| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Pinterest RSS Feed

Talent : For Good

505 Talent Articles | Page: | Show All

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

Thanks to a $5,000 grant from Best Buy, two 3D Printer Clubs will continue to serve Greater Cincinnati-area students who are eager to design, create and problem-solve.

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

AIGA Cincinnati hosted GUTS: Creative Carving for Kids at Washington Park last month and raised nearly $10,000 for Make-A-Wish Southern Ohio.

Library Foundation announces newest Writer-in-Residence

The Library Foundation has a new Writer-in-Residence, local high school English teacher Kurt Dinan.

Local employer teams up with Starfire, builds inclusive workplace environment

On Oct. 18, Kinetic Vision received the 2016 Ohio Employer of the Year Award from the Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities. The organization was recognized for its inclusive workplace environment for people with disabilities.

Local artists team up, support Pets in Need

Calling all pet lovers: Pets in Need of Greater Cincinnati will host its third annual fundraiser, Petcasso, on Nov. 19.

Walnut Hills High School host CSO chamber concert Oct. 18 to benefit refugees

A Walnut Hills High School (WHHS) student-led group is doing its part to educate themselves and others about refugees and their needs, while offering a helping hand and system of support.

Women craft brewers host beer tasting to benefit Women Helping Women

Amelia BEERhart: Celebrating Women in the Craft Beer Industry presents an opportunity to not only honor strong women who brew beer, but also to honor strong women who have survived domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.


Raising awareness, reducing stigma surrounding mental illness in urban communities

October 2-8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and one way in which the UGCNOMI is doing its part in raising awareness is through a partnership with ReelAbilities Cincinnati Film Festival.

Local civil rights advocate Dick Weiland to be inducted into Hall of Fame

On Oct. 6, the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame will induct six new members, one of whom is a Cincinnati native and active community member.

CSO launches Friday Orange, invites patrons to experiment and engage in uniqueness

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is inviting you to reimagine your symphony experience with its new initiative — Friday Orange — an idea that stemmed from the desire to make the CSO more energetic and inviting.

Siemens, UC partner to expose students to PLM software, enhancing job readiness

University of Cincinnati engineering students will gain skills and hands-on experience, which will lead to job preparedness and a leg-up when it comes to future successes, thanks to its most recent partnership with Siemens.

Clifton Performance Theatre, home to intimate performances and youth workshops

The Clifton Performance Theatre isn't just a theater. It also serves as a place for kids to interact with and learn from actors by attending summer camps, classes and workshops.

Melodic Connections seeks funding for new storytelling podcast

Melodic Connections is known for its music therapy lessons. Now the organization is looking to start a podcast series that allows its students create an original piece of music.

CSO and Pops to share talents internationally in 2017

Next year, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops will pack their bags and take their talents on the road to 12 cities in seven countries on two continents.

Patricia Garry nationally recognized for building local communities

After receiving the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations’ top leadership award, Patricia Garry is ending her 51-year career on a high note.

The Carnegie presents affordable, engaging workshops for kids

Registration is now open for The Carnegie’s fall and early-winter ArtStop Artist Series workshops, which are aimed at kids ages 7-12 who want to engage in creative learning opportunities.

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

Northern Kentucky University’s College of Informatics will produce a funded intern who will gain experience in the business startup world, thanks to sponsorship from Frank Caccamo of UpTech.

Cincy set to host 28th annual Black Family Reunion

The 28th annual Midwest Regional Black Family Reunion — the only Black Family Reunion in the U.S. — will draw people together for a time of celebration and togetherness this weekend.

ReelAbilities Cincy presents creative opportunity to local filmmakers

Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival is now accepting entries from local videographers — professionals and students alike —who are interested in highlighting the lives and stories of individuals with disabilities.

Wave Pool merges art with community, hosts 2nd annual pool party fundraiser

Wave Pool is hosting a pool party fundraiser to support the nonprofit's mission as "a dynamic place where art intersects with community. It also wants to be a catalyst for social engagement while cultivating artistic development.

Art Academy of Cincinnati professor enjoys second fellowship at Lloyd Library

This summer, Ken Henson has spent his time in the stacks of Lloyd Library preparing a classic novel, Etidorpha, for republication as part of the Curtis G. Lloyd Fellowship.

12th annual Art Off Pike seeking local artists to showcase their work

For the past 11 years, people from all across the region have gathered along Seventh Street in Covington, between Madison and Washington streets, to browse the diverse work of local artists.

Books by the Banks celebrates 10 years of reading and writing with 10 pre-festival events

Books by the Banks, Cincinnati’s annual regional book festival, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with 10 pre-festival events. The day-long event is Oct. 15 at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

Local martial artist shares knowledge, talents to instruct others in self-defense

Daryl Tate has taken a variety of martial arts classes throughout his life. He's taken that level of devotion and training to the next level, and now teaches martial arts.

Art Academy of Cincinnati hosts Helms Trust Traveling Art Exhibit

Students from the Art Academy of Cincinnati are getting well-deserved attention all around the city, thanks to the Helms Trust Traveling Art Exhibit. 

Stages for Youth helps teens find their voice through filmmaking program

Many creative students don’t get the chance to express themselves and their talent in a traditional classroom environment, but Frank O'Farrell wants to change that.

Promote local tourism by taking a staycation this summer

In May, Greater Cincinnati joined forces with a multitude of cities to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week to propel its year-long initiative “Travel ’16." 

NKU, Strategies to End Homelessness collaborate to launch unique app

Students from Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Applied Informatics recently partnered with Strategies to End Homelessness to develop Street Reach, an app that helps individuals connect to resources and housing.

Local poet/writer finds her open mic home at Lydia's On Ludlow

Creative writer Kelly Thomas organizes a number of events at Lydia's on Ludlow, including bi-monthly meetings of musicians, writers and performers called Literary Lydia's.

New Summer of STEM program takes off in Cincinnati

Local children are enjoying a new mix of camps and activities this summer as part of the Summer of STEM, which focuses on increasing the awareness and availability of science, technology, engineering and math opportunities.

Breakfast, Story Soiree events help celebrate another year of Starfire accomplishments

Starfire is celebrating another year of building better lives for people living with disabilities with two events this week, a breakfast fundraiser June 16 and free Story Soiree July 17.

Cincinnati Chamber selected for pilot program on small business inclusion

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber was recently selected as one of three U.S. sites to pilot a Department of Labor program designed to increase workplace inclusion in small businesses for people with disabilities. 

World Music Fest returns with 50 performances celebrating art and culture

World Music Fest, which mixes live performances, art exhibits, interactive programs, and food, will be a feast for the senses as individuals immerse themselves in a multitude of different cultural experiences June 11. 

Coach hosts 4th year of basketball camp to honor father, enhance parent/child relations

The fourth annual Pete Minor Father/Child Basketball Camp, which benefits Kicks for Kids and brings fathers and their children together for a day of activity and engagement, will take place June 18.

DPCR senior receives Gates Millennium Scholarship

Jonathan Abe, DePaul Cristo Rey (DPCR) graduating senior and Price Hill resident, is one of just 15 students across the state of Ohio to be named a Gates Millennium Scholar.

Child Poverty Collaborative committed to looking past differences to further progress

The Child Poverty Collaborative of Cincinnati will host Adam Kahane, an international leader in social change, May 24 to brainstorm a plan for working together to reduce childhood poverty in the region.

Union Institute celebrates National Police Week by delivering cookies

It’s National Police Week, and Union Institute & University is doing its part to recognize local officers by expressing gratitude and delivering cookies to five Cincinnati Police stations.

Norwood students give back, gain much in return through Avenues for Success

Norwood City Schools’ Avenues for Success will host its second annual Glow for the Cure Saturday as students work to serve their community by raising funds for The Cure Starts Now Foundation and The iWILL Awareness Foundation.

SVP Cincinnati to host panel aimed at helping nonprofits scale, accelerate innovation

Social Venture Partners Cincinnati will host a free panel discussion and keynote address May 19 to help nonprofits learn ways to scale and accelerate social innovation.

Bad Girl Ventures prepped, ready to mentor participants to Grow their businesses

Covington-based Bad Girl Ventures, which supports female entrepreneurs, is hosting the first workshop of its Grow series on May 16.

Cincinnati Symphony, CCM lead diversity push among American orchestras

To promote a more diverse and inclusive environment, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and UC's College-Conservatory of Music have teamed up to provide mentorship and applied learning for five minority Fellows.

Cincy-Cinco celebrates culture, honors mothers at region's largest Latino fest

The 13th annual Cincy-Cinco festival highlights Latino traditions, values and culture May 7-8 on Fountain Square.

Hive helps undiscovered musicians reach new audiences

Early stage musicians can now reach a larger audience thanks to Hive, a music discovery and distribution platform that recently released an app after graduating from UpTech's accelerator program.

Magnified Giving program teaches student philanthropy

Local high school students who have learned philanthropy through the Magnified Giving program will award grants to area nonprofit groups on May 9 and 11.

Internationally renowned photographer features local families in "ReelBeauty" program

Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled is hosting a series of "ReelPrograms" monthly events leading up to next year's ReelAbilities Film Festival.

Impact 100 seeking Young Philanthropist Scholarship applicants

Impact 100 is taking applications for its 2017 class of the Young Philanthropist Scholarship Program, which helps members experience women's collective giving. Application deadline is April 30.

"Slavery by Another Name" panel discussion connects with current fair housing issues

The second part in a series of panel discussions focusing on modern-day slavery will take place April 28 at United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

Cincinnati NEW to host Wall Street powerhouse for annual speaker series

Carla Harris, senior client advisor and vice chairman of global wealth management at Morgan Stanley, is the keynote speaker for Cincinnati's Network of Executive Women's annual speaker series on Thursday, April 21.

Female community leaders mentor girls with 3D printers

A group of female community leaders traveled to South Avondale Elementary over 10 weeks to mentor fifth-grade girls in STEM concepts using a 3D printer, which the school was able to keep.

DePaul Cristo Rey seniors achieve 100 percent college acceptance for second straight year

"To do something this significant one time is an accomplishment," DPCR Principal Andrew Farfsing says. "To do it twice creates a tradition."

Brazee Street Studios looking for artists to join Mini Bead Marathon and Art Supply Swap April 23

Brazee Street Studios will host its first-ever Mini Bead Marathon later April 23 to back Beads of Courage, a national arts-in-medicine program that supports children coping with serious medical issues.

Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam gives voice to local teens

Students from all across the tristate area are participating in the final round of the world's largest youth poetry slam, Louder Than a Bomb, on Saturday April 9 at the SCPA in Over-the-Rhine.

CSO engages community in Orchestras Feeding America fight to address food insecurity

It’s an exciting weekend at Music Hall for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which performs an all-Spanish program while collecting non-perishable food and hygiene-related items to support the Freestore Foodbank.

Kendra Scott shop hosting fundraiser to benefit Patty Brisben Foundation

The Liberty Center location of Kendra Scott jewelry boutique is hosting a shop-for-a-cause fundraiser 6-8 p.m. April 28 to help support the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health.

Cincinnati Gorilla Run to raise funds for Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund

The April 3 Cincinnati Gorilla Run will raise funds to help protect the estimated 880 remaining mountain gorillas in the African wild.

Girls on the Run celebrates 20 years of empowerment

Girls on the Run International is celebrating 20 years of empowering young females, and the organization is calling on the public to help celebrate, including Cincinnati's 5k run on May 7.

Great American Cleanup seeking volunteers for April event

Hundreds of volunteers help beautify various spots throughout Covington every Spring during Great American Cleanup, and more are needed for this year’s event April 30.

Opening Day Diamond seat raffle to benefit UpSpring's Summer 360 program

UpSpring (formerly Faces Without Places) is raffling off Opening Day Diamond seats to raise money to support its education and enrichment summer program serving area children experiencing homelessness. 

Art Museum's Rosenthal Education Center celebrates successful first year

More than 26,000 people have walked through the doors of the Rosenthal Education Center since it opened last March in the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Fourth round of Covington Creative Community Grants now open

The Center for Great Neighborhoods is seeking applicants for its fourth round of Creative Community Grants intended to engage and impact Covington for the better; application deadline is May 2.

Center for Great Neighborhoods offering free tax preparation in Covington

The Center for Great Neighborhoods offers free tax preparation every year for low-to-moderate income households in Covington, with clinics three days a week through April 16.

COMTO to award transportation, planning, engineering students $10,000 in scholarships

Students planning to study engineering, management, planning, mechanics or any other transportation-related field in college are eligible to apply for a COMTO Cincinnati Chapter scholarship.

National Industries for the Blind recognizes Clovernook Center as 2015 Growth Award recipient

National Industries for the Blind, the nation's largest employment resource for individuals affected by blindness, has recognized Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired with its 2015 Growth Award.

United Way aims to improve local access to federal college grants via TEAM-FAFSA

United Way of Greater Cincinnati has brought together a multitude of community partners to make college education for more low-income and first generation students a reality through its TEAM-FAFSA pilot program. 

Join the March Madness at Starfire Council's 18th annual Final Four FlyAway

Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati is gathering people together to engage in the fun of bracket challenges, local eats and drinks and live action on multiple televisions during its 18th annual Final Four FlyAway fundraiser March 19.

Skyward rolls out LiveWell NKY to improve health outcomes

Skyward recently unveiled the pilot version of community-wide initiative LiveWell NKY that aims to improve the health of Northern Kentucky residents.

Accelerate Great Schools announces $1.43 million in grants to Cincinnati public and Catholic schools

Accelerate Great Schools will invest $1.43 million in grants to help support efforts by Cincinnati Public Schools and Seton Education Partners to improve student success.

The Carnegie's Art of Food celebrates 10 years of food, music and art

The Carnegie is hosting two nights of The Art of Food Feb. 24 and 26 to commemorate the exhibition's 10th anniversary.

Impact 100 announces it will award four $101,500 grants in 2016

Impact 100 will award four grants of $101,500 each in 2016 thanks to record-breaking member enrollment.

People Working Cooperatively plans final Hometown Hollywood Gala

People Working Cooperatively will host its final Hometown Hollywood Gala, which has raised $1.7 million in funding throughout the years, benefiting its Modifications for Mobility program.  

Envision Children to host pre-Valentine's Day painting fundraiser

Envision Children, a nonprofit providing educational enrichment and support to students in need of that "extra push," hosts a Feb. 12 Sweet Art "friendraiser" with painting lessons, small bites, wine and friendship.

True Body Project celebrates 10-year anniversary, keeps disrupting expectations

Since its inception 10 years ago, Stacy Sims' True Body Project has created two books, a documentary film and a website by and for girls, My True Space; her City Silence gatherings continue this month.

Mentoring program aims to help first-year college students, encourage retention

First-year college students will have mentoring help thanks to a partnership between the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative and local schools and organizations.

MotherLOVE to host first workshop for grieving mothers

MotherLOVE, created for bereaved mothers by bereaved mothers, will host its first workshop Feb. 26 to give grieving mothers a roadmap of how to get from survival to living well.

Local organizations compete for $30,000 to further social innovation via SVP's Fast Pitch

Social Venture Partners Cincinnati is once again hosting its Fast Pitch competition, in which innovative organizations learn to communicate their missions in effective and engaging ways.

United Way leads effort for Earned Income Tax Credit awareness via free tax prep

The 10-year anniversary of Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day is Jan. 29, marking a nationwide effort to draw taxpayers’ attention to its potential benefit and to offer free tax preparation. 

Heimlich Heroes plans to double the program's child trainees in 2016

Heimlich Heroes has trained more than 25,000 kids in 37 states since its implementation in 2013 and plans to double that number by the end of 2016. 

Findlay Market's incubator kitchen nearing completion

The Findlay Kitchen incubator space is still about a month from opening at Findlay Market, but there's already a solid group of members raring to open the doors.  

Local group celebrates one year of random acts of kindness

Local Random Acts of Kindness group is celebrating its one-year anniversary by repeating a citywide clothing drive and hosting two fundraisers.

Stepping Stones expands reach to west side

Stepping Stones increased its reach to children and adults with disabilities by expanding to the west side at the beginning of January.

Friends of the Pops to host informational lecture series at Mercantile Library

The all-volunteer Friends of the Pops group affiliated with Cincinnati Pops Orchestra is hosting free lectures in March, April and May to provide a sneak peek of what it’s like to play as part of the orchestra.

Red Boot Coalition founder to speak on building genuine human interaction

Red Boot Coalition founder Molly Barker believes in one thing, compassionate listening, and intends to share that vision when she speaks in Cincinnati Jan. 20.

Main Public Library downtown hosts "Envelope" mail artwork exhibit

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is hosting "Envelope," an exhibit of mail artwork, on behalf of Visionaries + Voices.  

Poetry in the Garden Contest looking for talented local poets

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and Greater Cincinnati Writers League are looking for new and talented poets to enter its Poetry in the Garden contest.

West African student receives funding for final residency at Union Institute

Ghana resident Edward Fiawoo will begin his final required residency this week at Union Institute & University thanks to funds raised by UI&U’s International Alumni Association.

CHRC, Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center partner for "Rethinking Racism"

The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission and Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center are partnering to address racism in local communities at the Jan. 14 “Rethinking Racism” event.

$40,000 grant helps launch Healthy Homes program in Price Hill

What began as a college capstone project for Lisa Marie Watkins is now permanently helping many women and their families who live in Price Hill via the Healthy Homes initiative.

Safe and Supported receives $35,000 matching gift to end LGBTQ homelessness by 2020

Safe and Supported recently received a $35,000 matching gift to help fuel its goal of ending lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & questioning (LGBTQ) youth homelessness in Hamilton County by 2020.

OTR eco garden teaches local youth how to grow organic vegetables

The eco garden that sits at 1718 Main St. across from Rothenberg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine teaches neighborhood kids self-reliance through the growth of organic fruits and vegetables.

National Science Foundation grant helps establish 3D Printer Clubs in local schools

13 local schools and education centers are able to establish 3D Printer Clubs thanks to a $50,000 National Science Foundation grant to UC.

A Night with Scott and Friends to benefit Manna Food Pantry on Dec. 12

A Night with Scott and Friends, the West side’s annual community Christmas concert, returns Dec. 12 at the Heritage Community Church, with proceeds benefiting Manna Food Pantry.

Charitable Words to host benefit event at secret location

Charitable Words hosts a benefit Dec. 17 at a secret location and is inviting the community to participate in an unorthodox way of retrieving a free ticket: a scavenger hunt video.

Covington's Center for Great Neighborhoods kicks off campaign to finish creative hub renovations

Covington's Center for Great Neighborhoods kicked off its two-month Annual Campaign Nov. 18 to fill the funding gap for building the Hellmann Creative Center. 

HOME, Cincinnati Human Relations Commission team for Building Inclusive Communities forum

Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) and Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (CHRC) host a neighborhood forum Dec. 1 to discuss how to build inclusive communities in Greater Cincinnati.  

Constella 2016 will push classical music boundaries to engage audiences

Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts has announced its 2016 season, which is invigorated with new collaborations that push expectations and conventions for classical music into new territory.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra announces poetry contest winners

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra recently announced the six winners of its One City, One Symphony poetry contest focused on the question, "What does freedom mean to you?"

Education at Work helps students earn more than $1 million in tuition assistance

Norwood-based Education at Work just passed a $1 million milestone that helps millennials graduate from college with less debt and less stress. 

Style & Steps to support Off the Streets program

Cincinnati Union Bethel hosts its annual Style & Steps event on Thursday, Nov. 12 to benefit its Off the Streets residential program to help trafficked and prostituted women recover and find community integration.

Walk With Family 5K to support Interfaith Hospitality Network's work with homeless families

Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati is hosting its first-ever fundraising walk, Walk with Family 5K, on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Eden Park.

Clark Schaefer Hackett partners with DePaul Cristo Rey through work study program

DePaul Cristo Rey High School students are gaining real-world work experience before they graduate thanks to a work/study program and collaboration with Clark Schaefer Hackett. 

Price Hill seeks artists, businesses to participate in window painting competition

Price Hill Will and its Arts Community Action Team are seeking artists and businesses to take part in the neighborhood’s 11th annual Holiday on the Hill Window Painting Competition.

Local celebs fuel Dancing With Our Hearts to raise funds for 8 charities

The Nov. 7 gala and dance competition Dancing With Our Hearts will kick off a series of dance-related events organized by Jeremy and Desiree Mainous to raise awareness and funds for nonprofits throughout the year.

Toss for Techs to raise money for Per Scholas IT training

Per Scholas is hosting an inaugural fundraiser to support its free IT job training for low-income or unemployed individuals Oct. 27 at CityLink Center.

Evanston Spirit of Progress Mural project manager awarded $2,500 grant

Felix Rodriguez was recently awarded $2,500 through a grant made possible by from School Outfitters, a partner in creating the Evanston Spirit of Progress Mural.

Beaux Arts Ball to honor Art Academy of Cincinnati supporters & donors who helped with its OTR move

The Art Academy of Cincinnati is celebrating the 10th anniversary of moving to Over-the-Rhine at its Oct. 23 Beaux Arts Ball at the Verdin Bell Event Centre.

Library's Homework Help program plans to expand thanks to donation

Homework Help, a program providing free after-school assistance for students K-8 at various Cincinnati Public Library locations, will be able to expand thanks to a large donation from the Marge & Charles J. Schott Foundation.

Next round of Creative Community Grants are available for Covington projects

Covington's Creative Community Grant program is looking to award $5,000 to creative projects focused on inclusion in any shape or form.

Newport barber gives back to the community with free haircuts for the homeless

When Sean "Spanky" Caudill isn’t cutting hair in his Newport barbershop, he gives back to the community by providing the service to the homeless for free. 

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

ReSource helps nonprofit organizations by distributing corporate donated furniture and office supplies and is now connecting them with talented young professionals.

Greenhouse Rock! fundraiser supports musicians with developmental disabilities

Melodic Connections, which provides music therapy services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, hosts its annual Greenhouse Rock! fundraiser Oct. 10 at Krohn Conservatory.

Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition raising money for Earth Day 2016

Earth Day isn’t typically celebrated until April, but the Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition is raising money for next year's event on Friday, Oct. 9.

Mt. Healthy studio teaches dance, life skills

When Kelli Harmon-Dobson formed the Highsteppers Studio 16 years ago, she had no idea how much of an effect it would have on young girls in the community.

COV200 seeks input for what to put inside Covington bicentennial's time capsule

COV200 is working with the community to determine contents for the Covington Time Capsule Project, part of the city's bicentennial celebration.

Park + Vine paying it forward to help those in need

Customers can pay it forward at Over-the-Rhine shop Park + Vine by pre-purchasing meals for those in need, specifically the homeless.

Grateful Grahams' founder coordinates A Grateful Plate to honor NKY's female farmers, producers

Grateful Grahams' Rachel DesRochers has organized A Grateful Plate to collectively celebrate and express our gratitude for Northern Kentucky's female farmers, producers and chefs.

Athletes, outdoor enthusiasts excited for annual Great Ohio River Swim (moved to Oct. 10)

The eighth annual Great Ohio River Swim Oct. 10 is expected to attract record-breaking participation for the timed 900-meter venture across the Ohio and back.

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

Area residents can make better choices about their healthcare thanks to YourHealthMatters.org, an online rating tool developed by the Health Collaborative based on patient experience data.

Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative receives national support to further learning

The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative is one of just 27 organizations nationwide chosen to pilot the STEM Ecosystems Initiative; the groups will meet at the White House in November to share ideas.

Local salon owner wants to do Kim Davis' hair, address differences

In an effort to address differences, Salon Central owner Jim Brofft wants to meet jailed Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis to cut, color and style her hair free of charge.

Coalition Academy unites community members together against substance abuse

Community members and public health professionals are joining forces to battle substance abuse at the 2015 Coalition Academy on Sept. 30, with Ann Barnum of Interact for Health as its keynote speaker.

Rain Pryor's "That Daughter's Crazy" to open 2015 Cincinnati Film Festival

The Cincinnati Film Festival opens Sept. 10 with "That Daughter's Crazy," a documentary on the life of actress and comedienne Rain Pryor, who will headline a stand-up comedy show before the film screening.

Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic returns with another star-studded collection of chefs

Washington Park becomes one big kitchen for the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic throughout the weekend of Sept. 11-13, the event's second year of hosting the best food and beverage flavors in the Midwest.

Party like a rock star at Music Resource Center fundraiser

The Music Resource Center in Walnut Hills hosts its annual Party Like a Rockstar benefit Aug. 29 to raise funds to support the after-school program, which hosts kids learning to play guitar, singing opera, rapping and playing jazz under one roof.

Metro, CincyYP collaborate to host Saturday night entertainment bus for new riders

For those looking for a fun way to socialize and navigate city streets via public transportation, Metro and CincyYP are collaborating to once again host an entertainment bus the entire evening of Saturday, Aug. 29.

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

More than 5 million biodegradable and compostable cups were produced last year in Cincinnati at the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a feat featured on FYI Network's "Home Factory" show.

Local glassworkers join forces to celebrate National Bead Challenge Day

To back Beads of Courage in its mission of providing arts-in-medicine programming, Tristate artists will gather at Brazee Street Studios Sept. 19 for National Bead Challenge Day.

Arts Center ready to "Raise the Heights" with grand opening of new space

The Kennedy Heights Arts Center is expected to double the number of people it serves with the Aug. 28-29 grand opening of its Lindner Annex.

Businesses, residents, community groups transform vacant Walnut Hills lot into community garden

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful kicked off a transformative project last week to turn a vacant Walnut Hills lot into a community garden, thanks to help from Lowe’s Heroes and the Health & Wellness Walnut Hills initiative.

Celebrating National Health Center Week to increase access to quality health care for all

National Health Center Week features celebrations at Ohio's 44 federally qualified health centers, including Saturday's GE Developing Health Back-to-School Kid’s Health Fair in Lincoln Heights.

Stepping Stones' end-of-summer "Bloom" garden party to raise programming funds

Stepping Stones hosts its annual "Bloom" garden party Sept. 12 to support educational and recreational programs for more than 1,000 local children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Bluegrass for Babies benefit concert returns to Sawyer Point

Enjoy live bluegrass music and favorite local foods Sept. 19 at Bluegrass for Babies, an annual concert presented by Healthy Roots Foundation as a fundraiser for Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Comedy benefit honors women living with breast cancer

The Karen Wellington Foundation for Women is hosting a comedy showcase Aug. 11 to raise funds to send women diagnosed with breast cancer and their families on vacations that allow them to live in the moment.

Rescheduled Paddlefest hosts three float events and downtown festival

The 14th annual Ohio River Paddlefest, whose original June dates were swamped by heavy rain and high river levels, is set for Aug. 2, with two races and a leisurely 8-mile paddle on the Ohio River.

Funke pottery studio encourages individual empowerment

Funke Fired Arts Funke is one of the largest clay studios in the country, with multiple kilns and more than 50 spinning wheels, a gallery, children's education center and retail store. It's a place where anyone can be an artist.

Strive Partnership receives funding to drive better education results

Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky is one of six metro areas recently chosen to receive support from a $15 million fund designed to help local schools reach their education goals faster. Strive Partnership will use the money to give support to groups and partners.

Local kids to learn basketball skills from NBA star Tayshaun Prince

Local kids will learn the basics of basketball from NBA (and former UK) star Tayshaun Prince at his annual basketball camp hosted by Kicks for Kids Aug. 3-5 at Thomas More College.

Students build social skills at unique music/art camp

A social skills summer camp collaboration between Melodic Connections and Visionaries and Voices is designed to give kids with different types of special learning needs a structured environment to create music, create art and prevents the "summer slide."

Macy's Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival returns, celebrates 10 years

Thousands of kids and adults will gather at the Cincinnati Zoo July 22 to enjoy the Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival, now in its 10th year supporting Learning Through Art's efforts to promote childhood literacy.

The Carnegie announces six diverse shows for its 2015-16 gallery season

The Carnegie's 2015-16 gallery season offers shows ranging from an examination of the history and communities of Covington to experimental cinema to the use of abstract art, plus The Art of Food, of course.

UC, Hughes High School team for summer bridge STEM program

The University of Cincinnati is empowering and educating students at Hughes High School through a bridge program focused on college and career readiness in the STEM field. 

Watch the Cincinnati Art Museum restore outdoor bronze statue

The Cincinnati Art Museum is in the process of restoring and re-installing The Vine, a bronze statue that used to live in its Alice Bimel Courtyard and was damaged by wind, rain and other elements.

Faces Without Places raffling off two All Star Game tix to support its kids programs

Faces Without Places is raffling off a pair of Diamond Seats behind home plate for the July 10-14 All Star Game festivities, including the game itself, to raise funds for its programs that assist children and youth experiencing homelessness. 

Students work creatively with glass, learn and grow through art

If you missed the opening for Brazee Street Studios’ 513 Penguins kids art exhibition, you have a second chance to view student work at a July 10 reception at C-LINK Gallery in Oakley.

Envision Children delivers interactive learning experiences to local kids

Envision Children’s Summer Academic Enrichment program is designed to produce measurable results by engaging youth in real life learning through interactive and fun activities so students see how education benefits them.

Stages for Youth seeks funding to create year-round filmmaking program for teens

His Stages for Youth free summer film camp was a success, and Frank O'Farrell is now hoping to create year-round after-school programming for teens.

World Refugee Day celebrated with companionship, resources and fun

There are 12,000-25,000 refugees living in Greater Cincinnati at any given time, so the RefugeeConnect program works to unite and engage the community to assist newcomers acclimate to a new culture.

Deadline extended for Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire applications

Want to show off your latest DIY project, lead a hands-on demonstration or teach others to make a gadget? The deadline to exhibit for the 2015 Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire has been extended to June 30.

Local AIA chapter sponsors photo contest to benefit Little League team for kids with disabilities

The American Institute of Architects’ Cincinnati chapter is sponsoring a photo competition, "Fields of Dreams," to showcase the built environment surrounding baseball and to raise funds for the Butler County Challenger league.

Anonymous grant enables 15 vets to graduate debt-free from Union Institute

Union Institute & University has launched the Veterans in Union program to assist underemployed or low-income Pell-eligible military vets further their education, thanks to an anonymous grant of $293,000.

Shriners Hospital committed to physical, mental and emotional healing

Shriners Hospital is committed to "Care beyond cost," as no family is ever turned down because of finances, and it's this sort of generosity that extends into all measures of a patient's life when in the hospital's care.

Cincinnati filmmakers prep for 48 Hour Film Project weekend

Novices, professionals and filmmakers of all levels in between will gather together Friday to kick off Cincinnati's 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP), one of 130 such filmmaking weekends in cities worldwide this year.

People Working Cooperatively volunteers make 33rd annual Repair Affair a success

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, People Working Cooperatively recently completed its 33rd annual Repair Affair by fixing 40 homes for individuals who were unable to either afford or complete the repairs themselves.

OTR Foundation launches crowdfunding campaign to support Rothenberg rooftop garden

The Over-the-Rhine Foundation kicks off a crowdfunding campaign for the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden May 20, hoping to raise $5,000 for additional equipment and supplies for students and community members who tend to the garden.

Discounted CSO tix available with donation to Freestore Foodbank

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra wraps up its 2014-15 season this weekend, and tickets to Friday night's performance are  being discounted to $10 for those who make a donation of a nonperishable food item, part of a community-wide initiative to combat hunger.

Starfire members explore passions, engage with community

For Starfire members like Matt Weisshaar, working on a community project is an important responsibility that develops leadership skills and relationship building. It's a major way the nonprofit helps decrease the social isolation felt by people with disabilities.

Former NKU hoops star encourages father/child relationships with camp benefitting Kicks for Kids

Former NKU basketball star Shannon Minor will once again host the Pete Minor Father/Child Basketball Camp to honor his father's legacy and to support the local nonprofit Kicks for Kids.

From athlete to activist, Kevin Pearce an inspiration for those with traumatic brain injury

Ex-professional snowboarder Kevin Pearce, injured during Olympics training, is raising awareness and funds to improve the life quality of individuals impacted by traumatic brain injury through the LoveYourBrain Foundation.

Derby party to benefit Special Olympics equestrian training program

Parkers Blue Ash Tavern is hosting a Kentucky Derby party on Saturday to benefit the Winton Woods Riding Center's Special Olympics Hamilton County equestrian training program.

Local consulting firm inspires others to Pay It Forward

The goal for Pay It Forward Day April 30 is to inspire 3 million acts of kindness around the world. There are many options for participating, from company group efforts to small  individual acts.

Warm-weather health and safety tips for Flying Pig participants

Participants need to be aware of health and safety tips prior to running the 2015 Flying Pig Marathon this weekend, says Assistant Medical Director Matthew Daggy, especially in warmer weather.

NOH8 Campaign to shoot photos downtown Monday

The NOH8 Campaign will make its first-ever stop in Cincinnati Monday at The Westin downtown, where people are encouraged to go and be photographed to show their support for equal human rights.

ArtWorks restarts Saturday Mural Tours of OTR and downtown public art

ArtWorks, the local nonprofit that employs young people to create public art, has restarted its Saturday Mural Tours program. Each 90-minute walk — one through Over-the-Rhine, one through Downtown — is approximately a mile long and features 7-10 murals created by ArtWorks artists.

Cincy musician becomes national anti-bullying activist

Local musician Keenan West had no idea that upon the release of his first EP he'd embark on a journey as an anti-bullying activist. But now he appears regularly at school assemblies and is a spokesman for a national anti-bullying campaign.

"Walking Cincinnati" launches Saturday in OTR and Covington

Danny Korman, owner of Park + Vine in Over-the-Rhine, and Katie Meyer, manager of Renaissance Covington, officially launch their Walking Cincinnati book at two signings on Saturday, April 11, starting at noon at Park + Vine and then hiking to Roebling Point Books & Coffee in Covington.

UC Economics Center honors those who promote financial literacy

UC's Economics Center hosted its eighth annual awards luncheon March 16 to honor students, educators and sponsors making a difference in society's understanding and implementation of financial literacy. General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt said the Center's main goal is to teach the next generation to compete.

Male joins lots of women leading girls to develop confidence through running

Steve Brandstetter has volunteered with Girls on the Run for the past 10 years and has valued every moment of his time spent helping girls "be joyful, healthy and confident." The group's Spring 5k is scheduled for May 9.

NKU professor to publish findings on long-term impacts of service learning

NKU's Julie Olberding and her Public Administration students have compiled and studied data to help determine the long-term impacts of their service learning in the community.

Deadline for Public Library Comic Con drawing contest entries is March 31

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s 2015 Comic Con Drawing Contest is accepting entries from ages 5 up through adults, with a deadline of March 31. The library's Comic Con is May 16.

Cincinnati native launches Queen City Crowdfunding to tap into the region's generosity

Following his retirement Jim Cunningham launched Queen City Crowdfunding, a free service that allows entrepreneurs, for-profits and nonprofits to create funding campaigns or publicize already-live ones.

Help OTR Brewery District put Cincy on map with heritage trail

To share stories and to create interactive ways for neighbors and visitors to grow the city, the Cincinnati Brewing Heritage Trail is hoping to showcase Cincinnati’s unique history while revitalizing parts of Over-the-Rhine and generating tourism.

Talbert House celebrates 50 years, honors top employees

To celebrate 50 years in the community, the Talbert House recently honored key employees who work day-in and day-out to uphold the nonprofit's standards of excellence.

OSU Extension seeks community input from "future leaders"

If you’re between the ages of 14 and 30, Ohio State University Extension of Hamilton County wants your input on the concept of a perfect community at its "Community Reconsidered" focus group Saturday, March 14.

Local artist explores relationship among creativity, art, science with "Discover"

Local artist Susan Byrnes’ latest exhibition explores connections between art and science, debuting Friday evening at Brazee Street Studios’ C-LINK Gallery with a free reception and artist talk.

Melodic Connections musicians gain on-the-job skills through CSO partnership

Three musicians from Melodic Connections are participating in a pilot program with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in which they'll volunteer once a week in the CSO offices at Music Hall to gain job readiness and social skills.

CWPC reaches out to young professionals with "Beer and Beethoven"

To engage more YPs with the talent of young artists who are locally and even internationally renowned, Cincinnati World Piano Competition is hosting "Beer and Beethoven" Thursday at Rhinegeist.

Junior League of Cincinnati celebrates 95 years, honors women making a difference

It’s not too late to purchase tickets to The Junior League of Cincinnati’s annual Cinsation gala Saturday night in celebration of the nonprofit’s 95th year as “an accelerator for good” in the community.

Project 38 focused on helping local students overcome "Shakesfear"

Cincinnati Shakespeare has launched Project 38, an educational initiative to connect its teaching artists with more than 1,000 students and faculty from 38 local schools to bring Shakespeare’s 38 recognized works to life.

ReelAbilities Film Festival kicks off Friday with "Meet the Stars" event

"It is fantastic to see celebrities from across our country who want to be a part of what we are doing here in Cincinnati," says ReelAbilities Film Festival Chair Kathleen Cail, who hosts Academy Award-winner Marlee Matlin, Danny Woodburn (Seinfeld and Bones), Kurt Yaeger (Sons of Anarchy) and other stars during the Feb. 27-March 7 festival.

ChangingGears, LawnLife win big at SVP Fast Pitch

Social Venture Partners' Fast Pitch 2015 was a rousing success last week, with four of the eight nonprofit finalists each being awarded with at least $5,000 in front of 537 attendees. LawnLife will represent Cincinnati at the Philanthropitch International Competition in Austin, Tex.

C2C provides creative opportunities for teachers and students

Crayons to Computers partners with volunteers, businesses and other organizations to offer free educational tools and services, including a recent photography workshop.

Nonprofits to share stories, compete for prizes at Fast Pitch 2015

Social Venture Partners’ Fast Pitch, Feb. 11 at Memorial Hall, offers eight area nonprofits the opportunity to present their overall story and impact in three minutes or less with $30,000 in prizes at stake. The event's theme is "Innovation That Matters."

NCH City Center in need of funding for air conditioner, roof to allow for summer programming

Two nonprofits are hosting The Awesome 80s Prom Feb. 6-7 to raise funds for the North College Hill City Center, which serves as a venue for everything from children’s programming to a meeting and support spot for veterans who are disabled.

Bacchanalian Society, CSO Encore gather YPs together to support Cincinnati Symphony

The Bacchanalian Society gathers young professionals together to integrate “social and professional networking with philanthropy,” most recently hosting a wine tasting on Jan. 29 to benefit the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Urban mushroom farming project launches on Kickstarter

Alan Susarret owns and operates Probasco Farm on West McMicken Avenue, where urban farming is officially underway. He recently began a Kickstarter campaign to expand production of oyster mushrooms.

VAE closes season, celebrates 35 years

This weekend the VAE closes its 35th anniversary season with the regional premier of Rodion Shchedrin’s The Sealed Angel at churches in Northside and Covington.

