC's spring concert May 20 at Rhinegeist Brewery.

•    Join the yp/CC and sing.

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.
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