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For Good

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Community Shares develops partnerships, enables nonprofit growth

This past weekend, community members and representatives from 25 local nonprofits came together to support the work of Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati’s member groups in the organization’s 10th annual Gourmet Grub for Good.
The amateur chef competition raises awareness and honors the work that member groups are doing to promote environmental, economic and social justice.
“There are folks providing services to those in need, but there are also organizers and advocates within those constituencies to make sure people have the right information about their civil and human rights—how they petition legislature if there’s a question about how policy would affect them,” says Jeniece Jones, chief executive officer of Community Shares. “If they’re educated through those agencies to take action, they can really do impactful things that change not only their lives but make the community better as a whole.”
Jones, who grew up in a “very forward-looking type of family,” has cared deeply about the community and the various causes that impact its growth ever since she and her husband moved to Cincinnati 20 years ago, she says.
“With our member groups, I knew I couldn’t work at all of them, but when I saw the list I just thought, ‘Wow, I’ll get to work where all these agencies involved,’” Jones says. “I really understood their missions, and anything I could do to help them grow or advance—that’s something I wanted to do.”
Through Community Shares’ workplace and community giving campaigns, organizations that work on everything from women’s and LGBT issues to health care, affordable housing, animal welfare and prison reform—and the list goes on—are able to put unrestricted funds toward goals that would otherwise be more difficult to reach.
“A number of the organizations have funding from other sources with a specific focus, but we’re kind of the grease in the wheel that allows them to use money to bridge between one program or another to help with an unexpected expense, new partnership or pilot initiative without funding set up,” Jones says. “It’s smart to be in the partnership because it can help them advance or explore things that may or may not be otherwise accessible.”

Do Good: 

• Start a workplace giving campaign.

• Volunteer with one of Cincinnati Shares' member groups

Donate to Cincinnati Shares, or choose a specific member group to financially assist. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Fidelity Investments transforms Holmes Middle School

When Fidelity Investments began its partnership with Holmes Middle School four years ago, its aim for Transformation Day was to do everything it could as an organization to ensure students would receive a quality education in an environment that would prompt them to do their best.

Over the years, the company has brought hundreds of volunteers and community partners together to further achieve that goal by doing things like building an outdoor amphitheater and painting and beautifying the school. 

Niki Gordon, who serves as Fidelity’s manager of community relations in Covington, says the most important thing is that the improvements translate to student success. 

“Attendance is consistently over 96 percent, which in an urban setting is difficult to achieve; behavior and discipline problems are down over 90 percent over the past two years,” Gordon says. “And the principal has seen that as incentive in places we’ve created that the kids want to come and learn, and they get rewarded for certain things. So whether that’s being able to go visit and sit in the new media center—some of the spaces we’ve created with comfy couches and those kinds of things—students see as an incentive for behaving and doing the right thing and being there.” 

This year’s transformations included an array of larger projects—like creating an outdoor garden that will serve as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning opportunity through a program implemented by Teach for America. 

“We’re working with the Teach for America science teacher at the middle school, so we built these raised garden boxes, and then after that she’ll be using those to do a year-round project where students will grow crops, and they’re learning about the science of the planting in the classroom,” Gordon says. 

The project goes even beyond STEM learning, however, as it also taps into service learning and engages students and other community organizations in a way that allows them to give back. 

The Boys and Girls Club will also be working on those during the summer, and then as they harvest those, they’ll give them back to the community," Gordon says. "Chapman Childhood Development Center—an onsite early childhood development center—will receive the produce from the garden. Looking at the power of collaboration and community and how we’re able to impact these students has been great through the process.” 

Do Good: 

• Sign up with Covington Partners to mentor a student. 

• Offer your skills or expertise in a local classroom.

• Organize a book or supply drive for students in need.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.


Betts House Showcases Cincinnati's built environment

You’ll want to add the Betts House to your list of must-see historical places—it's the oldest brick building in Cincinnati.