Bouquet Restaurant launches monthly wine dinner series to benefit nonprofits

Covington’s Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar kicks off its Charity Wine Dinner Series this week to benefit The Carnegie, and subsequent monthly dinners will support local nonprofits.

Ingage Partners passionate to "B" the change

For Markku Koistila, business analyst at Ingage Partners, the consulting firm's B Corporation status means it cares about its employees, its customers and its community more than making money.

Cincinnati Youth Collaborative honors outstanding mentors

Cincinnati Youth Collaborative recognized Trinitii Brewer, a 10-year mentor through her employer Luxottica, with its 2015 Outstanding Mentor Award.

Healthy Visions delivers powerful, impactful program to teens by sharing stories

Healthy Visions partners with local high schools to empower students with the tools needed to navigate tricky situations so they know it's possible to come out on top.

Cincy ReelAbilities to showcase individuals, films that inspire

Inspiring stories like Stephen Wampler's climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park will hit the big screen at the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival Feb. 27-March 7.

SVP Fast Pitch semifinalists prep for February competition

Twenty semifinalists have been chosen for Social Venture Partners Cincinnati’s 2015 Fast Pitch competition, with the Feb. 11 finals at Memorial Hall awarding more than $30,000 in prizes to local nonprofits looking for a boost.

May We Help volunteers change lives with custom-built devices for individuals with disabilities

May We Help helps individuals with disabilities fulfill their passions and accomplish tasks that aren't considered necessities while also dispelling myths about impossibility.

Ameritas employees log thousands of volunteer hours, invest in community giving

Cincinnati’s Ameritas office launched The Hours Project to give back to the community to further improve the areas in which its employees “live, work and play.”

DAAP students lead hands-on effort to fix vacant lots

DAAP students from the University of Cincinnati have spent the past two years working to propose sustainable ideas to Cincinnati neighborhoods about what can be done with vacant lots.

Downtown Public Library to expand technological offerings with Makerspace

The Public Library’s main downtown branch will become the home for a new Tech Center and Makerspace Jan. 26, featuring a 3D printer, laser cutter and sound booth.

MU holiday performance to benefit Walnut Hills marching band

Miami University vocalists and big band join together this weekend to raise funds for the Walnut Hills High School music program with “A Swingin’ Holiday: Big Band Choral Spectacular.”

Constella goes digital, aims to draw national audience to spring festival

Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts goes digital with video shorts to attract audiences to Cincinnati for April's live shows.

Local organist featured in Price Hill celebration of community, giving

Community members will join together at the Bloc Center Saturday evening in Price Hill to share musical talents, engage in fellowship and collect donations for neighbors in need.

Giveunity provides easy, meaningful way to donate on #GivingTuesday

Giveunity is a free smartphone application that connects donors with local nonprofits through just a few simple clicks, and donations will grow in percentage in recognition of #GivingTuesday.

The Christ Hospital to provide free surgeries to individuals in need

Four local residents will be beneficiaries of free joint replacements thanks to The Christ Hospital's participation in Operation Walk USA for the second straight year.

The Women's Fund to celebrate male supporters at Guys Who Get It 2.0

To gain more talent across gender, The Women’s Fund is hosting Guys Who Get It 2.0 to raise awareness and celebrate the men in our community who understand that women’s self-sufficiency is an effort everyone should get behind.

Holidays in the Bag to benefit new nonprofit in OTR

Black Friday shopping is just around the corner, and one way to participate and save, while also supporting small businesses and a local nonprofit, is through Over-the-Rhine Chamber’s Holidays in the Bag initiative.

Kicks For Kids to deliver another memorable holiday for at-risk kids

Kicks For Kids, a Covington-based nonprofit that aims to “level the playing field for local children at risk,” is prepping for its Annual Christmas Celebration.

Cincinnati YMCAs aim to strengthen global community

The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is doing its part in the local community to ”create, strengthen and replicate innovative global services, partnerships and organizational practices at home and abroad” through its Global Center of Excellence.

Photos at Skirball reveal history, transition of Cincinnati's West End

Sixty black-and-white photographs documenting the architecture, history and human experience of Cincinnati’s West End in the early-mid 20th century, are on display at Skirball Museum.

Permaganic Co.'s Eco Garden provides youth with purposeful engagement in OTR

Permaganic Co.’s youth internship program provides inner city youth between the ages of 12 and 18 the opportunity to engage in the “maintenance, sales and planning” of the nonprofit’s Eco Garden in Over-the-Rhine.

Contractors form alliance to serve nonprofits

Century Mechanical Solutions teamed up with seven other local contracting agencies to form Mechanical Optimizers—an alliance that helps others assess, forecast and budget for both current and future needs.

First Impact Covington Day hailed a success

More than 200 volunteers came together last Saturday for the first of six Impact Covington days, which COV200—the group tasked with planning the city’s Bicentennial Celebration—initiated.

NEW Cincinnati hosts Julie Foudy, promotes leadership, mentorship opps for students

NEW Cincinnati hosted Julie Foudy, former captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team, this past Thursday in an effort to inspire its members, supporters, and individuals in its College Outreach Program to be effective leaders.

Kennedy Heights Arts Center to undergo expansion, provide more to local arts scene

The Kennedy Heights Arts Center breaks ground November 14 on construction for its second location and regional campus—the Kennedy Heights Arts Center Carl, Robert, Richard and Dorothy Lindner Annex

United Way seeks volunteers to assist families with tax prep

Tax season is quickly approaching, and because the United Way of Greater Cincinnati recognizes it can sometimes be a stressful time for hardworking families, it’s seeking volunteers who can commit to helping those families file for free.

Peaslee Neighborhood Center celebrates 30 years of community impact

Peaslee is celebrating 30 years as a space in the OTR community that demonstrates how far its initial founding members' positive reach has extended, in creating "a peaceful place,” where everyone is welcome and can learn from one another.

SVP to host bigger, better Fast Pitch this year

Social Venture Partners Cincinnati will once again host its Fast Pitch competition, where local nonprofits will deliver their pitches in an attempt to attain grant money to put toward funding their missions.

HUC-JIR celebrates interfaith harmony, honors former prof

To honor Lowell McCoy's impact and to promote interfaith harmony, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion has created an award in his honor.

GiveCamp provides nearly 200K in website redesigns, apps for area nonprofits

Seventy-eight volunteer developers, database administrators and designers came together for Southwest Ohio GiveCamp this weekend, and as a result, 13 nonprofits came away with things like free website redesigns and cell phone applications.

de Cavels host 11th annual brunch with hope to eradicate SIDS

The de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation hosted its 11th Friends and Family Brunch and silent auction Saturday in an effort to add to the more than $750,000 raised throughout the past 10 years.

Internationally renowned conductor returns to local, musical roots

Kazem Abdullah returned to his musical roots this weekend, as he made his conducting debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus.

Mannequin hosts Beer, BBQ & Bach fundraiser

Beer, BBQ & BachMannequin’s second-annual yearly fundraiser to raise rent money for the charity boutique will take place October 22.

CYC honors Outstanding Students, raises $105K at Dream Makers Celebration

Cincinnati Youth Collaborative hosted its 11th annual Dream Makers Celebration earlier this month, raising about $105,000 for programs that “empower vulnerable students to succeed.”

Local nonprofit focuses efforts on underfunded pediatric cancer research

Cincinnati Bengals’ Defensive Tackle Devon Still helped raise the national consciousness about pediatric cancer, but now it’s time to keep talking about it, says Ellen Flannery, co-founder of CancerFree KIDS.

Cincinnati mom's inventiveness leads to small biz, charity partnership

Keysocks has teamed up with Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research in an effort to sell 15,000 pairs of socks, directly funding blood cancer research.

EXCEL grad displays leadership through Camp Joy scholarship creation

Gunner Blackmore, Camp Joy development manager, recently completed The Executive Curriculum for Emerging Leaders (EXCEL), and its impact on his ability to make a difference in the community was immediate.

Citizenship, opportunity through music at MYCincinnati

The 10 hours a week MYCincinnati orchestra members spend together enables students to not just become talented musicians. They increase self-confidence, build social skills, engage in citizenship, and express their creativity and passion.

Community Matters moves forward with Washing Well

Currently there’s a lack of access to a local laundry facility in Lower Price Hill, but that’s about to change, as the nonprofit gears up to implement plans for the Washing Well project.

Mercy Health physician hosts second annual health fair

For Kent RobinsonMercy Health physician, it’s his goal for people to begin to expand their notions of “wellness,” so he's hosting his second-annual A Day of Wellness. 

UC Economics Center develops innovative professional development series

The Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati will launch its new professional development series, Cruisin’ through the Standards, beginning this November.

Impact 100 funds three grantees, enables transformation

At its annual awards ceremony last week, Impact 100 awarded $327,000 to three local nonprofits in the form of three $109,000 transformational grants.

ATGScholars excel through citizenship, responsibility

Cleophis Carson, 16, was Michael Farrell Jr.’s inspiration for founding Against the Grain Scholars, he says

LADD, ReelPrograms to host award-winning photographer in preparation for ReelAbilities

World renowned former fashion photographer Rick Guidotti will come to Cincinnati this week as a part of LADD's ReelPrograms, which preface the ReelAbilities Film Festival.

Cincy Care to Share offers free dental care

Cincy Care to Share, now in its third year, will once again provide an opportunity for clients to receive free dental work Friday.

Multicultural Scholarship Fair eases financial burden for area students

Representatives from more than 20 national universities and colleges will convene at the Cincinnati Museum Center Thursday to provide local students with opportunities for financial assistance at the fifth annual Multicultural Scholarship Fair.

Zip-lining, canoeing, river swimming among free Great Outdoor Weekend events

The 11th annual Great Outdoor Weekend is upon us, and with 125 free events and programs at 42 locations in eight counties spanning the Tri-State, it’s an event that Brewster Rhoads, executive director of Green Umbrella, says is not to be missed.

Village Life Outreach Project celebrates 10 years of impact

Village Life Outreach Project will celebrate 10 years as a nonprofit Friday at its Diamond Gala: Night on the Serengeti.

Impact 100 member grows, spreads philanthropic values to young members

Emily Throckmorton is the youngest member of Impact 100, a group of women who work collectively to make a difference in the community by pooling funds to award significant grants to nonprofits.

Top female chefs, local creatives join forces to benefit YWCA

Frannie Kroner’s longtime dream has been to host a collaborative dinner with Greater Cincinnati’s top female chefs, and this Sunday, she’ll have that opportunity at Showcase: Dinner for a Cause.

Rosie's Girls empowers girls with STEM-related skills

Rosie’s Girls is a program for girls between the ages of 11 and 13 that introduces STEM-related careers through hands-on training in carpentry and other technical trades.

Local man leads nation in library service advancements for blind

Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s Chris Mundy joins the ranks of individuals like text-to-speech innovator Ray Kurzweil as the 48th recipient of the Francis Joseph Campbell Award.

CYC grad shows fortitude through adverse situations

Niyubahwe Dieudonne was nominated for the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative's Outstanding Student Award because of his success and perseverance through a time in his life that was by no means easy.

Price Hill sports painter assists nonprofits by donating artwork

Chris Felix, who grew up in Price Hill and who has lived in Cincinnati his whole life, has a passion not only for art, but also for his city and those who inhabit it.

Bengals tailgating sparks idea for new nonprofit

Jason Chapman says he remembers tailgating at a Bengals game last September like it was yesterday because it became the start of The Midwest Project.

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

Cincinnati State’s Midwest Culinary Institute raised more than $100,000 dollars at this year’s 10th annual 1 Night, 12 Kitchens event.

CSYO provides networking, friendship, engagement to youth

Jackie Tso has played with the CSYO for the past four years, and during that time, she’s had the opportunities to play solos in front of large audiences and to perform alongside members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

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

The Young Professionals' Choral Collective is making the transition from an LLC to a nonprofit. 

Princeton High School represents Greater Cincinnati in national competition

The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council is in need of funding for its global education programs, which help the organization further its mission of “promoting international understanding, education, engagement and cooperation.”

ESCC celebrates National Volunteer Week

In recognition of National Volunteer Week, which was celebrated last month, Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati honored four of its top volunteers, one of whom is Bob Conklin. 

State Farm and Economics Center partner to deliver financial literacy to 1,500 students

State Farm has partnered with the Economics Center to provide The Money Savvy Kids program, which will equip 50 area teachers with the resources to bring financial literacy into the classroom.

Eleven local communities receive grants to increase physical fitness opportunities

Eleven area communities and organizations are the recipients of Interact for Health grants to develop or improve upon spaces for physical activity.

21c Cincinnati to host international art competition's Pitch Night

Local individuals will have the unique opportunity to gain an advantage in the spotlight among international artists, as 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati will host ArtPrize’s Pitch Night next month.

NKU students use grafitti as vehicle to fund nonprofits

For students like Jason Hulett, community-building events like GraffitiFest are invaluable when it comes to presenting ideas, raising awareness, sparking conversations and making a difference in the lives of others.

Rooted communities at The Civic Garden Center

The Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati’s annual plant sale is the nonprofit’s largest fundraising event and brings plant lovers together to talk, shop and have all their gardening questions answered by other likeminded individuals.

Local small biz owners launch app to increase charitable giving

With the Graffs' design skills and MOBA Interactive partners' technological expertise, four individuals were able to combine their knowledge to create and launch the Giveunity app this past February.

UC promotes inventiveness, innovation among students

At this year's Innovation Quest Elevator Pitch Competition, 113 registered teams of University of Cincinnati students were given 90 seconds to present their pitches to judges and potential investors from within the local entrepreneurship community.

Meet neighbors, fund community-based ideas at Cincinnati SOUP

The CHRC hosted its first Cincinnati SOUP event last month and awarded $132 dollars to Elevate Walnut Hills, which is a coalition of individuals working to ensure engagement and knowledge throughout the community’s revitalization efforts.

Singing with neighbors at Northside Tavern

Sing! Cincinnati is a group of about 20 individuals, all who love to sing, who join together once a month at Northside Tavern to bond with one another, learn a song, rehearse it and perform it—all in a matter of three hours.

Philanthropic biz recognized for creating positive social and environmental impact

Ingage Partners has etched its place in the B Corp community, as it was recently recognized for creating the most positive overall social and environmental impact by nonprofit B Lab, with the release of its B Corp Best for the World list.

Comic Con comes to Cincinnati Public Library for 2nd straight year

If attending Zombie Preparedness Boot Camp has ever crossed your mind, you’ll probably want to mark some Cincinnati Library Comic Con 2014 events on your calendar for the next couple months.

Local student launches campaign so she can serve in Nicaragua

For University of Cincinnati communications major Brandie Potzick, traveling to Nicaragua last year was a life-changing experience; and this year, she's going back on her own and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to make it all happen.

Lower Price Hill Community School set to expand community outreach

In the coming months, the Lower Price Hill Community School will undergo a name change as it expands services to focus its efforts on education and improving the community through two nonprofits: Education Matters and Community Matters.

ReSource launches nonprofit Member Makeover Contest

ReSource, a local organization that strengthens nonprofits by distributing “corporate surplus” like office supplies and furniture, just launched its inaugural Member Makeover Contest.

WomenWorkBooks showcases female identity, self-expression

WomenWorkBooks, which is a collaborative group exhibition of art books created by local female artists and teen girls, makes its debut at Kennedy Heights Arts Center Saturday.

Children, Inc. honors long-time volunteer's childcare and literacy efforts

When Children, Inc. supporters join together at the organization’s annual fundraiser Raising of the Green, they’ll celebrate children and families in our communities who are taking steps toward self-sufficiency.

SPARK expands to prepare more children for kindergarten

The Children’s Home of Cincinnati has offered the Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) program since 2009, and it continues to expand its reach, as it now serves children in four different Cincinnati communities.

Former teacher founds nonprofit for students who go against the grain

A few years ago, Michael Farrell Jr. was living in Chicago, but he says he got the itch to move back home; so he packed his bags, returned to Cincinnati and founded Against the Grain Scholars.

CSO celebrates African American song with Classical Roots

About 150 voices from dozens of Tri-State churches will join together Friday for Classical Roots, one of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s biggest community outreach initiatives of the year.

YWCA celebrates female leadership in workforce

The YWCA's Career Women of Achievement luncheon celebrates the strides women have made and continue to make as leaders in the workforce.

Illustrators collaborate with WordPlay students on exquisite corpse project

Brazee Street Studios and C|LINK, a website designed to connect local creatives with one another, are presenting the STORY TELLING: The Fine Art of Illustration exhibition, which runs through April 4 and features collaborative pieces by eight illustrators and children at WordPlay.

Shared gifts, knowledge at Local Learning Labs

Price Hill is the most recent and third Cincinnati community to offer citizens monthly meet-ups and free classes at its Local Learning Lab.

More than 200 boys will join in song at free boychoir fest

The third annual Cincinnati Boychoir Festival will bring upwards of 200 boys from more than 80 different schools together Saturday to sing at Memorial Hall.

Creative writing workshop will build community through storytelling

A Community of Stories, which is a two-day creative writing workshop, will bring individuals from all walks of life together so they can share stories with otherwise unlikely recipients.

Fidelity employees engage in virtual mentorship

Fidelity celebrated National Mentoring Month at the end of January by kicking off its innovative new program, which allows its employees to engage in a year-long virtual partnership with 40 students from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati.

Creativity and cuisine will collide at The Carnegie's Art of Food

Visual artists and some of the finest chefs in the Tri-State will join together at the end of this month for the opening reception of The Carnegie’s annual exhibition The Art of Food.

Downtown lawyer recruits 22 new tutors for Be The Change

Now in his third year of tutoring, Andy Kaplan has recruited 22 other lawyers—more than 25 percent of Vorys’ partners in Cincinnati—to join the Be The Change campaign.

Local man works to create sustainable fire service in Africa

After returning from a mission trip, David Moore left his job as Glendale fire chief and founded Africa Fire Mission—a local nonprofit dedicated to “building and increasing the sustainable capacity of fire departments across Africa.”

SVP Cincinnati coaches nonprofits for Fast Pitch speeches

Eight nonprofits—all of which are working to transform the lives of at-risk children through education—have been training with Social Venture Partners Cincinnati coaches to perfect their elevator speeches for Fast Pitch.

From empathy to advocacy after SNAP challenge

In an effort to raise awareness of food insecurity and increase advocacy for its 25 member groups, Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati recently completed its first SNAP Challenge.

CCC offers free choir program for CPS students

An anonymous $20,000 donation will again allow the Cincinnati Children's Choir to offer its free Cincinnati Public Schools Honor Choir program, which engages students in an intense two-day rehearsal program that culminates in a gala performance.

Local United Way leads nation in measuring social, emotional skills in youth

The United Way of Greater Cincinnati is leading the country in an effort to measure social and emotional skills through the implementation of the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA)-mini.

NKY woman makes strides against nutritional poverty

Monica Remmy's goal is to end nutritional poverty, and she's begun work toward achieving that goal through the creation of a garden at Newport's Henry Hosea House. 

Handbags for Hope celebrates literacy, honors committed learners

The Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati will host its third Handbags for Hope event Thursday, January 30 to celebrate literacy and those who help the organization achieve its mission of providing hope to those labeled as functionally illiterate.

Cincinnati Zoo event aims to help restore region's tree canopy

If restoring the region’s tree canopy and preparing it for the future is a cause for which you’re passionate, you’re invited to take part in the Taking Root campaign’s Great Tree Summit 2014.

Memories in the Making empowers individuals with dementia

The Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati offers the Memories in the Making program for individuals in the early stages of dementia so they can maintain a sense of normalcy and create an outlet for expression during a difficult time in life.

UIU receives $500,000 in grants honoring Ruehlmann family

Union Institute & University is the recipient of two $250,000 grants honoring the public service of former Cincinnati Mayor Eugene P. Ruehlmann and his wife Virginia. 

Artist as Activist program offers venue for social change

Joi Sears of Theatre for the Free People returns to her hometown with a program to bring artists together to create social change.

Save Local Waters and Cincinnati Zoo promote rain barrels through art initiative

Save Local Waters is partnering with The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden to host its second Rain Barrel Art Contest to encourage water conservation and reduce pollution in our waterways.

NKU students help award $83,500 to area nonprofits

Northern Kentucky University students participated in coursework that culminated in $83,500 worth of funds for area nonprofits

Faces without Places bridges educational gap for homeless children

Faces without Places provides educational stability and engagement to the 6,000 children experiencing homelessness in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky each year.

Tom+Chee backs small nonprofits

Tom + Chee co-founders say it's their rise-from-the-top mentality that contributed to their business success, and that's now translating to the company’s involvement in the nonprofit sector.

UC Economics Center preps school leaders

For Chris Kloesz, lifelong Cincinnati resident and principal at Loveland High School, participation in the Alpaugh Scholars Leadership Program was invaluable.

OMA inspires confidence, provides autonomy to individuals with dementia

Opening Minds through Art provides individuals with dementia a creative outlet for expression, enables them to build confidence and allows them to create relationships with volunteers.

Cincinnati's Network of Executive Women leads nation in College Outreach

Mallory Malinoski is a testament to Cincinnati’s success in the Network of Executive Women’s College Outreach program, which engages students in valuable networking opportunities.

Glass for Greater Good merges art with giving

Brazee Street Studios and Queen City Glass Arts team up to host Glass for Greater Good on the second Friday of each month.

Runway hair show returns to The Carnegie

The Carnegie’s biannual exhibition "The Art of Hair" returns this January, in the midst of this Covington-based art venue’s 2013-14 season.

WCC to celebrate women at Feist-Tea

The Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati will gather together to celebrate local, feisty women on December 8 at its annual event, appropriately named Feist-Tea.

Local creatives team up to give back

Ornaments designed by the newly formed grassroots group Creativity for a Cause will be auctioned off December 2 to support the Contemporary Arts Center’s involvement with Memories in the Museum.

SparkRecipes gives back, fights hunger with recipe contest

SparkPeople wants you to be inspired to live a healthier and happier life, and with the re-launch of its SparkRecipes website, you can do just that.

One City, One Symphony connects community through music

For Sylvia Samis, 40-year veteran violinist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the One City, One Symphony initiative has provided the opportunity to share stories of the personal connections she has with the music she plays.

Random Snacks of Kindness benefits nonprofit community

If you’re in need of a local $10 dollar holiday gift, Random Snacks of Kindness is now available, and 100 percent of the profits will benefit ArtWorks.

Band of Helping Hands enables children to pursue life goals

Band of Helping Hands gives children with special needs and who are in need of foster care access to activities and extracurricular opportunities they've never been exposed to before.

OVRS executive director's reach extends beyond one nonprofit

For more than 20 years, Jamie Steele has worked to provide residential services for individuals with developmental disabilities; but his passion and drive to help others reach their full potential has been strong since the age of 4.

Autumn Air Art Fair prioritizes art education

When fiber artist Pam Irvin traveled to Tennessee one weekend for an art show that she says ended up being more of an outdoor street market, she was prompted to do something different.

ReSource offers free shredding for nonprofits

As a way to raise awareness about ReSource and what it offers to the local nonprofit community, the organization is offering free shedding services for nonprofits at its Sharonville office November 4–8.

Library adds to digital collection, streams film and TV

Watching television shows and movies online just became even easier—and free—as a result of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s recent addition of streaming services like Hoopla and Freegal Movies into its collection.

OpenDataCincy hopes to improve Cincinnati by collecting and publishing information

In an effort to make more data sets available to the public and to put them in the hands of organizations that can make use of them, OpenDataCincy is engaging community members in the Nonprofit Data Challenge.

soHza connects women, customer becomes agent of change

Empowering women to make positive change is Debbie Lupariello’s goal—not only for herself and her new business venture soHza—but for the women locally and globally who come together to help make the company a success.

Local nonprofit to win $10,000 social media makeover

Connecting with the public is a must for nonprofits, and in a day and age where social media is continuously evolving and becoming more relevant, maximizing one’s presence online can make a huge difference.

Metro bus stop shelters transform into public art

For individuals waiting to catch the bus throughout the downtown and Over-the-Rhine communities, painted depictions of scenes from popular novels will now help them pass the time.

Price Hill Will introduces new model for community gardening

Part of Price Hill Will’s mission is to improve the neighborhood through community engagement, and the organization has found an innovative new way of doing so—by shifting the traditional model of community gardening.

Charlie's Kids Foundation emphasizes safe sleep for infants

In hopes of preventing other families from going through a loss similar to the one they experienced, the Hankes want to do all they can to educate others about the dos and don’ts of infant sleeping habits.

Melrose YMCA avoids closure and celebrates diverse community

When the Melrose YMCA in Walnut Hills was slated to close earlier this year, Connie Springer and other Y members and volunteers rallied to not only keep the facility open, but also avoid reduced operating hours.

Artist with low vision showcases life through paintings

Barbara Petersen's low vision didn't stop her from taking painting classes at the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 2008. Now she has her own art show at Clovernook’s Willoughby Art Gallery.

Constella Festival engages kids with free classical music events

Tatiana Berman founded the Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts three years ago, bringing together international and local musicians for performances around the city during October and early November. This years she's incorporated free children’s concerts into the lineup.

Hospitality Academy hosts Recipe for Success, helps student chefs

To raise money for two programs that help individuals from Cincinnati’s urban core transition into a culinary career path, the Hospitality Academy of Cincinnati will host Recipe for Success, bringing together 20 restaurants that will serve food by the bite.

NKU facilitates STEM learning for students from pre-school through college

Improving students' performance in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics—otherwise known as STEM education—is Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Integrative Natural Science and Mathematics’ ultimate vision for students from pre-school to college.

CCO brings classical pop music and anti-bullying message to SCPA

Today the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra hosts classical pop music fusion Time for Three at The School for Creative & Performing Arts for a master class in which the trio will address the issue of bullying.

Place from Space seeks to transform vacant spaces

For local architects Elizabeth Schmidt and Brad Cooper, transforming vacant and underutilized space is one way to enliven neighborhoods and encourage community members to interact with the built environment.

St. Vincent De Paul, DAAP students collaborate on fashion show fundraiser

To raise funds to help families, St. Vincent De Paul is partnering with the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning for the 11th year to host RetroFittings, a fashion show this Thursday at Music Hall.

Growing Sound creates new anti-bullying strategy using music

As part of its Before the Bullying initiative, Covington-based Growing Sound worked with 15 students in the Greater Cincinnati area to produce six music videos aimed at promoting pro-social behavior.

Northside salon raises money for abused and neglected kids

With five child deaths occuring in the U.S. because of abuse or neglect each day, Taylor Jameson Hair Design coordinated White Out Child Abuse—The Cincinnati White Party to raise funds for an organization that helps these victims.

Greater Cincinnati Foundation celebrates 50 years with Big Idea Challenge

To honor 50 years of contributions and volunteers who enable The Greater Cincinnati Foundation to support nonprofits in the region, the organization launched the Big Idea Challenge. Vote for your favorite project through September 27.

Brazee Street Studios supports children through Beads of Courage

For Brazee Street Studios' Dorie Guthrie, working with glass is a passion. And knowing that children with serious illnesses receive the beads she invests her time and skill in to use as trophies of sorts is gratifying.

Cincinnati Fondo brings cyclists together in support of Freestore Foodbank

When the second annual Cincinnati Fondo takes place September 22, cyclists will come together to support the Freestore Foodbank.

Landor Cincinnati brands nonprofits and community

Landor Cincinnati is more than a branding firm that produces client-driven work. It’s a creative community of individuals with a propensity to make our city better with projects like the Dress for Success fashion show that takes place September 19.

Fifth Third eBus visits local nonprofits, promotes financial empowerment

The Financial Empowerment Mobile (eBus) will travel to Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities to partner with nonprofits and work toward helping underserved individuals get a handle on their finances.

United Cerebal Palsy aims to expand, provide transitional support

Janet Gora’s vision for United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati is that it becomes a place in Cincinnati that fills a void in assisting families with children approaching adulthood.

Lessons learned, lives transformed at Lawn Life

Once a troubled kid himself, Tim Arnold has helped nearly 420 young men and women through Lawn Life, a nonprofit he founded to provide work opportunities and knowledge to at-risk youth.

Susan G. Komen staffer engages young professionals in supporting breast cancer awareness

Through her job at Susan G. Komen Greater Cincinnati Julie Oberschmidt has founded a group that engages young professionals in breast cancer awareness. Their first fundraiser is September 11.

Bill collector turned financial counselor finds her calling in helping others

When Mary Hurlburt started working as a bill collector in the early '90s, she realized that she wanted to help people learn how to manage their money rather than take it from them. Today, she counsels individuals to help them reach their financial goals.

Cincinnati/NKY launches Read On! Campaign

Damian Hoskins, director of collaborative action at The Strive Partnership, is helping to lead the Read On! Campaign in an effort to dramatically improve third-grade reading levels in the region.

Dorin family funds Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired student interns

Natalie Centers, a graduate student at Xavier University, began her internship this summer at Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, thanks to the establishment of the Dorin Fund.

Village Life Founder brings hope, strengthens Tanzanian ties

After Chris Lewis traveled to Tanzania as part of his residency at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2003, he discovered his passion for helping the country's citizens get the medical care they were lacking, and established the Village Life Outreach Project.

Bluegrass for Babies helps infants get critical medical treatment

To express gratitude for her infant son’s lifesaving medical procedure at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Anne Schneider co-founded Bluegrass for Babies—a nonprofit dedicated to improving children’s health by ensuring they get the best start possible.

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. 

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. 


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. 

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. 

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. 

TL2 pairs teens with local businesses, teaches economics

Most high school students count down the days until summer vacation, but for those participating in the Economics Center’s summer program—Today’s Learners, Tomorrow’s Leaders—the countdown continues.  

TL2 students spent the first month of their summers back in the classroom as they took a microeconomics course and visited local businesses to earn both high school and college credit. 

Economics can be an abstract concept, says Daniel Barkley, University of Cincinnati adjunct professor and Economics on the Move founder. 

“When I was in undergrad, some of my professors would take us to buildings that were being worked on so you could see how they were being constructed, and I learned a lot that way, so I figured why not do it with economics?” he says.  

Rather than simply reading about economics in a textbook, Barkley says it’s important for his TL2 students to see the business side of things as opposed to the consumer side, which everyone is already familiar with. 

“A lot of companies will open their doors and show you—it doesn’t matter if it’s baseball or you’re making rubber seals—but it’s similar philosophies," he says. "And they’re at the age when it’ll sink in and do well."

Students had the opportunity to experience the inner workings of a variety of places, including Great American Ball Park, Meridian Bioscience, CVG Airport and Sur-Seal—all of which offer different services but operate under similar principles. 

“I realized that a lot of these businesses are alike in so many different ways," says Mozika Maloba, who attends Walnut Hills High School and was a participant in this year’s TL2. "They have so many different things that connect them. At first, I think I neglected to see that, but it’s funny how you can connect CVG to the Reds' stadium or Meridian BioScience, and I think that’s one of the main things I learned. Economics is such a broad field that can connect to every business.” 

And like most cooperative learning opportunities, students have the chance to not only expand their knowledge, but also their social networks. 

“Along with the whole business prospect of it, you are actually getting a group of friends you can stay in contact with for a while, and they all have the same goals and ideas in their heads,” Maloba says. “And after three weeks, there’s so many correlations between you and the 26 others in the same room as you, so it’s really cool how you can befriend people and then later on, after this year, you can talk to them once again.” 

Do Good: 

• Learn about TL2, and if you're interested in the program, apply next year.

Support the Economics Center to help fund programs for students like TL2.

• Like the Economics Center's page 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. 

Fuel the Fire funds social impact projects, betters communities

Young professionals are full of ideas, but turning ideas into fruitful startups takes funding, which is not always easy to come by—especially for recent college graduates.
“We have a lot of talent in Cincinnati, and we don’t want that talent to leave this city," says Tangela Edwards, communications chair for FUEL Cincinnati. "We want to keep it here."
FUEL Cincinnati, which is a division of Give Back Cincinnati, is a local micro-grant funder that provides philanthropic entrepreneurs with the ways and means to kick-start an idea that will impact our city for the better.
The nonprofit funds projects year-round, but its second annual fundraising event, Fuel the Fire, takes place June 27. That event enables five projects to not only have the opportunity to receive funding, but also to gain recognition and exposure so that other interested individuals become aware of their concepts.
“Major donors might not want to give initially—they want to see how well you do,” Edwards says. “And sometimes that takes a small amount of money to help a startup get off the ground. Our main focus is to give awareness to five groups—they’ll be able to fundraise outside of this—but this is one thing we’re able to do for them.” 
At the event, participants will present their ideas, and the public will vote on its favorite project.
This year’s entries span a wide range of concepts, and cover everything from indoor composting, bike sharing, leadership and training for adolescent males, edible landscaping, and even a series of pop-up biergartens in the intersections of five alleyways in Walnut Hills.
“Community building, education, environment, diversity—the idea is that if they can fit into any of those categories, we want to hear from them,” Edwards says. “If someone has a great idea that they feel will impact Cincinnati in a positive way but they don’t have the funding or need additional ideas and support, then that’s what we’re here for.” 

Do Good: 

Purchase a ticket to attend Fuel the Fire. 

Support FUEL Cincinnati by donating.

• Spread the word about FUEL, and if you have an idea, apply for funding.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Cincinnati Children's Home leads health care integration efforts

The Children’s Home of Cincinnati is taking the steps needed to become a national leader in health care integration. 

“There are more examples of policies that say we need to do health care integration than there are of actual examples of organizations that have done this and done this well, which tells you The Children’s Home is pretty cutting-edge,” says Barbara Terry, vice president of health care integration at The Children’s Home.

Terry, who says she is passionate about health from a holistic standpoint, has 35 years of experience and recently joined The Children’s Home to help the organization introduce physical health care to its already existing mental health care programs. But she says she is not the only one responsible for the idea of health care integration.

“They’ve certainly been reading the tea leaves and saying, ‘We should think about systems—plural—in this community,’” Terry says. “So you think about mental health, education and human services as systems. We really need to figure out how we integrate systems so that vulnerable children get the care they need—the right care at the right place at the right time—and that becomes huge.” 

For Terry, education and prevention are key. 

“We know that individuals who face challenges in the mental health arena—typically as they get older—they have tremendous chronic health problems,” says Terry, who attributes the issue to a difficulty in navigating an array of disconnected systems. 

To address that issue, Terry envisions a system that recognizes that the mind and body cannot be separated. And while the idea might begin with The Children’s Home, she says the effort needs to span across the community. 

“This isn’t just The Children’s Home—it’s about children and adolescents in our larger community,” Terry says. “They’ve been willing to invest in me and invest in this approach, but my vision would be that we need to work with the community. We need to help share successes with the community so that we can say, ‘How can this spread?’ I don’t want the work to be insular. We have to appreciate community here.” 

Do Good: 

• Get involved by contributing items on The Children's Home's wishlist

Volunteer with The Children's Home.

• Assist The Children's Home by donating or supporting a classroom.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Clovernook campers explore community, depth of art

For children at the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Discovery Youth Summer Day Camps allow them to further their own skills and knowledge while also bettering the community. 

From technology and art activities to life skills and neighborhood involvement, campers can engage their senses while tapping into areas that they might not have otherwise had the opportunity to explore. 

Participants at art camp, which ended this past week, have no vision, limited vision or are losing their vision. They created pieces that sparked dialogue about what it means to be part of a larger community. One project involved the campers creating wind chimes made of cat and dog clay cutouts. The kids then donated them to the SPCA of Cincinnati to sell. 

“They enjoyed it, but it was very sad,” Art Instructor Scott Wallace says of the children’s visit to the SPCA. “It gave me an opportunity to go into this whole thing about art in terms of how some of the greatest art is not the world’s prettiest, and some art talks about issues and things that are going on and some things that are not great, so it gave us the chance to talk about what’s important.” 

Campers also worked together to create a colorful heart made from recycled bottle caps—which can be dangerous if left as trash—as a statement about healthy communities. 

“What’s happening is—wild birds are eating them—and they can’t digest them,” Wallace says. “So it’s killing them. It’s so much about recycling. You can take the most insignificant material and make great art.” 

Two of the children who worked to create the bottle piece project are totally blind, but by working together with other campers, they were able to create a beautiful display. It's what Wallace enjoys the most because he’s not so much an instructor as he is a facilitator. 

“For people who have never had vision—their approach is totally different—because they have a certain way of working and a certain level of expectation for their work, and they’re completely cool with it,” Wallace says. “The blind community and the people who’ve never had vision are fine. I think they get tired of us trying to instill our beliefs, but what I like to do is make the best of the vision they have left. And I just sit back and let them do their thing, but it really shows what community can do.” 

Do Good: 

• Like the Clovernook Center on Facebook, and keep an eye out for photos of campers' art work.

Support the Clovernook Center by donating.

Get invovled by volunteering.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Hillenbrand creates illustrating, publishing opportunities for children

When Will Hillenbrand was growing up in College Hill, he spent a lot of time reading picture books at the library, which would make him late for his baseball games at next-door Crawford Field.

“You may wonder, ‘How do we encounter art in our lives?’" Hillenbrand says. "And actually, it’s all around us. We might not realize it; however, the art that engaged me was through storytelling.” 

The library was critical in Hillenbrand’s journey as an illustrator and writer, but his journey actually started at his father's barber shop, where he spent time listening to “big fish stories."

“One way I’d kind of disappear in the background easily would be during the summer because my mom would make my dad a hot lunch, and I’d walk it up to the barber shop,” Hillenbrand says. “I’d walk the lunch up there and put it in the hall closet and then sit under the air conditioner and try to become part of the wallpaper.” 

Hillenbrand says he remembers one of the other barbers talking to a customer about his other job, which was cutting down trees, and how it was similar to cutting hair. 

“So if I were hearing something in that little synopsis, I might end up going home and drawing a person with a forest on their head and a barber cutting it, but it’s comical,” Hillenbrand says. 

As a child, Hillenbrand had the exposure and opportunity to not only fall in love with his craft, but also to practice it. And it’s this same opportunity that he’s now offering to other children. 

From now until the end of August, children have the chance to submit artwork that depicts their heroes for consideration in Hillenbrand’s e-book, which is entitled Everyday Heroes: Local Children and the People Who Inspire Them.

“What we’re interested in are characters that fall and get up and show us how they manage their challenges and struggles,” Hillenbrand says. “And we cheer for them and want them to do it, and for children, we want to be able to give them opportunities to share.” 

Hillenbrand has hosted two workshops at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County thus far, and children have been able to not only brainstorm, but also to dabble in digital media.

“There was a bridge that the children and I kind of walked back and forth across—it wasn’t a podium—it’s not that kind of thing,” Hillenbrand says. “And the library’s a great context because around the walls, you’ve got idea people—ideas that might be a first story—and when they participate, their ideas are validated, and they can feel like, ‘I’m an idea person, too,’ and isn’t that a good feeling?” 

Do Good: 

• Check out Hillenbrand's library workshop about digital drawing on YouTube.

• Children ages 12 and under are encouraged to submit their artwork to the library for consideration in Hillenbrand's e-book.

• Learn about the variety of ways you can support the library. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Elkins returns gift to Ohio Innocence Project

Clarence Elkins has now spent the past seven and a half years in his home and around those he loves, which is as much time as he spent behind bars for crimes he did not commit.

About 15 years ago, Elkins was arrested and taken to county jail, and was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murder and rape. On Dec. 15, 2005, almost eight years later, Elkins was exonerated by DNA testing, thanks in large part to the countless hours of work invested by the University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Innocence Project—a team of students that fights for the wrongfully imprisoned.

When Elkins first heard the guilty verdict read, he says it took some time to sink in because he kept trying to convince himself that he was trapped in a nightmare or a horrible dream. 

“I just thought that it would be over soon, but that wasn’t the case,” Elkins says. “After I was sent to prison, it dawned on me that it was for real, and it wasn’t a nightmare and how tragic the injustice was—not only on me but on my entire family.” 

In hopes of helping to alleviate that burden on other innocent individuals and their families, Elkins and his wife, Molly, donate $5,000 per year to the OIP. In the past 10 years, OIP has helped 16 individuals like Elkins remember what it’s like to be free.  

The gift, which helps top-performing OIP students further their educations, is more than just a scholarship. For Elkins, it’s a token of his appreciation. 

“The students were always—they’d give me hope, and they were so kind—they do great things for people, and not only the people that have the injustices upon them, but their families as well,” Elkins says. “They cared enough about me to look into the injustice that happened to me. I was raised in believing you get what you give—and I always believe that, and that’s what I want to do. I just want to give back to those that give to me—that help me.” 

Do Good:

• Like the Ohio Innocence Project on Facebook.

• Keep up with OIP's work through their newsletter

• Support organizations like the OIP by giving.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Advocates for Youth Education help close funding gaps

Twenty-five years ago, a group of African American women in Cincinnati came together to begin Advocates for Youth Education. 

“There were three ringleaders who decided, ‘You know what, ladies? We can do this,’ so they just invented AYE and got their friends to join them,” says Kathy Merchant, who serves as president and CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and who is also an AYE member. 

Like the other 39 AYE members, Merchant’s role is completely voluntary, and it involves donating money out of her own pocket each year to help fund scholarships for minority students who excel in academics and community service.

Through her work with GCF, Merchant says she studies how to eliminate or reduce racial disparities in a community.

“It’s one of the things we’ve studied hardest,” Merchant says. “Making scholarship money available is absolutely one of the ways, so it’s a full circle type of experience for me.” 

This year, AYE's group of 40 women was able to donate $50,000 dollars to assist 17 students. 

“Even after you’ve pieced together absolutely everything that exists, from government loans and the myriad of checkerboard things available to students, there’s still a gap,” Merchant says. “Data shows that the gap on average is about $4,000 if you’re just talking about the cost of public universities. These grants don’t quite get that high, but they go a long distance toward that make-or-break last dollar between what it takes to go to school and actually being able to do it.” 

Merchant sees evidence of the program's value on the faces of parents at the annual awards dinner.

“It’s hard not to go there and cry,” Merchant says. “A lot of these kids are from single-parent houses, and their parents go to the dinner and are choked up because of how happy they are that someone would want to help their child.” 

Do Good: 

• Contribute to a larger scale scholarship fund, such as the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation.

• Connect with an organization like the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative to find a student to mentor. 

• Serve as a volunteer tutor at a nearby school.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Art's impact at Camp Carnegie

At Camp Carnegie, children from around the region come together to brainstorm, write a script, perform a play and create their own scenery and costumes. Still, for Alissa Paasch, who serves as the camp's education director, the goal is not to make sure that every child becomes an artist.

Instead, she hopes that young people involved "become well-rounded human beings who know how to communicate, problem solve, who care about each other, and who are using the arts to spur their interest in the world.”  

Through this year’s theme, Opposite Land, participants use their imaginations to prompt one another’s creative instincts. Paasch says the children’s caring attitudes find ways to the forefront through the process. 

“It’s so much about cooperation and collaboration, and we’re always discussing and responding to things,” Paasch says. “We were doing an activity about imagination and how important it is for us to imagine things and use our theater tools to bring it to life, so then as we were talking, we’re saying why it’s important to keep using our imagination, keep it fresh—even as adults—and one little girl says, ‘In order to care about or work with others, you have to be able to imagine how they feel so you can actually make the right choices.’”

It’s these kinds of moments, Paasch says, that make her realize that even as a teacher who plans each lesson, she can learn from the young participants. 

The artistic process at Camp Carnegie enables children not only to learn and grow with one another, but to experience theater and all its elements in just two weeks, which culminates with their own original productions.

“We want to make sure they understand there’s a lot of hard work and perseverance that has to go into creating a piece of theater,” Paasch says. “We want them to feel proud of all the work they’ve done at the end.” 

Do Good:

• Purchase a ticket to Suits that Rock to support The Carnegie's educational programming. 

• Attend a performance to support the summer campers' work. Choose a session and attend on the final day of the workshop at 4:30 p.m.

Support The Carnegie by donating. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Engaging diverse communities at Kennedy Heights Arts Center

Ellen Muse-Lindeman, who has served as executive director of the Kennedy Heights Arts Center since 2008, says the work she does to help build community through the arts is the essence of why she loves the neighborhood in which she works and where she’s chosen to raise her family.

Muse-Lindeman, who moved to Cincinnati in the ‘90s and now lives in Pleasant Ridge, lives within walking distance of the arts center and says she values her diverse and active neighbors.
“The folks are really involved,” Muse-Lindeman says.

And that’s evident through the center’s origin story. It was founded by residents who came together to save the historic Kennedy Mansion from demolition. They not only succeeded, but they turned it into an engaging enterprise for the community and others to enjoy.

“That kind of spirit is the foundation of the arts center and still is a big part of what it’s about in terms of bringing people together,” Muse-Lindeman says. “Arts and culture build a stronger community and make a neighborhood a better place to live.” 

Each year, the KHAC engages the public in a variety of ways from exhibitions, classes, camps and even an annual artist-in-residence program.

“We are really looking to not only present a wide range of media and different subject matter through our galleries, and to feature both regional artists and artists from outside of the region,” Muse-Lindeman says. “But in particular, we have a goal of presenting exhibits that create dialogue and that build connections between artists and communities.” 

The center’s current exhibition, Visible Voices, merges visual art with poetry. 

“We’ll be successful in this exhibit if we engage people in terms of not only experiencing the artwork, but also in connecting with one another,” Muse-Lindeman says. “That’s ultimately what we’re aiming to do, and to also really nurture that relationship between artists and their community and to provide opportunities to work and to encourage that ongoing collaboration.” 

Do Good: 

• View the current exhibition, Visible Voicesand attend an artist talk or poetry reading. 

Donate to the Kennedy Heights Arts Center.

Volunteer at the center. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Economics Center teaches biz basics, philanthropy

For the past seven years, elementary students from local schools have been learning about personal finance and the ways a market functions. 

“A lot of adults don’t understand how a market works, and these kids can tell you exactly how a market works,” says Julia Heath, director of the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati. “A lot of people think the government controls prices or the sellers control prices and nobody else controls it, but that’s not true—it’s a market that determines the prices—and these kids know that.”

The students know the principles of a market because each year, they get to participate in the Student Enterprise Program’s Market Madness, where they’re given the opportunity to create and sell products. 

This year’s theme was based on recyclable materials and re-use, so students created things like bookmarks, bracelets, stress balls, notebooks and magnets.

“Some have their products laid out and are walking around with sandwich boards marketing their products, while others are buyers," Heath says. "Then halfway through the round, an air horn sounds, and the sellers then have an opportunity to change their price. So they see a market at work, and they know that if they’re selling things like crazy off their table, then they need to raise their price. If nobody’s coming by, they need to lower their price or increase their marketing.” 

Students also have the opportunity to take a college tour at UC, which Heath says is important because it allows them to envision themselves on a college campus and see if it’s the right fit for their own futures.

Market Madness is an annual event, but throughout the year, StEP’s director, Erin Harris, is busy with the program’s student-run businesses within their own classrooms. 

“They can earn money through their business by good behavior, good attendance and good grades,” Heath says. “And then four times a year, we go to the school with a truck that’s got a bunch of stuff in it, and students then make a decision about whether they want to spend their money, save their money or donate their money.” 

For Heath, it’s wonderful that students are learning economics principles, but the most gratifying aspect of StEP, she says, is students’ willingness to donate rather than save their money for a big purchase like an mp3 player or digital camera at the end of the year.

“Our most economically challenged schools are often our highest donators,” Heath says. “The class suggests the organization that will get their donations, and often it’s something they’ve had direct contact with—like they’ll choose the Alzheimer’s Association because one or two of the kids has had a grandparent that’s been stricken, or they choose Children’s Hospital because they had a classmate who spent a lot of time there, or they’ll choose the March of Dimes because their sibling has been affected. It’s really quite remarkable.”

Do Good: 

Contact Erin Harris if your school could benefit from StEP activities.

Volunteer in a StEP school store or classroom. 

Support the Economics Center by donating. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Embracing inventiveness, providing opportunity at Shark Eat Muffin

Starting her own theater company is something Catie O’Keefe says she’s always wanted to do. 

“There’s that internal drive where you want that control for what’s being put on, or you want to see new things being developed,” O’Keefe says. 

Though that drive is nothing new, O'Keefe's playwriting ventures didn’t begin until she found she was getting bored with the characters she played in her high school’s musicals. So, she wrote new characters, and, at the age of 16, started turning them into plays.

From 2006-2010, when O’Keefe was living in London and pursuing a master’s degree in playwriting, she started formulating ideas for her future company. And when she moved to Cincinnati, she decided it was time to move forward with her vision and make something happen.

That something is Shark Eat Muffin Theatre Company. 

“Cincinnati has a big theater scene, but it’s mainly well-established companies, and there’s some new companies doing some well-known works. I wanted to give a focus to new playwrights and make it a learning experience in a professional environment,” O’Keefe says. 

Shark Eat Muffin’s first production enabled a McAuley High School student—now graduated—and an older gentleman whom she says had been writing a while but who had missed opportunities to take her class at New Edgecliff Theatre, to present their work on stage for the first time. 

“It’s really difficult to fill the gap of you having a reading of your play, but then what happens?" she says. "How many readings do you have before it’s finally put on stage?”

Shark Eat Muffin’s second production this season, The Space Between my Head and my Body, made its United States debut Thursday at the 2013 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. O’Keefe wrote the play about six years ago, and it opened in London, transferred to the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was then published by an American company in 2011. 

“We did a lot of workshops about identity and that feeling of finding yourself—what you look at might not be what someone else sees when they look at the same thing,” O’Keefe says. 

Bringing her play from Europe to the U.S. is the first step in creating a company that fulfills O’Keefe’s goal of international fluidity for Shark Eat Muffin. 

“We’re kind of starting the beginning of a project where we bring a couple of actors from London to perform in Ohio and move in that direction of connecting different cultures and different people from different places,” O’Keefe says. “Bringing them together to perform great theater is our ultimate goal.” 

Do Good: 

• Like Shark Eat Muffin Theatre Company on Facebook, and tell a friend.

• Attend a showing of The Space Between my Head and my Body at the 2013 Cincinnati Fringe Festival.

Support Shark Eat Muffin by making a donation.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Community-based arts involvement with PAR Projects

When Jonathan Sears was 16 or 17, he says he was introduced to his saving grace: the idea that he could make a living by doing what he loved.

“I wasn’t the most well-behaved student growing up, but I was always in to art,” Sears says. “I was always drawing and getting into trouble that way.” 

When his mother introduced him to graphic design, he says his interest was piqued. And that’s what he now wants to do for others with Professional Artistic Research Projects, which he co-founded in 2010. 

“There’s only elementary schools in Northside—there’s no middle school or high school programming—so things are kind of wide open,” Sears says. “A lot of the budding adults really don’t have good resources to tap into that can help further their education, help further their creativity. So the idea is to teach practical arts training—we’ll delve into things like website building, blog maintaining—things of that nature that can maybe spark some interest in creative fields, but aren’t necessarily only painting classes or only drawing classes.” 

PAR Projects consistently finds new and creative ways to engage the public in fine arts (for example, there is an “urban-sculpture-maze-of-corn-discovery-experience” in the works), with the ultimate goal being to secure funds for an Art and Education Center for Northside. 

Sears says the organization hopes to break ground, or at least have all funds secured by the end of the year. But construction will begin in September on a mobile facility, which will be part of the education center. It will function as a portable classroom and a gallery space. 

“For me, I see myself as one of those people who directly benefited from what I’m trying to give back,” Sears says. “There’s so many ways you can engage people with the arts—coordinating galleries and events or working in a museum—just different creative outlets we’re hoping to inspire.” 

Do Good:

Sign up for PAR Projects' email list.

• Attend Brass Meets Bronze June 7-9 to support PAR Projects, the Constella Festival and the MainStrasse Village Association.

Support PAR Projects.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Good 100's Josh McManus leads Cincinnati improvements

Josh McManus has been instrumental in implementing innovative programs and community improvement projects in Cincinnati, and he’s now considered a top 100 individual helping to move the world forward by doing, according to GOOD Magazine’s GOOD 100. 

McManus, who founded Little Things Labs, says he’s always been interested in the fusion of social good and economic productivity, so he leverages his two interests in ways that prompt community engagement and change. 

Over the past seven years, McManus, 35, has launched three place-based invention laboratories and more than 25 community improvement projects in Cincinnati, Detroit and Chattanooga, Tenn.

SpringBoard Cincinnati, a nine-week crash course that helps participants take a dream or idea and, if feasible, bring it to fruition by starting up a business, and CoSign—the first project to move through Cincinnati’s lab Haile’s Kitchen—are two of the best-known McManus-inspired programs that have improved the city. 

“With CoSign, I think it gives an entirely new imagination of what signage in the public realm can be,” McManus says. “And it also has a direct benefit to the businesses in that they’re much more visible now.” 

CoSign paired local artists and signmakers with small businesses in Northside to bolster economic activity, and it’s these types of engagements that McManus says are necessary in order for individuals to keep up with industry and technology. 

“We’re not evolving as quickly as technology and manufacturing have, so I think we’re due a tremendous social revolution,” McManus says. “And in order to do that, you have to have these places where you experiment and try new things and you’re unafraid to fail, so the need for these laboratories comes from this new revolution I think we’re set for.” 

Do Good: 

• Like Little Things Labs on Facebook

Apply with SpringBoard Cincinnati if you have a business idea. 

• Like CoSign on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council shares cultural experiences

Through education and exchange programs, in addition to efforts to engage the public in cultural events, The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council works to make region to be a successful global leader.

“We always say it starts with a handshake and an exchange of ideas to open up a really good relationship for people,” says Katie Krafka, GCWAC manager of operations and education programs. “So the more other people know and the more that Cincinnati is global, the more we can function as an international city someday.” 

The organization has broadened its reach over the past few years, Krafka says, as it only reached about 500 students in 2011. But in 2012, it reached out to more than 2,000 students. 

In 2012, the organization launched Global Classrooms, in which international students living in the city went to elementary school classrooms to share their cultures with others. 

“It’s more than geography, government, religion—we go in with coloring pages, music, food—and we talk about other cultures,” Krafka says. “It’s really impactful because students can relate to another student.”

Though Global Classrooms is aimed at a younger audience, the GCWAC reaches out to all age levels, including adults. But its most unique program, Krafka says, is Model APEC, which is similar to Model UN, but focuses instead on Asian Pacific countries. 

“No other Council does this in the country,” Krafka says. “It’s when student teams claim a country, and they research a topic like water rights, land use, trading or security, and they get together with other claimed economies in other schools and they debate and pass resolutions.” 

Krafka says the nonprofit’s vision is for everyone in the region to have at least one international experience in their lifetime, whether it’s through an educational program or discussion, eating international food or gaining an international relationship by hosting a visitor.

“We want every person to have a global mindset of some sort and be able to think more critically about the world around them,” Krafka says. “Once people meet someone from a different country and they can relate to them, speak to them, get to know them just a little bit, it breaks down these stereotypes and different walls we might not even know we have built up, so when you hear about things happening in other countries, you feel a lot more connected and sympathetic.” 

Do Good: 

• Like the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council on Facebook, and keep up with upcoming events.  

Support the GCWAC, and donate. 

Contact the GCWAC and volunteer to host an international visitor for dinner or a short visit. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York
is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


NEW mentorships promote female leadership

Amy Armstrong Smith, national account manager at Brown-Forman, says she knows what it’s like to be the only woman in the room. 

“I’m in an industry that’s male-dominated,” Armstrong Smith says. “I’m the only woman nine times out of 10.”

When Armstrong Smith first attended an event for the Cincinnati chapter of the Network of Executive Women nearly three years ago, that all changed. 

“Never had I been in a room with that many professional women,” Armstrong Smith says. “It reinvigorated me.” 

Since Armstrong Smith became involved with NEW—whose mission, she says, “is to attract, retain and develop women for the field of consumer products from a manufacturer and retail perspective”—she’s engaged in a variety of outreach activities for high school and college students. She's also served as a mentor, both for women interested in pursuing a career in the field, and for those already immersed in it. 

“I’m mentoring a woman at NEW who just told me she got the promotion that we’ve been talking about and working on with how to position it,” Armstrong Smith says. “And it was so great because when she told me—her success is my success.” 

According to Armstrong Smith, the mentorships work both ways because the college students she assists reenergize her. 

“They look at the world in a whole different perspective,” she says. “And they’re giving me a new perspective too—a new way to look at the business—a new way to approach it through technology.” 

Armstrong Smith says she’s appreciative of the networking opportunities NEW offers because when she graduated from college in the ‘80s, you had to do it on your own.

“I’m with other professional women," Armstrong Smith says. "I’m stimulated—we’re talking about the industry. But the number one reason I do this is because I have a daughter, and I want her to be able to walk into a room when she starts her first career in 20 years as Rosie Smith, just like Tom Smith would walk in the room.” 

That’s what Armstrong Smith says drives her. 

“I’m so appreciative of the women who went before me, and if I don’t turn around and help Rosie and the generations behind me, women are never going to move the needle,” she says. “We won’t get to our full potential that we know we all can get to.” 

Do Good:

• Like the Cincinnati chapter of NEW on Facebook.

Contact NEW if your business would like to become a sponsor. 

• Become an individual member.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Smale Riverfront Park offers family-friendly summer programming

Nestled between Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium, Smale Riverfront Park provides the public with everything from green space and gardens to bike paths, fountains, a labyrinth and porch swings that face the Ohio River and allow family and friends to sit back and relax. 

For Deb Allison, Cincinnati Parks’ business service manager, the space serves as “the front doorstep, not only to Cincinnati, but also to the state of Ohio.” 

To encourage more visitors to embrace the landscape, events will take place from now through mid-September to promote family-friendly fun this summer. 

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation was kind enough to support this new series, in partnership with the Cincinnati Parks Foundation, so we’ve been able to put together this amazing lineup,” Allison says. 

The lineup includes events that are divided in three different areas—music, theater and movies—the latter of which Allison says she’s particularly excited about. 

“They’re not all just kid movies, but they’re all kid-friendly, so the entire family will enjoy,” Allison says. 

Brave is the next scheduled film, set to air the evening of May 31. 

Allison says families are sometimes hesitant when it comes to navigating the area and finding parking, but she says she doesn’t want that to discourage them. Most events are scheduled for non-Reds game days, so parking is more available and less expensive.

“Smale Riverfront Park can not only act as the backyard for the residents and citizens of Cincinnati, but it can also act as a destination place for people who have never been or that are coming for the first time,” Allison says. “It’s an amazing, unique oasis and should be explored and experienced by everyone.” 

Do Good:

• Attend Family Summer Fun events at Smale Riverfront Park.

• Contribute to the evolution of Smale Riverfront Park by voicing your opinion about what you'd like to see on the park's new carousel, coming in 2015.

Get involved and contribute.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

GO Cincinnati engages community, serves nonprofits

About seven years ago, Crossroads began a transformation that positioned it as more than just a church. Its vision was to focus on ways in which it could serve others—in not just the community, but across the world.
Crossroads’ work with GO South Africa was making an impact in the lives of those battling poverty and HIV/AIDS, but at the same time, volunteers began to think about their roles in their own community.
Modeled after GO South Africa, a team of volunteers initiated GO Cincinnati. It's an outreach activity that started out with about 1,200 volunteers who completed 65 projects throughout Greater Cincinnati in a single day for nonprofits.
“People really connected with the idea of serving their city, and on the front line serving those in need,” says Kelley Kruyer, director of Cincinnati ReachOut projects and leader of GO Cincinnati. “They’re doing the hard work every single day, so we thought it would be cool to thank them for the work they do in our community.”
This year, 7,000 volunteers will combine forces on May 18 to complete 400 projects that range from painting and landscaping to putting up drywall and serving meals.
According to Kruyer, the best parts of GO Cincinnati are the long-term relationships Crossroads has formed over the years with the organizations it serves.
“We know their buildings, their properties, their needs, and we know how to best help them, so sometimes we put together a multi-year plan, and it gives them the peace of mind and helps them to budget so they don’t have to spend money on things that we’re happy to help with,” Kruyer says. “It’s just a really special day.”
Kruyer, who grew up in Northern Kentucky, left her hometown in the ‘80s. During that 10-year period of her life, she says she wondered what she was doing because everyone and everything she loved was here. She says that's the kind of passion for the city that drives Crossroads to engage and reach out.
“We love our city—and by Cincinnati, we mean all of it—from Burlington to Middletown to Amelia to Cleves—the whole Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area,” Kruyer says. "We’re just totally committed to making it one of the best places in the country to live.” 

Do Good:

• Find a nonprofit that interests you and lend a helping hand.

• Assist Crossroads in its volunteer efforts throughout the year.

• Like Crossroads on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


ReUse-apalooza empowers individuals, advocates

Designers, do-it-yourselfers, the environmentally friendly and people who generally enjoy a good time will gather May 17 for Northside’s fourth annual ReUse-apalooza.
Building Value and its parent-organization, Easter Seals TriState, host the annual event to raise awareness about reuse and to support on-the-job training and other programs that assist people with disabilities.

This year’s event will include the Designer Challenge, which highlights some of the work BV does. The organization reuses building materials to create everything from useful pieces for the home to works of art.
Items will also be up for auction, and according to Lisa Doxsee, communications manager for EST and BV, it’s a way to “assist individuals with disabilities and disadvantages to more fully live, learn, work and play in their communities.”
Each year, the event raises close to $30,000 of unrestricted funds, which allows the closely connected nonprofits to further their missions by enabling individuals who might otherwise have difficult times securing employment to learn necessary skills and gain experience.
“They just can’t seem to get both feet on the ground at the same time, and they just need some assistance in getting the education or the training they need and the opportunity to learn,” Doxsee says. “When they do, they’re able to move out and get their own jobs and fully support themselves and often start to train others—it’s really a cool thing to watch.”
Not only does BV help put people to work, but the organization also helps keep materials out of area landfills.
“What we do is go into a home, and maybe you wanted a new kitchen cabinet set, so we take out your kitchen cabinets in a way that it can be reused and resold,” Doxsee says. “We’ve taken down full homes and salvaged 60 to 70 percent of the home with the lumber and products that come out of that.”
The ultimate goal, however, is to provide the ability to succeed to those who have encountered barriers in the past—whether those barriers be physical, mental, economic or educational.
“We believe that every person deserves to feel the thrill of success—no matter what that success is,” Doxsee says. “So everything we do is to try to help empower those individuals to find success in whatever it is that they need.”

Do Good:

• Support Building Value and Easter Seals TriState by purchasing a ticket to ReUse-apalooza.

• Donate to Building Value and Easter Seals TriState.

• Volunteer with Building Value and Easter Seals TriState.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Stepping Stones celebrates 50 years of family at upcoming reunion

What started 50 years ago as Greater Cincinnati’s first summer day camp for children with disabilities is now a two-site operation that serves about 1,000 children, teens and adults with disabilities year-round. 

Stepping Stones will celebrate its 50th anniversary on May 18 with a reunion aimed not just at celebrating the organization’s accomplishments over the years, but it's also intended to bring together the thousands of volunteers, staff members, participants and supporters who have enabled the nonprofit to grow and flourish since 1963. 

Deb Alexander, 61, is a retired teacher who started volunteering with Stepping Stones in 1969. She says it was the work she did with the organization that led her down the path of pursuing a career in special education. 

“I was a junior in high school—I know nowadays the kids do community service, but in those days, we didn’t really have to do that—and I had heard of Stepping Stones and just thought it’d be an interesting way to spend my summer,” Alexander says. “I didn’t really know a lot about children with disabilities. I ended up just really loving what I was doing out there, and it helped me choose my career.” 

Alexander says she remembers fondly what she refers to as “Kodak moments,” where “everything comes together and a child you’re working with can do something today that they couldn’t yesterday, or that they can do something independently.” 

It was moments like these that Alexander says challenged her. 

“What could I do to figure out how to teach?” she says. “A quote that really stuck with me that I heard once is ‘If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way we learn.' So that inspired me to go on, and I taught for 30 years.” 

Alexander is passionate about her line of work, so much so that upon retiring, she returned to Stepping Stones 39 years after her first volunteer experience. She began working part-time in the organization’s alterative education program, Step-Up, for students with autism. 

Step-Up, which began in 2004, is available to students who have been referred to the program by their school district and who are no longer able to attend public school because of extreme behavior. 

“Just to see a student successfully get through the day without a behavior outburst and to really gain confidence in themselves that they could learn new skills was really neat,” Alexander says. 

Though Alexander has returned to Stepping Stones many times since 1969, she says she’s looking forward to returning once again to experience the 50th anniversary reunion. 

“It’s a place where we all learn together and have grown together, and that’s such a big part of it—the relationships,” Alexander says. “There’s a lot of people that I think their heart’s out there, and they just keep coming back or they return because it’s just a place that meant a lot to them—the staff as well as the students."

Do Good: 

RSVP for Stepping Stones' 50-year anniversary celebration May 18.

Support Stepping Stones by donating.

Get involved with Stepping Stones by volunteering.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Learning to survive, then thrive, at Junia and Company

Zakia McKinney knows all too well the heartbreak and inability to reach one’s full potential when trapped in an abusive and unhealthy relationship. 

“I just thought the world had ended," she says. "I couldn’t trust anyone. I felt I wasn’t worth anything."

McKinney was stuck in a cycle that she says lasted throughout her late teens and twenties. But at the age of 30, she made up her mind that she could no longer live in that manner. 

“I had an instance where a young gentleman had beaten me in the middle of the street,” McKinney says. “And I just thought I can’t do this—I can’t live life like this.” 

It’s been more than 20 years now since McKinney started helping women, but she says she made a promise to herself that as soon as she was able to help herself, she was going to dedicate her life to helping others by empowering them. And that’s what she’s done through her nonprofit, Junia and Company. 

“The word ‘Junia’ means ‘pretty flower,’ and we named it that because we believe there’s something beautiful in each woman to give back to society and the community,” McKinney says. 

Since Junia’s inception, McKinney has helped more then 3,000 women do everything from break unhealthy relationship cycles to gain confidence and leadership skills and move closer to attaining their life goals. 

McKinney, who recently celebrated her 57th birthday, says a few of Junia’s former clients attended her party to thank her for the changes they were able to make in their lives.

“One was a young woman who we picked up from Anna Louise Inn, and our programming turned her life around—she has a beautiful little girl—she’s going to start her own daycare business, and her husband’s going to start a photography business,” McKinney says. “Another, who we found sitting in the corner with her head down with a beautiful head of hair. Now she works as a machinist who does phenomenal work—and she’s looking to move in to other parts of the country utilizing the skills she’s acquired because she had the confidence to go after it.”

Through Junia and Company’s Ann’s House—one of three homes in the city that accept women and their children—women are given the opportunity to learn life skills and participate in all of Junia’s programming so they can break the cycle of homelessness and learn to not only survive in their community, McKinney says, but also to thrive. 

Women learn computer skills. They learn to cook. They contribute to the home once they find employment. They create a savings account. They tend the garden, and they even make a cucumber salsa, which they package and sell at Lettuce Eat Well Farmers' Market. 

“Whatever proceeds are made for that day, they get to put in their pocket,” McKinney says. “We try to make sure they get what we consider our 55 key life areas to have them sit on their feet, stand on their feet and stay on their feet.” 

Do Good: 

• Support Ann's House by partcipating in Ann's House 5K Run/Walk at Winton Woods on May 18. 

• Call (513) 544-6957 to support Junia and Company by donating. 

Contact Junia and Company to volunteer at Ann's House by helping with the garden or collecting and delivering in-kind donations such as sheets and toiletries. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Teens create, learn, grow through ArtWorks' summer jobs

When it comes time for teens to find summer jobs, becoming a muralist doesn’t typically top the list of possibilities. Unless you live in Cincinnati.

With ArtWorks’ Adopt-an-Apprentice campaign, however, 110 teens from around the city will be hired to collaborate with each other and community partners to create 10 new murals this summer. 

For Kyra Watkins, who has been an Apprentice since her freshman year of high school and who hopes to finish out her senior year with yet another apprenticeship, the opportunity is full of benefits.

“Besides the fact that you become a muralist in your own right—because that’s not a profession even most adults have—[ArtWorks] always cared about the youth,” Watkins says. “It’s not just, ‘Give a child a paintbrush, and if they do well, you pay them.’ They set up financial sessions and youth nights where you get paid to learn how to manage your money, to budget your money and to be smart.” 

Watkins says the experience is particularly beneficial because each set of teenagers works under a project manager who helps them learn to identify their skills, learn new ones and ultimately work together to create a final product.

A new addition to this year’s campaign will be the involvement of ArtWorks’ SpringBoard business graduate, Chef Frances Kroner, who will lead a select group of Apprentices in developing, producing and selling a new snack mix. Apprentices involved in that project will experience the summer program's first-ever entrepreneurial opportunity. 

For students who are passionate about art and who want to make it part of their lives, being an Apprentice allows students to gain real-world experience while leaving a lasting impression on the city. 

Watkins, a senior at Withrow University High School, will soon graduate and begin a new chapter in life as she pursues a degree in political science with aspirations to go to law school. But no matter where she goes, she says, a part of her will always be in Cincinnati. 

“No matter where I travel, my art will always be here—it’s very homey, like you left something at home and you always have something to come back to,” Watkins says.

Do Good:

• Help employ an Apprentice by donating to the Adopt-an-Apprentice campaign.

• Like ArtWorks on Facebook.

• Get involved with ArtWorks by volunteering.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


BOOST partners with Dress for Success Cincinnati to inspire women's confidence

Jenny White, owner of BOOST, says she’s always loved giving back, and now that she’s a business owner, she has a platform to better serve others. 

BOOST, an offsite meeting space, was intended to boost productivity and creativity. After contemplating what nonprofit would best fit the BOOST business model, White decided to partner with Dress for Success Cincinnati to inspire confidence in women who are searching for jobs, but may not have the needed professional attire they need for job interviews.

“It’s rewarding to give back in any way, but when I think of specifically working with Dress For Success Cincinnati, it means even more because it’s woman-to-woman,” White says. “It’s very empowering to me as a woman to know that I’m helping empower other women to move in a positive direction.” 

Both the downtown and Mason locations of BOOST now have collection areas, and meeting attendees are encouraged to bring in any unneeded professional attire that could benefit DFS Cincinnati’s clients. 

“I just found it to be a simple and convenient way for our meeting attendees, as well as BOOST, to make a significant difference in women’s lives,” White says. “Even our male attendees can get involved, talk to their wives, see what they don’t want anymore and bring it in.” 

White says the new collection sites should be particularly helpful because DFS Cincinnati’s only drop-off locations are downtown and in College Hill. With a location in the northern suburbs, more clothes will start to come in. 

In addition to providing women with business attire, DFS hosts self-esteem workshops to further encourage women to succeed. As a result of the new partnership, White says she’s getting ideas about how to successfully run selfesteem workshops of her own. 

Enabling women to feel better about themselves is a mission White can get behind and one she understands personally.

White says she was picked on as a child, and it kept her from doing things that she otherwise would have done. By the end of the year, White says she’s determined to host a workshop for young girls to "boost" their confidence as well.

With the new DFS and BOOST collaboration, the ultimate goal for White is that women no longer have obstacles that hold them back from moving with their lives. 

“I firmly believe that if you’re looking good, then you’re feeling good, and you’re dedicating more of your whole self to that interview,” White says. “I hope the clothes they put on will give them the boost of confidence that they need to acquire a job.” 

Do Good:

• Donate women's business attire and accessories to Dress for Success Cincinnati at one of their drop-off locations, or at the downtown or Mason BOOST meeting space.

Support Dress for Success Cincinnati by making a financial contribution, volunteering or hosting your own clothing drive.

• Like Dress for Success Cincinnati and BOOST on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Library garners national attention, celebrates with Amnesty Day

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is one of 10 recipients out of 140,000 libraries and museums across the country to receive this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service. 

The award recognizes outstanding service to communities. So, in appreciation of library users and as a way to celebrate, the PLCHC will offer a Fine Amnesty Day May 15. 

“We really wanted something to express our appreciation to the community, and we started thinking about what is it that people hate most about the libraries—we all know that—the fines,” says Kim Fender, Eva Jane Romaine Coombe director. “I’ve been here 25 years, and we haven’t done this in my time here at all, but our hope is that people who have not used the library because of their fines come in and have those fines removed and come back to the library and get their cards started up again.” 

Fender says the library most likely wouldn’t have received the award without the support of the community, because the library’s heavy usage was one reason the Institute of Museum and Library Services was so impressed. 

With more than 17.6 million items borrowed in 2011, the PLCHC is considered the eighth-busiest library in the nation, and its commitment to providing academic assistance and encouragement to both children and adults is evident through the variety of programs it offers and successfully implements through its partnerships with other community-based organizations. 

Last summer, for example, the library partnered with Cincinnati Public Schools and the Freestore Foodbank to serve about 7,000 meals to children. 

“That’s something people don’t normally think of libraries doing,” Fender says. “But when they were in there eating, they could sign up for summer reading or programs.” 

Fender says the library staff also goes out of its way to make sure children are learning by actually attending school. 

“If we see kids in the building during school hours and we think they might be truant, we check up and say, ‘What school do you go to?’ and look at the school calendar, and we call someone from the school to let them know because they have to be in school to learn,” Fender says. 

Fender will travel to Washington, D.C. with Amina Tuki, a local resident who came to Cincinnati from a small village in Ethiopia who was not fluent in her native language, but who learned English by picking up a small book called Coming to America at the PLCHC.  

“She says it took her all day, but she made her way through it, and she took it home and read it to her husband and children, and her older son started crying,” Fender says. 

Fender and Tuki will accept the award May 8. Library users can celebrate Amnesty Day May 15 by taking their library card to any local branch. 

Do Good: 

• Go to your local branch and have fines removed May 15 so that you can begin to use the library's resources. 

Sign up for a library card if you don't already have one.

Support the library.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

UC College of Law faculty teach in, fund scholarships

When the Office of Admissions expressed concerns about declining enrollment within the University of Cincinnati College of Law, faculty members decided to take a proactive approach. 

“The thought was that because we’re small, it wouldn’t really take that much to make a difference in the composition of our class,” says professor Marjorie Aaron.

Professor Christopher Bryant invited faculty members to talk about their concerns, and after a few meetings, the group proposed creating new scholarships that would be funded by faculty contributions. In order to raise funds, faculty would also host a teach-in, where local law professionals could receive continuing legal education, and in the process, ease the burden of financial debt for current and prospective students. 

More than $50,000 has been raised since the creation of the College of Law Faculty Scholarship Fund—with $10,000 raised in a single day at the March teach-in. 

“We went in with the focus to use what we do and what we like to do to help them, but there were a lot of unanticipated benefits, and maybe the most significant is that it really built a foundation for an ongoing relationship between the law school and what the needs are from the firms downtown,” Bryant says.

“That was already happening, but I think we kind of institutionalized that in a way that gives real promise for the future. The mission of the university is to be a resource for the community—and there’s appetite for that.”

And the verage student loan debt for UC Law’s 2012 graduates was about $84,140 per person, according to UC Law’s financial aid website. Student representatives were able to speak about the burden of loans at the teach-in. 

Aaron says their words echoed issues common in legal education today. “If you had a dream to work in public interest, it becomes much harder to do that when you have an enormous debt burden,” she says. “So they did talk about that fact, but also the idea that no one wants to make a foolish financial move when they’re starting out.” 

Since faculty members want their students to be able to pursue their passions, they’ve contributed $40,000 on their own to assist with funding. 

“We’re a really tiny faculty—we don’t have 30 people,” Aaron says. “But we really know our students and we care about our students, and that was true before the debt issue and it’s even more true now. And the fact that we were able to raise as much money as we did and generate the willingness to volunteer is a testament to how strongly we feel about supporting our students.”

Do Good: 

Support UC Law.

Volunteer your time and knowledge.

• Like the University of Cincinnati College of Law on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

A day in the life of a Cincinnati Rollergirl

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to live a day in the life of a Cincinnati Rollergirl, you’ll have your chance, should you bid on that prize and win the auction item at The Cure Starts Now Foundation’s sixth annual Once in a Lifetime Gala & Auction.

Christina Kuhnhein, also known as “Ruthless Chris,” has been skating with the Rollergirls for two years, and she says the winner of the auction will experience first-hand how seriously the skaters take their sport. 

“We’re confident, very focused," Kuhnhein says. "Everyone has their own thing in the locker room—some are quiet and listening to their playlist that’s going to pump them up, and some are very excited and yelling and trying to pump everybody else up. But it’s a very serious environment—we want to win. Our coach usually gives us a pretty good pep talk beforehand, and we just go over what we’ve been doing in practice—our strategy—remaining in control and confident and calm.” 

The auction winner will sit in on pregame and halftime locker room sessions, in addition to receiving a private practice session, VIP tickets to the final home game of the season, a two-and-a-half hour standard practice session with the Girls, and what Kuhnhein says the team refers to as “lots of swag”—T-shirts and other gear. 

Rumor has it there will even be a gift certificate for a tattoo included in the package. “Rollergirls have this reputation of having all these piercings and tattoos, and it’s such a tough sport,” Kuhnhein says. “And I will say that I’ve never seen so many tattoos since I’ve started hanging in this circle, but honestly, it’s just something fun.”  

Kuhnhein says she remembers watching RollerJam back in the '90s. There was a “lot of fast skating and theatrics,” but the sport is much different now because “people aren’t as concerned with how they look.” 

“It used to be about outfits and trying to show off, but now it’s much more athletic—it’s teams that are very serious about strategy, working together and really killing the other team," she says. 