The Betts House, which was built in 1804, has withstood the test of time. It still stands today as a center that recognizes and celebrates the history of Cincinnati’s built environment. 

“It has a unique place in our history and in the state of Ohio,” says Dayle Deardurff, interim executive director at the Betts House. “It’s an example of some of the earliest architecture in Ohio and early manufacturing of bricks—the bricks were made by the man who built it, and earthquakes, tornados, storms, and 200 years of people moving in and out of this place stayed. So it’s a wonderful example of architectural stability and preservation.” 

To commemorate the shifts in our city’s history over the past 200 years, the Betts House showcases a timeline to remind current residents and visitors of the movement beyond the home that has occurred and continues to evolve. 

But recognizing the art of brickmaking and the effort that is needed to construct a lasting structure is also important, so each summer, the Betts House offers a summer youth program called Bond at the Betts House, which teaches children and young people about the skills and tools needed to perform jobs as architects, bricklayers and construction workers. 

“I’m one of those parents who takes her kids to historical places all around the country, so my family and I have done Williamsburg, Gettysburg—we stop and visit these kinds of places—and I think it’s a great opportunity to help showcase a site in Cincinnati that a lot of people probably don’t know about,” Deardurff says. “If I can do something to help make it more visible and people can come here and we can partner with other organizations to put on exhibits and children’s activities—bringing in a lot of families who otherwise wouldn’t have known this place existed—I think that is fun and personally rewarding.” 

Do Good: 

• Support the Betts House by joining or donating. 

• Visit the Betts House to see upcoming exhibits architeXploration and Bricks, Barrel Vaults & Beer: The Architectural Legacy of Cincinnati Breweries.

• Like the Betts House on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Tender Mercies supports residents, fosters independence

Since 1985, Tender Mercies has provided security and promoted self-worth and a sense of community for its residents. 

And for homeless adults who are dealing with mental illness, the services Tender Mercies provides are critical when it comes to addressing the root causes of their situations, all while getting them the help they need to begin making progress in life. 

“Our belief is that housing is a basic human right, so we get someone in off the streets, get them a roof over their head, get some food in them, and we surround them with a caring community and start addressing what might have led to homelessness,” says Russell Winters, CEO at Tender Mercies. 

That process is instrumental in the lives of individuals who may enter the organization with feelings of hopelessness and despair. 

Winters says he remembers a woman who came to Tender Mercies after having been referred to transitional housing by the PATH Team. 

“That’s our street outreach team—we partner with Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services—and they go out under the bridges to the tent camps where people live on the Ohio River Banks, and they engage people, develop a relationship with them and try to figure out why they’re living on the street,” Winters says. “Sometimes it’s because they don’t know of the resources that exist. Maybe they had a bad experience, or sometimes they’re too paranoid to come in to a shelter because of their mental illness.” 

The woman the PATH Team reached out to was so depressed when she came in, that according to Winters, “she was almost catatonic.” 

After working with a case manager, however, and engaging with members of the Tender Mercies community and receiving treatment for depression, she now works part-time at a floral shop and lives on her own in an apartment near Oakley Square. 

“Just the difference after her two years in our transitional program from when she came in to when she left was astounding,” Winters says. “She went from someone who would not socially interact with anyone, who—once she left—was able to care for herself and her room and is probably one of our greatest ambassadors and is very social.” 

Do Good: 

• Support Tender Mercies by attending the first annual Taste of Over-the-Rhine.

Donate to Tender Mercies.

Volunteer with the organization.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

World Piano Competition strives for world-class status

Though the World Piano Competition has been in Cincinnati for the past 57 years, Mark Ernster, WPC executive director, says this past season represented a shift in thinking about how to promote and celebrate the art of classical piano music in a way that does the competition justice. 

The primary way the organization has done that, Ernster says, is by developing a partnership with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. 