While Kuhnhein says she loves the aggressiveness and the stress relief she gets from skating, she’s just as passionate about giving back. 

“It is an honor to go out and help other charities in our city, and helping local businesses—we have a lot of fans that have certain charities that are close to their hearts, and we try to help in any way we can,” Kuhnhein says. “We’re doing at least one if not two or three charity events a month.” 

The Once in a Lifetime Gala is circus-themed and features live performers from the Cincinnati Circus, in addition to special guest and daredevil Nik Wallenda. The event takes place May 4 and helps fund pediatric brain cancer research. 

Do Good: 

• Support The Cure Starts Now Foundation by purchasing a ticket to the Once in a Lifetime Gala & Auction.

Check out and bid on available auction items. 

• Like the Cincinnati Rollergirls on Facebook, and follow The Cure Starts Now Foundation on Twitter. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Children, Inc. merges with VISIONS, extends reach to Ohio

The best communities have a lot of people who get involved, according to Rick Hulefeld, founder and executive director of Children, Inc. 

Children, Inc., a Northern Kentucky based nonprofit, aims to ensure that young people are successful both in school and in life. And a primary way in which the organization succeeds in doing that is by developing partnerships with schools and other community-based nonprofits in order to maximize resources to help as many as possible. 

Its most recent partnership is with Cincinnati’s VISIONS Community Services, which sought out Children, Inc., as a partner for a merge. With the merger comes a new division of Children, Inc., which will now operate in both Kentucky and Ohio.

As a result of the merger, Children Inc. will continue its programs, which include everything from before- and after-school care to service learning initiatives in schools, while building its programming by incorporating VISIONS’ multi-generational approach. 

“They had something unique,” Hulefeld says. “They had a certified family counselor on staff who would meet on a regular basis to help—that’s a model that needs to be carefully expanded and taken to the next level. But we want to do something VISIONS has already been doing, and then bring a lot more resources to it.” 

One way of doing that, Hulefeld says, is to partner with other organizations that have similar goals.

“There are organizations who really want to help families to become self-sufficient,” Hulefeld says. “Sometimes, little things get in the way of big dreams.” 

If organizations could partner to provide families with funds for bus fare to get to job training, and if they could also enroll their children in the center, Hulefeld says the children would ultimately do better in school “because they won’t always be at the mercy of the next financial crisis.” 

“We can’t live in communities where just a few people do everything,” he says. And it’s this motto that makes its way into the service learning initiatives that Children Inc. sets up in local schools so that students can learn by doing, while also giving back and making a difference during the process. 

Recently, the organization set up a project for a group of first grade students who were learning about the effects of the sun. 

“If you get too much of it, it’s bad,” Hulefeld says, so Children’s Inc. provided the school with funds to purchase bracelets that would change color based on how much sunlight the wearer was getting. The students then sold the bracelets and made $843, which they gave to Shriners Hospital for Children to help provide funds for burn victims. 

“What you really want to teach kids is that you can make a difference—and not some day—you can make it now,” Hulefeld says. “We all know that we cannot by ourselves do what the community needs us to do. None of us can do this by ourselves, but we can get together with other people and figure out, ‘How do we do what we’re doing better?’” 

Do Good: 

• Like Children, Inc. on Facebook.

• If you are a teacher interested in a service learning program, contact Children, Inc. for free assistance.

• Contribute by making a donation to Children, Inc. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

ReSource launches new programs to serve nonprofits

ReSource redistributed products to assist 330 local charities last year, and it has the potential to be able to reach even more organizations this year through its two new programs, which the nonprofit will unveil at its May 15 Launch Party in Sharonville. 

For more than 20 years, ReSource has collected surplus donations from corporations, and then made items like office furniture and personal care products available to nonprofits for pennies on the dollar. 

“We’re the connector to the nonprofit organizations,” says Development Director Martha Steier. She says ReSource’s ability to bring businesses together has broadened her ability to make an impact in the community. 

Steier says the organization’s mission is to help build stronger nonprofits, so ReSource provides warehouse space for member organizations to come shop for what they need.

“So much we have here with a little creativity and a little open-mindedness can be put together for reuse,” Steier says. 

In addition to offering needed items for low-cost purchase, ReSource will now offer items for rental with its Event Décor Rentals program.

“We’ve had—for about five or six years—a fall fundraiser, as many nonprofits do, and we have a decorations committee who is responsible for decorating tables and making invitations,” Steier says. “And we’ve had several board members that do these same events for other nonprofits, and everyone borrows from everybody else, or they go and buy things and end up storing them in their basements.” 

Rather than buying things and getting limited use from them, ReSource had the idea to get donations for décor, store the items in the warehouse space and then make them available for rental. This allows nonprofits to save money, which they can instead put toward serving the community, Steier says. 

In addition to the Event Décor Rentals program, ReSource will launch its room makeover program, which already has two clients: the YWCA Clermont County women’s shelter and the Lower Price Hill Community School.

ReSource has several architects on its board with the skill and talent to show rather than tell community members the benefits of the nonprofit. 
With an all-volunteer design team, ReSource will create specifications to transform rooms within area nonprofits so that they are more useable and conducive to serving the organization’s mission. 

For example, ReSource will replace ripped carpet and make the YWCA’s living room more inviting for women and children. The organization will also renovate a 50-year-old annex within the LPHCS so that it can serve as a classroom for individuals enrolled in the Cincinnati State Technical and Community College’s Bridge program.

“It’s sometimes hard to explain our story,” Steier says. “We really want to be able to show everyone what nonprofits can do with the corporate donations.” 

Do Good: 

• Attend ReSource's Launch Party at its Sharonville warehouse space. 

Contribute to ReSource by donating. 

• Become a member nonprofit if you would like to shop at ReSource for needed items. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Cincinnati Ballet funds outreach with Club B

Supporters of the Cincinnati Ballet can keep young people throughout the region hopping, and leaping, by doing some dancing of their own at Club B, a dance-filled fundraiser at the Cincinnati Masonic Center.

The Ballet offers more than its traditional classic and contemporary seasons. The studio downtown and its satellite in Blue Ash host dance classes and demonstrations. Club B benefits the ballet’s “extracurricular activities,” including scholarships and classroom residencies, most of which are offered free of charge to talented students who need extra support. More than 135,000 people of all ages take advantage of the complete repetoire of educational programs annually.

Leyla Shokooe, box office and marketing assistant for the Cincinnati Ballet, says Club B is “more relaxed than our winter Nutcracker Gala, which is pretty formal.”

Dancing, cocktails and VIP treatment are guaranteed, she says. “[Club B] provides a way to interact with the Ballet that illustrates the humanity behind it.”

For more information on ticket pricing and what Club B offers, visit the Cincinnati Ballet’s website.

By Sean Peters

Reds Hall of Fame and Museum improves accessibility

The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum is “by far, the largest and most active” facility dedicated to a Major League Baseball team in the United States, according to Executive Director Rick Walls. He says there are only about six museums like the Reds' even in existence.

To build on that activity and allow more fans of the game to experience the history of professional baseball, which is rooted in Cincinnati, the museum sought a grant to improve accessibility to its exhibits for visitors with visual or hearing impairments.

About 42,000 people in the Greater Cincinnati area alone are blind or visually impaired, and Walls says 31 million individuals in the U.S. have experienced hearing loss.

“You hear these ideas and start to think about baseball, and how people sat at home and listened to the game on their radios and how a commentator had to paint the picture of the story behind it, and then you hear about the others who would go to the baseball field who remember the green grass and the lights on the field,” Walls says. “Baseball provides all these senses to different people in different ways. And to some, you provide only some. To others, you provide all of it, so I thought—how do we bring that color out? How do we let people experience the Hall of Fame in different ways?” 

After receiving nearly $21,000 from the Erma A. Bantz Foundation and partnering with the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired for advice on how to best use the funds, the Reds' Hall of Fame went to work.

Larger font sizes, more effective sound and lighting levels, and closed captioning are all improvements that Walls says were simple and cost effective, but the non-profit also invested in large-print maps and assisted listening devices. 

“Competing sound and how it affects people differently was something we became aware of, and with every audio element within the museum, there will be a transmitter to these devices,” Walls says. 

But the organization’s partnership with CABVI extends beyond the improvements. The two nonprofits will team up to bring various groups to the museum for tactile tours during which participants will be able to do more than see and hear about Reds history—they’ll have the chance to experience it by touching artifacts. 

“I think this ends up being a program for everybody, and not just those who have impairments because the tactile tour is going to become popular—who wouldn’t want to hold a piece of history?” Walls asks.

Walls says he’s excited that more people will now have the chance to experience all the museum has to offer. 

“I think that’s one of the most important things we do—and that’s when a grandfather or grandmother comes in with their grandkids, with their son and daughter—they don’t have a lot in common these days because of technology,” Walls says. “But when they do come in here, they have something in common, and it’s the simple game of baseball. And when they look at the wall, a grandparent will point at a player on the wall and say, ‘Look at this guy,’ and then the grandkid will point at Brandon Phillips or Jay Bruce, and then all of a sudden, they’re together, and that’s really a neat phenomenon.”

Do Good: 

Plan your visit to the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, and consider becoming a member

• Support the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum through the Legacy Brick Campaign or the Joe Morgan Statue Campaign.

• Support CABVI by donating or volunteering your time.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Cincinnati Montessori Society celebrates 50 years

Fifty years ago, a group of parents who were passionate about Maria Montessori’s philosophy of education developed the first Montessori preschool in the area. 

And following the preschool’s inauguration, the group formed the Cincinnati Montessori Society, a nonprofit whose focus is to promote Montessori education while serving as a resource to countless schools, teachers, parents and students in the community.

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Follow the child,’” says Heather Gerker, vice president of CMS. “We meet the child where they are developmentally.” 

Montessori classrooms, which are both child-centered and composed of mixed age groups, are set up so that children can learn through a multisensory approach that allows them to figure things out at their own speed—and the philosophy works, Gerker says. 

At CMS’s Annual Spring Conference and celebration of 50 years of success, neuroscientist Dee Coulter delivered the keynote address. 

“This work that Maria Montessori did over 100 years ago is now being proven through neurological work happening now,” Gerker says. “[Coulter’s address] was really affirming and validating to the teachers there.” 

Not only were teachers excited to go back to work on Monday after hearing Coulter’s presentation, Gerker says, but they also had the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions that were aimed at providing strategies and insight that lead to better education.

Topics ranged from promoting mindfulness through music to strategizing ways of better assisting children with ADD and autism. 

Gerker says she’s particularly passionate about the resources that CMS provides because they’re based on a philosophy that’s now scientifically proven, and she’s seen it work in the lives of her own children. 

“It gives them a solid sense of self, that they’re so independent and happy, which I think is the ultimate goal,” Gerker says. “I just want to make sure it’s available to all children.” 

Do Good: 

Become a member of CMS.

• Check out the resources offered by CMS.

• Connect with CMS on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Elementz provides safe venue, creates outlet for expression

Jori Cotton, who grew up in North Avondale, says she wrote poetry to express her feelings and struggles throughout high school. When she went to college at The Ohio State University, however, she took a step back from her poetry. She attended open mic nights, she says, but performing wasn’t for her. 

“I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t for me to get up there,” Cotton says. “I was just taking the art in.” 

After graduating college, Cotton returned to Cincinnati, and one of the first places she says she went was to another poetry open mic session. And in October of 2006, she finally performed. 

“I’ve just been addicted ever since,” says Cotton, who now leads Voices of Freedom—a spoken word program at Elementz

The non-profit Elementz, which is located downtown in OTR, provides a safe place and a creative outlet for young people who want to turn the negative influences or surroundings in their lives into positives. 

“I like to give a voice to what you may call the underdog,” Cotton says. “I like to expose the truth—things that have happened historically—I like to let people know about how to reach their higher self and to believe in themselves and take time to work through emotions. We’ve all been through things, but we have to work through them.” 

Cotton’s group of 10, which is composed of participants who are primarily between the ages of 16 and 24, meets for two hours once per week. 

“One of the things about spoken word is getting the juices flowing about our story, so we take time to talk,” Cotton says. “We talk about the disparities in education; we’ve talked about gun violence, rape victims, some of the good things and not so good things that have taken place in Cincinnati. We talk about domestic violence, just real issues—relationships, self esteem—we talk about pretty much everything.” 

Once everyone’s had time to talk, they put their words onto paper and then share their work in a judgment-free environment, which Cotton says is important to her because it allows everyone to feel empowered. It’s usually the shyest ones who end up sharing some of the most powerful ideas, she says.

“It just gives them hope that the environment they’re in right now isn’t the best, but it can get better,” Cotton says. “Spoken word helps you feel confident when you get up there and you’re sharing your pieces, and that confidence will spill over into other areas of life.”

Do Good: 

Support Elementz by making a donation.

• Learn about the various programs offered at Elementz, and show up during a session to see if the program is the right fit for you. The first visit is free, and if you enjoy yourself, become a member. 

• If you're a teen, celebrate National Poetry Month by submitting one of your pieces to the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's Random Acts of Poetry contest. Attend one of Jori Cotton's spoken word workshops at the library.

• Support Elementz by attending their monthly showcase, which takes place on the third Thursday of each month.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Grailville, public library encourage poetry, sharing

Poet and teacher Pauletta Hansel leads a group of 13 women toward spiritual and personal growth in her weekly Practice of Poetry class at Grailville, a retreat center that takes up more than 300 acres of farmland in Loveland. 

The women meet in a 19th-century Victorian home where they learn, write, listen and share their work with one another.
In one of her most recent classes, Hansel says the group of writers looked at the “events, people and places that live on in our memory in a way that we always come back to them as personal touchstones.” 

The women work together to see what they can “make come alive” in each other’s work, Hansel says. Just this past week, they had the opportunity to share their work on a larger scale through their partnership with The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County for the 15th annual Poetry in the Garden Series

Seven of the 13 women from Practice of Poetry read their work in front of the audience of 58. Though most have read their poems in front of others before, Hansel says the event provided many of them with their first real opportunity to share in a more public way.   

“One woman read a poem that she had brought recently to craft class, and that was about a moment when both her parents were still alive, and she walked in and saw them in a very quiet, intimate moment at the kitchen table,” Hansel says. “It was about how moving that was for her to see her parents sitting quietly holding hands and taking that moment to—you know, [with] illness and their children’s worry swirling around them—to just be quiet and just be in love.” 

It’s these powerful and important life moments that Hansel’s poets and other community members have the opportunity to share during the Poetry in the Garden Series, which features contest winners in addition to local and regional poets who appreciate the art of poetry. 

“They’ve worked incredibly hard to promote and create a group of readers that is really diverse,” Hansel says. “There are some academically connected poets, but most in the group are community poets. They are people who are working in other walks of life who are using poetry as a way to communicate.”

The series also provides audience members with the chance to read their work at an open mic session that follows each set of readings. 

Hansel says participation in the Poetry in the Garden Series was incredibly meaningful to her group of poets because many of them are inspired by listening to what they hear. 

“Just coming and having the opportunity to use writing as a way to pay attention to their own inner lives and listen to themselves and be listened to by other women is the most important thing.”

Do Good: 

• Learn more about Grailville's programs, and register to participate. A new Practice of Poetry series will begin this summer with registration opportunities coming soon.

• Attend readings or share your own work at the Poetry in the Garden Series, which takes place at 7 p.m. each Tuesday in April.

• Like Grailville and The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County on Facebook to keep up with each organization's latest news and events.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Cincinnati Shakespeare Company enriches students' lives with theater

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has worked for nearly 20 years to bring accessible theater to its audience members. 

And though William Shakespeare’s works are almost 450 years old, CSC finds a way to make his themes relevant in the lives of about 22,000 students every year. 

“If we just sit here and say you have to come here and buy a ticket to our show, we wouldn’t be achieving our mission,” says Jeanna Vella, CSC’s director of education and communications. “We feel it’s really important to go out into the community and bring theater to them, and that really starts in the schools and creating lifelong audience members.”

The company travels up to two hours away to present Shakespeare’s works in schools throughout the Tri-State, in addition to performing discounted matinees for groups who do choose to visit the theater

CSC’s educational outreach extends beyond performances though, as the company hosts acting classes and summer camps as well. 

“I love telling parents when they call me when their kid’s in sixth grade, and I say, ‘Well if you’re going to do camp, I’m just warning you—you’re in it for six years now,’” Vella says. “We have a lot of kids who just fall in love and do it all through junior high and high school.” 

During classes and camp, resident company members coach participants on everything from movement to voice as students prepare to act out plays and particular scenes from the Bard’s works.   

According to Vella, the benefits stretch further than improved acting skills, as students note that their public speaking abilities improve, in addition to teambuilding skills and the ability to make friends. 

“It’s not just, 'Can you do a sonnet better?' It’s, 'Can you operate better as a speaker, as a friend and just build your confidence level?'” Vella says. 

Part of that confidence comes from finding one’s niche and connecting with people who have the same interests. Vella, who grew up in the Cincinnati area, says she can relate. 

“I went to Lakota, and I know the theater program’s so big there, so it’s sometimes hard to break in if you’re not a great talent,” she says. “It’s just nice for some of these kids to find a place where they can really participate and feel like they’re part of something.” 

Do Good: 

• Learn about summer camp offerings, and register your child. There is a session for adults as well. Learn more about it, and consider registering here

• Learn more about acting classes for students and adults, and consider signing up. 

• Support the CSC by making a donation, purchasing tickets to an upcoming show or by engaging in educational offerings.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Architecture firm engages Covington students to add graffiti to Pike Street

Ben Eilerman says he realized his love of architecture during his adolescent years at Covington Catholic High School. 

As a professional in the field at Hub+Weber, he has the opportunity to engage in educational outreach with other students who have that same appreciation for art at the same age he did.

Hub+Weber’s latest venture, which not only engaged students in artmaking but also gave them real-world experience, involved Holmes High School’s graffiti club and visual communications class. 

Located in Covington since the firm’s founding nearly 40 years ago, Hub+Weber relocated for the first time last year. Though it maintained its roots in the area, the firm moved from its old home on Greenup Street to the city’s former train station on Pike Street. 

“Behind it are the old passenger stairs up to an elevated rail line, and that area is largely abandoned,” Eilerman says. “[It had] that kind of urban decaying aesthetic to it that we were drawn to, and we wanted to use that space and address it from our standpoint, and then also to start to make the city aware of it.” 

So Hub+Weber reached out to the Center for Great Neighborhoods, who put the firm in touch with Donny Roundtree, the visual communications teacher at Holmes. 

“We talked to him and saw that this was a great opportunity to bring his students down and do a real-life project and build it into something bigger, as far as his curriculum goes,” Eilerman says. 

So the two joined forces to provide students with the opportunity to create an eight-foot by 16-foot graffiti art mural. 

“The students explored different techniques so each of the panels read as an individual panel, and as it draws into the center, it starts to be defined more as a singular mural,” Eilerman says. “It has the background of the Covington skyline across the back, and then it has two trains coming out of the center from a tunnel with the word ‘Pike’ in the middle.” 

Eilerman says the area surrounding Pike has undergone a renaissance over the past few years, so the firm wanted to find a way to contribute by livening up the area while also reaching out to a local school district. 

The mural is currently on display inside the building, and a week ago, the students showed off their work at a gallery opening hosted by Hub+Weber. They received feedback from local designers who gave advice about what it means to “take the arts into a profession,” Eilerman says. 

This month, the mural will inhabit its permanent home—below the underpass where it will be visible from the sidewalk and street for all to see. 

“They spent about six months or so on this,” Eilerman says. “We really acted as a client—they brought the sketches and they talked about what their vision was, and we talked about what ours was, and they had to mesh that. They had to provide a proposal for their work—and I think it was a big benefit to the students.” 

Do Good: 

• Support the arts in your local school district. 

• Support Holmes High School's Nordheim Gallery.

• Like Hub+Weber on Facebook

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Summe-Haas returns to second home at Memorial Hall

When Teresa Summe-Haas was 16 years old, she started a ballet school in the basement of her Northern Kentucky home, which she successfully led for about 25 years. 

And when it was time to find a space to perform, she rented Cincinnati Memorial Hall for her students’ recitals. 

“I fell in love with it—it was just beautiful,” Summe-Haas says. “Everyone would walk in and talk about the building. It’s a historical treasure, and I think it’s just breathtaking.” 

This past February, Summe-Haas returned to the building—this time as Memorial Hall’s executive director. Though in a different capacity, she’ll again work to bring the arts into people’s lives through the more than 100-year old architectural landmark. 

Summe-Haas says her first goal is to bring more arts productions to the facility. 

“With Music Hall, Washington Park and SCPA, this is a very strong arts district,” she says. “I want to try to make the arts available to as many people as possible and really unite and bring that excitement back to the community.” 

The Hall is regularly used by groups like the Cincinnati Boychoir and the Queen City Concert Band, and upcoming events include the MusicNOW Festival and IgniteCincinnati; but Summe-Haas’ vision is to fill the building with as many people as possible, on as many occasions as possible. Preferably with at least 10 events per month.

Though she just began her role as executive director a month ago, Summe-Haas has big ideas. She says there’s the possibility for a future signature series which would incorporate monthly features and performances for everything from ballet to chamber music. And she says she’d also love to utilize the building in its entirety, after renovations, by potentially turning the quaint and cozy attic with its old train rails on the sides, into a coffee or wine bar. 

“It’s nice to walk into the gorgeous foyer and then go upstairs to the Parkview Room, utilize that for a reception and then go into the theater for a performance or a lecture, then come back down to the Green and Gold rooms for a dinner or buffet or additional networking, and then maybe finish the evening off with going up to the attic for coffee or wine,” Summe-Haas says. "It just lends itself to make it an entire day event. Being here just brings back my goal of reintroducing Memorial Hall to the community and to establish the arts in as many people’s lives as I can touch.”

Do Good: 

• Keep up with Memorial Hall's events calendar, and attend a production. 

Preserve the Hall by getting involved and donating.

Rent the space for a performance, wedding, lecture, reception or corporate event. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Life Learning Center instills confidence, facilitates job placement

Since 2006, the Life Learning Center in Covington has been working to help at-risk individuals find hope, own past mistakes and learn how to successfully move forward so they can achieve their goals. 

Participants who are committed to bettering their lives work through a 16-week educational program where they attend classes centered on topics from stress management to financial management. They also work one-on-one with a life coach who helps them set and define goals, and work through some of the issues that may be holding them back. 

Once participants have completed the Foundations for a Better Life and Pillars of Growth components of the program, they move on to Working for a Better Life, where they learn how to craft effective résumés, apply for employment and engage in mock interviews so they feel more prepared for future job placement.

Erich Switzer, director of awareness and fundraising at the Center, says there are many individuals who are either afraid of or discouraged by the process of job searching and that the NKYLLC helps them move past those fears. 

“I saw the need of the folks we serve—people just really struggling, and seeing HR as the enemy—almost that they’re not people or that they’re out to get them or that they come up with reasons to not hire people,” Switzer says. “So we have people from other companies—HR representatives—come in and do mock interviews with them, do an HR panel, and this is where we start breaking down some of the barriers. They’re real people, they do want to hire you, but you’ve got to be able to answer the questions, and you’ve got to have the skill sets to be employed.” 

Forty percent of the individuals the NKYLLC has served have criminal backgrounds, and one of the barriers they face is figuring out how to talk about their employment gaps. The nonprofit addresses the issue by teaching classes on effective oral communication. 

“Why people are stuck for so long is they really can’t change the way they’re communicating about what’s taken place, so when they sit down and talk to an employer—I’ve seen it when we’ve done mock interviews—it’s just a purposeless sort of rambling,” Switzer says. 

“So we help them tighten that up and move forward. You’re already in front of the employer, so they have some level of interest in potentially hiring you, so you don’t want to spend too much time on a potential negative. You want to get to the positive where you can sell yourself and talk about your skills.” 

The NKYLLC helps individuals come to understand the positive assets they have to offer through StrengthsFinders and a variety of inspirational activities. And since the nonprofit’s inception, more than 800 participants have found jobs. 

“If there’s one word that sums up the Center, it’s about providing hope for people who likely don’t have any," says Switzer. "We try to start building them back up with positive affirmations rather than the stuff they’ve been listening to.” 

Do Good: 

Donate to the Life Learning Center. 

Volunteer if you are an individual who would like to help lead classes or if you are a business who would be interested in participating in mock interviews or panels. 

• Like the Life Learning Center's Facebook page and share the page with your friends, especially if you know of someone who could benefit from the center's services. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Madcap Puppets immerse audiences in artmaking

Entertaining audiences and making children laugh is not the only goal of Madcap Puppets. It aims to educate, share cultural experiences from around the world and engage children in artmaking while fostering growth and an appreciation of the various genres of art that merge together through puppeteering.  

The primary ways troupes interact with children are through their performances of “fractured fairytales,” which reach audiences in about 500 elementary schools per year, says John Lewandowski, Madcap’s artistic executive director

“It connects well to literature, the study of geography and regions and countries because they do come from all over the world,” Lewandowski says. “This is something that we have as a human culture. We have this fairy tale interest in our literature, and that’s in every culture—just like puppets. It's in every culture, in every country.” 

One piece the troupe performs extends beyond the reach of elementary schools. It takes the stage across the country as puppeteers pair up with symphony orchestras to present “The Firebird,” which tells the story of a magical bird that brings both good and evil to its captor. The story is based on a Russian fairy tale.

“We perform it during youth concerts that have been organized to try and develop younger audiences,” Lewandowski says. “This is a major problem with large orchestras—that their audiences are 75 and 80 [years old] and getting smaller and smaller—and they use us to try to pull in family audiences.”

According to Lewandowski, it’s vital that children are exposed to and have the opportunity to engage with musical, visual and performing arts because the benefits to other areas of their development as a result of doing so are too great to be ignored. 

“It builds those key elements in their growth and formation, self-confidence, teamwork, the ability to express themselves and to think in a divergent, problem solving way,” Lewandowski says. “These are all essential elements in growing up, and these are what the arts bring.” 

Do Good: 

Book a show.

Contact Madcap Puppets to volunteer and help the organization set up its new facility in Westwood.

Donate to Madcap and help the organization in its efforts to build an education center and 200-seat theater in its new facility.

By Brittany York 

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


NKY celebrates educational leaders

When it comes to preparing students to become future leaders and contributors to society, schools have a huge responsibility. And while their work is often recognized from within, it’s not often enough that it's honored on a community-wide basis.
The Northern Kentucky Education Council and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce seek to remedy that, however, with their 2013 Excellence in Education Celebration—though it’s not just the work of students and educators that they plan to recognize.
“We started thinking about the awards dinner and others in the community who are also driving action in the excellence in education besides our educators, and realizing it goes beyond the scope of the school day,” says Polly Page, NKYEC’s executive director. “It’s the responsibility of our entire community to make this happen for our children.”
According to Page, students, teachers, administrators, school board members, mentors and businesses within the community all play a role in the education of younger generations, and it’s important to come together to let those individuals and organizations know that their work does not go unnoticed.
Students will be recognized in various categories for academic performance and leadership skills. And this year, there’s a new award that recognizes one’s ability to overcome obstacles and succeed in school, despite barriers that may have occurred along the way.
“Those stories were really very heartwarming, and folks don’t really think about Northern Kentucky having students with a lot of trials and tribulations,” Page says. “But these were really pretty poignant about what the students have experienced in their lifetimes.”
With educators, businesses and community members, it’s all about what they’re doing “to go beyond the requirements” at their positions, Page says.
“There are many companies in Northern Kentucky that have a solid partnership and are really thinking about ways they can make a difference in the classroom,” says Page. “Employees are working in the classroom and teaching side by side with instructors and working with students.” 
Kentucky was ranked 10th in the nation in Quality Counts this year, which Page says is huge because the state was more than 30 positions behind that ranking in past years. But it’s all about moving forward and making sure “students and young adults are prepared for college.”
“We want to take it up and meet national standards,” Page says. “It’s a time for everybody to just hit the pause button and take some time to celebrate what’s going on in our community—who is driving action?” 

Do Good: 

Register to attend the 2013 Excellence in Education Celebration, which takes place March 28.

• Volunteer as a mentor or literacy coach in the One to One program.

• Encourage your business to partner with its local school district in the B.E.S.T (Business Education Success Teams) program.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Annie Ruth honors local women with Dada Rafiki

At the age of 3, Annie Ruth began her work as a visual artist, and during her freshman year of college, she read her first poem aloud in response to her nephew's death. Ever since then, she’s worked as a community-based visual and performing artist with the goal of bringing together diverse groups of people. 

Though Ruth’s first art exhibit was at the age of 3 (on the flaps of blank pages of her family’s encyclopedia set, she says), she never expected it to be a career path. 

“For the longest time, I was headed down the path of becoming a doctor because my mom was sick a lot when I was growing up,” Ruth says. 

Ruth, now 49, grew up in College Hill. She says her career transition from doctor to artist didn’t happen until her high school years when she and a friend were involved in a serious car accident while on the way to a football game. 

“I finally realized I had been blessed with this tremendous gift of art, and it was my art that helped build bridges and connect to people’s hearts,” Ruth says. “So I would be a doctor, but my art would be that healing mechanism.” 
Since the mid-'90s Ruth says she’s dedicated a lot of her work toward celebrating and empowering women, and in 2005, she created Dada Rafiki—a photo exhibit that honors women. It garnered recognition and a yearning for more stories. 

“When people came to view the exhibit, they said they needed to see more of it, so in 2006, I moved the exhibit to the Community Action Agency, which had just opened a new building in the Jordan Crossing area," she says. "So I pulled in other artists and poets as well, and we were able to actually donate a 22-piece permanent collection to honor 22 women, and it’s kind of grown since then.” 

Now Dada Rafiki: Sisters of Legacy, which celebrates the lives of 40 women who are 65 years and older, makes its debut at a nationally renowned establishment—the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Ruth says the intention of this installment is to “begin to create intergenerational dialogue so we can really have a chance to sit at the feet of our elders and hear some of their stories and know why they did some of the things they did that impacted Cincinnati and the rest of the world.” 

In addition to the exhibit’s three-month display at the Freedom Center, replicas will travel to 59 different venues in the Cincinnati area where community members can view the art and participate in different programs, which range from concerts and lectures to intergenerational talks with young mothers. 

“When I think about my ultimate outcome, there is a mission,” Ruth says. “Because Cincinnati is known for being such a separated community, I want to highlight that the whole community is not that way and that many of us dream of a world where people can come together and appreciate each other for the uniqueness that everyone brings to our city."

Ruth says her focus is on what she believes can bring people together—music, poetry and song—“a universal language.” 

“I hope that people, from viewing and experiencing things going on in Dada Rafiki, will celebrate the contribution of women, but also appreciate the uniqueness that true diversity has to offer,” she says. “True diversity is about building bridges and connecting. It doesn’t mean we’ll always agree, but creating mutual respect for all types of art forms.”

Do Good: 

• View Dada Rafiki: Sisters of Legacy at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Support Annie Ruth in her educational efforts to connect underserved communities with the arts through the Eye of the Artists Foundation.

• Like Eye of the Artists and Dada Rafiki on Facebook to keep up with the latest news and events.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Washington Park celebrates eco-friendly living with EcoSculpt

Part of Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation’s mission is to create spaces that are open and welcoming; and one way 3CDC achieves its mission is by offering an array of programs within its two public spaces: Fountain Square and Washington Park.

Beginning April 5 at Washington Park, EcoSculpt installations will be on display in an effort to not only raise awareness about green living, but also to recognize and celebrate local artists. 

“Washington Park is in the center of the arts community—we’re across from Music Hall and SCPA is right next door—so we’re always astounded by the level of creativity surrounding the park,” says Brittney Carden, communications officer at 3CDC. “So we want to in turn promote some of that creativity and open people’s minds.” 

In years past, EcoSculpt, which is a collection of sculptures made entirely of recycled materials, has taken place at Fountain Square, but Carden says 3CDC wanted to move the event to Washington Park so that it would reach a greater variety of people and encourage them to maintain the spaces that are intentioned for their use.

“People might look at Coke cans or bottle caps and see at it as garbage—nothing can be made from that—and that’s not true,” Carden says. “People have made fantastic art from a lot of these recyclable materials that we no longer value.” 

Tom Tsuchiya’s “Atlas Recycled,” which is a seven-foot tall sculpture made of recycled cans and bottles, was a 2010 EcoSculpt submission that gained national recognition. It traveled to New York City’s Grand Central Terminal and Washington D.C.’s National Mall. Carden says it's these types of memorable pieces that showcase local talent through the lens of reusing and recycling items often viewed as trash. 

“We’re showing that these items do in fact have a use, and something beautiful and wonderful can be made from them,” Carden says. “Hopefully EcoSculpt will attract more [people] to the park and promote eco-friendly living.”

Do Good: 

• View the EcoSculpt exhibit April 5-26 at Washington Park.

• Attend events at Washington Park. 

• Like Washington Park's Facebook page.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Cincy playwright aims to enrich national theatre scene

Mike Hall, 34, says he fell in love with theater at the age of 16 when he began attending Loveland High School and knew he had to make friends. 

He says he grew up as an “Army brat” who moved around a lot, though most of his family was based in or around the Cincinnati area; and when he moved to Loveland to finish high school, he first turned to “theater people,” who “are for the most part, pretty embracing.” 

Hall started acting in school productions and never turned back. He attended Northern Kentucky University as a theatre major, then went on to spend his time performing with various theatre companies in the area. 

Acting, Hall says, was his primary endeavor. That is, until he had a conversation backstage with Josh Steele in 2009, as the two were waiting to begin the night’s production of “Angry Housewives” at New Edgecliff Theatre

“We both wanted to see ‘Ghostbusters’ the musical happen,” Hall says. “We figured big budget movies and musicals like that are successful, and it’s usually the cult classics that make it, so we decided to try to write it.” 

After talking to a copyright lawyer, however, the idea for “Ghostbusters” had to be scrapped, but all was not lost. 

“He told us that was the worst idea ever, unless we wanted to be poor the rest of our lives,” says Hall. “But we still wanted to write something based around it, so we decided to turn it on its ear and write about what we know, which is the world of theater—so we decided to write about a group of actors who want to do ‘Ghostbusters’ the musical. They get told that they can’t and still decide to do it by changing the process around completely.” 

So Hall and Steele did just that and became first-time playwrights with “Don’t Cross the Streams: The Cease and Desist Musical,” which became a hit after its debut at both the Cincinnati and Indianapolis Fringe festivals last year. 

The two writers didn’t want to stop there, however. According to Hall, they’re “kind of hooked,” so the two recently formed their production company, Hugo West Theatricals; and the first major goal is to produce “Don’t Cross the Streams” as a two-act show, get it published and performed in cities across the country. 

Hugo West Theatricals, in conjunction with Falcon Theater, will start with a week-long run beginning Friday at Monmouth Theatre. 

Hall says he and Steele have added a few songs and expanded on the script to create a comedic piece they both feel good about. 

“I think the audience will be entertained, and that’s probably the most important thing theater can teach—is that we’re really supposed to entertain people—we can’t get too much on our high horse and make it a message all the time,” Hall says. “We have to keep the audience in mind—and when the audience comes to see it, I think they’ll know that we’ve kept them at the forefront.”  

Do Good: 

• Support "Don't Cross the Streams" by purchasing tickets to a performance at Monmouth Theatre, March 15-23.

• Join and share the Facebook event page with your friends to spread word about the upcoming run of "Don't Cross the Streams." 

• Like "Don't Cross the Streams" on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 



Tap into maple season with Cincinnati Parks

For the past month, Cincinnati Parks’ naturalists have been busy tapping sugar maples, collecting sap and boiling it down to produce real maple syrup. They’ve even taught the public how to make use of their own backyards to do the same. 

With March quickly approaching, maple season will come to a close, but not without celebrating what Explore Nature! program assistant manager Erin Morris refers to as “Maple Madness.” 

Maple in Mt. Airy and Pancakes in the Woods are “for those who maybe aren’t interested in doing it in their backyard, but for those who love the sweet success of the season, who want to taste that and who want to learn a little bit about the history,” says Morris. 

For decades, Cincinnati Parks’ representatives have worked to relay the importance of nature education to the public.

“When we started in the 1930s, technology was pretty minimal—we only had vehicles in the last 20 years, so people were outside,” says Morris. “There was no air conditioning, and they’d often sleep outside during the summer season, so people were much more connected to the outdoors and natural experiences.” 

With a changing culture and a technologically oriented society, Morris says people have lost the connection with the outdoors. The Explore Nature! program aims to remedy that, however, and celebratory maple sugaring events are some of the ways in which it teaches people about the outdoors. 

At both maple events, participants begin with a pancake breakfast, where they enjoy the syrup that’s been produced by the trees surrounding them. They then go on to learn the story and process behind maple sugaring. 

Following breakfast at Maple in Mt. Airy, participants are immersed in the time period. They ride through the woods in a hay wagon to an area where naturalists dressed as Native Americans and pioneers teach about the first uses of maple syrup in the United States through taste-testing and hands-on experiences that explain photosynthesis and the ways trees provide nutrients for both humans and nature. 

“When people think of maple sugaring, they think of Canada because they have the sugar maple leaves on their flag, but Ohio’s been producing maple syrup since the Native Americans in the 1700s,” Morris says. “It’s getting back to our history in Ohio—and even history in Cincinnati—but also having that connection with local products.” 

Maple Madness events take place throughout the first two weekends of March. 

Do Good:

Register your family, friends or student group for Maple in Mt. Airy.

• Enjoy pancakes cooked by celebrity chefs and learn about maple sugaring at Pancakes in the Woods at the California Woods Nature Preserve.

• Like Cincinnati Parks on Facebook, and join and share their events with your friends.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


OTR Foundation preserves history, promotes community

From organizing events involving beer and historic churches to providing affordable housing and jobs to those who have struggled to attain them in the past, the Over-the-Rhine Foundation does a little bit of everything. And it's all for the purpose of reinventing and celebrating a diverse, historically-rooted community.

At the beginning of February, Kevin Pape, who’s lived in Cincinnati his whole life and who grew up with a fondness for the OTR community, stepped up to the role of president of the foundation. 

OTR has been a part of Pape’s family history for multiple generations, so he’s someone who understands what the community has to offer. 

His grandparents lived in OTR and operated a business there until 1935, though it was actually started back in 1850. Pape lived in the community himself for about four years in the 1970s, and his office at Gray & Pape—a cultural resource management and historic preservation consulting firm—just celebrated 23 years at its Main Street location.

Pape says because of his background, he deals with the renovation of historic buildings all the time, but his vision for OTR contains much more than the preservation of buildings.

“I think my interest really is in community-building,” Pape says. “The message is that it’s really all about putting people back into historic buildings and finding ways to do that in a meaningful way.” 

One way Pape and the OTRF plan to build on that vision is through their strategic plan, which entails owner-occupied redevelopment, historic preservation and the goal of making OTR the greenest historic neighborhood in the country

“We also want to encourage people who are investing in the neighborhood to seek ways to provide meaningful employment and jobs for people that live in the neighborhood who may not have had access to opportunities before,” Pape says. 

While working to show that “green buildings, sustainable buildings, LEED certification and historic preservation are actually compatible,” the OTRF also helps organize events like Bockfest, which Pape says showcases what’s good and great about the community.

This year, the nonprofit, in conjunction with American Legacy Tours, is offering historic church tours, which will highlight the architecture and stories of four different 19th century landmarks within the community.

 “When you think about the size of OTR and the number of churches, it gives you a good sense about the density of people and the diversity even at that time that would have such a population to support a variety of churches,” says Pape.   

It’s that diversity that has withstood the test of time, and which Pape says the community embraces at all levels.  

“Socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, you name it,” Pape says. “It provides residential density that allows people to share ideas and celebrate those differences in being able to all live in a compact place at one time. It’s about not only economic vitality, but residential vitality.” 

Do Good: 

• Attend Bockfest, and register for the Historic Churches of OTR Tour.

• Support the Over-the-Rhine Foundation by becoming a member.

Volunteer to help the organization preserve and revitalize OTR.

By Brittany York 

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Budget cuts jeopardize Media Bridges, volunteers needed

Tom Bishop, president of Media Bridges, has worked to give the public a voice by providing access to media and channel space for years. But because of recent budget cuts and word from current members of Cincinnati City Council that the organization will not receive funds again, Media Bridges’ future is at stake. 

Rooted in the Cincinnati area, Bishop grew up in Hamilton, attended college and spent time working for public radio, in addition to spending 17 years with Norwood Community Television prior to his time at Media Bridges, where he has been employed for the past nine years. 

Bishop says he realized early on what good can be done with media.  

“I think I’ve always had it in the back of my head that you should leave the world a better place than you found it, and the idea of doing that with media is a really cool combo,” he says. 

Throughout his years at Media Bridges, Bishop led the nonprofit in providing free classes to the public on everything from studio and video production to editing and web design. The organization has also championed free summer camps for children so that they, too, can learn to be active participants in media by learning things like video skills, comic book design, animation and radio programming. 

Throughout the next few months, however, the organization will be forced to implement class and membership fees, so the facilities and access to create public programming will no longer be completely free. But Bishop says the organization will ensure that those below the poverty line are not left behind. 

“I’m sure we’re going to lose some people—and that’s really a shame,” Bishop says. “Cincinnati City Council has made the decision that their government access television station is much more important than the people actually having a voice in the community, and by making that decision, they’re telling the people to just go away, ‘I don’t want to hear from you.’” 

Because of the cuts, Bishop says the organization is in dire need of volunteers to help teach classes and run the studio so the public can continue to have a voice. Though he’s optimistic that Media Bridges will still be around in 2014, he says he’s not sure what it will look like. 

“Frankly, making up the amount of money we used to get via the cable franchise—put it this way—if we pulled it off, we’d be the only people to pull it off,” says Bishop. “When all funds have been cut, nobody has survived.” 

For Bishop, the cuts are disappointing. He says it threatens the future of the “many small victories” the organization has achieved over the years. 

“We have a program called Film Outside the Lines, where we work with people with developmental disabilities and turn them into film producers where they create their own films,” says Bishop. “The success of that is right there on their faces when they’re showing their films at screenings and entering them at film festivals and things like that.” 

Without public access, Bishop says people are left behind to hear only the voices of “the pundits, politicians and sports heroes” who make up a small portion our population. Instead of receiving media, Bishop says it’s more important than ever that people also participate.

“It doesn’t have to be about the almighty dollar—it can be used to make communities stronger," says Bishop. "Media can be used to build dialogue—to let people communicate. It’s not that there shouldn’t be media for profit, but that shouldn’t be the only kind of media there is. And slowly but surely, we’re entering a world where that will be the only kind of media.” 

Do Good:

Volunteer with Media Bridges to help them shift gears to a volunteer-driven organization. 

• Support Media Bridges by making a donation.

• Learn about Media Bridges' classes, and register for one so that you can become an active partcipant in the media.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Cincy ReelAbilities film festival unifies inclusive community

ReelAbilities, which is the largest film festival in the country to showcase the artistic talents and life stories of people with disabilities, began in New York in 2007. But in 2011, Cincinnati became the first place to broaden the festival’s influence by making it a multi-city event, and for its second year running, ReelAbilities plans to increase its reach with a fervor that emphasizes the shared human experience. 

Co-chaired by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled and Visionaries + Voices, the festival brings community members together to view award-winning films by and about people with disabilities, all while creating a dialogue and providing a platform for storytelling and educational panels that promote understanding and inclusion. 

For local spokespersons April Kerley and Kathleen Sheil, the festival is important in that it aims to show people that the only real disabilities that all people have are those of misguided perceptions. 

Kerley, a local Paralympian who swam in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing and who is also featured in the film “Warrior Champions,” which will air during the festival, says the event is about inclusion. All people experience a technical disability at some point in time, “even if it is only a temporary one, such as a sprained ankle or recovery from surgery,” she says. 

“It is not an ‘us versus them’ equation,” Kerley says. “We’re all in this together.” 

Sheil, who receives services from LADD and who is working as an event planner for ReelAbilities Cincy has Down syndrome, but she says she doesn’t allow her disability to define her. “I take that disability, and I put it into ability,” she says. 

Her attitude is a positive one, but Sheil says she knows all too well the horror stories of bullying that arise from a lack of understanding when it comes to people with disabilities.

Sheil’s boyfriend, who has autism and wears glasses, was singled out during his high school years because of his disability, she says. 

“They’d call him four-eyes and step on his glasses and break them,” Sheil says. “And that’s not what we do. That’s not the right thing to do. To me, it really doesn’t matter if you have a disability or not, and the reason why I say that is because everybody has a disability and everybody is different, and that’s okay.” 

It’s these stories that ReelAbilities Cincy hopes to share, as inclusion and acceptance are topics that are vital and necessary, according to Shiel. 

“I want people to hear how important it is to the people that have not just disabilities, but abilities, so that they can share their stories,” she says. “And so that way, they can be the people who shine, people who are stars and people who really know what’s going on in their world.” 

ReelAbilities will take place at various locations throughout Cincinnati from March 9-16.

Do Good: 

Attend a film showing to support ReelAbilities.

• Like the ReelAbilities Cincy page on Facebook.

Spread the word to family and friends so that they, too, can participate in the ReelAbilties Film Festival. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Hands-on experiments with nature at Environmental Education Center

Aubree Forrer runs a one-woman show at the Campbell County Environmental Education Center. From maintaining taxidermy displays, fish tanks, birding areas and trails, to coordinating and leading free activities to engage the public and educate them about the environment, she does it all. 

Forrer started working at the Center about two years ago, and ever since, she’s kept busy by immersing herself in nature and sharing her love of the outdoors and all of the living things that inhabit it with others. 

In the past few weeks, she’s led night hikes and activities where people have had the opportunity to build birdhouses and bird feeders. 

“Little kids and adults both enjoy it,” Forrer says. 

While leading night hikes, Forrer says she uses experiments and hands-on activities to engage children and get them excited about nature. 

“I do one activity where I blow up balloons, and you have to guess the color of it, and most times, you get the color wrong,” she says. “I shine a light in it, and that teaches you about rod cells and cone cells in your eyes and how it’s different from humans to nocturnal animals, and you see that the color of your prey—like an owl trying to capture a mouse—isn’t as important as seeing the shape or shadows of that mouse.”

Then participants sit in a group and actually watch the owls in action. Forrer says owls are just one of the many animals in the area. Those involved in the hiking program get to see bats, badgers and possums, among other wild animals. 

One of Forrer’s favorite activities, and perhaps one of the most popular at the Center, is coming up in March, when people come together to make a nesting wreath for birds. At this event, Forrer provides the public with twigs, wheat, feathers, fur and other materials that they can piece together, which birds can later pick apart, as they gather supplies for a nest.

“So if you put it by your house or on the side of it, you can watch the birds gather that material from your wreath,” Forrer says. “It’s a lot of fun because you can use your own creativity in terms of making it as colorful as you want and decorating it.” 

While Forrer prepares for events, she also puts together educational supplies so she can provide people with a PowerPoint, for example, so they can take it home and see pictures of birds in the area and know how to identify them as they gather material from the nesting wreaths. Forrer says activities like this are nice—especially for the kids who live in the city who don’t have as much involvement with nature. 

“A lot of kids in the city areas that don’t really get to go outside and be in the woods, they can come out here and see things they normally don’t get to see, and they can ask questions—normally they’re always full of them,” says Forrer. “Sometimes it sparks their interest and they want to come out here all the time, every other weekend or so, and their parents are making the trip out here to just take a walk outside or come in our building and look at our different animals and our fish tanks.” 

Forrer says she’s fallen in love with teaching kids about nature and that she's living her dream job. Though she has quite the responsibility, as she’s the only employee at the Center, she loves every minute of it and couldn’t be happier to be achieving her mission.

“My ultimate goal is to educate the public, especially kids, about what the environment has to offer and how they can help preserve it, help it and use some of the things that natures provides us with to learn from.” 

Do Good: 

• Like and share the Center's page on Facebook to keep up with events and fun facts about nature.

• Sign up for Shape Up and Go Green!, an event focused on physical fitness and environmental awareness for adults. Sessions will take place Monday mornings beginning in April. Call 869-572-2600 to register. 

• Volunteer to help Aubree Forrer maintain the Center's trails and bird feeders. Contact her if you're interested in helping.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Project Downtown focuses on interfaith effort to give back

Each Sunday, a group of volunteers, most college-aged, meet at the Clifton Mosque to make sandwiches, bag lunches and wrap pastries to pass out to individuals in downtown Cincinnati. 

The volunteers make up an organization called Project Downtown, a nonprofit whose local chapter has been in existence since 2008, and whose ultimate goal is to eliminate poverty downtown. 

Yousef Hussein, director of PD, says the goal is a lofty one, but he’s confident that it can be accomplished. 

“It’s going to be difficult, but at the end of the day, I feel that if we set our mind to it, and people receive us properly, we can get the support and make a big impact in our community," he says. 

The Cincinnati chapter of PD began with leadership from students in the University of Cincinnati’s Muslim Students’ Association who wanted to form an organization that got them more involved in the community and that reflected their mindset of wanting to take care of their neighbors. 

Hussein says about 40 percent of PD Cincy’s near 140 members are either immigrants or first-generation Americans, and that it’s important to get them “more involved in the American fabric.” 

“As a result of that, the children aren’t as exposed to what goes on in downtown Cincinnati or aren’t exposed to the poverty that’s so close to them,” says Hussein. “A lot of them live in the suburbs, and it’s just a great opportunity for them to see what goes on in downtown Cincinnati. I think that when you have that sort of compassion and care for the general community and the community understands that, you’re able to break down the religious barriers you see between Muslims.” 

PD Cincy is not just a Muslim organization, however. It’s an interfaith group that aims to help others, and that’s what Hussein says he likes best. “You’ll see Catholics, Protestants and atheists, and it’s just beautiful to see them come together for one common purpose.” 

PD Cincy currently distributes 70 bagged lunches, in addition to breads and pastries donated by Panera Bread’s Operation Dough-Nation program to individuals along Vine Street. One-third of those lunches, in addition to any leftover bread, are then left in a box outside of the downtown mosque in Over-the-Rhine for anyone hungry to grab. 

“There’s a couple families that live nearby, and as we’re coming down, you can see them looking out the window so they can grab a couple for their kids,” Hussein says. 

But according to Hussein, it’s more than food that residents of OTR need.

“A lot of individuals have mental health problems; a lot of them are just lonely,” he says. “If you’re in a situation where you’re homeless, chances are you don’t have a support network; and as a result of that, people have things they need to get off their chest. We really like to sit down and figure out what the needs are in their community.” 

So Hussein says PD Cincy plans to broaden its giving so that the organization provides more than just food. One way it plans to give back is through a hygiene drive, where volunteers will pass out kits filled with things like toothbrushes and lotion to help prevent people’s hands from cracking in the cold weather. The nonprofit is also planning a sock drive. 

“It’s easy to find clothes, but socks are hard to find, and washrags—you wouldn’t think it, but if I had a washrag to offer someone, they’d take it,” says Hussein. “Little things like that make a big difference. We run on a shoestring budget, but if we’re able to do those things with a lot of thought behind it, it makes a huge difference.” 

Do Good: 

• Learn more about Project Downtown by visiting the organization's website

• Volunteer by making sandwiches, packing lunches and distributing food on Sundays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. All are welcome, and those interested in helping should meet at 3668 Clifton Ave. Enter through the back basement door. 

• Assist the organization by donating or contacting those involved if you're interested in forming a partnership. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Uptown Consortium partners with Urban League to promote job growth

Uptown Consortium, an organization dedicated to building up and revitalizing the neighborhoods of uptown Cincinnati, currently has about $700 million worth of development that has been completed, is underway or will be completed in the next 12 months, says Beth Robinson, president and CEO of the nonprofit. 

“We were looking for a way we could reach out to the residents and make sure they’re participating in the economic and development boom here in Uptown,” Robinson says. 

So the organization partnered with the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati to sponsor and modify sections of its SOAR Program and Construction Connections apprenticeship. 

Robinson says the Urban League’s programs are a perfect fit because they have high job-placement rates for their graduates and are also located in Uptown. 

“A few years ago, we did some work in this area and did a session with HR representatives from the big institutions up here—an informational session—and from that, we learned job readiness is something that our residents here who are out of work could really benefit from," she says.

To help address that issue, SOAR, which is a three-week program that provides training in areas like resume writing, interviewing and employer expectations, will help to prepare Uptown residents and then help them gain employment.

Once participants complete SOAR, they are encouraged to take part in the Construction Connections program if they show an interest in the trade. Through the eight-week program, participants learn the basic skills needed to secure employment. “Urban League is great because they have working relationships for job placement with all the big construction companies in town,” Robinson says. 

Uptown Consortium is looking at its sponsorship of the two programs as a pilot project, but Robinson says she’s confident that it will be successful. If all goes as planned, about 25 Uptown residents will go from unemployed to employed in the coming months, with 15 of those residents working on the construction and developments in their community that will improve livability and promote place-making. 

“We’re really excited,” Robinson says. “We feel like it really adds value for Uptown residents.”

Do Good: 

• Learn more about SOAR and similar programs by visiting the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati's website.

• Keep up with all the news from Uptown Cincinnati by liking its page on Facebook.

• Be a part of community building in Uptown by checking out the events happening in the area.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Community opportunity through Carnegie's Call to Artists

For nearly 40 years, The Carnegie has strengthened the Northern Kentucky community as a venue that displays, fosters and inspires creativity in both the visual and performing arts. One way it fulfills that mission is through its annual Call to Artists, which is now underway.

Call to Artists provides a means for the nonprofit to expose the work of local and regional artists, as it selects enough pieces to fill its six galleries for the 2014 season with more than 30 solo and group shows. 

Gallery director and curator Bill Seitz says he’s fine-tuned the process behind the Call to Artists by ensuring that the work chosen is based solely on artistic merit, as all of the artists are juried anonymously. 

“Each artist is equal; it doesn’t matter," Seitz says. "I tell artists, ‘I don’t care if you’re in the Museum of Modern Art. The only way you’re getting a show here is because your work’s good.' I have friends who have never gotten a show here because they haven’t made the cut. Give me the best art and artists, and they’ll give me the best shows.” 

Seitz says the fact that work is chosen anonymously is part of the beauty of the process. “I know in the world, you can get a lot of things on who you know, but here, I put everyone—especially the artists—on equal playing turf.” 

When Seitz says he puts everyone on equal playing turf, he means it, because The Carnegie’s galleries are meant for everyone in the public to enjoy—not just art aficionados who seem to understand and connect with every piece they see.

“I think a lot of people get intimidated coming to galleries because you have that elitism stereotype attached to it, and we try to break that down," Seitz says. "We try to make that personal. When you come in, you’re family. If you don’t like something, that’s okay.” 

According to Seitz, It’s not expected or even fair to assume that one particular show will capture the attention of everyone. There are some pieces in the gallery that he says even he doesn’t like, and he wants the public to know that that’s okay and perfectly normal. 

“You’ll run into somebody who’ll say, ‘Well, all he showed was contemporary artwork, and it’s not my thing,’" he says. "So I’ll say, ‘You didn’t see the glass show or the basket show or the craft show.' I do 30 to 40 shows a year. We try to put a little bit of everything in there. You cant like it all—because I don’t like it all—but you’re going to come and hopefully find something you like or find something that maybe enlightens you about something you didn’t know you like.” 

There are all kinds of art, and variety is something the Call to Artists prides itself on finding. From photography, to art made from paper, food or even hair, the exhibitions don’t place value on one type of art over another, but instead encompass a wide array of work, from as many artists of differing abilities as is possible. 

“You’ve got to put everything in perspective," Setiz says. "The biggest thing I tell people is I’m happy that you came, happy that you showed up, that you looked at art, that there was something there that you enjoyed that made you happy, that you looked at something and communicated with it."

“That’s what art is—visual communication. It’s like sitting down with a book—that’s written communication. You can put on a CD or go to a movie or a theatrical performance—there are different art forms, but see the talent that’s basically in your own backyard. The fun part of it is that this is your own; they’re your own talent; these are people that live right in this area.” 

Do Good:

• Visit The Carnegie's current gallery exhibition "Pulp Art."

• Submit your artwork for review with the Call to Artists.

• Support The Carnegie by becoming a member.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Architecture by Children embeds learning in discovery of the built environment

Kyle Campbell remembers designing his first house when he was home sick from school in the fourth grade. 

“Ever since then, going through high school, while most people would go out and do things, I would actually build models of houses I designed just for fun,” he says. “Coming into architecture was sort of a long time coming.” 

Campbell, who currently serves as the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati’s board member for the Architecture by Children program, did not initially make the decision to major in architecture, but he says the built environment has always had a huge impact on him. 

“I was a huge LEGO nerd,” says Campbell. “So the thought of building space and constructing things and designing things has always been a big part of who I am.” 

Now Campbell is sharing his childhood love with others in the ABC program. Jointly sponsored by the AFC and a local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the program aims to teach architectural principles to students through hands-on projects, as explained by volunteer architects. 
Campbell is one of those volunteers, but he’s also working to evaluate the program by matching it with the Ohio Department of Education's academic content standards to ensure that it has a lasting educational impact. 

“The AFC, as of this year, has decided that we want to take a more invested role in how the program unfolds because essentially, what we’ve been in the past is a donor of money,” Campbell says. “We’d like to be able to provide more manpower and more resources to help it be more successful.” 

The program currently reaches about 60 schools and 1,100 students, with ideally one architect assigned to each school. Participating students are tasked with a new project each year. This year, they are designing a museum of their choice for a space at 12th and Vine streets downtown. 

One seventh grade student has envisioned a nature museum with a river running throughout and a grand staircase with water flowing from the roof to simulate a waterfall that flows into an outdoor pond the public can enjoy. Her museum also contains a fountain enclosed in glass so people who are not inside the museum can interact with it.

“It’s just amazing coming from a seventh grader because those are the things I’d dream to do in a real-world project,” Campbell says. “The most important thing is to keep the kids understanding that it’s okay to be creative and to think outside the box.”

Campbell says he’s proud of the architecture this city has to offer, and he’s made it a personal goal to help the AFC achieve its mission of “educating the greater community of Cincinnati on the built environment.” 

“Most people don’t realize that Cincinnati has a fantastic history in architecture; it’s actually one of the most historical cities in the development of modern architecture,” Campbell says. “I want to be able to use the AFC as a way of educating the general public on those kinds of things.” 

Do Good: 

• View ABC student projects at the downtown branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County during the week of April 13-20. 

Contact the AFC if you live in a home or know of a historically significant building that you'd like to share or learn more about. 

• Attend the AFC's exhibit,  ENVISION CINCINNATI. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Rosenthal champions 'New Voices' of art in community at Prairie

David Rosenthal began his art career in a traditional setting, but he says it wasn’t the right niche. As an M.F.A. graduate and full-time professor in the University of Cincinnati’s fine arts department, he spent most of his time in the studio. While he enjoyed his work, he says he felt there was a divide and that too many people in the community simply didn’t connect with art created in that environment. 

“That whole practice was kind of centered on the idea that the artist was the creator, and that art happened in the mind and at the hands of the artist,” says Rosenthal. “And I wanted to get away from that idea.” 

So he set out to find a way to put art into the hands of a completely different demographic, and in 2009, Rosenthal founded Prairie, a nonprofit that works to gather artists together to create and explore ideas in non-traditional ways. 

Educational programming is one of Prairie’s primary functions, and through the New Voices program, Rosenthal aims to bring two groups together for the purpose of building an understanding of the human condition through art. 

The most recent collaboration: residents of City Gospel Mission’s Exodus Program—a long-term rehabilitation effort that seeks to help men who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction—and students from Milford High School. The program lasted 12 weeks and consisted of weekly excursions where the two groups came together to photograph the Over-the-Rhine community, discuss their work, talk about why it’s meaningful, and then reflect on the whole process. 

“I think that when art is put in the hands of people who don’t usually have that tool, it’s just incredibly powerful, because I think that somebody who has never had the opportunity to be expressive usually has a ton to say,” Rosenthal says. “When you combine that with another group of people who maybe does that on a consistent basis, like high school students who are involved in the arts, you can see these bridges forming, and barriers coming down—significant barriers. That’s all through the language of expression.” 

While Rosenthal is a facilitator in the process, he says he’s also an art-maker because of the “creative energy and problem solving” that he brings to the program. Part of his drive stems from his 15 years of art experience, but he says it also goes back to his undergraduate days when he studied history.

“I think I really just became interested in social science—why people create the kind of institutions they create, how people relate to each other through those institutions, how they bring us together, divide us, create progress, get in the way of progress—that kind of thing,” he says. “I think really my curiosity is what happens when you introduce these expressive, creative tools into social situations.” 

Reactions from those involved in the program are positive. Rosenthal says the Milford students’ video reflections revealed changes that were both eye-opening and for some, even “life-changing.”

“There’s always some kind of sheltering or inward-looking that happens at every high school because students are so busy, and that’s just the nature of the whole program—you do your work at school,” says Rosenthal. “So I’ve found that there’s lots of opportunities for students to get out and see the world and really kind of answer some of those questions that come up in their daily work about the world all around them, and I’m really happy to be doing that work.”

Do Good: 

• Attend Prairie's upcoming exhibition "After the Fall," which is a collection of artists' work, built on the theme of female identity. The exhibition opens Feb. 9 and continues through April 6. Contact Prairie for more information. 

• Support art programs within your local school district. 

• Join Prairie in its misison to reach out to community organizations by getting involved with a local nonprofit.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Building strong communities through Charitable Words

It only took Tom Callinan a few months to realize how much he missed the community and connections he had built in Cincinnati. 

Callinan—who served as editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer for eight years and then as the McMicken Professor of Journalism at the University of Cincinnati’s journalism program—tried to retire, but the lifestyle just didn’t work out. He traveled to his home in Arizona with the intention of finally taking a break from his long-time career as a communicator. He took up golfing to occupy his time, but he says it simply wasn’t rewarding. 

“I just woke up one morning and thought, ‘I love Cincinnati,’” says Callinan. “One of the gifts of being the editor of the paper is you get to know a lot of people. So connections are currency, and I know people, so what can I do to put that to good use?” 

So Callinan returned to Cincinnati and founded Charitable Words, an organization that functions as an intern-placement program, which helps students gain real-world job experience as they put their skills to use at small nonprofits in the community. Then they, too, can better fulfill their missions and strengthen their messages. 

“What I see in the nonprofit world is there’s such a need, but the audience is so fragmented—you can’t just get a story in the paper, and Twitter and Facebook have become noise, so communication’s really essential,” Callinan says. 

One of Charitable Words’ most recent matchups, and the one that Callinan is most proud of, is the pairing of Charitable Words Scholar Tia Garcia, a UC student who works as the multimedia editor at The News Record, with Melodic Connections, a local nonprofit that provides music therapy to students with special needs. 

“They have this wonderful program—not a lot of people know about it—and what a wonderful story to tell," Callinan says. “It’s just an amazing matchup to me because it’s small enough that she will make a huge difference, and I just love it. I’m not sure there is another internship program that thinks that way.” 

Callinan’s aim is to turn Charitable Words Scholars into a community—a family—that will function as a microcosm of what he, and others from outside the Cincinnati area, view as the makeup of this city. 

“I moved here from Phoenix, and the term I use is, ‘That was a crowd, not a community,’” says Callinan. “A lot of people doesn’t make a community, and here, it’s amazing. Every place I go, I tend to know someone. It’s like a small town, but it’s not. It’s a metropolitan area.”

At workshops and presentations across the country, Callinan says Cincinnati is recognized as a “really special place,” with a model that other cities look to replicate, for the purpose of achieving social change through collective action. 

“It really strikes me as I travel around," Callinan says. "There’s the old cliché that people in Cincinnati don’t appreciate how good they have it; they’ve got inferiority complexes and whatnot, but people who move here are astonished at how wonderful the city is and that anyone would think it’s not a world-class city."

There are currently six Charitable Words Scholars, but the vision is that there will be hundreds. In the coming months, Callinan will form an advisory board with professionals from a variety of industries who can serve as mentors to interns so they can better achieve nonprofits’ missions; and Charitable Words will become much more than an internship-placement program that serves community organizations. 

“What I’d like to do is become a family,” Callinan says. “We’d have an annual service day; maybe we’d have a party. These Charitable Words Scholars would stay together over the course of time, network as friends and continue to make a difference. That’s my wish for it.” 

Do Good: 

• Connect with Charitable Words by liking and sharing its Facebook page.

Contact Charitable Words if you're seeking an internship and have a passion for humanitarian efforts.

Reach out to the organization if you would like to support an intern in his or her placement.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Untethered adds intimacy to local theater scene

It's not often that you find students so engrossed in their studies that they decide to do more than what's asked of them and expand a project beyond the realm of the classroom. For Untethered Theater, however, a single-scene performance in a theme study course taught by Miami-Hamilton professor Bekka Reardon led to a full-fledged self-produced play in 2011. And now, two years later, the group's continued passion for intimate theater continues as the ensemble takes on Adam Rapp's "Red Light Winter"—the second of four plays in the company's 2012-13 season

"Red Light Winter" portrays the hard truth of "how impossible it is for people to let things go," says Mary Kate Moran, one of Untethered's three founding members. It takes place throughout the course of a year: one night in Amsterdam and then a year later in New York City, and it's performed in a 50-seat basement-level space at the Clifton Performance Theatre, where Moran says the audience is oftentimes in the middle of the action. 

"We want to provide accessible, sort of in-your-face storefront theater," says Moran. "It's intimate. It's participatory. We want to be so different that you're going to go to a night of theater and feel like maybe you walked into something and were a fly on the wall." 

Moran says the ensemble, which has nine official members—most of whom have full-time day jobs as well—decided to put on the play because of some of the members' intense passion for its themes, in addition to the group's mission to perform pieces that people don't see very often. 

"This is a labor of love," says Moran. "We go and do this full-time after we get away from our desk or retail jobs or whatever because there's no other place we want to be. We just want to create art that is a lot of fun for people who know and love theater." 

Untethered contributes to the community by bringing its skills and dedication to the stage, but the company also hopes to reach out to the neighborhood by providing support to increase involvement in the arts. "We want to have nights where we have shows where almost all of the profits go toward people in the community," says Moran. "We want to surprise people with that kind of stuff. We love Clifton, we love being in Clifton, and we want to make Clifton a better place." 

Untethered Theater's "Red Light Winter" will continue through Feb. 2. 

Do Good: 

Purchase tickets to a performance of "Red Light Winter." 

• Support Untethered Theater and its sister-company Clifton Players by attending an upcoming show or purchasing a season subscription.

• Like Untethered Theater on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Tiers of Joy ensures no child is forgotten

Pauline Williams remembers her 10th birthday coming and going. There was no celebration, no cake, no birthday party—it was just a normal day. Williams lived with her mother in a local women’s shelter at the time and says there was no one to help them aside from those within the facility, who were already working to do the best they could to help others. 

Williams received a card from her mother and an acknowledgement on her special day, which she says was enough for her because she understood that her mother wasn’t able to give a lot at the time, other than herself. 

Though appreciative, Williams felt that she and the other children in the shelter deserved to celebrate their lives. “It just kind of felt bad,” says Williams. “And I felt like, if I ever grew up and was able to give back or do something about this, that’s what I’d do.” 

So Williams went to culinary school, received her degree and created the Tiers of Joy Foundation to ensure that other children’s birthdays do not go unnoticed. “Children need to feel empowered in order to grow up and become successful adults,” she says. “That’s really why I started this.” 

In April 2012, Tiers of Joy became an official nonprofit, and Williams began working with other organizations to see how she could benefit the children they serviced. 

From SpongeBob SquarePants to jewelry box-themed cakes, Williams now does it all. Her cake designs are solely dependent on children’s interests, and she works to make sure that young people feel honored and appreciated when embarking on new years of their lives. 

Williams currently serves children within the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities, but she says the sky is the limit. “I’d like for it to be a nationwide organization, where we can reach out to children all over to empower them through the celebration of their lives, so I hope for this to become something much larger than what it is.” 

Do Good: 

• Sign up to be a volunteer baker

Donate money or baking supplies; or consider holding a Supplies Drive at your next office party or community event.

• Spread the word about Tiers of Joy by following them on Twitter or liking them on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Calling all clowns, classes start Feb. 5

If you’ve ever wanted to become a clown, there’s no better time than now. Funny Companie Clowns, who volunteer their services at private parties and community events—all for the purpose of benefiting Cincinnati Children’s Hospital—need your help; and in an effort to recruit volunteers, they’ll begin free clown classes Feb. 5. 

Throughout a six-week series, soon-to-be entertainers learn the art of clowning. Topics include costumes and makeup, ballooning, face painting, skits and character development. 

“The character is supposed to be an extension of yourself,” says Don Bachman, who founded Funny Companie in 1983 and has volunteered and led the troupe for the past 29 years. Bachman, whose clown name is Dr. Fun, says character development was initially hard for him because he wanted to be “the smart clown,” and at one point even aspired to be “the mayor of clown town,” but those characters just weren’t the right fit.

“You’ve got to be yourself," he says. "You’ve got to be who you are—so Dr. Fun was born—and he’s just dumb, and always wrong and always getting into trouble, and that’s kind of who I was.” 

Since the group’s inception, Funny Companie has raised approximately $200,000 in unrestricted funds for Children’s Hospital. The money can be used where the hospital best sees fit, and Bachman says for a long time the money went toward pediatric liver care

“It’s huge that you can take an adult liver and cut it down and transplant it into a kid because there’s not a lot of kids’ organs available for transplants,” says Bachman. “So that was a huge discovery, and it was done in Cincinnati.” 

While Funny Companie’s funding goes toward the children in the hospital, the clowns perform primarily for healthy children in the community; but it’s not just children whom clowns entertain, Bachman says. 

“Everybody laughs at a clown," he says. "Everybody smiles—even driving the car, we have magnetic bumper stickers that say, ‘Caution, sometimes I drive like a clown,’ and then they go by and see a clown driving the car, and they can be 80 years old and they’re laughing and smiling and waving at the clown—it’s not just kids."

“Same thing with balloons—who likes balloons? Everyone likes a balloon. It doesn’t matter how old you are. A balloon is just a magical little piece, and so you’re making everybody’s life a little bit better.” 

Bachman and the other volunteers in the Companie love what they do. So much so that they purchase their own makeup, costumes and balloons. They oftentimes spend about four hours of their weekends preparing for and performing at an event.  

“It’s a pretty good-size commitment, but it’s not something that you’re giving and not getting anything in return,” says Bachman. “If you give a kid a balloon or you paint their face and hold the mirror up and their eyes and face light up—that’s your paycheck.” 

Right now, however, the number of volunteers is at an all-time low. “I’d always hoped that there’d be some younger people who come in and run with it and it’d go on forever, but right now I’m one of the youngest people in the group—our oldest clown is 78,” says Bachman.

“There’s only about six of us right now. Anybody can do it, but there’s nobody really that’s 30 that can take it over, and that’s the sad thing. I’d really like to see somebody younger get in it and maybe run with it.” 

Because the clown company doesn’t do much advertising, most of the people who call for bookings have seen the clowns perform in the past. “It’s nice to be able to tell people 'yes' when they call for an event, and it’s the hardest thing to tell them no,” says Bachman. “But it just happens where some weekends, we just don’t have anybody.” 

Clown classes begin Tuesday, Feb. 5 and will take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in room D242 at Children’s Hospital’s Albert B. Sabin Education Center. All ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. 

Do Good: 

Volunteer as a clown. Attend free classes which will take place Tuesday evenings from 7:30 to 9 p.m. beginning Feb. 5. 

• Spread the word about classes, and encourage a friend to become a clown.

• Book the Funny Companie Clowns for a future event. Contact Children's Hospital's Department of Development at 513-636-6080 for more information. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

ESCC helps nonprofits maximize output

In 1995, a small group of retired business executives came together with the intent of giving back to their community by investing their time and talents in work that would assist nonprofits. Now, nearly 18 years later, Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati is the recipient of an $85,000 award that will help more than 130 volunteers provide low-cost, high-quality strategic thinking, planning, training and coaching to other nonprofits in need. 

The recent funding will help the ESCC implement its Community Benefit Business Model, which, according to Andy McCreanor, executive director and CEO of the organization, is a model that has essentially always existed within the nonprofit, but has now been refined and strengthened. The model helps nonprofits maximize results so that they may receive additional funding to better fulfill their missions, which ultimately works to improve the communities they serve.

“It enables investors to get more out of the nonprofits that they’re investing in, and secondly, it helps the nonprofits because we’re affordable," says McCreanor. "We’re merely a vehicle so that the community gets the benefit that they’re trying to get."

The ESCC has worked on long-term projects with more than 500 nonprofits in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana since 1995, including most recently the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. ESCC also offers a 10-month program at its Nonprofit Leadership Institute each year; and at its culmination in June, more than 100 nonprofit leaders from Cincinnati will have graduated. 

McCreanor says that because of the recent economic downturn, nonprofits have suffered and organizations are reevaluating and assessing their goals and missions.

“We’re here to help,” he says. “If you’re struggling out there, it really doesn’t cost anything to talk about what you’re dealing with, and if in fact there is a way for us to help, it’s going to be done at a very low cost, so it’s kind of the best of all worlds.” 

Do Good:
• Sign up to attend classes at the Nonprofit Leadership Institute.

Volunteer your business skills and experience to serve other nonprofits.

Reach out to the ESCC if you are a nonprofit that could benefit from its services.

By Brittany York 

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Clovernook Center for blind and visually impaired empowers artists

Wanda Owens, who lost her vision to multiple sclerosis when she turned 20, says working as an artist is something she’s wanted to do since she was a little girl; and at the age of 64, she’s fulfilling her childhood dream. Beginning Feb. 9, her work will be featured in an exhibit titled “Illuminated Soul” at Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s Willoughby Art Gallery

Owens will have 20 ceramic pieces on display and available for purchase. She’s completed all of her work in the studio, and since she is a Clovernook artist who participates in classes on site, she will receive 100 percent of the proceeds—something Alison DeFisher, manager of communications at Clovernook, says empowers the artists.

“A lot of people have described it as an outlet for them, to be able to participate in art and be able to express themselves and increase independence because it’s not traditionally something a person who is blind is thought to be able to do,” says DeFisher.  

Art classes are by appointment and take place weekly at Clovernook’s studio, and they are open to anyone who is blind or visually impaired. Scott Wallace, recreation specialist at Clovernook, leads individual painting and ceramics classes, in addition to group classes, depending on participants’ goals and interests.

“I’m blessed to have a wonderful teacher who is very encouraging,” says Owens. “Everything he says, I can do, and he helps me to see color.” She says Wallace will help her pick out paint colors by reminding her of shades. He will, for example, tell her that the shade she is currently looking at is slightly darker than baby blue; and this will remind her of what baby blue looks like, which enables her to choose the appropriate shade so she can proceed in portraying her vision. 

“It’s really a spiritual experience,” says Owens. “I asked God to bless the labor of my hands, and He has.” 

Owens is a former singer, and this is something she says inspires her artwork, though there is nothing specifically in her pieces that reflect her pastime. Two things that Owens says she tries to feature in all of her works, however, are “clowns and the Lord.” Owens says she loves to laugh, so she always tries to incorporate that element of joy into her pieces. 

“Illuminated Soul” will begin with an opening reception from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 9, and it will remain open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment through March 8. The opening reception for “Illuminated Soul” will be featured on the first day of this year’s Macy’s Arts Sampler

Do Good: 

• Support Wanda Owens by viewing or purchasing her pottery at "Illuminated Soul."

• Make a donation to support the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Volunteer your services to help fulfill the Clovernook Center's mission.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Betts House exhibit reveals past visible through modern lens

What better way to experience the beauty and diversity of Cincinnati’s historic architecture than within the walls of its oldest brick house?  

Forward Into the Past, an art exhibit custom-tailored to its venue, will open at the historic Betts House on Jan. 12. 
Photographer Jens Rosenkrantz, Jr,. combines a variety of historic and contemporary materials to reveal long-ago places and scenes, which remind viewers “that in a city like Cincinnati, the past is ever present through the historic architecture and streetscapes we encounter daily,” says Julie Carpenter, executive director of Betts House.

Rosenkrantz, local artist, entrepreneur and partial owner of Clifton’s La Poste Eatery and Django Western Taco in Northside, uses a variety of techniques to recreate century-old views of the city.  

Finding old maps at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, he overlaid them with historic photographs for an aerial and street-view of 19th century Cincinnati. In other photographic landscapes, the artist removed reminders of modern life—telephone lines, stop lights—and reveals the unadulterated historic authenticity that many of the city’s streetscapes still process, viewed from behind the frames of old windows salvaged from Building Value

“We spend most of our time living in a house or working in a building, but we seldom think about the built environment,” says Carpenter. “A great way to think about that is from an artist’s perspective.”   

This show is the final exhibit in the Betts House’s 2012-2013 series, The Art of the Built Environment, supported by a Project Support Grant from ArtsWave.

The Betts House, built in 1804 and located in the Betts-Longworth Historic District near downtown, is the only local museum that explores the history of the built environment through architecture, building trades and materials, construction technologies and historic preservation.  

Do Good:

• Visit Forward Into the Past, which will run from Jan. 12-Feb. 28 at the Betts House, two blocks west of Music Hall at 416 Clark St.

Donate time or funds. Historic homes require regular maintenance and upkeep; consider a donation to the Betts House or help with its house tours or public programs. 