“Cincinnati, as a city, has a wonderful arts heritage, and they’ve got a wonderful orchestra, and they have a wonderful conservatory—CCM and the CSO are pretty highly regarded around the world,” Ernster says. “If you add into that an element of a piano competition, you create the possibility to draw more worldwide attention to the city through this additional art form because it builds on strengths at the conservatory and builds on strengths with the orchestra.” 

Ernster says he remembers his first experience with the WPC back in 2009 when he attended the finals of the Artist Competition, and about a year later, he knew he wanted to get involved and help the WPC further its mission and reach more people. 

“The artist finalists were wonderful musicians, and I was surprised by the fact there was nobody there—I got perfect seats like two hours before the event," Ernster says. "That’s usually a bad sign, right? Except the quality of the music was very high.” 

So in 2010, Ernster joined the board, and this past October, he began his work as executive director and was able to start conversations about integral community partnerships. 

“Without their help, I don’t think we would have gotten as far as we’ve gotten this year,” Ernster says of the WPC, which was able to offer competitors a world-class jury, thanks to its partnership with CCM, in addition to a performance opportunity with the CSO. 

“A piano competition is really wonderful when you really draw the top aspiring artists, and the way you get the top aspiring artists is you have a great jury and you have a good performance opportunity,” Ernster says. “There are a number of piano competitions around, but very few of them are partnered with a major symphony orchestra, like the CSO. And almost none have the combination of a major orchestra and a major conservatory.” 

Do Good: 

• Learn about the Dinner Concert Series and attend an event. 

• Like the WPC on Facebook.

Contact the WPC if you'd like to get involved or volunteer. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York
is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

The Giving Fields' volunteers help fight food insecurity

At Colliers International’s Building Up Communities program, giving back to the neighborhoods in which volunteers live and work is a core value. 

For Joe Hartmann, managing director of corporate services for Colliers International Ohio, his most recent volunteer experience at The Giving Fields is one that he says will stick with him because it gave him the opportunity to serve others in a way that’s different from what he does on a daily basis. 

“So much of what we do every day—all of us—not just at Colliers—but any time you’re engaged in a career, it’s about trying to work and do what’s best for your client, but you’re certainly benefitting from your efforts,” Hartmann says. “But in this case—what’s so refreshing about this is that you are engaged in an activity that’s benefitting others, so at the end of the day, you feel all that sweat equity that you put in is going toward a great cause.” 

At The Giving Fields, Hartmann, like other volunteers who assist the nonprofit in providing fresh food to Freestore Foodbank agencies throughout Northern Kentucky, composted, dug irrigation ditches and staked tomato plants. 

Out of the thousands of working adults, seniors and children in our community, 17.3 percent live in Kentucky and are food insecure, the Freestore Foodbank reports. 

So to help narrow the gap between food security and insecurity, Doug and Sheila Bray, with the help of various agencies and volunteers, have maintained the community farm for three years now. 

With six acres of land that yields fresh produce, The Giving Fields has been able to supply Northern Kentucky communities with hundreds of thousands of pounds of vegetables that they would otherwise have limited access to. 

“It’s a great cause, and they’re doing a great job,” Hartmann says. “But they’re toiling down there on a daily basis.” 

Do Good: 

Donate to The Giving Fields.

• Contact volunteer services at 513-482-7550 if you're interested in volunteering at The Giving Fields.

• Like The Giving Fields on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Mercantile Library's Hackathon inspires creativity, produces ideas

Young merchants and clerks of Cincinnati came together in 1835 to found and organize the Mercantile Library, which to this day maintains historic collections of books and artwork in the city. It is recognized as “one of the oldest cultural institutions in the Midwest.” 

When the young minds and innovators came together at that time, in what was one of the largest cities in the United States, the goal was to move Cincinnati forward. 

To this day, that goal remains the same. And at the end of April, the library hosted a Hackathon—an event that brought together young coders who possess the ideas and skills needed to market the library and its offerings to a younger generation. 