• Stop by Jens Rosenkrantz’s studio at The Pendleton Art Center to see his work, which ranges from history-inspired pieces to abstract and contemporary material.

By Becky Johnson

From The CR: Word Problem

Cincinnati Review Managing Editor Nicola Mason introduces a new selection from the award-winning literary journal, Margaret M. Luongo's "Word Problem."

Recently one of our staff wrote a funny intro on our blog claiming that creative writers are afraid of science. Well, Andrea Barrett may object to that claim. And Joanna Scott. And John Banville. And Alan Lightman . . . Actually, it turns out writers love science. What they hate---with an animus as deep and churning as the earth’s molten core---is MATH.

That’s what I thought, anyway, until I read Margaret Luongo’s “Word Problem,” which presents as one of those tricky standardized-test solvables: First there’s the section that sets up the scenario, then a series of questions about said scenario that you, the test-taker, must answer.

In the case of “Word Problem,” Luongo herself provides these answers (whew!). The twist is that the “problem” aspect of the story involves . . . people: specifically a mixed-bag of music students at a nationally acclaimed academy. And while Luongo initially describes these students in the dry, factual non-style of the traditional word problem, what creeps into the narrative---despite the analytical thrust inherent in the story’s structure---is heart.

It is there in the questions this author posits---which are surprises in and of themselves---and in the answers that transform our surprise into a kind of wry wonder. This “Word Problem” is not about cold logic, but about the gifts we are given, the forces that shape us, and the mystery at our centers that defies the cut-and-dried solution.


Read the full story at The Cincinnati Review.

Do Good:

• Subscribe to The Cincinnati Review.

• Keep up to date on The CR's latest news on Facebook.

• Read notes from staffers, a self-proclaimed motley crew of literary types, on The CR's blog.

Calling all boomboxes for city's first 'Unsilent Night'

Drew Klein never thought it would be hard to find 80s-era boomboxes.

When the Findlay, Ohio, native, who works as the Contemporary Arts Center’s first ever performance curator, imagined bringing “Unsilent Night” to town, he figured local thrift stores would be flush with portable cassette players, the kind immortalized by John Cusack's classic ode to young love in “Say Anything.”

When he lived in New York, Klein knew of the December-focused public art/performance/event launched by composer Phil Kline in 1992. It’s a simple, and brilliant, idea: people gather with boomboxes and other portable music devices and traverse city streets to create a moving mass of sound. Each plays one of four tracks Kline’s composition, which lasts about 45 minutes.

“If you listen to the piece, it sounds just like minimalist chimes and bells,” Klein says. “It sounds like a holiday song without anything that would skew it toward one specific culture.”

The Cincinnati “Unsilent Night” takes place Dec. 15 and starts at 6:30 pm at the Contemporary Arts Center, where staff will have cassette tapes prepared as well as other methods of sharing the music with participants.

“I thought it would be a really good opportunity to have the CAC organize the event and call it a performance—to re-conceptualize what a performance could be and bend the audience’s expectations,” says Klein, who just turned 30. “Instead of being passive audience members, they will be directly responsible for participation and success.”

“Unsilent Night” will be staged in at least 25 cities this year, most of them coastal. Cincinnati is the only city in Ohio scheduled to host the event. In other cities, groups offer their own creative takes on the “unsilent” theme—some pull wagons with speaker-amplified laptops, some carry iPhones or iPods, some come in costume (think Three Wise Men or Santa). The possibilities are limited only by participants’ creativity.

“We know we are not going to get the 1,500 that show up in New York,” says Klein, who explains that the procession will begin at the Contemporary Arts Center and then wind its way through the streets of downtown, first heading north to Washington Park before turning back toward its destination, Fountain Square. “The hope is that this starts a really organic tradition that allows people from various backgrounds and cultures to come together to participate in an evening that is nontraditional that is tied to the holiday season.”

According to composer Kline, even if just 20 percent of the “Unsilent Night” walkers have a sound device of some sort, it will be enough to create something remarkable.

If all goes well, Klein expects for participants to wind up on Fountain Square and have a few minutes of music left to play, but he acknowledges that keeping everyone at the same point in the music is likely impossible. The composer allowed for that inevitability, though, Klein says. “There’s room in the music to allow for some beautiful mistakes.”

Do Good:

Download the tracks for “Unsilent Night.”

Join the chorus at the CAC.

• Watch other cities celebrate “Unsilent Night.”

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Kilgour School awarded $24K innovation grant to boost tech access, entrepreneurial skills

A new financial literacy enrichment course at Kilgour School is expanding, spurred by a $24,000 innovation grant awarded by tech communications company MiCTA.

The grant builds on a class that Cincinnati's Partnership for Innovation in Education (or PIE) piloted at the school, called Student MBA: Bringing Business to the Classroom.

Mary Welsh Schlueter, PIE's founder and chief executive, developed and taught the five-week class at Kilgour as part of a student enrichment period. Schlueter, a Kilgour parent, modeled the class after a Harvard Business School course.

"I taught basic concepts, including the SWOT analysis, the five Ps of marketing and the product life cycle," says Schlueter.

Students' tech, financial and entrepreneurial skills were tapped when they were asked to find ways to increase lemon sales.

"They developed many new ideas and used lemons in different ways, not just as a food source or cleaning agent," says Schlueter.

The project led to the creation of an Android app, a game called Lemon Smash. "The goal of the game is to smash lemons to make lemonade so you can make some moo-lah," its description reads. Proceeds from the 99-cent app go back to the school.

The class and app creation brought on some big partners. Sprint donated the technology, UC's Economics Center wrote and compiled all the achievement assessments and NKU’s Center for Applied Informatics helped students design and develop the app. There are plans to make it available for the iPhone as well.

"This was a $100,000 project, and all of the work was done pro-bono," Schlueter says.

The MiCTA grant will allow the class to continue. It will also fund 20 new handheld tablets for the school's gifted program.

NKU will partner with the school to offer an app development class, which will also be available to any Cincinnati Public Schools student who has access to take the class virtually.

PIE is looking to expand funding opportunities for the STEM-aligned program using app development and technology to "incubate" students' entrepreneurial efforts and promote across the globe,  says Schlueter.  It's a way to help students learn valuable skills, provide a new revenue stream for schools, and allow deeper tech uililzation for K-8 students and teachers across all subject areas.

Do Good:
• Find out more about Kilgour School.

• Like Cincinnati Public Schools on Facebook.

• Find out more about MiCTA's grant program.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

COR Music Project celebrates classical music in concert with youth

Editor's Note: COR presents its holiday concert Dec. 6 at Purcell Marian High School in Walnut Hils.

“We believe that the arts signify and represent the health of the community. Vibrancy in the arts makes a community a more desirable place to live and to work.”

That’s the mindset prompted Louisa Shepherd to help found the COR (Cincinnati Out Reach) Music Project in December 2011, a free, after-school orchestra program that provides innovative access to classical music to youth who are typically underserved when it comes to arts programming.

The group also wants to give those same students opportunities and inspiration to attend college. COR Executive Director Deron Hall is a French horn player for the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, and Shepherd herself was able to attend college thanks to a music scholarship. 

“We have a passion for music, and it’s taken us from one circumstance to another,” Shepherd says. “We’re very much about giving back and revitalizing the arts in our community.”

The approach is two-pronged: COR’s teaching artists lead piano, voice/choir, guitar and electronic music courses at schools that lack arts programs. At the same time, COR works year-round with local communities to form orchestras for youth in grades three and up. The first such effort will launch in Avondale this January.
Purcell Marian High School is currently COR’s sole institutional partner; the goal is to secure partnerships with at least three more area schools next year. 

“We like to say we work in the community and not for the community,” says Shepherd. “We’re making it something the community stands behind and sees as valuable. It’s about showing the community the tools we have and finding out what we can do together.”

COR’s “all play, none pay” philosophy is supported by ArtsWave grants, outside donations and nominal commitments from partner schools, as well as the group’s organized fundraising efforts. 

Do Good:

• Watch COR in action online.

• Make a tax-deductible donation to support COR

• Keep up with COR news and events on Facebook

By Hannah Purnell
Follow Hannah on Twitter

New nonprofit makes 'Investment' in emerging artists

Imagine a group of folks who take artists out of backstreets and basements and introduce them to arts patrons and established organizations. 
Imagine these artists getting paid for their work and giving back to Cincinnati. And imagine these artists staying in Cincinnati to grow their work as well as the arts and culture of the city. 
Meet Urban Impresario, two brothers and a former gallery director, whose plan is to do just all that and more. The group is a creative talent agency, which hopes to provide connections and opportunities for raw talent. 
“In order for young artists to survive and thrive, it is essential to provide professional development and economic opportunities to these young creatives,’’ says Derek Peebles, co-founder of the brand new talent agency. “We want to serve as their mentors and managers and link them to institutions.”
Urban Impresario’s non-profit status is currently pending, but that is not stopping the group from moving forward at lightning speed.
Peebles and his brother, Domonique Peebles, and Cate Yellig, a friend and former director at the Phyllis Weston Gallery, saw an unmet need and formally created the group earlier this month. They are kicking off their launch next week with an exhibit at Switch in Over-The-Rhine.

The show — which is the first of a series dubbed "The Investment" - will display canvas and paper works from 13 young artists. The show will feature work by Max Unterhaslberger, a student at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. 
“I am proud to contribute to a community that has given me so much,’’ Unterhaslberger says. 
Artists will receive 60 percent of each sale. The other 40 percent will go back to fund Urban Impresario, Peebles says.
Peebles, 30, says Urban Impresario has four goals: To provide performing and visual artist outlets to develop their talents; provide platforms for artists to become marketable; provide mentors and support for artists, and ultimately, to provide opportunities for artists to make money.
“We want to bring people in the arts together. We know that the more connected they are the more economically viable they become,’’ he says, noting that there is a $9 economic impact for every $1 invested in art. 
The approach is not solely to introduce the larger community to emerging artists, but also to introduce artists to concepts that will help them enhance their artistic skills and bolster community-building skills – including engaging younger students. The group plans to partner with area schools to target at-risk youth. 
“We are starting to discover that kids learn better from youth,’’ he says.
The show next week is just the beginning of what Peebles says he is confident will become a viable patch of Cincinnati’s artistic quilt. 
“We want to build a platform for artists to be social entrepreneurs,” he says. “And we are excited to make this happen.”
Do Good:
• Attend the launch party and urban-style art exhibition featuring 13 emerging local artists. Show is from 5-9 pm, Nov. 30, at Switch Lighting and Design store, 1207 Vine St. 
• Like Urban Impresario on Facebook.
• Be one of the first to follow them on Twitter.

By Chris Graves

Chris Graves is assistant vice president of digital and social media at the Powers Agency. 

InkTank re-emerges, launching reading series in OTR

It turns out that tech startups aren’t the only people who know how to pivot. When InkTank, a nonprofit focused on literacy development and creative writing shut down in 2011, citing funding issues, its writer’s salon survived and continued to meet, but the occasional readings (and other services) it provided seemed lost. Now, the free, bimonthly InkTank Reading Series promises to change that.

Despite losing its former Main Street location, “we kept talking about doing something, but we didn’t really have a direction or location,” says Seán Dwyer, one of six core members of the group. He helps organize the series and attract the talent: emerging authors from the Midwest.

The InkTank salon paired with 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab in Over-the-Rhine to host the readings, which will feature a published regional author preceded by two emerging, local voices. The first event, which will be held Nov. 27 at 8 p.m., will host Cincinnatian Ian Stelsel, a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop and husband of a former salon member. Stelsel plans to read from a collection of short stories set to publish in 2013.

There’s been no trouble attracting authors to read at the gatherings, according to Dwyer. “We’ve got enough authors for about 10 months. We’ve actually stopped asking [for authors to read] because we want to see how [the series] goes and where it goes.”

In the coming months, authors will include Phoebe Reeves, a poet and professor at the University of Cincinnati’s Clermont College; Don Peteroy, a Ph.D. candidate at UC; and Jacinda Townsend, who teaches at Indiana University.

The 1215 venue is open to patrons of all ages. The InkTank Reading Series will feature prose, poetry, creative nonfiction and plays from published authors, as well as book signings and question-and-answer sessions, on the last Tuesday of every other month.

Do Good:
• Ask a question about the series by emailing InkTank.

• Attend the first reading on Nov. 27 at 8 p.m. at 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab.

• Learn more about upcoming, featured authors from INKTank.
By Robin Donovan

Starfire aims to remove disability conversation

Like many 25-year-old men, Michael Makin loves comedy, beer and hanging out with friends at the bar.
And like many of his peers, he has spent this fall beginning to plan a capstone project necessary for his post-secondary graduation. Makin’s project is a local beer-tasting festival set for early summer where a specially brewed beer will be unveiled in his name. 
“Michael is great--his personality is infectious--the guy is a riot,’’ says Gabe Saba, also a 25-year-old guy who has been known to drink a few beers and who is working with Makin on the project. “We have so many things in common. I see traits of him in me.”
Folks like Saba talk about Makin’s project, his personality and his passion for beer, but the fact that Makin has Down’s Syndrome never really enters the conversation. 
That’s exactly the mission of Starfire.
The Oakley-based nonprofit, which works to build inclusive communities for people with disabilities and their families, has been connecting people based on their interests and passions for years. Instead of segregating those with disabilities into groups, Starfire intentionally works to introduce them with others of like interests and passions, such as connecting Saba with Makin.
“We want you to see the gifts they bring to the table before you see the disability,’’ says Lauren Amos, Starfire’s development director. “It’s not always easy, but it is so worth it.”
Makin is a fourth-year participant of Starfire U, which is designed for young people with disabilities to continue their social and personal development beyond high school. The four-day a week program, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, is funded by Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services. There is a five to one teacher-student ratio as students learn about safety, budgeting, nutrition and social etiquette. 
“We work one person at a time with person-centered planning,” Amos says.
Last year, 18 students graduated from Starfire U. This year, Makin is one of about 100 students in the four-year program. Graduates also participate in a fifth year as a follow-up, Amos says.
Community participation is key and integrated into all seminars.
Enter Makin and Saba and a group of other community members, including the men behind the not-yet-launched Madtree Brewery. Saba is referred to as Makin’s connector and the two meet weekly for about three hours. At first, they devised the project and now they are meeting to further plan and coordinate the event. 
All the while Makin, and Saba, too, are meeting new folks who will work with them on the project and hopefully will become resources for Makin in the future.
Lana Makin, Michael’s mom, can’t say enough good about Starfire and the changes she has seen in her son. 
“He is so much better socially; he is more independent,’’ she says. “I have seen a lot of maturity come out of this. It’s wonderful to see him with people who share his interests. He doesn’t need mom or dad to take him to the bar or out to karaoke.”
Makin has not been the only one helped.
“It does a lot for me, too,” Saba says. “I’m getting to know people, and it expands my network as well. There is no downside to this when you look at it."

Saba adds: "I really admire the work they are doing. It is amazing.”
Do Good
• Buy a unique piece of art at Starfire’s fifth annual ArtAbility fundraiser on Dec. 7. Tickets are $100 each with a $25 credit going to an art purchase. 
Donate to Starfire.
• Share your talent or passion and volunteer your time. 
• Check out photos of the capstone project planning and like them on Facebook.
By Chris Graves
Chris Graves is assistant vice president of digital and social media at Powers Agency

Matthews uses poetry to spark sociopolitical conversations

Tonya Matthews, PhD, is not only the vice president of museums at Cincinnati Museum Center, she is also Ja Hipster, a talented poet and spoken word performer. It is for her work as Ja Hipster that she received a $6,000 Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellowship grant.

Just five years ago, Matthews moved to downtown Cincinnati from Maryland to work at the Museum Center. She wrote a book of poetry,“Still Swinging’ These Hips,” and made a spoken-word CD, “The Legend of Afrodite.”

With the new grant money, she plans to create her second book of poetry as well as her second CD. Currently, she is deciding whether she wants the CD to accompany the book, or if she wants to keep the mediums separate.

Matthews hopes that the artists’ grants and their projects will open up the conversation about the arts and help open doors for other artists.

“I think poetry is a very different kind of conversation,” Matthews says. “People hear things that poets say that they don’t hear in general conversations or in speeches.

“What I have noticed, particularly since I do a lot of sociopolitical stuff, is that I can have conversations with people that normally make them uncomfortable. But because I’m a poet, I get away with bringing up the subject. And not only do I get away with the subject, but people are comfortable to have that conversation.”

Her poetry is observational and sociopolitical, tending to focus on women and young people. “I think at the end of the day, like a lot of people, I’m just trying to save the world,” Matthews laughs. “You know—one line of poetry at a time.”

At Duke University, she wrote for the student newspaper and the university journal, which featured student artwork and writing. As a graduate student at John Hopkins University, she started reading her poetry in public. Now, whenever she speaks or performs at specific events, she says she likes to write one new poem to perform. Because of this, she is mostly working on editing for her new poetry book.

Last year, Matthews collaborated with the Cincinnati Ballet for New Works, which received rave reviews and sparked conversation. With her work, Matthews hopes to have an impact on the city.

“Artists do tend to be heavily influenced by their environment,” Matthews says. “It’s not just how our art is influencing Cincinnati, but it’s also how Cincinnati is affecting our art.”

Do Good:

Contribute to a visit to the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Donate to the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Purchase Matthew’s cd or book.

By Stephanie Kitchens

'Shark Girl' artist uses her work to ease fears

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Casey Millard is one of seven artists named an inaugural Cincinnati Arts Ambassador and receive a $6,000 fellowship to go along with it.

The grant will support Millard’s creation of a fiberglass sculpture of “Shark Girl,” a character based on irrational fears. As a child, Millard had panic attacks related to fears that there were sharks in her swimming pool. As she neared 40, the panic attacks returned, this time focused on mortality. Both fears inspired her to create “Shark Girl.”

Her plan for the sculpture is to have “Shark Girl” sitting on a rock overlooking the Ohio River. Extra space on the rock will allow visitors to join her perch. Since art affected her as a child, Millard hopes her work will do the same for others.

“For a kid to sit with her, I think would be much more of an interactive experience,” Millard says. “And something very real.”

Millard plans to work on this project throughout winter and have the piece ready for public installation in the spring, though the location for the sculpture is still to be determined.

Currently, Millard has an exhibit called “Come Follow Me” at the UnMuseum in the Contemporary Arts Center. The exhibit features sculptures of “Shark Girl” and other characters based on an animated short film that Millard created, which is also featured in this show.

Do Good:

Learn more about Millard’s artwork.

• Find out how you can get involved with the Contemporary Arts Center.

Donate to the Contemporary Arts Center.

By Stephanie Kitchens

Pop-up restaurant fundraiser first is golden

It's a pop-up restaurant. A fundraiser. A crowd-funded themed dinner. All organized in less than a month and sold out in less than 33 hours, thanks to the work and creativity of local blogger Laura Arnold and Over-the-Rhine restaurateur Josh Campbell.
Just 25 tickets were available for the Golden Lawn Chair dinner, which, at $80 a couple, entitle diners to a five-course dinner themed around the idea of Uptown Americana: Trashy to Classy at Campbell’s Mayberry restaurant, at 1211 Main St., Nov. 18. The dinner will be followed by an after party, chances to win numerous raffle items, drink specials and live music.  
And every dime made after their costs are covered will go directly to the Free Store Food Bank. At this writing, they have raised more than $2,000 from ticket sales, with at least $1,000 of that slated for the food pantry. Arnold remains hopeful they will raise at least another $2,000 in raffles, auctions and one-of-a-kind events.
Think you are too late to get your tickets? Think again. A pair of golden tickets will be auctioned off for the last two seats at the dinner. The auction will run until the dinner, which will kick off with the awarding of the ceremonial golden tickets. After-party tickets, at $15 each, can be purchased at the door on Nov. 18.
“It’s been a blast," says Arnold, who writes the Cincinnati Nomerati blog. "We just kept adding things as we went: the dinner, an auction, the after party, raffle prizes. It was just and-and-and-and-and. Everyone has been so supportive.
“Josh has just been great to work with. We are going to have so many things going on: rounds of raffle bingo between courses, a kiddie pool filled with Hudy Delight … There’s been a lot of moving parts. I am pretty confident it will be fun.”
Followers of Arnold’s blog will recognize the theme and will understand the impetus for the creation of the pop-up restaurant.

Arnold started creating themed welcome-home dinners for her husband, David, who traveled monthly to Michigan for his job. She documented those dinners – the ideas, the menu and the preparation – on the blog. As David continued traveling, she continued to push herself to create more and more interesting and more intricate fare. 
“With David traveling, I had time to myself, so I started creating these fake menus with themed glassware, table layout and decorations," Arnold says. "It was really just a way to say: ‘glad you are home.' Things just progressed and I continued to push myself to experiment and make new things.’’
About a month or so ago, Arnold took the experimentation to a new level. She and Campbell started chatting about continuing the idea in a restaurant setting. He would shut down the restaurant for an evening; they would invite some friends and have a fun evening. It would be a one-night pop-up restaurant. And then they thought, why not make the event a fundraiser, given the dinner is the Sunday before Thanksgiving? The Free Store Food Bank was a natural fit. 
“They were all for it,’’ Arnold says.
Arnold says everyone she has contacted for gift cards has given. “I’ve been astonished and amazed and grateful at how generous everyone has been.’’
Several OTR chefs and personalities have donated their time and talent for special perk packages that folks can still purchase for varying amounts. In each case, one package is available, with 100 percent of the purchase price going to the Free Store Food Bank. Packages include:

· A Limoncella-making class for two at Nicola’s Restaurant for $100. 
· A cocktail-making class for up to four at Japps Since 1879 Bar, taught by perhaps Cincinnati’s most recognizable and best known bartender, Molly Wellman, for $200. ·

· A private pizza-making lesson for two at A Tavola, for $250.
· A private gelato-making lesson, during which a new flavor will be created and named, with the owner of Dojo Gelato, for $250.
While neither Arnold nor Campbell invented the pop-up idea, which is a restaurant or dining experience that opens and closes in just a few hours or days, coupling it with fundraising may be a first for Cincinnati.
“To my knowledge, nothing like this has been done before,’’ Arnold says. “But honestly, I really haven’t had time to look into that.”
Do Good
· Find them on Facebook.
· Follow them on Twitter.

Chris Graves is the assistant vice president of digital and social media at the Powers Agency

Godoy plans documentary of historic Music Hall organ

Melissa Godoy of Mt. Airy is one of seven recipients of $6,000 grant from the Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellowship. She plans to use her award to fund a short documentary about the restoration process of the art-carved wood panels from the 1878 Hook and Hastings organ that is currently in the orchestra pit of Music Hall.

“These panels have been stored there for about 40 years after this huge, classic organ was dismantled in the 70s,” Godoy says. “In its time, this organ was one of the largest organs in the country, and the art-carved panels were the opus of the art carved movement, which was centered in Cincinnati."

The panels, carved by more than 108 women students, inspired Gody, who decided to employ two students from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, where she is a professor, to help her create the cinema vérité style film.

There have been numerous delays in the restoration of Music Hall, so the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall (SPMH) decided to restore these panels while waiting for negotiations to conclude.

Godoy plans to show her film at Music Hall in conjunction with the display of the panels. She also plans to put the project online, supplemented with background information and links.

“Years ago, when the Cincinnati Wing of the Art Museum opened, I was the coordinating producer of the HD videos that are screening now,” Godoy says. “And I was very much involved in the art-carved furniture research and shooting, so I got really interested in the history of it and fascinated by the movement.

“The aesthetic movement (which encompasses the art-carved movement) is so appropriate for Cincinnati because of the natural beauty of the city. So that’s what I’m striving for also stylistically, is something just really natural.”

Godoy has been involved with filmmaking since her playwright studies at Northwestern University. Born in D.C., Godoy grew up in Wisconsin, went to school in Chicago and finally settled in Cincinnati in 1994 because her husband was getting his master’s degree. Godoy enjoys the pace of life in Cincinnati and is energized by the revitalization of the city. 

Since 2008, she has worked on a documentary about the revitalization of OTR, which she says taught her many lessons about her craft. Godoy also worked on several national productions directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert. Her own documentary, “Do Not Go Gently,” with Walter Cronkite as the narrator, is on American Public Television and has won numerous awards. “Until Sadie Blotz” is her most recent completed work, which was shown in the Cincinnati Film Festival. 

Do Good:

• Learn more about SPMH.

Donate to SPMH.

• Find out about Godoy’s documentary on the revitalization of OTR.

By Stephanie Kitchens

Chaitkin shares music, appreciation through rec center concerts

Nathanial Chaitkin, 42, wants to spread his love for classical music with the $6,000 grant awarded to him by the Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellowship. 

At age 11, he started playing cello. He continued his studies at the Juilliard School, the University of Michigan and at University of Maryland, where he received his doctoral degree. Chaitkin worked as a freelancer for a few years after college and then played with the orchestra of the United States Marine Band in Washington D.C. for eight years. After teaching at Michigan State, he and his wife moved to Cincinnati, where he currently teaches at CCM prep and privately.

With the grant money from the City, Chaitkin plans to hold concerts at Cincinnati Recreation Commission centers in underserved neighborhoods in Cincinnati. Specific locations have yet to be determined.

Chaitkin says he has wanted to stage these kinds of performances for about 20 years now. When he was in college, unlike many of his music school peers, he spent time with students involved in other disciplines. It helped that he lived in a dormitory with football players and was also a history major. Most of the music students, he says, were segregated from the rest of the school, and he wanted to bridge that gap. Therein evolved his idea to show people who have not been exposed to classical music that they can enjoy it, too.

He wants his new concerts to be interactive so that he can engage the audience in a discussion about music. Chaitkin plans to incorporate a piece composed by his college roommate, Evan Hause, who wrote several original songs for Chaitkin. 
In addition to traditional classical pieces, like Bach and Hindemith, he will play songs that most people won’t expect a celloist to play, like something by The Beastie Boys or “Impossible” by Shontelle. 

“I don’t think that everybody feels comfortable getting past those assumptions they have about it [classical music],” says Chaitkin. “For me, the goal is to sweep that aside and put the music in a place and a context where they feel comfortable.”

The artist also hopes that the concerts will spark the appreciation of classical music and encourage people to become active members of the performing arts community. The benefits are many, including to the city’s economic status. Chaitkin’s other goal is for his project is to inspire people to create art programs in underserved neighborhoods, like MyCincinnati in Price Hill.

Currently, Chaitkin is also considering creating a string quartet to accompany him at one of these concerts.

Do Good:

• Donate to MyCincinnati, an after school arts program for children, which shares the power of music with children in underserved schools.

• Learn more about the CRC centers in Cincinnati.

• Find out about art programs and events going on in Cincinnati.

By Stephanie Kitchens

Rinto's life a testimony to advocacy, support for women

Barbara Rinto has made supporting women’s health issues her lifetime mission. The 61-year-old advocate’s inspiring story is a highlight of the latest issue of The Women’s Book, an annual collection of women-focused news and information.

As a child of the 50s and 60s, Rinto traces her activist roots to her college days, when supporting women’s reproductive rights opened her eyes to a wide range of related issues.

“I think I was always a feminist,” says Rinto, who has been director of the Women’s Center at the University of Cincinnati since 2002.

As an undergraduate at Kent State, she volunteered at a local health clinic to talk with women and girls about their contraceptive options. After getting her master’s degree in public administration, she began a long career of working with Planned Parenthood before moving into a leadership role in academia.

She spent 28 years at Planned Parenthood, including an eight-year stint as the Cincinnati office director. Today, she remains at the forefront of women’s issues in the Cincinnati region. She chairs the Women’s Fund, an offshoot of the philanthropic Greater Cincinnati Foundation that is focused on helping women achieve economic self-sufficiency.

At UC, her mission is to ensure that all women have a safe and equitable environment, particularly by preventing sexual violence and supporting the victims of violence. Working first-hand with survivors, developing programs to support understanding and share knowledge and supporting those around her have become hallmarks of Rinto’s leadership style.

For Rinto, though, it’s all about empowering women to use their voices to spark change and growth.

“It really has informed my life and my work,” she says.

Do Good:
• Like the UC Women’s Center on Facebook.

• Learn more about the Women’s Book.

• Find out how you can get involved with The Women’s Fund.

By Stephanie Kitchens

Pendleton artist wins city grant to serve as Arts Ambassador

Terri Kern, ceramic artist, is one of seven artists to receive a $6,000 grant from the Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellowship.

Kern specializes in brightly colored, highly glazed ceramics, but her plan for the grant is to take a “mini-sabbatical” from her everyday artwork to explore new ideas and techniques in a body of sculptural work. The concept of her proposed artwork is the idea of balance.

“To make my work accessible to the public, I will open up my studio at the Pendleton Art Center on Final Friday,” Kern wrote in her grant application. She will also feature her work during Second Look Saturdays.

“My studio building is in the Pendleton neighborhood, which was selected to participate in the Neighborhood Enhancement Program (NEP) in August of this year,” Kern wrote. “That puts me in the unique position of being able to capitalize on the increased public awareness of the arts in the Pendleton neighborhood and the potential upsurge in community involvement.”

This grant’s potential impact on the city is significant, she says.

“One of the things that draw people to any city is things that are happening,” says Kern. “Even though it is very important to have the arts, there is also an economic impact from these grants.”

Kern says that the Final Friday attendees often dine out in the city, get drinks or go shopping—all within city limits. She hopes seeing her work will inspire patrons to return and explore what else Cincinnati has to offer. In addition, Kern’s artwork is also open for Second Look Saturday.

Kern is actively involved in the community and created the Joyce Clancy Legacy Fund, which works to provide seed money for ceramics programming for non-profit organizations.

Kern’s artwork will be displayed at the sculpture show at the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center, Friday, Nov. 16, and at the 18th annual Studio Collection Holiday Sale, which features 12 women artists, on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Do Good:
• Take a virtual tour of the Pendleton Arts Center.

• Find out more about the city’s Arts Ambassors.

• Keep up with Kern and her peers on Facebook.

By Stephanie Kitchens

Volunteers support Cincinnati Music Hall

When you print your tickets to the next Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performance, remember the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall.
As you walk through the beautifully and newly refurbished wooden doors that face Elm Street and into the majestic Cincinnati Music Hall, thank the Society. The society decided to give the doors a facelift to coincide with the re-opening of Washington Park. 
And when you sip from the water fountains or flush the toilets at the Hall, you can again thank the all-volunteer group that celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The nonprofit's mission has not changed since it was formed: To help preserve, enhance and support one of the city’s iconic masterpieces.
The group may be best known and recognized for its work in bringing the Albee Mighty Wurlitzer Organ to the Hall, where is was permanently installed and dedicated in 2009. An anonymous donor gave the society $1.4 million to move the organ from the Emery Theatre to Music Hall’s ballroom. 
But Society president Don Siekmann points to the sum of seemingly small accomplishments, such as the new ticketing system, refurbishing the front doors and upgrading the plumping, that stack up to ensure that the Hall continues to inspire artists and awe audiences. 
“Music Hall is really the great musical icon of Cincinnati,’’ he says. “It’s our job to get that word out and provide support. We are the guys who really keep it going.” 
Siekmann says he is confident that only a fraction of the region’s 1.5 million residents have ever been inside the Hall, which was built in 1878 with private money raised from what is believed to be the nation’s first matching-grant fund drive and is still judged to be one of the most majestic theaters in the world. The Springer Auditorium, which can seat more than 3,500, is home to the CSO, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet and the May Festival
Many believe the Hall is also home to ghosts, in large part because it was built on former graveyards. In addition to regular tours hosted by Society volunteers, there are also guided ghost tours of the Hall. 
Seikmann says the group’s greatest opportunity and challenge is to ensure two things: Introducing more residents and visitors to the Hall and to continue to attract new members. 
“We want to continue to get people involved so they tell the stories of Music Hall,’’ he says.
Do Good:
• Check out the Hall's new web site.
• Buy tickets to the annual Wurlitzer Organ show slated for 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 13. The event sells out every year. 
• Take a tour and learn about the Hall's storied history -- there’s even guided ghosts tours.
• Donate to the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall. 
• Volunteer to be a tour guide by calling 513-744-3293.

By Chris Graves
Chris Graves is the assistant vice president of digital and social media at the Powers Agency.

COR Music Project offers access, seeks diversity in classical music

“We believe that the arts signify and represent the health of the community. Vibrancy in the arts makes a community a more desirable place to live and to work.”

That’s the mindset prompted Louisa Shepherd to help found the COR (Cincinnati Out Reach) Music Project in December 2011, a free, after-school orchestra program that provides innovative access to classical music to youth who are typically underserved when it comes to arts programming.

The group also wants to give those same students opportunities and inspiration to attend college. COR Executive Director Deron Hall is a French horn player for the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, and Shepherd herself was able to attend college thanks to a music scholarship. 

“We have a passion for music, and it’s taken us from one circumstance to another,” Shepherd says. “We’re very much about giving back and revitalizing the arts in our community.”

The approach is two-pronged: COR’s teaching artists lead piano, voice/choir, guitar and electronic music courses at schools that lack arts programs. At the same time, COR works year-round with local communities to form orchestras for youth in grades three and up. The first such effort will launch in Avondale this January.
Purcell Marian High School is currently COR’s sole institutional partner; the goal is to secure partnerships with at least three more area schools next year. 

“We like to say we work in the community and not for the community,” says Shepherd. “We’re making it something the community stands behind and sees as valuable. It’s about showing the community the tools we have and finding out what we can do together.”

COR’s “all play, none pay” philosophy is supported by ArtsWave grants, outside donations and nominal commitments from partner schools, as well as the group’s organized fundraising efforts. 

Do Good:

• Watch COR in action online.

• Make a tax-deductible donation to support COR

• Keep up with COR news and events on Facebook

By Hannah Purnell
Follow Hannah on Twitter

Shakespeare comes alive at Cincinnati Library

Why would the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company decide to stage the Bard’s bloodiest and most violent tragedy, Titus Andronicus, in the retro-futuristic look and feel of steampunk? 
Jeremy Dubin, an artistic associate at the downtown-based company, isn’t saying just yet.
Dubin says if folks want to know, they should stop by the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s main branch later this month to get the backstage scoop on how the company decides to stage Shakespeare’s plays. 
“We figured we were just down the street, so why not?” says Dubin. “I think we will see how these first ones go, and likely we will stick with it throughout the season.” 
Actors, set and costume designers, and directors will visit the Library's main branch twice in October to chat about their work and how they prepare for the complex productions.
Sara Clark, who plays Juliet in the company’s modern-day interpretation of perhaps the most popular of Shakespeare’s 37 plays, Romeo and Juliet, will discuss how she prepared for the role.

The company's take of Shakespeare's story of star-crossed lovers is staged in modern-day Italy and starts at a crime scene and features - of course - the warring Capulets and the Montagues.
Dubin says he is planning on attending the second discussion at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 to talk about Titus Andronicus. That conversation will be in the Huenefeld Tower Room, which is on the library’s third floor of its south building. 
Thought to be Shakespeare’s first tragedy, Titus is so bloody and violent that Dubin says he studied crime books to help in its interpretation. 
The company turned to Cincinnati’s 150-member League of Cincinnati Steampunks for research as well. The steampunk look is distinctive – a kind of Victorian-meets-technology – and as such, Dubin says it is unlikely the company will use the costumes and sets again. So, they chose to auction the pieces off on Oct 24. 
Dubin says he hopes school groups and others attend the conversations to learn more about Shakespeare. 
“I think if we got 50 people or so, it would be a huge success,’’ he says.
Do Good:
• Buy tickets to Romeo and Juliet or Titus Andronicus, which opens Oct. 20. Both performances run through Nov. 11. 
• Support the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. 

• Like the Cincinnati Public Library on Facebook.
• Follow the Library on Twitter.

By Chris Graves
Chris Graves is the assistant vice president of digital and social media at the Powers Agency.

Groundbreaking vision center opens at Oyler School

Even before it publicly opened last week at Oyler School, doctors at the nation’s first school-based, self-sustaining vision center discovered a fifth-grade boy who has been living virtually blind.
Doctors detected the boy’s acute vision problem while testing equipment to prepare for the public opening and dedication of the OneSight Vision Center inside the Lower Price Hill school last week. The self-sustaining vision center also outfitted the boy with glasses, as it is expected to do for hundreds more children.
“If you grow up in a world where you don’t know any different, you think this is the way it is,’’ says Craig Hockenberry, Oyler's principal. “You can imagine the impact on learning when a child cannot see the board or a read a book. The vision center will help us get these kids the vision care they so desperately need.”
The full-service vision center will provide comprehensive eye exams, glasses, fittings, adjustments, medical eye care and vision therapy with an onsite optometrist, ophthalmic technician and optician. It is expected to serve about 2,000 students per year.
A group of public and private partners spent the last two years working to open the center:
• Oyler School, at 2121 Hatmaker St., donated the space and will provide for its ongoing maintenance.

• The Cincinnati Health Department will operate the center. 

• The Ohio Optometric Association and American Optometric Association provided expertise, guidance and funding.

OneSight, which is a leading global vision care charity sponsored by Luxottica, provided all exam equipment, eyewear, operational expertise and $300,000 in start-up funding to support the staff.
Dr. Marilyn Crumpton, director of the Cincinnati Health Department’s School and Adolescent Health Division, says that the year-round center will be completely self-sustaining through insurance payments, primarily through Medicaid. 
The issue for many children who need vision services is a barrier to access – not a lack of insurance, she says. About 90 percent of Oyler students are Medicaid recipients. The center now will provide that access and will handle all the insurance filings. In addition, Dr. Crumpton says, the center will provide transportation to other students who do not attend Oyler but are in need of services. They will also deliver glasses to students so they don’t lose learning time in their home schools. 
Hockenberry says the center fits into the holistic approach to education at Oyler, which is one of the leading community learning centers in the city. Oyler provides medical and psychological services in the school, which is open from about 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. year-round. 
“We never stop. The whole concept is that we want to be the central hub of activity in our community,’’ says Hockenberry. “The vision center fits perfectly into that.”
Hockenberry says that at the same time the center was being dedicated, a team of about 70 educators, politicians and others from New York City were visiting Oyler to see what they're doing and model it back in New York.
“I can’t be more proud of what we are doing,’’ he says. 
Crumpton agrees: “This shows the kids that the community – the whole community – is investing in them to succeed. They are our future. It really makes me proud to call Cincinnati home.”
Do Good:
• Like Oyler School on Facebook

• Read more about OneSight and its mission. 

• Read and listen to National Public Radio’s ongoing series “One School One Year” series, which focuses on Oyler.

By Chris Graves
Chris Graves is the assistant vice president of digital and social media at the Powers Agency.

New leader hopes to expand reach of Adopt-A-Class

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Katie Burroughs now devotes her life to making her hometown a better place in a new role as director of the nonprofit Adopt-A-Class. She learned about community involvement through Walnut Hills High School’s community service program as well as her parents’ dedication to volunteer work.