“At a typical hackathon, some people will have an idea of a team they want to get together and a project, or a product they want to launch," says Zach Zimmerman, a member of the Hackathon’s first-place team, and who is now working to build the library a new website.

"But at the core of the hackathon, you push it out to people, and they come, and you break off into groups and start to ideate about what you could do, what you could build to provide a solution that hasn’t been thought about before or that could really push a company or product over the edge and make it something big.” 

Zimmerman says one of the ideas his team had to make the library’s website appealing was to rely simply on the building’s beauty and grandeur, as the space showcases history and sells itself through its offerings to the public. 

“The building is gorgeous," he says. "The art that’s there, and just flipping through some of the books—these are 200- to 300-year old books, and the art and just the labor that went into making them—it’s just fascinating to me. I just felt very inspired, and our team actually worked at the library when the hackathon kicked off. They said you could go out and about, and at the end of the hackathon, come back and present your ideas. But we actually stayed at the library the majority of the time because it was a very inspiring place—somewhere I felt pushed to do more.” 

Do Good:

• Become a member of the Mercantile Library.

• Support the library by making a donation.

• Like the Mercantile Library on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Leaders converge to improve Latino health

In the past 13 years, the Hispanic and Latino populations of Ohio have increased by 63 percent. With the increased population comes the increased need for helping others navigate the healthcare system.

“It’s a relatively new community compared to other Latino communities around the country in places like New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, California, and some of those southwestern areas, and even some of the bigger cities in the north and northeast like Chicago and Detroit,” says Dan Almaguer, director of health for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) for both Cincinnati and the state of Ohio. 

Because Cincinnati has a relatively new establishment of Latino communities, Almaguer says it’s vital to address things like transportation and language barriers, but also to start conversations about addressing health disparities that occur. 

“The Latino community, along with the African American community, suffers from higher percentages of a variety of health issues, such as diabetes and HIV,” Almaguer says. “With diabetes—the obesity issue contributes, and that’s another area—and that is from lack of quality foods in some of the communities where our people live, and when you’re not getting good, nutritious foods and you live in a food desert, then you have to travel long ways to get your food. Oftentimes, you can’t get fresh produce unless you travel those long ways, and then transportation becomes an issue.” 

To begin setting goals and objectives, leaders from not just Cincinnati—but from across the state of Ohio—will come together at the Ohio Latin Health Summit in hopes of figuring out solutions to increase preventive care for Hispanic and Latino Americans throughout the area. 

“We want to move from a cure-treatment mentality to a prevention approach,” Almaguer says. “Prevention is the cure. That’s true for any community—whether we’re talking Caucasian, African American, Asian, Latino, whatever—prevention is the best thing you can do. It’s more economically advantageous. We spend less money on health care by living healthy lives.” 

Do Good: 

Attend the Summit if you're a health care professional or leader in Ohio.

• Keep up with the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission, and contact the organization if you want to get involved.

• Like LULAC Cincinnati on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Beast Bash brings pets and pet owners together for day of fun

Furry friends and their owners are invited to come to the fourth annual Beast Bash, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Kenton Paw Park. The event benefits the Kenton County Animal Shelter and the dog park, which was named one of the top 10 dog parks in the United States by Dog Fancy magazine.
This year, the kids’ area is bigger than ever before, with a craft area, demonstrations by the local sheriff’s department SWAT and K9 teams, a dunking booth, blow up jump house, petting zoo and the fire department’s smoke house. There will also be a look-alike contest for owners and their pets, a best-behaved competition, giveaways, food vendors and a pool party.
“Every year, we expand the Beast Bash,” says Dan Evans, director of the Kenton County Animal Shelter. “In the future, we hope to get the entire park—the tennis courts, soccer fields—so we can have events going on everywhere.”
The Beast Bash’s emcee this year is JoLynn Johnston, with special guest Fox19’s morning news anchor, Rob Williams. Different vendors will be hand, including local pet stores, rescue groups and vets who will be available for free advice and information.
At 8:30 a.m., owners and their dogs can compete in the Beast Bash & Dash. The cost is $25 per dog if you pre-register, $30 per dog if you register day-of. If you pre-register, you’ll get a “doggy bag” with a T-shirt and doggie bandana.
The Beast Bash is free, but a $5 donation is encouraged to raise funds for the animal shelter and the dog park. All dogs must be licensed, registered and on a leash, but no retractable leashes.
“It’s a fundraiser for the animal shelter, and it’s one of our bigger events,” says Evans. “It showcases the animal shelter and dog park, and shows people what is in the community and the resources that are out there for them.”
By Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter

Sawyer Point celebrates 25 years

Twenty-five years ago, scrapyards and storage facilities spanned the mile-long stretch of land that now composes Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove. 

“When Cincinnati took on the development of Sawyer Point, the City and Cincinnati Recreation Commission were dedicated to reaching out to the local community,” says Deb Allison, Cincinnati Parks’ business service manager. 

That dedication created an area of greenery that now fits into a two-mile stretch of award-winning landscape along the Ohio River—and it’s one that Allison says should be honored.

“It’s really important to celebrate the vision that the City, the recreation commission and the park board had at that time in what the riverfront could be,” Allison says. 

To celebrate that vision, the Cincinnati Park Board will host a Rockin’ Birthday Bash for Sawyer Point. 

The all-day music festival will take visitors back to 1988 when Sawyer Point first emerged as a spot for community gatherings, and it will do it in 1980s fashion with throwback bands that Allison says might remind guests of the time when the park was first commissioned. 

Like all birthday bashes, the event is intended to be a celebratory happening, but it’s also a time to reflect on how far the riverfront has come in recent years and the impact the parks and local developments have had on the city. 

“The community and the residents of the City of Cincinnati are extremely dedicated to their parks, and put a lot of effort into ensuring the sustainability of the parks now and in the future,” Allison says. “With the development of different parks—you can see that people are being drawn into those areas. Whether it’s to the restaurants or the residential areas that are either for rent or for sale, or the different businesses that have been able to open around the Banks development—people and visitors make it a beautiful, safe and friendly environment for people to enjoy.” 

Do Good: 

• Attend the Rockin' Birthday Bash.

• Like Cincinnati Parks on Facebook.

Support the parks.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Talbert House and ESCC combine efforts to help nonprofits

After a combined 120 weeks of courses geared toward nonprofit leadership and development, Talbert House and Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati have decided to join forces and combine their programs into one. 

Beginning in September, the two nonprofits will begin the Executive Curriculum for Emerging Leaders through the newly created Nonprofit Leadership Institute of Greater Cincinnati. 

“I think the fact that we were two organizations in similar spaces in the marketplace trying to do similar things as it relates to leadership education and development—it got to a point of is there a way for us to really work together on this?” says Andy McCreanor, executive director and CEO of ESCC. 

The goal is to offer services to other nonprofits—large or small—so they can gain the skills and education necessary to position their organizations for community-wide success. 

“The true value of The Nonprofit Leadership Institute of Greater Cincinnati will be shown by how well nonprofits perform in the community, whether you’re a nonprofit, someone receiving services from a nonprofit, a community investor or a corporate partner looking for a socially responsible way to impact the lives of people,” McCreanor says. “The Institute offers great potential for participants and partners to receive a solid return on their time and investment.” 

McCreanor says the most enjoyable part for him is graduation. It's a day when he gets the chance to hear class participants talk about their growth and increased expertise when it comes to successfully operating their nonprofit. And come May 2014, he says he hopes to hear of many more success stories.

“The idea is that nonprofits would essentially see what we call a no-wrong-door approach to leadership education and development—that whether you’re a large or small nonprofit, that coming to the nonprofit leadership institute, you’d be able to find the subject matter, the program, the course that suits your needs,” McCreanor says. “Not all nonprofits are created equally, so the idea is that the institute would allow a nonprofit to find the program or development that is important to them.”