Burroughs left home to study English at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, and then received her law degree at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. After practicing in northern Virginia, though, Burroughs returned to Cincinnati.

She worked as a prosecutor for the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and was exposed to children living in horrifying conditions. The experience fueled her passion for mentoring children living in poverty. 

Then last year, she served as co-president of the PTA at Pleasant Ridge Montessori, where her two children attend school (her twins attend preschool). She realized the impact education has not only on children’s lives, but also the life of a community.

Burroughs had attained her professional goals as a prosecutor, so she felt ready to transition into a different, more proactive role in changing children’s lives. 

“By getting involved in education, my hope and desire is that we will touch lives and in the end there will be fewer people at the back end, where I always saw them [as a prosecutor],” Burroughs says. “If you can direct a kid in the right direction, or just give them that glimmer of hope, or show that someone believes in them and that there is a life outside of poverty and the environment that they’re in, then just may be my former coworkers won’t see them on the back end.”

Burroughs is settling into her new role at Adopt-A-Class, a local nonprofit that connects under-resourced students with professional mentors. Founded by Bill Burwinkel, Adopt-A-Class currently works with 24 schools, reaching about 8,000 students. 

The mentors, typically groups of professionals, form pen pal relationships with the students throughout the school year. Weekly, mentors who are available go to classrooms for activities.

Burroughs hopes to increase the number of classrooms adopted. Although there is a waiting list for new schools to get involved, Adopt-A-Class wants to finish meeting the needs of the schools that they are already committed to.

“You can’t solve every problem; you’re not going to save every child—I’m not naïve—but you can touch lives,” Burroughs says.

Do Good:

• Refer a friend to Adopt-A-Class.

Donate to Adopt-A-Class.

• Attend the Rusty Ball and choose Adopt-A-Class as your charity.

By Stephanie Kitchens

Our City, Our Story book builds on storytelling project

Lyndsey Barnett grew up in Toledo and had her first exposure to Cincinnatians when she attended Miami University in Oxford.

She noticed that while her classmates knew their “sides” of Cincinnati well—east, west, north, central—few were familiar with neighborhoods outside of their own.

Flash forward to this year, when as a member of the leadership development program C-Change, the Graydon, Head & Ritchey attorney found herself in a group of eight classmates charged with raising the profile of the positive stories in and around Cincinnati.

“We started brainstorming what things were important to us,” says Barnett, 33. Children, education and literacy topped their list.

The next step seemed basic. “Why don’t we try to develop a children’s book to get Cincinnati’s message across?” they asked. Their approach? Create a book written by a professional and illustrated by the children of Cincinnati.

“We wanted to donate these books to organizations that had a literacy theme and get them to children who may not otherwise have access to books,” she says.

There was just one problem. No one in the group had any experience in publishing, and it was March. They had just a couple of months to gather illustrations and create the book in time to highlight at the Books by the Banks festival in October.

“We all started reaching out to anyone we knew to start this network,” she says. “The process has been very intense. We’ve all had to learn on the fly.”

One key collaborator eased many of the group’s concerns. John Hutton, owner of Blue Manatee bookstore and Blue Manatee Press, offered insights and support. “He has been invaluable,” Barnett says.

Hundreds of students from around the region, from Price Hill to Indian Hill, submitted their illustrations for potential inclusion in the book. “The artwork that we received was just amazing,” Barnett says.

A team of children’s librarian judges made the final decisions. Soon after, “Cincinnati: Our City, Our Story” became a reality.

Accomplished children’s book author and part-time Cincinnati Louise Borden penned the text. “The book is a story about Cincinnati’s history involving the cool places in the city,” Barnett says.

Her C-Change team got so excited about the project, they raised enough money to surpass their initial goal of printing 3,000 soft-cover books to be donated to local nonprofits; now 4,000 books will be donated.

In addition, more than 5,000 hardcover editions have been printed and will be for sale at Books by the Banks, at Blue Manatee and, Barnett hopes, other local retailers. About $10 from the sale of each book will be donated back to support the literacy programming of Every Child Succeeds.

Barnett sees the impact stretching well beyond this year and her C-Change tenure. “I think it will spark a dialogue for families, and help parents share their favorite places with their kids.”

Do Good:

• Attend the “Cincinnati: Our City, Our Story” kick-off celebration at Blue Manatee bookstore in Oakley.

• Stop by Books by the Banks and buy your hardcover copy.

• Add your donation to the important work being done by Every Child Succeeds .

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Team dedication rebuilds Price Hill's Arts Center at Dunham

Many hands make light work.

The Arts Center at Dunham knows the meaning of that old saying well. Last Saturday, 60 volunteers from Procter & Gamble, GE Aviation, and Sunset Players descended upon the structure with paint and polish.  Now, the Art Deco building is ready for its re-opening as a community art center after it was closed for repairs several years ago.

The building has a deep and personal history within the Price Hill community. 

Once, it was part of the large Dunham Tuberculosis Hospital, the first municipally-owned tuberculosis sanatorium in the country. Opened in 1897, it was renamed after its long-time medical director, Dr. Henry Kennon Dunham, who served the hospital, without pay, from 1909-1940.

Samuel Hannaford and Sons, the preeminent architectural firm in Cincinnati during the 1920s known for the design of Music Hall and City Hall, designed the Art Deco building for occupational and entertainment needs, including a movie theatre for residents confined to the grounds.  

After the hospital closed in the early 1970s, Cincinnati reopened the complex as a recreational center. Most of the hospital buildings were torn down, but this building was kept as a center for arts programming. 

Beth Andriacco is community engagement coordinator for Price Hill Will, one of the groups behind the effort to reclaim the building for community arts.  

“Most of us who grew up in the area took classes there, like pottery and cooking,” she recalls.

The Sunset Players, a community theater group, made the Dunham Art Center its home, so when a leaky roof closed the building, the Players kept performing in other venues while raising money to fix its structural problems and work towards a long-term lease of the building.  

Partnering with the City of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Recreation Center, the West Price Hill Civic Club, Price Hill Will and the Dunham Advisory Board, the Sunset Players were joined by volunteers from local industry for this last push to re-open the building.  When the center opens, it will offer art programming and studio space, as well as theater productions.    

“P&G and GE Aviation wanted to do a large volunteer project…and contacted Price Hill Will,” says Andriacco.  This project was the perfect fit.  

Do Good:

• Attend: the first Sunset Players production in the new center, a Playhouse in the Park “Off the Hill” production for families called Accidental Friends, Sept. 29 at 7pm.

• Visit: the Sunset Players online, as the company celebrates its 30 years of community performances and offers a link to join the group or help with the art center.

• Like: the Arts Center at Dunham on Facebook to stay current on the landmark's latest news.

By Becky Johnson

Neighborhood advocates help build Covington urban street fair

Jim Guthrie and his wife Deanna Heil, a dynamic duo of architects, met while college students. Since their graduation some 20 years ago, they have made Northern Kentucky their home and taken every opportunity possible to bloom where they were planted.

Guthrie, who is also an artist, took over as chair of Art Off Pike this year. In anticipation of this year's festival Sept. 30, Soapbox asked him to share his thoughts about the event and its latest incarnation.

Q: How did you get interested in Art Off Pike in Covington--I mean, you're a Newport guy, right?

A. I attended AOP a few years ago for the first time. The second time I participated as an artist—I dabble as an inner-demon catharsis.

I volunteered on the committee last year. And this year, I was thrust into the Chair position because I stood still when someone asked, "Who wants to be Chair?" Everyone else took one step backwards. 

Q: Explain what it is for readers who haven't experienced it before. 

A: Art Off Pike is an urban street festival celebrating artists and downtown Covington. It was created by the Westside Action Coalition (a neighborhood coalition) eight years ago as an event (an ice cream social) capitalizing on local artists living and working in Covington and has grown from there.

This year, we'll have more than 70 artists displaying their wares for sale, between $10 to $400 generally.

We'll also have an area for kids art activities called "Picasso's Playground" which will be run by area arts organizations. You'll find coloring, water color, collage, doll making, bubbles, ice cube painting, hooping, finger painting and ceramics.

Q: What's new about the celebration this year?  

A.    This year there will be coffee!!! And lots of food. Both of which were painfully absent last year. We've signed up Deeper Roots CoffeeC'est CheeseCafe de WheelsLimeYankee Doodle Pretzels and streetpops.

Q: What role have you played in the festival?

A: I'm the chair ... so I do everything that I can't get anyone else to do. But mostly organizing and occasionally begging. We have a great committee of folks - Natalie Bowers with the City of Covington, Jean St. Jean with My Nose Turns Red, Joan C. Lee (community leader), William Dickson with Haney, Chris Henry (community leader) and Chris Meyer.??

Q: Can you talk about the AOP posters a bit? 

A: The posters, and all the collateral material really, grew out of an effort to distinguish Art Off Pike from other art festivals. 

We wanted to recognize the urbanity of Covington instead of apologize for it. We wanted to recognize the beauty in the grit. So, we made an effort to make every piece of collateral material as authentic and real. 

We started out mailing "save the date" baggies to 100 of our best friends which contained hand stamped and numbered cards. We handed out business cards that were the same (stamped, signed and numbered). We walked around Pike and Seventh Streets in Covington (where the event is held) and took pictures of the cool things we noticed. We printed these images on corrugated cardboard. 

Each poster is individually spray painted, signed and numbered. There are eight copies of five versions for a total of 40 (41 actually).  These were distributed to the area businesses and supporters that love us. I'm particularly proud of the posters and have to thank William Dickson and his firm Haney for helping us out.??

Q: When was the first time you heard about/went to Art Off Pike? What was your impression? 

A: It was like a yard sale for artists. And there's a certain amount of cool to that. It wasn't pretentious. It was a community. We want to grow ... but we don't want to lose that.??

Q: Describe Covington's art scene and how Art Off Pike fits in with it.
A: Art and Culture are so important to cities - particularly the urban cores. You may have read recently that the Covington Arts District as a city designated zone no longer exists, but the arts initiative is absolutely alive ... just evolving, unrestricted by boundaries. Covington has recently been recognized by the governor's arts and cultural district certification.

Covington's Mayor and Commission fully support the arts both personally (with their wallets) and politically. It's a recognition that Arts and culture do impact the bottom line economy. Covington is unique in that it has a city supported and staffed Gallery at AEC, but also many other arts organizations including Baker Hunt, Carnegie, Behringer Crawford, Madison Theater, Madison Event Center, concerts at the Basillica, the Ascent, public sculpture; and private groups like Bldg Gallery who regularly bring in international artists for shows and public art projects.

AOP is the original arts event that Covington's Full Spectrum was based on. Capitalizing on all the artists - ceramists, painters, playwrights, musicians, singers, performers, living and working in Covington. 

Q: Anything you think people should know about the art scene in Northern Kentucky that they don't know already? 

A: It's there. I think the different incarnations, designations and zones and the disintegration of those zoning designations can confuse people. I think it's not where it needs to be; not where it will be. It has to come from within, and there are some energetic people working on fostering the artist community and it's going to happen (inside Covington joke).??

Do Good:

• Show AOP some love on Facebook.

• Make a day of it. Attend the festival Sept. 30.

• Check out more Covington neighborhood action at the Center for Great Neighborhoods.
Compiled by Elissa Yancey
 Follow Elissa on Twitter

At NKU, smart is new cool

Kimberly Clayton-Code, Director of the Institute for Talent Development and Gifted Studies at Northern Kentucky University, would like to reach 6,000 students a year, doubling her four-year-old program's current rolls, witth programming that supports their academic gifts and allows them to meet like-minded peers and to flourish.

"These children’s needs are just as diverse as children across the spectrum," says Clayton-Code, who helped launch the institute at NKU five years ago. "They’re a group of students whose needs aren’t always attended to."

She notes that having high-profile "nerds" making news--people like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates--helps make some paths easier, but that the typical white-male image can make it more challenging for females and minorities to relate. 

That's why NKU hosts the ExploreMore Program for students in grades K-8, the Dreamfest Conference for grades 4-8 and the Young Women LEAD Conference, which welcomes 700 young women to the campus in October.

"Working with these children, seeing what they can do and where they can go – I’m just amazed at their level of knowledge and interest and thirst for learning," Clayton-Code says.

Do Good:

• Check out the ExploreMore brochure for fall 2012. 

• Like NKU on Facebook.

• Find out the latest offerings at the Institute on its Facebook page.

By Chris Graves

CCO adds innovation to 'chamber' definition

Start with some Beethoven, add in a free performance at a local acoustic gem and a newly commissioned concerto for saxophone and chamber orchestra played by a local jazz legend. All together, it's a recipe for the 39th Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra season, dedicated to celebrating the Queen City in different locales, starring new and returning favorites.

CCO, directed by Mischa Santora, is known for innovative collaborations with arts groups and organizations including the VAE: Cincinnati's Vocal Arts Ensemble, Madcap Puppets, Cincinnati Ballet and The Mercantile Library

In addition to a performance at the acoustically pitch-perfect St. Catharine of Siena Church in Westwood, this winter, the orchestra launches a new holiday tradition with a production of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors in partnership with Madcap Puppets. And the group's education program, Footnotes , incorporates subjects like math, geography and poetry into musical presentations.

With a nimble 32-musician base, the CCO ends its 2012-2013 season with a program selected by its members and fans. The orchestra's June performance at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, includes a few pre-programmed pieces, but leaves its finale open, awaiting the selections of audience members.

Do Good:

Join the CCO mailing list.

• Check out the full season schedule online

• Support the artistic work of the CCO with a donation.


In the Know: the American Theatre Wing recognizes Cincinnati theater

The Know Theatre is Cincinnati’s place to be for evocative live entertainment. One-of-a-kind experiences such as the Cincinnati Fringe Festival and cutting edge programs such as the Jackson Street Market and the theatre’s touring educational program Calculus: the Musical! have established the Know as the go-to venue for the type of contemporary theatre more common in larger cities. 

Now in its 15th year of operation, the Know has received some prestigious national recognition. 

In October, Know Theatre Producing Artistic Director Eric Vosmeier will travel to the Big Apple to accept a $10,000 grant from the American Theatre Wing (founder of the Tony Awards). One of only 10 theatres nationally to receive the honor, the Know will use the grant to support programming and help attract and retain artists. 

“This grant is a huge boon to Know Theatre’s model, focus and programming,” Vosmeier says.
The prestigious award validates the Know’s commitment to innovation and the advancement of contemporary theatre, and provides important support for the theatre’s sustainability. “Know Theatre is at a crucial stage of our development and new funding such as this will be crucial for us to continue to move the organization forward,” Vosmeier says. 

In order to receive the 2012 National Theatre Company Grant, the Know had to articulate its mission, demonstrate the cultivation of an audience and show how artists are nurtured in a way that strengthens the quality, diversity and dynamism of American theatre. 

“It seemed to me that they were looking for a company that takes a diverse approach to what they do,” says Vosmeier. 

He says that the strength of the grant application was based on the Know’s unique approach to programming and the fact that it is producing almost entirely new work. For example, the Cincinnati Fringe Festival brings hundreds of local and national artists together each year to entertain, collaborate and network while artist programs like the Jackson Street Market and educational programs like Calculus: The Musical! play more active roles in education. 

In addition to its innovative programs, the Know continues to look for new ways to fund itself. The institution of the Club of Jacksons, initially a crowdfunding effort aimed at supporting the Know’s production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson earlier this spring, was a first for the Know and resulted in funding almost the entire production. 

Building on the success of that endeavor, Vosmeier says that the Club of Jacksons will return this year, allowing the community to play an active role in sponsoring a live show by donating one Jackson or several. 

The Know is also working with Brandery 2012 class member Socstock, an innovative funding model that allows individuals to invest in a local small business and receive a return through goods and services. Details are still in the works, but Vosmeier says that returns on investment through Socstock could include anything from tickets, to Fringe passes, improv and acting classes and more. 

Perhaps more than anything, the company’s sustainability is based on its ability to cultivate high-caliber talent that keeps people buying tickets. With a continued focus on original programming, artistic development and sustainable funding, the Know Theatre is on an upward trajectory.

“We want to keep artists here in Cincinnati,” says Vosmeier. “We want them to be able to make a living here and continue to advance contemporary theatre.” 

The grant from the American Theatre Wing boosts that mission by providing the resources that allow the Know to provide health care benefits for the first time to staff, add a few positions and provide a pay raises. 

Expect great things to keep coming from the Know, including several Fringe Encore performances throughout the month of September, the True Theatre series returning in October and special events like the Know Theatre CityBeat Speakeasy NYE party. 

Do Good:

Purchase tickets to an upcoming show. 

Donate to the Know. 

• Promote Know productions through your social network and like the Know on Facebook.

By Deidra Wiley Necco

'Handsome' at Emery shines light on Fotofocus

The Requiem Project, the nonprofit arts organization that makes its home at the Emery Theatre in Over the Rhine, continues to build this fall with a five-event series called "Art Moves Here," which debuts with the Sept. 20 opening of a FotoFocus-affiliated exhibit called "Handsome" by Chris Hoeting.

Hoeting built "Handsome" specific to the Emery's nooks and crannies, knowing that his show would run in tandem with Midpoint Music Festival performances at the site as well as a showing of Mike Disfarmer's beautiful and sometimes unsettling portraits, set to be on display starting .

Like so many other endeavors over the past year, "Handsome" reflects the power and the potential of the Emery to occupy an emerging space in the local arts scene—to bring together art forms, artists and neighbors and together, to build a stronger, vibrant and diverse community.

As part of Fotofocus, "Handsome" uses prints and mixed media to explain culture, in this case the culture illustrated by Western movie director John Ford, who became fascinated with the story of lawman Wyatt Earp and his stories. Hoeting's work plays with the archetypes of Ford's day, deconstructing them and analyzing their meaning and cultural relevance.

In an Emery season that includes showcasing pieces by Andy Warhol and hosting dance and music performances, the theater's co-founder and artistic-executive director, Tara Lindsey Gordon, sees "Handsome" as a highlight.

Do Good:

• Attend the "Handsome" opening reception, Thursday, Sept. 20, from 6-9 pm.

• Mark your calendars for FotoFocus events over the next month.

• Visit the Emery's new website for more information.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Poet Hansel shares stories, love of words to create, heal

Her words are precise, deliberate. Her pace is slow and measured. In her voice remains a slight sweet drawl of her native Eastern Kentucky.

As her spoken words unfold, it becomes evident that Pauletta Hansel has spent a lifetime surrounded by the lyricism of language, a language heavily influenced by the storytellers of the Appalachian Mountains, her father and communities of other writers, poets and artists.

But hers is far from the life of the solitary poet.

The award-winning author of four collections of poetry is spending this fall – as she has for years - leading community-based workshops for writers as part of the Urban Appalachian Council and through Thomas More College and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

On Sept. 24, she and three other authors will present “Our Beloved Community,’’ a collaborative performance of story, poetry and song created by the authors and residents of Over-The-Rhine. Each author interviewed Over-The-Rhine residents, wrote from those experiences and then came together to craft the performance, which gives voice to the residents.

“This was really an opportunity to create something bigger than myself,’’ she says.  

Hansel, 53, of Paddock Hills, is also co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary journal of the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative, and was the co-director of the Grailville Retreat in Loveland, where she continues to lead writing workshops.

Most recently, Hansel was named the first Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills.

Community and teaching have always been important to Hansel’s writing and her work is now part of repaying all those who supported – and continue to support – her work.

Her first mentor was her father, a college professor and not a writer.

“In my father’s eyes, books were more important than food,’’ she says. “It was a part of my nature and my nurture.”

She started writing poetry while a young teen as a mechanism to help her deal with the intensity and emotions of her pre-teen years. But it quickly evolved into who she was.

“I suppose it started as a verb and not as a noun; the writing started as a need to communicate to myself,” she says. “But I was a writer as opposed to the aspirational.”

Two things helped catapult her writing: She grew up during the 1970s’ resurgence of the rich tradition of Appalachian writing and storytelling; and a poet – who was part of school Poet in the Schools program - lived with her family.

“I really connected with her. Here was someone who made a living at writing and was a poet throughout her life,’’ she says.

While Hansel finds that she must set aside time by herself to write, various writing communities sustain her.

“I cannot talk enough about the value of a writing community … writing is a solitary act, but it is the act supported on the context of community.”

She recommends that writers find havens of support and places where they will be able to “drop down into that psychological space” necessary to write. For her that is an annual trip to the Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse, in Nerinx, Ky., about 60 miles from Louisville. She has been going there since 1996.

Hansel finds her retreats and communities in other places as well, including in teaching.

“I love to teach. For me, writing and teaching are interconnected. It’s really good work,’’ she says. “I am so grateful for those who taught me. In the days of yore when arts and crafts were handed down through journeymen and apprentices … it’s like that to me.

“It’s like my way of passing it on.”

Do Good:
•    Attend Our Beloved Community performance at 7 p.m., Sept. 24, at the Main Library, 800 Vine St.

•    Find a writing program or retreat at grailville.org.

•    Attend an “Eat and Create” brownbag lunch with Hansel at Thomas More College from noon to 12:50 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12. The series is offered the second Wednesday of each month through December.

By Chris Graves

70-plus artists converge for Art Off Pike

Jim Guthrie and his wife Deanna Heil have lived in Newport for about 20 years. The dynamic duo of architects met while studying at UC’s DAAP. While they planned a life far west of the town of their alma mater, a poor job economy left them little choice but to bloom where they were planted.

Now Guthrie, who works for Hub + Weber Architects, and Heil, who started City Studios Architecture in OTR, are in their second home and raising three kids, aged 16 to 10. Guthrie took over as chair of Art Off Pike this year. In anticipation of this year's festival Sept. 30, Soapbox asked him to share his thoughts about the event and its latest incarnation.

Q: How did you get interested in Art Off Pike in Covington--I mean, you're a Newport guy, right?

A. I attended AOP a few years ago for the first time. The second time I participated as an artist—I dabble as an inner-demon catharsis.

I volunteered on the committee last year. And this year, I was thrust into the Chair position because I stood still when someone asked, "Who wants to be Chair?" Everyone else took one step backwards. 

Q: Explain what it is for readers who haven't experienced it before. 

A: Art Off Pike is an urban street festival celebrating artists and downtown Covington. It was created by the Westside Action Coalition (a neighborhood coalition) eight years ago as an event (an ice cream social) capitalizing on local artists living and working in Covington and has grown from there.

This year, we'll have more than 70 artists displaying their wares for sale, between $10 to $400 generally.

We'll also have an area for kids art activities called "Picasso's Playground" which will be run by area arts organizations. You'll find coloring, water color, collage, doll making, bubbles, ice cube painting, hooping, finger painting and ceramics.

Q: What's new about the celebration this year?  

A.    This year there will be coffee!!! And lots of food. Both of which were painfully absent last year. We've signed up Deeper Roots Coffee, C'est Cheese, Cafe de Wheels, Lime, Yankee Doodle Pretzels and streetpops.

Q: What role have you played in the festival?

A: I'm the chair ... so I do everything that I can't get anyone else to do. But mostly organizing and occasionally begging. We have a great committee of folks - Natalie Bowers with the City of Covington, Jean St. Jean with My Nose Turns Red, Joan C. Lee (community leader), William Dickson with Haney, Chris Henry (community leader) and Chris Meyer.??

Q: Can you talk about the AOP posters a bit? 

A: The posters, and all the collateral material really, grew out of an effort to distinguish Art Off Pike from other art festivals. 

We wanted to recognize the urbanity of Covington instead of apologize for it. We wanted to recognize the beauty in the grit. So, we made an effort to make every piece of collateral material as authentic and real. 

We started out mailing "save the date" baggies to 100 of our best friends which contained hand stamped and numbered cards. We handed out business cards that were the same (stamped, signed and numbered). We walked around Pike and Seventh Streets in Covington (where the event is held) and took pictures of the cool things we noticed. We printed these images on corrugated cardboard. 

Each poster is individually spray painted, signed and numbered. There are eight copies of five versions for a total of 40 (41 actually).  These were distributed to the area businesses and supporters that love us. I'm particularly proud of the posters and have to thank William Dickson and his firm Haney for helping us out.??

Q: When was the first time you heard about/went to Art Off Pike? What was your impression? 

A: It was like a yard sale for artists. And there's a certain amount of cool to that. It wasn't pretentious. It was a community. We want to grow ... but we don't want to lose that.??

Q: Describe Covington's art scene and how Art Off Pike fits in with it.
A: Art and Culture are so important to cities - particularly the urban cores. You may have read recently that the Covington Arts District as a city designated zone no longer exists, but the arts initiative is absolutely alive ... just evolving, unrestricted by boundaries. Covington has recently been recognized by the governor's arts and cultural district certification.

Covington's Mayor and Commission fully support the arts both personally (with their wallets) and politically. It's a recognition that Arts and culture do impact the bottom line economy. Covington is unique in that it has a city supported and staffed Gallery at AEC, but also many other arts organizations including Baker Hunt, Carnegie, Behringer Crawford, Madison Theater, Madison Event Center, concerts at the Basillica, the Ascent, public sculpture; and private groups like Bldg Gallery who regularly bring in international artists for shows and public art projects.

AOP is the original arts event that Covington's Full Spectrum was based on. Capitalizing on all the artists - ceramists, painters, playwrights, musicians, singers, performers, living and working in Covington. 

?Q: Anything you think people should know about the art scene in Northern Kentucky that they don't know already? 

A: It's there. I think the different incarnations, designations and zones and the disintegration of those zoning designations can confuse people. I think it's not where it needs to be; not where it will be. It has to come from within, and there are some energetic people working on fostering the artist community and it's going to happen (inside Covington joke).??

Do Good:

• Show AOP some love on Facebook.

• Make a day of it. Attend the festival Sept. 30.

• Check out more Covington neighborhood action at the Center for Great Neighborhoods.
Compiled by Elissa Yancey
 Follow Elissa on Twitter

NKU Women LEAD program offers inspiration, opportunities

Teen girls face a range of challenges—emotional, physical and psychological—as they navigate the sometimes choppy waters of adolescence. Hearing from young female leaders who have made it through those tough years and followed their own paths to success can offer insights and inspiration.

That's the idea behind the Leadership, Education And Development Conference for High School Girls, this year hosted at Northern Kentucky University Oct. 16. (Registration for the free conference closes Sept. 14.)

At the one-day conference, attendees will hear from Olympian Dominique Dawes as well as local female business and community leaders, who will share their stories on success, finding meaning and happiness in life and developing relationships.

Do Good:

Register for the conference before Sept. 14.

• Find out more about the NKU Institute for Talent Development and Gifted Studies.

• Like the Mean Stinks campaign on Facebook.

WordPlay opens Urban Legend Institute in Northside

Got your zombie apocalypse survival kit yet? What about that alligator repellant? Better yet, how about some much-coveted, impossible-to-find water from the Fountain of Youth? 

Look no further. 

Those are the kind of items that will be available when the Urban Legend Institute, at 4011 Hamilton Ave., officially opens its doors Sept. 8. The family-friendly grand opening, from 5 to 10 pm, coincides with Northside’s Second Saturday celebration and will offer treats, music, word games and other surprises, promises Libby Hunter.

But behind the tongue-in-cheek retail storefront is Northside’s newest and very serious nonprofit: WordPlay, a collaborative literacy group aimed at helping kids learn how to read, write and express themselves. It will offer free tutoring from 3 to 6 pm Mondays through Thursdays and from noon to 4 pm Saturdays.

“It’s not just a store, the Urban Legend Institute will become our street-front personality, our interface with the community,” says Hunter, Wordplay’s executive director. “We want it to be a destination.  People will wander in not knowing about WordPlay, they'll enjoy the engaging experience they have at the Urban Legend Institute, learn about WordPlay, spread the word, come back to volunteer, enroll their kids or be inspired to donate.”

WordPlay takes a page from the National 826 program based in San Francisco, with eight chapters across the United States. Each chapter offers free writing and literacy services to underserved children. Each are also fronted by whimsical retail outlets, including the Bigfoot Research Institute in Boston, which sells unofficial Yeti Hairballs;  The Boring Store in Chicago, which offers up all types of disguises; and the Museum of Unnatural History, which may be the only store in the world to sell unicorn tears.

Hunter says she is encouraged about WordPlay after a highly successful pilot this summer, when WordPlay volunteers teamed up with Cincinnati Public  School’s Fifth Quarter to work with students from Chase Elementary School.

“The biggest surprise is how well Fifth Quarter went; how quickly the kids become engaged,’’ she says, adding that two retired professionals also become just as committed. “I knew we were onto something.”

One of those volunteers was Tom Callinan, retired editor and vice president of The Enquirer. Callinan, a WordPlay board member, was going to just drop by one or two days to observe. Instead, Hunter says he showed up every day for five weeks to work with the students.

“It was rewarding this summer to watch students transform from reluctant learners to proud ‘authors’ of their work,’’ Callinan says, noting the approach of using fun and creativity to teach certainly enlivens the experience.

The Urban Legend Institute follows the same path: “It’s an excellent example of a nonprofit using social enterprise to support its mission,” he says.

Hunter says the store will also feature locally produced and sourced t-shirts, funky items of lore and crazy bits of Cincinnati history.

And while the Institute began with a wholly quirky theme, Hunter says it has evolved so much that she hopes it will eventually become an archive of local lore.

“We find that legitimate history is becoming a central piece to it,” she says. “We want it to serve as a sort of mini-children's museum, with fun, odd, curious things from the past for kids to explore—objects that might not be for sale but they can work with them, ponder them, use them for writing prompts.”

Imagine a place, she says, where electronics are turned off. Instead, kids are turned on to actual hand writing, the art of letter writing, creating pieces of tactile art that is not crafted from tapping on a screen or moving a mouse. 

“Funny enough, as we talk to people and gather information on local legends and history, we find we are becoming something of a repository for local lore and unusual objects,” Hunter says. “How cool to get to share all this with the kids.”

Do Good: 
• Volunteer.  Share your passion for the written word and creativeness. Teens and adults can both volunteer their time and talents.

• Donate. As a 501c(3), donations are tax deductible.

• Follow news and happenings on their Facebook or Twitter.

Chris Graves is the vice president of digital and social media at the Powers Agency. 

Editor's Note: Soapbox Managing Editor Elissa Yancey serves as vice chair of the board for WordPlay.

CCM Prep hosts first adult chamber program

Learning isn’t just for children. In fact, says Amy Dennison, assistant dean for CCM’s Preparatory Department, adults sometimes have an easier time learning than children do because of their enthusiasm and free will.

“Our prep department serves performers anywhere from ages three to 84,” Dennison says. “And most of our faculty love working with adults because they’re excited and want to be there.”

This September, the staff from CCM Prep and musicians from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) plan to give amateur adult musicians opportunities to work with one another, work with professionals and share their music with the community by organizing CCM Prep’s first Adult Chamber Music Weekend. 

The weekend, which is designed to expose amateur musicians to professional coaching, will include group rehearsals, guidance from Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra musicians, breakfast, lunch and a final performance in the CCM village.

The staff from CCM is now accepting online applications for the program. The form asks applicants to detail their musical capabilities as well as what instruments they play. Applications for the program, which costs $125 per person, will be accepted until Sept. 8. 

Then, based on their musical capabilities, the musicians will be put into groups of three to four.  

Participants will practice and perform within their chamber groups for the duration of the weekend. Staff at the CCM Prep Department will choose music for the final performances, and professionals from the CSO will coach the players along the way. 

The final performance, which will be free and open to the public, is scheduled for Sept. 29.

Dennison says that the weekend will be a wonderful way for the community to engage in the arts. The small, intimate groups will give musicians the chance to share their passions with like-minded people.

“Our main goal is to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities,” Dennison says. “I strongly believe that everyone in the community should have access to the arts, regardless of their talents or abilities. It just gives people a sense of fulfillment and joy.”

Do Good:

• View CCM Prep Department’s class offerings.

• Attend the final performance Sept. 29.

• Check out the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s fall schedule.

By Jen Saltsman
Follow Jen on Twitter 

National recognition puts Museum Center among nation's elite

Sarah Evans can’t imagine how other high school students figure out what they want to study in college.

Evans has Cincinnati Museum Center to thank for the ease of her choice. The 2012 Madeira High School graduate will study archeology when she start classes this fall at the University of Cincinnati. 

Evan has been involved in the Museum Center’s Youth Program since was 13 years old, logging an incredible 6,000 or so hours working in each of the center’s three museums. The program is intended to teach teens about museum work and prepare them for college. 

“I’m what they call a regular,’’ she says. “I just love our staff. It’s really a place of opportunity and friendship. It’s become a huge part of my life. It has definitely influenced 100 percent of what I want to study in college.”

The youth program was one of two programs specifically lauded as a national model by the American Association of Museums in its recent accreditation of the Museum Center at the historic Union Terminal in the West End. The Learning Through Play annual conference that brings parents and teachers to the museum to discuss the importance of play in education was also singled out as a model of excellence. 

The recognition puts the center in elite company. Just 4.5 percent of the nation’s 17,000 have won accreditation, which is voluntary and is the highest recognition for a museum. The three-year process examined every facet of the Museum Center’s operation, including finances, governance, programs and programming, stewardship of its vast collection as well as its professional standards. 

“It’s really the best news for us. It’s a validation of our peers that we are doing things right,’’ says Elizabeth Pierce, museum vice president of marketing and communications. “We are delighted.”

The Museum Center had to wait to apply for accreditation after the merger of the Museum of Natural History and Science, which had been accredited. And while accreditation is on a five-year cycle, the Museum Center will be reviewed in 2014 due to the merger with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, she says. 

“Accreditation assures the people of Cincinnati that their museum is among the finest in the nation,’’ says Ford W. Bell, president of the AAM. “Citizens can take considerable pride in their homegrown institution, for its commitment to excellence and for the value it brings to the community.”

The distinction comes just three years after the Museum Center was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, making it only one of 16 organizations in the United States to have both.

“We really are in good company,” Pierce says. “I hope this reinforces to the community that we are an organization of quality; that we are doing our job well, and we are respectful of donations and we invest in this organization.”

Evans, who is also the outgoing president of the center’s youth advisory council, hopes the accreditation will mean continued success for the Youth Program. 

“I would say to youth: The more you give to the program, the more the museum can give back to you,” she says. “You will be repaid far more in your future.”

Do Good:

Watch a video of teens involved in the Youth Program.

Join or renew your membership.

Plan a visit.

• Follow them on Facebook.

Chris Graves
is the assistant vice president of digital and social media at the Powers Agency.

Caracole's new space in Northside offers room to grow

It only seems fitting, David White says, that Caracole Inc.’s offices are now at the former Charles Miller Funeral Home in Northside.

The funeral home was one of only two in the entire Greater Cincinnati area that would accept the bodies of AIDS victims in the 1980s.

“Back in the day, people thought you could catch it from a sneeze,” says White, Caracole’s Community Investment Coordinator. “But the folks at the Miller funeral home were not scared. You have to remember, this was back in the days when AIDS was a death sentence.”

Caracole, the non-profit that that provides safe, affordable housing and supportive services for individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS, moved into the former funeral home at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Knowlton Street June 29. 

The move was necessitated after Caracole assumed the caseload from fellow local nonprofit Stop AIDS in April 2011. The shift increased Caracole’s clients from 200 in Hamilton County to nearly 1,000 clients served in eight counties, White says.

“The best thing, my favorite thing, has been the community of Northside. They have been so welcoming,’’ he says. “The neighborhood is so excited a social services agency is here, let alone an AIDS group. It’s been amazing, really.”

The move more than doubles their space to 9,400 square feet, centralizes their location and puts them directly on Metro routes. It is also close to hospitals and provides private offices for staff.

The new location houses the group’s administrative and case management offices. Two transitional homes, each with 11 beds, did not move. Those homes provide housing and services for homeless residents who are HIV positive or suffering from AIDS.

White is excited because the increased space means many like services are now under one roof. Caracole’s HIV/AIDS support groups can meet regularly, which was not the case at their former Roselawn location. 

A local GLBT group will also hold meetings at the offices, and two employees from Planned Parenthood of southwest Ohio will administer anonymous HIV tests there.

“We would not have been able to move without the donations—from paint, furnishing and the majority of the carpeting,’’ says White, who estimated that donations were worth tens of thousands of dollars. “This helps us save money on rent and is money we can put toward client services.”

Two foundations provided more than $30,000 to move the group’s offices as well as for data installation.

Matt Kotlarczyk, who bought the 15,000-square-foot building with a partner in late 2011 for $260,000, says redeveloping it with Caracole has gone extraordinarily well. Caracole signed a 10-year lease for first-floor offices.

“It gives them a new home and us a good, solid investment,” says Kotlarczyk, a local sculptor who owns Refined Sugar Studio.

Future Life Now LLC is leasing about 2,500 square feet on the second floor of the building. Another 3,500-square-foot space on the second floor and the 3,500-square-foot hearse garage, which is fully insulated, remain vacant, he says.

Kotlarczyk has been told the building, originally built in 1875 and added onto numerous times, was the longest continuously operated funeral home in Cincinnati.

And at least one woman thought it still was.

The woman walked into Caracole’s offices a couple weeks ago, White says, and asked who she might talk to about funeral services.

That wouldn’t be Caracole. They are too busy working on living.

Do Good:

• Attend Caracole’s open house celebration from 4 to 9 pm, Sept. 13, 4138 Hamilton Ave. There will be music, a photo booth and tours. It is not a fundraiser.

• Call 513-679-4455 to schedule an anonymous HIV test, administered at Caracole through Planned Parenthood, Monday-Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm, and Friday from 9 am to 1 pm.

• Email oracle@caracole.org to volunteer your time.

• Donate cleaning supplies or toiletries to Caracole’s pantry to help residents.

• Use your Kroger Plus card to give a percentage of your total spend to Caracole.

By Chris Graves
Chris Graves is assistant vice president of digital and social media at the Powers Agency.


4C steps up efforts to improve childcare quality

Think Ohio day care providers have to have a degree to care for children?

Think that cozy, home-based, daycare center just down the street, has to be licensed by the state of Ohio in order to operate?

If you answered no to both of those questions, you are right. And that’s just wrong, according to 4C for Children.

The mission of the Cincinnati-based nonprofit, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, is to improve the quality and accessibility of childcare in a 33-county area spanning Southwest Ohio, the Miami Valley and Northern Kentucky. 
And if you’ve searched for childcare in the area, you likely have touched their services.

The organization was initially created by five agencies as a means to ensure there was enough high-quality childcare in Greater Cincinnati. The group, first called Comprehensive Community Child Care – hence the shortened 4C – quickly blossomed into much more and impacts hundreds of thousands of people each year, says Communications Vice President Karen Hurley. 