Do Good: 

• Sign up for EXCEL by August 1 if you are a nonprofit interested in education and leadership development. 

• If you are interested in partnering with The Nonprofit Leadership Institute and the EXCEL program, contact Tom Monaco or Carol Leigh. 

• Like Talbert House and ESCC on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

NAMI NKY supports families dealing with mental illness

Like all volunteers at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Inc. of Northern Kentucky, Executive Director Kathy Keller says she’s walked in the shoes of those she’s currently helping. 

“There’s quite a bit of mental illness in my family,” says Keller, who first became involved with NAMI when she took the organizations’ Family-to-Family Education Course in 2003. 

She’s been teaching the class since 2004, and NAMI NKY is currently offering it again, which Keller says is critical because it enables loved ones to learn how to communicate with one another in a more constructive way. 

“It certainly teaches one a lot of basics about what’s going on in the brain—a lot of basics about the illnesses and a lot of things about medication, but that’s sort of the steps you have to take to get to the first landing,” Keller says. “Beyond that, it is all about self-care and communication. Self-care is very important because when someone in the family has a mental illness, the whole family gets sick along with them because their behaviors are out of the norm, and it’s very difficult to sometimes communicate with them, sometimes to get them to take medication or even to understand they’re ill.”

According to Keller, the behaviors are uncomfortable, so in order to help relatives and friends learn to not take things personally and to be more empathetic, NAMI NKY operates on nearly an entirely volunteer-run basis to offer everything from classes and support groups to social outings for those in need. 

“I see it everyday—a huge population of our mentally ill are in jails or prisons, and often, their families have either abandoned them or they have abandoned their families because of lack of understanding or lack of ability to communicate,” Keller says. “Families can just take so much and then they kind of wring their hands and say, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’” 

While Keller doesn’t claim that courses like Family-to-Family keep people out of prison, she does claim that it keeps family ties in tact. 

“This course really does change the lives of the people who take it,” Keller says. “It’s sort of like, ‘Oh, I can do this—I see there’s a way to do this. I’ve talked to other people who’ve been through it, and I see other alternatives of how I can deal with my ill relative.’” 

Do Good:

• Contact NAMI NKY to inquire about attending the organization's free programming. 

• Contribute to NAMI NKY by donating or volunteering.

• Consider organizing a campus group to further assist NAMI NKY. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Behringer-Crawford showcases local history

When people travel, museums often become tourist attractions for those who hope to learn more about their surroundings and immerse themselves in the town and culture they temporarily inhabit.  

But museums don’t have to function solely in that capacity, nor should they, says Tiffany Hoppenjans, curator of exhibits and collections at the Behringer-Crawford Museum.

“We don’t appreciate what’s in our own backyard and the rich heritage that’s a part of our lives and our culture,” Hoppenjans says. “So this is the place to come—we’re the biggest museum in Northern Kentucky and are trying to tell Northern Kentucky’s story. Not just who’s important and what they did or what groups settled here, but how we as a community fit into the Greater Ohio Valley and the country and the nation.”  

The museum, which is housed in Devou Park, was donated along with the surrounding land to the city of Covington in 1910. It later became a museum when William Behringer donated his collection of oddities and objects in the 1950s. 

Behringer-Crawford houses a variety of items—everything from a restored 1892 streetcar to a two-headed calf. 

“Many museums have their own oddities," Hoppenjans says. "it’s a throwback to how museums started—as curiosity cabinets. People were collecting weird things from their travels—interesting things they came by.” 

What began as a 5,000-square-foot space now has plenty of room to share—far more than one man’s collection. With four floors and an area that has now quadrupled in size, the museum tells the history of Northern Kentucky, using transportation as a mode to travel through time.

“We’re not a transportation museum,” Hoppenjans says. “But we have some wonderful pieces, and you time-travel. You go from the rails to the rivers to the roadways to the runways, and have fun along the way.” 

Do Good: 

• Visit the museum, and check out the current featured exhibit, which honors Northern Kentucky musicians over the years.

Support the museum by contributing monetarily or by donating artifacts. 

• Become a museum volunteer.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Library teaches teens finance basics

Graduating high school students of the class of 2014 will be the first group in Ohio that is required to learn financial literacy.

“So many teens were graduating high school without basic knowledge of financial literacy, like avoiding high-interest credit cards—scams that are so present on college campuses,” says Jennifer Korn, TeenSpot manager at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. “And there have been a number of studies that say students who don’t have the basic knowledge are likely to end up in serious debt as very young adults and are unable to get ahead and unable to save money as they go into adulthood.” 

To fill that void and to encourage more teens to be conscious of their finances, the library is offering a series of workshops for teens between the ages of 12 and 18. The workshops will teach the students how to create a budget and open a savings account. 

Thanks to a grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation, PLCHC is one of just 14 public libraries nationwide to offer the workshop.

“I think a majority of teens across the board don’t have a very good understanding of the importance of saving or of budgeting your money, so maybe they get an allowance or have a job or babysit, but it’s mostly for entertainment purposes,” Korn says. “But there’s not a lot of consideration for the future and the long term—that if you start saving your money now and that money starts to build, then in 15 or 20 years, you can be in a much better position than if you would not have started saving.” 

Korn says all the activities in the series are teen-focused and engaging, so students might be given a sample scenario where they have a set amount of money and want to go to the movies, but also need to consider the fact that their best friend’s birthday is coming up. 

“Anything that reinforces what they’re doing in an interactive or a social way,” Korn says. “The hope is that once they graduate high school and enter their postsecondary education or the real world, they feel confident, can handle their money and are savvy consumers and savvy savers.” 

Do Good: 

• Learn about the financial literacy workshops, and sign up to attend

• Keep up with teen programs at the library, and attend an upcoming event.

• Like the PLCHC on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Art Off Pike revitalizes urban arts fair

For this year’s Art Off Pike, a group of about 30 creatives and business professionals will converge to bring artists, musicians and street performers together for the ninth annual urban arts fair. 

“It started as this grassroots arts festival, and what has happened is it’s situated on this precipice of needing a little bit of new life and energy breathed into it,” says Cate Yellig, arts director of the City of Covington. “We’re looking at really having a feast for the senses. We’d love to have street performers and dancers and [make it] a little more multidisciplinary so that we can distinguish it from a lot of your other art fairs.” 

Yellig says about 50 volunteers from the community run the event each year, so the tight-knit ties are particularly unique and inviting. 

“It’s definitely embracing emerging artists and people who live in your urban environment,” Yellig says. “Covington is a city that’s really trying to embrace the arts as economic development. And by showcasing the talent found here locally and providing them the opportunity to sell their work to a crowd where they get 100 percent back for themselves—this is a really great visibility opportunity.” 

Hub +Weber Architects’ Jim Guthrie, who served as last year’s chair and who is on the board this year, says he appreciates the diversity of the art, in addition to its accessibility. 

“Last year, there was an artist who did sketches and doodles of anything you wanted,” Guthrie says. “It made art very important. If you could have a piece of art reflecting anything you wanted, what would it be? I struggled for hours to come up with something worthy.” 

Organizers are currently accepting entries through the Call for Artists, and Yellig says the more varied, the better. 

“We want 2D and 3D, mixed media, crafts—we’d love performers and musicians, and if there’s a glassblower that has a mobile truck of some sort—we really want to kind of have this high-level of quality but also affordability with the arts or with the offerings for each artist,” Yellig says. “But we also want to have a really diverse group of artists as well because that makes it more attractive to people coming to the festival.” 

Do Good: 

Volunteer at this year's festival.

• Submit your work by applying through the Call for Artists.

• Like the event on Facebook, and mark your calendar to attend September 29.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

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