The group provides free referrals to parents looking for childcare, works to educate current childcare providers and others working in the area of early childhood education, advocates for issues impacting childcare in Ohio and Kentucky and works to increase childcare options.

The agency maintains a database of more than 2,600 childcare options for parents that include licensed centers, preschools and family child-care homes registered with 4C. The group helps more than 8,000 families annually find childcare and provides a series of checklists and tips to help in their quests.

Last year alone, the group held 1,400 workshops and classes which 24,000 providers have attended. The number of children impacted is well over 169,000 kids, Hurley says. 

“Our mission is to professionalize these providers so they no longer think of themselves as merely a babysitter,’’ Hurley says, noting that 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed before they set a foot into kindergarten.

“One of our biggest victories is when a childcare provider gets it,’’ she says. “When they think of themselves as having a real impact on the early learning of a child.”

Hurley says the group spent more than a decade advocating for the licensing of home-based day care. Ohio was one of five states in the United States that did not regulate home-based child care businesses. In Ohio, one person can care for up to six children in his or her home with no license, no training and no safety measures. 

But by 2014, the state of Ohio will mandate that as part of the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge. Ohio received a four-year, $400 million grant to enact a series of changes in Ohio schools and that President Barack Obama believed would improve education.  Ohio was one of 12 states to receive funding. 

But the work for the agency, with 80 staff member and an annual budget of $5 million, is far from done, Hurley says.

The group is working to provide more resources to parents who may feel isolated to get them needed support and continuing to build higher levels of quality into childcare programs. In Ohio, the group is working with providers to help them meet standards outlined by the Step Up to Quality rating program. They are also doing the same for providers in Kentucky that fall under the Stars for Kids Now award system.

Do Good: 
By Chris Graves
Chris Graves is the assistant vice president for digital and social media at the Powers Agency and is the mother of two teens.


Northside artist promotes creative healing with Art Word Bound

“I’m compulsively creative; I can’t help it.” That’s how ArtWord Bound Creatives founder and sole director Ursula Roma describes herself—and considering the impressive range of artwork featured on her blog, it’s clear she’s not joking.

Roma, who’s been involved in art-making and philanthropy in Cincinnati for 25 years—with YWCA, Planned Parenthood, Northside Community Council, Children’s Hospital and others—introduced her newest initiative in spring of 2011.

The mission: “To develop, nurture and promote artistic creation and exploration with visual art and words in the form of storytelling through painting, drawing, journaling, bookmaking and more.”

ArtWord Bound, a division of the Child Wellness Fund, satisfies what Roma sees as a real need in the community.

“A lot of art organizations in town work with middle-class kids—and that’s great,” she says. “But I wanted to work with kids who maybe aren’t as privileged, who might not [otherwise] ever use a paintbrush.”

In addition to creatively mentoring children, Roma provides art and word therapy to prisoners, senior citizens, battered women and other frequently overlooked groups.

She makes use of public spaces and meets with participants in retirement communities, schools, hospitals and in their homes. She even toys with the possibility of one day having her own traveling art therapy van.

She says her desire to help underprivileged people express themselves through art stems from a serious accident she was involved in as a child.

“I spent a month in the hospital when I was nine,” Roma says. “My saving grace was to be able to create art from supplies my mom brought to my bedside. It was my escape. I want to offer that same release to people who are struggling with chronic disease or kids that are stuck in bed because of an accident or illness. Plus, family and friends can benefit from their artwork and stories, too.”

Much like its philanthropic mission, the revenue-generating side of ArtWord Bound centers on providing access to those less fortunate. Roma relies on her decades of advocacy and art-making experience to provide professional design services, illustration, and publicity—at well-below-market rates—for select organizations that lack the means to promote their own causes.

Roma has witnessed the healing effects of creativity firsthand, and while she says it usually comes more naturally to children, people at every age are susceptible.

“I can say that through my experience with seniors, children and also prisoners, that everyone eventually becomes completely absorbed in the moment when they are creating, and in the end when they have finished a piece of art, they feel excited,” she says.

“They have pride from accomplishment, focus from creating and being in the moment [and an] escape from their current worries.”

Do Good:

• Read the blog and find out more about Roma's art therapy works.

Make a donation to support the non-profit's work.

Take a look at Roma's art work for sale..

By Hannah Purnell

Roller derby doc illuminates life on the flat-track

While roller derby has been around since 1935, in 2001, it got a makeover.  

The release of Derby, Baby!, a documentary about flat-track roller derby, coincides with an increased interest in the sport.

The Cincinnati Rollergirls think it’s about time the sport got more recognition.

“We’re trying to get rid of preconceived notions that we go out there in these staged fights and all are in tutus and make-up and stuff,” says Holly Funk, known in the Cincinnati Rollergirls as Garden of Beatin’. “We want to be regarded as athletes now. It’s become an actual sport.”

Derby, Baby!, which premiered last week in Cincinnati, documents the addictive nature of the women's flat-track roller derby. “It’s seems like it’s the first truly big documentary that’s been made about the sport,” says Chrystal Roggenkamp, known in the Cincinnati Rollergirls as Truxtal.

Garden of Beatin’, a general chemistry professor at the University of Dayton, and Truxtal, a graphic designer at FRCH Design, both believe that roller derby evolved in the past several decades.

“We try to be very family-friendly and I don’t think a lot of people realize that that’s how roller derby has changed now,” Funk says.

All of the members of the Cincinnati Rollergirls are volunteers, from the referees to the coaches to the skaters, yet they all spend countless hours dedicated to the sport they love.

“I think the thing most people are shocked about when they get into it is the amount of time that it consumes because we have practices three times a week,” Roggenkamp says. “That’s the bare minimum and we’re all competing for rosters and trying to push ourselves to get better, so I would say it’s kind of expected that at least another two nights a week, you’re either going to the gym and weight training or going to the speed skating practices or doing something.”

Because the sport is so time-consuming and, like any sport, there is the risk of injury, and in this case, no compensation, what keeps Rollergirls in their gear?

“I think a very common thing you’ll hear is that the first time you saw it, you knew it was for you,” Roggenkamp says.

While some may believe that it takes special skills and training to become a flat-track derby skater, Funk remembers the first time she saw a bout and wanted to be a part of the sport.

“I was looking at all these amazing women, and they were so great, and yet I could tell that they weren’t the epitome of athleticism,” she says. “They were just regular women that work their asses off and are really good at what they did. I thought, ‘This looks like something that is fun and obtainable, and something that I’d like to be involved in.’ ”

The Rollergirls hope the documentary Derby, Baby! brings more attention to the sport and help it move from underground to Olympic status.

“This’ll be the documentary that hopefully gets more people aware of what we do,” Roggenkamp says. “I think Derby, Baby! provides a very accurate portrayal of roller derby. I particularly appreciate that it explores the business side of the game and the fact that we are all volunteers, spending both our time and money to help run our leagues and do what we love. The film brings up some interesting points about both the opportunities and consequences that we will inevitably have to face as the sport expands.”

For more information about the Cincinnati Rollergirls, visit the Cincinnati Rollergirls' and for more information about Derby, Baby!, visit the Derby, Baby! website.

Do Good:

• Like the Rollergirls on Facebook.

• Tweet all about it. Keep up with the Cincinnati Rollergirls via Twitter.

• See what the all-volunteer Rollergirls do to support charitable causes.

By Jocelyn Short

La Traviata chorus brings varied voices together

Every summer, Henri Venanzi comes back to Cincinnati from the Arizona Opera to serve as chorus master for the second oldest opera company in the nation.

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music alum is now in his 22nd year of leading dozens of professional singers through their paces as they prep for time on stage at Music Hall.

As part of the highest paid professional chorus in town, the Cincinnati Opera chorus pulls from top education programs and a pool of other professionals who look forward to the chance to sing with some of the world’s top talents, according the Cincinnati Opera’s Ashley Tongret.

On a steamy Cincinnati afternoon, the heat inside Music Hall was supplied by Verdi, whose La Traviata was in rehearsal. Chorus members, seated on stage in street clothes and on folding metal chairs, launched into an early run-through of the opera.

The stage was draped and swagged in an elegant set carried out in shades of turquoise.  Chorus members wearing their everyday clothes—an orange shirt, an argyle print, bare knees under short skirts—tapped their toes and chair danced.
Ellen Graham, who has been part of the opera chorus for several years, is finishing her doctorate in voice at the University of Kentucky and finds performing in Music Hall “really special, so much a part of my development as a musician.” A Cincinnati native, she saw her first opera there at the age of 12.

Luther Lewis, in his third season in the chorus and also a University of Kentucky music student, speaks of being on stage, in the lights and soaring music, as being “in a bubble of a world.”
Do Good:

Watch the chorus in action during one of only two La Traviata performances this week.

• Make opera your friend. On Facebook, of course.

• Join the Guild. Committed Cincinnati Opera volunteers play a vital role in outreach, education and support of this local and national treasure.

By Jane Durrell

ArtWorks wins $75K NEA 'Our Town' grant for Pendleton project

This summer, staff and volunteers from ArtWorks brought back the Big Pig Gig and also designed, planned and created 10 murals in more than five neighborhoods.

And while staff and volunteers are busy painting, teaching and designing, they are also looking forward to next summer’s projects, which include a plan to bring public art to Cincinnati’s Pendleton neighborhood.

Last spring, ArtWorks, in conjunction with the City of Cincinnati, applied for a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant. The grant, staff at ArtWorks hoped, would add to the $100,000 already set aside by the city for public art projects in the Pendleton neighborhood.

On July 12, the NEA announced that just two nonprofits in Ohio would receive Our Town grants: ArtWorks and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, based in Cleveland.  

The National Endowment for the Arts, an independent agency of the federal government established by congress in 1965, has awarded more than $4 million in the support of artistic endeavors to individuals and communities.

The agency introduced the Our Town grant program in 2010 in recognition of the importance of public art. Grants range from $25,00- $150,000, and are awarded to nonprofit arts organizations in partnership with local government entities.

The NEA awarded ArtWorks $75,000 to support the Pendleton Public Art Project, making it the largest Our Town grant in the state.

The project involves commissioning site-specific public art in the Pendleton neighborhood, which is located between East Liberty Street and East Central Parkway, near the Casino construction site.

The goal is to attract more visitors to the area.

“Public art creates a more engaging pedestrian experience,” says Sarah Corlett, ArtWorks’ Springboard director. “It makes the neighborhood a more welcoming environment, for those who live there and for those who visit.”

First, members of the community, businesses in the neighborhood and staff from ArtWorks will discuss project ideas during civic engagement sessions.

Then, ArtWorks plans to select an artist to envision and implement the public art projects.

Corlett says the art projects should be completed by fall 2013.

“My excitement comes from the fact that people recognize the importance of public art,” says Corlett. “It’s important to making neighborhoods special.”

Do Good:

• Get in on the art. Volunteer for ArtWorks.

• Do your part. Support ArtWorks.

• Connect with ArtWorks online. Try Facebook for starters.

By Jen Saltsman
Follow Jen on Twitter.

CoSign pairs Sign Museum, Northside for streetscape makeover

While you never get a second chance to make a first impression, sometimes you do get a second chance at funding an innovative project that could transform a community, beginning with its storefronts.

The CoSign project is just that. What started as a broader grant application to ArtPlace America for several city neighborhoods became more personal for Northsiders after the city-wide application went unfunded.

Undaunted, partners in Northside and the American Sign Museum, with funding from the Haile/US Bank Foundation, are moving ahead with the project.

What better way to draw shoppers to Northside’s eclectic streetscape than creative, coordinated signage?

As part of CoSign, local businesses, visual artists from across Cincinnati and professional sign fabricators will design and install a critical mass of new signage along Hamilton Avenue, with an expected launch date of Nov. 23, this year’s Black Friday.  

CoSign will fund most of the costs for commissioning, permitting, fabricating and installing the signage.  
Eric Avner, vice president and senior program manager with the Haile/US Bank Foundation, explains the appeal of supporting business/artist collaborations.  

“We wanted to do multiple things at once,” Avner says. “Help the sign museum, help local business districts gain vitality; and give the creative sector of Cincinnati more opportunities to make a living.”  

Northside’s business district and enthusiastic community support made it a logical pilot location.

As the primary grant recipient and fiscal sponsor, the American Sign Museum will provide content specialists by staffing two training workshops in August for artists and business owners. The project also pulls from the organizational talents of ArtWorks, which will help coordinate the artists and their work.

The museum will also assemble a judging panel to review and decide upon the best signage proposals from business/artist teams. The brand-new sign museum space at 1330 Monmouth Street will house the new signage before it is hung on Hamilton Avenue.  

Little Things Labs, a social/cultural innovation idea laboratory that problem-solves with municipalities to create better places to live and work, is assisting the Haile Foundation with CoSign’s development.  

Josh McManus, lead inventor at the lab, sees the Sign Museum as an integral partner.

“Our hope is not just 10 signs but a newfound attention to the benefits of great signage,” McManus says. “That’s why the American Sign Museum is such a perfect partner to work with on this project.”

CoSign will be documented so other communities can replicate it and broadcast their own creativity and collaborative spirit through signage.  

Do Good:

• Look: For a call for artists to participate in this project; contact ArtWorks for more information.

• Visit: The American Sign Museum and enjoy its new space and interactive signage displays. 

Like Northside on Facebook to keep up with the project and other activities in the neighborhood.

By Becky Johnson

Children's Theatre STARS learn life lessons on and off stage

The 83 students involved in Cincinnati Children’s Theatre’s intensive summer camp program may have their eyes, voices and feet aimed for Broadway, but Angela Powell Walker knows the training program educates them for much more than a life on the stage.

Powell Walker, the theater’s artistic director, says the students who auditioned for the annual theatrical boot camp, known as the STAR program, learn skills that will help build confidence, find their charisma and poise and will “give them a leg up in whatever they choose to do.”

And this year, students will also get a history lesson as they prepare to stage a full-length performance of The Legend of Pocahontas, written by Jon Lorenz. The two-hour show is a joint production with the Commonwealth Theatre Company and is part of its summer season. This is the first year that students will perform a full-length production, she says.

The show is a contemporary pop musical that follows the story of Pocahontas and sticks close to the historic reality of her life and her Algonquin Indian tribe which was invaded by Europeans.  The music, however, is not historic.

Powell Walker, a Cincinnati Public School School for the Creative and Performing Arts graduate and former professional opera singer who has traveled the world, returned to Cincinnati last year to become the Children Theatre’s artistic director.

Her first role was working with the summer education program, which previously culminated in a music revue. This year the students, who are between the ages of nine and 18, will perform the revue in additional Pocahontas, she says.

“I wanted them to do a real show. I wanted everyone to see how incredible these kids are,’’ she says.

The camp runs from 10 am to 4 pm daily for four weeks. Students are taught all aspects of voice, drama and dance. The students, who are from throughout the region, also are required to learn the technical aspects of the theater. Each has an onstage role and an off-stage role – which could be set design, makeup, costume design or working on props.

In addition, the kids will work together to create a dramaturgy related to the history of Pocahontas that will be on display at the front of Northern Kentucky University’s Corbett Theater, which is where the production is being staged.

“This really is a boot camp,” Powell Walker says. “This is serious business. But the kids love it; they are just riveted.”

Powell Walker says that many of the younger children who don’t make the cut to participate in the STAR program – which included her 9-year-old son - do participate in the theatre’s stART program. That two-week program is geared toward students who have little or no experience in theater.

The educational program was launched 13 years ago by former artistic director Jack Louiso. For the past several years, the theater has collaborated with NKU’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Students are taught by national performers. Powell Walker is the music director of the performance, while the theater’s associate director, Roderick Justice, directs.

In addition to corporate sponsorship, the proceeds of the six public performances of Pocahontas as well as the $525 fee fund the entire program.

Powell Walker says she hopes community centers, library groups and families attend one of the performances, which will be from Aug. 2-5.

“It’s really going to be great,’’ she says.

Do Good:

•    Mark your calendar for one of six performances that begin Thurs., Aug. 2 and run through Sun., Aug. 5 at NKU’s Corbett Theater. General admission tickets are $15.

•    Go online for tickets.

•    Like the Cincinnati Children’s Theatre on Facebook to get the latest news .

•    Support Cincinnati Children’s Theatre.

By Chris Graves
Chris Graves is the assistant vice president of Digital and Social Media at the Powers Agency.

Elementz Youth Center still turning heads in Cincinnati's urban core

Things are growing rapidly at Elementz youth center.

“Elementz has been blowing up, but it’s really blowing up now into our city, Cincinnati,” says Akhe Abdullah, the creative director at Elementz.

Indeed, after celebrating their seven-year anniversary in March, Elementz moved to its new location at 1100 Race St. during the first half of May.

“We had a pretty good facility [on Liberty] and it served us well for seven years, but our programs expanded over the years,” says Abdullah.

Seeing as the old venue had only one space large enough for rehearsals, dance classes and DJ workshops, the non-profit needed a larger location.

“We were looking for a way to stay in the neighborhood, but expand what we were doing,” says Abdullah. To that end, Elementz has tweaked their three programs of dance, recording and production, and DJing to fully utilize the new space.  

Each program includes niches that help youth connect with and develop their craft while maintaining a level of sophistication and integrity in hip-hop and urban culture.

The dance program features several dance groups of varying ages while the DJ program boasts workshops by DJ Apryl Reign, a resident DJ of Cincinnati and one of the premiere DJs in the Midwest.

Then there is the new Stars program, an extension of the recording and production program. Though youth and artists have always frequented Elementz, many of them were more interested in rapping. “The Stars program is all of that and more. It’s drawing in hip-hop artists and R&B singers and anybody in between,” says Abdullah.

“Poets, those who play keyboard and other musical instruments. [Stars] is bringing all kinds of young people that identify with those art forms together to jam out and make songs.”

While in-center activities have certainly grown, Elementz devotes much of its attention to community outreach.

“We just wrapped up teaching rap and spoken word at a place called Children’s Home in Kentucky,” says Abdullah.

Do Good:

•    Save the date. Attend “Pass the Mic” at the 20th Century in Oakley and support regional hip-hop artists.

•    Join Elementz e-newsletter mailing list and donate.

•    Visit the new venue at 1100 Race St. Cincinnati, Oh 45202.

By Perry Simpson

Girl Develop It offers female-friendly tech training

Quick. Think.  

Who do you think built this web page? Or, that app on your smart phone?

Odds are a man is behind the programming of both.

But if it’s up to Erin Kidwell and a group of pink-collared computer programmers from New York to Sydney, Australia, the future will be filled with woman writing HTML, CSS, Python, JavaScript, Ruby, PHP and MySQL.

Kidwell, a 29-year-old software developer who lives in Over-The-Rhine, launched a local chapter of Girl Develop It, a series of classes to teach woman how to write computer code. The first four-week course starts July 12 at The Brandery, 1411 Vine St. Total cost is $80. No previous experience is required.

Girl Develop It was started by two women programmers two years ago in New York City. Since then, chapters have exploded across the United States offering basic to advanced code courses to women and underrepresented groups. Men are not turned away, but the teaching style is interactive, hands-on and specifically aimed at women and their learning styles, Kidwell says.

“This is a supportive environment where you can ask questions without being snickered at,’’ she says. “There is no such thing as a stupid or a silly question.”

The coding community nationally is about 90 percent male. The idea behind Girl Develop It is to close the gender gap in programming by providing a place where women can learn at their own pace, and ask “stupid questions,’’ while they learn how to write code in existing web applications to build web sites.

And even if a woman doesn’t want to develop software or build websites for a living, more and more employers are demanding some knowledge of web development. Learning the basics can help women in their existing careers or move up in their profession, Kidwell says.

“I’ve heard success stories in other cities where it has helped women get promotions,’’ she says. “There was a woman in Philadelphia who owned a catering business and she didn’t want to pay for a web site. She built it herself and tripled her business.”

Kidwell says starting a local chapter made sense because of the area’s thriving start-up community, local college and universities’ focus on informatics coupled with the fact that women from Cincinnati and Dayton were traveling to Columbus to take Girl Develop It classes there. Kidwell was also encouraged by one of the founders, who is a personal friend, to launch in Cincinnati. So she did three months ago.

She’s been shocked by the outpouring of support, offers to help and enrollment.

“Everyone has said: ‘How can we help?’ They’ve offered mentors and tutors. It’s been amazing,” she says.

The Brandery has donated the space for the classes, which can accommodate about 25 students. Local university professors, software developers and coders have offered to help.  

The first classes will be taught by Heather Glenn Rock, who is a software developer at Online Rewards. Teaching assistants will also be available to help students, and Kidwell hopes to host one or two Saturday sessions – which she has dubbed “coffee and coding” – as extra sessions for students who may want or need extra help.

Her first success, she says, is that 12 women have signed up. “I thought I’d get about 10 or so.”

The students are from various backgrounds, including a woman who blogs and wants to learn how to do more, a couple of women from nonprofit groups and a woman who works in Human Resources who wants to learn about coding to enhance her ability to hire IT professionals.

The course, which will first focus on HTML and CSS, assumes students have no technical background. There are no age requirements. Kidwell says the only real requirement is respect and, at this time, a laptop. In the future, Kidwell plans to apply for grants and/or seek sponsorships to be able to offer textbooks, manuals and maybe laptops for women who may not be able to afford them. She also plans to offer more advanced courses.

Mostly, she says, she hopes women will feel empowered to continue learn and do more.

“I’m not looking to build the next Instagram in Cincinnati,’’ she says. “There’s really nothing you can’t do; just a bunch of stuff you haven’t tried yet.”

What: Girl Develop It Cincinnati course in HTML and CSS

When: Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 12 – Aug. 2

Where: The Brandery, 1411 Vine St., second floor

Requirements: A laptop (PC or Mac)

Sign up: Enrollment and payment is required before the first class.

Connect: Facebook and Twitter

By Chris Graves

Cincinnati builds the world

From a health clinic in Tanzania to contemporary modern homes, architects in Cincinnati help “build the world,” the title and focus of the latest exhibit at the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati’s gallery space downtown.

In the village of Roche in Tanzania, health care needs seemed overwhelming. Chris Lewis, MD, who founded the NGO Village Life Outreach, looked to design partners at the University of Cincinnati for ideas. The design team at UC, led by architect and assistant professor Michael Zaretzy, researched, designed and built the Roche Health Center, which opened last spring.

The environmentally conscious design laid the groundwork for continued building and outreach in Tanzania, cementing a partnership that enriches lives and educational opportunities, according to Village Life Outreach Executive Director Richard Elliott.

Other firms and designers with work in the AFC’s latest exhibit include Jose Garcia Design, Kolar Design, A359 Partners in Architecture, FRCH Design Worldwide and SFA Architects.

Do Good:

Attend the opening reception. Visit the gallery at 811 Race St., June 26, from 6-8 pm. The exhibit runs through Aug. 16.

• Learn more. Find out the history and the current work of the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati.

• Shop the AFC online store, where you’ll find books and information about Architreks’ tours.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter.

Northside Fourth goes family friendly

Every Fourth of July, neighbors and visitors in Northside gather for a neighborhood parade like no other. Starting at noon, politicians walk alongside floats for kids, neighborhood businesses and groups like the "men's drill team" and the "lawnchair ladies." Afterward, revelers gather at Hoffner Park for music and food for the afternoon.

But this year, there's a twist. Since the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday, in addition to a July 3 evening Rock 'n Roll Festival, the Northside Business Association hosts a Family Fun Carnival for the afternoon of the Fourth.

The Fourth of July starts early in Northside, at 9 am, with a Red, White & Blue Pancake Breakfast that benefits Happen Inc.

After the parade, the Family Fun Carnival features a range of activities for kids of all ages offered by local, kid-friendly nonprofits including Happen, Inc., Churches Active in Northside, WordPlay Cincy and others.

Food vendors, from gelato to pizza and beer, and local entrpreneurs with populate booths to round out the celebration, which starts with the parade at noon and ends at 5 pm.

Do Good:

Find the Parade on Facebook.

Learn about Cincinnati Northside online.

Like the Northside Community Council on Facebook.

Cincinnati Boychoir moves to Memorial Hall

While boychoirs across the country struggle to retain membership and funding, the Cincinnati Boychoir has doubled in size over the last few years and is expanding its programming and performance schedules. Its home in Norwood no longer allowed all boychoir participants to rehearse together, and the organization looked several years for a new rehearsal and performance venue. Memorial Hall fit the bill in more ways than just added space.
“We wanted to be located around the arts and culture of downtown,” says Chris Eanes, the choir’s director, “and we wanted to be available to lower income families” who may want to join the choir or participate in one of its programs, including Saturday classes and piano lessons.
“You don’t have to convince anyone in Cincinnati that music is a valuable vocation,” Eanes says. “There is no lack of interest in these music programs. What there is is a lack of accessibility.”

When the choir was founded 50 years ago, boys came from Cincinnati schools with strong music programs that usually offered at least one high-level music class. Now more and more boys joining the choir come from schools with no music program at all.

“So we’ve restructured our programming to take a novice singer and teach him from scratch,” Eames says.

There are three choirs under the Cincinnati Boychoir umbrella: the training choir for young boys; the concert or main performing choir; and the Men’s Glee Club, including older boys and adults. Now with all three rehearsing on Mondays at Memorial Hall, younger choir members will have more opportunity to be mentored by the older boys, “our most important teaching tool,” says Eanes.
Do Good:
• Take In: a 2012-2013 season performance of the Cincinnati Boychoir or watch them at the World Choir Games.
• Visit: the historic Hamilton County Memorial Hall to see why choirs love to sing there.

Like Cincinnati Boychoir on Facebook.

By Becky Johnson

SCPA students chosen for national cabaret conference

The International Cabaret Conference, a nine-day teaching program that holds auditions from New York to Los Angeles, has chosen three School for Creative and Performing Arts students, out of hundreds of applicants, to participate in the annual program. 
This is the first time the conference has accepted three teenagers, and all three are coming from SCPA. The conference, which is hosted by Yale University, has been teaching students for the past 10 years about the dying art of the cabaret. 
"The intimacy of it, I think, is the most important part," explains Erv Raible, director of the ICC, in an NPR interview. "The fact that, unlike any other genre in the entertainment world, you actually go into a room where you go out of there feeling like you know the person, you know something about them, they have touched your heart."  
The award-winning faculty instruct the students, which have ranged in age from 16 to 66, on everything from hair and make-up to clothing to sound and lighting. The 39 students come to Yale from all around the globe and after the nine-day course, each student demonstrates what they've learned and accomplished in a concert called, "Cabaret Stars of Tomorrow." The students are chosen for their vocal talent, not necessarily their interest in cabaret, out of a pool of hundreds of hopefuls.
The three students—William Gibson, Alexx Rouse and Xander Wells—will attend the conference from July 27 until Aug. 5, but need a little help getting there.

In order to raise more than $5,000 per student, the school is helping host a concert at the Emery Theater, June 20. Each of the three students attending the cabaret conference will perform, as well as the reggae band, Nature. There will also be artwork form fellow SCPA students. 
"Having three students from one school is unheard of for this conference," says Mark Magistrelli, whose daughter attended the conference last year and is helping organize the fundraiser.
Do Good:
Attend: The fundraiser at the Emery Theater and see the budding stars perform. Wed., June 20, from 7-10 pm. Tickets are $5 for students and $15 for adults.
Attend: Other events at the Emery and help the revival of the historic theater. 

By Evan Wallis

Learning Through Art celebrates 20 years with images, music, art

Kathy Wade knows how to make a lasting impression, n her daily work as co-founder and executive director of Learning Through Art, in her stage performances around town and on television, and now, on Fountain Square.

Wade, who launched the annual Cincinnati Snaps photo competition seven years ago, says that showing the "Best of Snaps" exhibit to the public in such larger-than-life way is a great chance to show the power of images.

"The beauty of Snaps is that it shows Cincinnati neighborhoods through fresh eyes," Wade says. "Real neighbors submit their best work, and it's always impressive to see familiar places through someone else's lens."

As she whisks between meetings and programs, Wade notes that her small but mighty non-profit has programs connects with the World Choir Games next month through an exhibit at the Main Public Library downtown, "What Children Believe," a free international art exhibition featuring children’s global perspectives based on what they believe. 

"We have always built community and understanding through art, culture and literacy education," says Wade. "We're proud to share this anniversary with the city and the thousands of young people whose lives we have touched."

Do Good:

Submit your own Cincinnati Snaps entry for the 2012 juried competition. Submissions will be accepted until Aug. 31.

• Visit the main library downtown to see the "What Children Believe International Art Exhibition."

Save the date for the 2012 Crown Jewels of Jazz concert featuring Wade and jazz legend Diane Schur, Nov. 9, in the Music Hall Ballroom.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Northern Kentucky teen wins national 'Nobel Prize' for his work in Kenya

On a family vacation to Africa when he was just 12 years old, Michael Best knew he had to do something as he watched a group of Kenyan children play soccer with a ball made of garbage and cloth.

“I saw those kids, and I played soccer back home and I knew then I wanted to come back with soccer balls,’’ says Best, now a 17-year-old who will be a senior at St. Henry District High School next year.  “I told my mom and my aunt that I wanted to get uniforms and balls for the kids.”

And that’s exactly what he did.   

In the last three years, Best has filled suitcases with hundreds of soccer and volleyball jerseys and dozens of soccer and volley balls and delivered them to the children of Samburu, Kenya, about five hours north of Nairobi. He has also helped build two classrooms for children and a chicken coop for impoverished women in Bisil, Kenya.

Back home in Erlanger, he has worked with his school and his friends to raise more than $4,000 to provide for food, shelter and clothing for the women and children. He also sells beaded work made by Kenyan women to students in the schools. St. Henry and other area schools have donated the jerseys. Nike, where Best’s father works, has donated the balls.

Best’s work, as well as his ability to rally his classmates around his cause, won him a national Jefferson Service Leadership Award. He and his mother, Mikey Best, will travel to Washington, DC, June 18 to accept the award, which is considered be the Nobel Prize for Public Service.

Best says he was humbled and shocked to learn he had won the contest sponsored locally by Children, Inc.’s Mayerson Service Learning Initiative.

Mary Kay Connolly, Director of Children Inc. Mayerson Service Learning Initiative, says she and the judges were inspired by Michael’s work in Africa, but also his ability to engage other teens and his school to support his mission and to help fundraise.  Any high school freshman, sophomore or junior can be nominated for the recognition. The award is highly competitive and seeks to showcase a teen’s service work – not just in hours worked – but in passion, commitment and involvement.

“Michael represents an extraordinary group of young people,’’ Connolly says. “They are innovative and very hopeful. They believe in themselves and in the future.”  

The non-profit awarded Best an all-expense paid trip to the three-day award ceremony and celebration, which will include meeting with politicians, policymakers and  public figures as well as other volunteers. He will also attend the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony where former Vice President Dick Cheney is slated to provide the keynote to the winners. Last year, she says, youth also were assigned a one-day service project to work on while in Washington.

That sounds great to Best.

“I’m really excited to. I hope to get to meet people who are doing similar work,’’ Best says. “I’m eager to hear what they are doing, too.”

After hearing about his work, one of Best’s teachers at St. Henry introduced him and his mother to Ed Colina, a former Northern Kentucky teacher and administrator who now runs  Journey: The Ed Colina Foundation. The Foundation, founded in 2009, focuses on improving the lives of poor women and children in sub-Saharan Africa. The group works to provide food, shelter and education.

Best says he admires and respects the work that the Foundation does and working with them has allowed him to do more than he likely would have been able to do on his own.

“I love it. It’s amazing how everyone there are so proud of what they have, even though they don’t have much. They are just proud and thankful,’’ the soft-spoken Best says.  “People smile and say ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ for what we’ve done.”

Best had planned to make a fourth trip to Africa this summer, but recent terrorist attacks make the trip too unpredictable, he says. He hopes the extra time allows him to fundraise and gather materials to take when he can go back.  

“I didn’t know how big of an emotional attachment I would have to the people and the country,’’ he says. “But I do.”

Do Good:

•    Follow the work being done by Journey: The Ed Colina Foundation on their blog.

•    Watch The Jefferson Awards for Public Service Youth Service Initiative video.

•    Read about the work Children, Inc.’s Mayerson Service Learning Initiative is doing with more than 23,000 local school children to better our community.

Chris Graves is the Assistant Vice President of Digital and Social Media at the Powers Agency. You can follow her on Twitter.

Kids build shed, skills in West side camp this summer

Liz Sweet has a plan for this summer: Learn how to read a blueprint, how to work with tools and build a shed so she can help her dad build one in the backyard.

Safety goggles firmly affixed and hands steadying the circular saw, Sweet is all business as she slides the power tool along a plank of wood on a warm June afternoon. The rat-a-tat of nearby hammering is her background music.

The 12-year-old, who just finished sixth grade at St. Lawrence Elementary School, makes this look easy.

Sweet is one of 18 middle-school students from Cincinnati’s West side who are working together in this summer’s Construction Camp at Resurrection School. Her brother, Matthew, 11, is also attending Construction Camp, which is organized by the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board and supported by the Spirit of Construction Fund and the SC Ministry Foundation. This marks its second year.

“I heard you get to work with tools and build things,’’ says Sweet. “I like to do more boy things than girl things. I think it’s fun. It’s pretty awesome.”

Sweet may not realize it, but the camp is also teaching her and her construction partners – from Midway Elementary, Roberts Academy, Carson Elementary and Resurrection School - how to apply what they have been learning in math and science classes. The three-week camp teaches them job readiness skills, how to work with others and how to learn by doing.

In addition, the program gives students a taste of a trade that is hungry for new workers. Construction trade workers, many of whom are baby boomers, are beginning to age out of the workforce, leaving a void of skilled workers, says Anne Mitchell, who organizes the camp and also organizes after-school construction clubs.

This year’s project, a 10-foot-by-13-foot garden shed, will be fully equipped: The students will install windows and doors, a sink and a fan in the ceiling and metal roofing. They will also paint the structure – a crowd favorite – and are working with welders to create iron garden ornaments.  

Just three days in and they had already taken a mountain of lumber and constructed the floor, the framing, the walls and the ceiling. They even used a jigsaw to create some flourishes and flair to the structure.  

The completed shed will be auctioned in October at the Spirit of Construction’s gala event, which honors the region’s construction titans.

A team of skilled craftsmen and women from Associated Builders and Contractors, all of whom volunteer their time, are on site every day working with the kids.

Kevin Murray, a volunteer from Cincinnati Building and Contracting, has been on the construction site – which is Resurrection’s parking lot in Price Hill. It is his second year volunteering.

“It’s really a lot of fun to see the kids. Look at them,’’ Murray says. “The kids are the ones who really blow me away. It’s really about the satisfaction of watching them enjoy it.”

Campers, who attend from noon to 4 p.m. daily through the end of June, also get exercise time, a healthy snack and some craft time inside the school.  

Amy Beal, a graduate student at Northern Kentucky University, and Jennifer Toebbe, who teaches physical education at Sands Montessori and is working toward her master’s degree in counseling at Xavier University, work with the kids on the “inside projects” and talk with them about career choices.

The first few days, each camper drew a blue print of a project they wanted to build from the scrap materials to take home. Some plans included a closet storage system, a bird house and a small box. They will get to take home those projects, a garden ornament that they welded and a tool pouch that includes a hammer, tape measure, carpenter’s pencil, tinted safety goggles and water bottle.

Mitchell beams as she discusses the program and the impact it has on the students. This year, four of the students are homeless. One is autistic. But none of that matters.

“Most of these kids didn’t know each other before this week. Now they are part of team. They are working together on something.’’ she says. “Many of these kids have challenges.

“But they chose to be here. To have an impact on their future.”

Do Good:
•    Follow the construction progress on the group’s blog Building our Future: Construction Camp.

•    Follow Anne Mitchell on Twittter.

•    Donate materials or time by emailing Mitchell.

Chris Graves is the Assistant Vice President of Digital and Social Media at the Powers Agency. You can follow her on Twitter.

Freestore Foodbank pairs with Cincy State to create new academy

Cincinnati Cooks has been giving low-income Cincinnati residents opportunities to get back in the workforce since 2001. This week, Cincinnati Cooks announced a partnership with Cincinnati State Technical and Community College to create the Urban Accelerated Skills Training Academy (UASTA).
Cincinnati Cooks is a free, 10-week program that prepares students looking for work in the food-service industry, as well as help students with their personal lives. The UASTA will help extend that goal by giving graduates of Cincinnati Cooks an opportunity to attend classes at Cincinnati Sate.
The academy is geared toward unemployed, underemployed or low-wage individuals who have graduated from the Cincinnati Cooks job development program, or are recommended to participate by food service businesses or organizations. It has three main components: 
• Applied Skills Training, which is offered through Cincinnati State’s Workforce Development Center that will include Team Building, Customer Service, Computer Basics, Effective Communication and Financial Wellness. 
• Kitchen Management Certificate, a credit-bearing certificate offered through Cincinnati State with hands-on skills in Budgeting, Sanitation, Inventory Control, Scheduling, Cost Management, Labor Relations and Personnel Management. 
• National Career Readiness Certificate, an industry-recognized, evidence-based credential that certifies essential skills needed for workplace success. This will be offered through the recently-established Pathway to Employment Center. The PTEC is essentially a “one-stop” career assessment, planning and placement center, operated by Cincinnati State and funded by private contributions, government grants and the College’s own funds.
The academy's initial $65,000 grant from the state of Ohio through the Department of Jobs and Family Services will fund its first year of operation. The first class will last three months and include 20 participants. 
“This is a program that fits Gov. Kasich’s vision for a tightly focused training and employment readiness program,” says Cincinnati State President O'Dell Owens. “The Freestore Foodbank and Cincinnati State have proven the concept works. Now we want to expand it.”
Do Good:
Volunteer: At the Freestore Foodbank in many different ways.
Donate: both money and surplus food to the Freestore Foodbank.
By Evan Wallis

Gateway College's Phi Theta Kappa chapter wins national awards

In the school's first appearance at the Phi Theta Kappa regional awards, Gateway Community and Technical College brought home top national honors. 
Gateway’s Beta Pi Tau chapter received the Distinguished Chapter award, Honors in Action award, and College Project award along with various chapter development awards. Bobbie Stubbeman of Walton, Gateway chapter president, won the Distinguished Chapter Officer award for the Kentucky region.
The chapter also earned one of only four nationally awarded Honors Case Study Challenges. This was the first time a Kentucky region chapter earned one of these awards. The Honors Case Study Challenge was awarded for the chapter's case study on The Effects of Information and Perceptions on US-Mexican Foreign Policy. 
"This project really gave our students a way to go beyond what they were learning in class," says Jessica Glover, the Gateway graduate who started the chapter in 2008.
Phi Theta Kappa was formed in 1918 as a way to recognize and encourage students at two-year colleges. Since her graduation, Glover has been employed by Gateway as a student affairs assistant and is the Phi Theta Kappa advisor. Since founded, more than 600 students have accepted membership and the chapter now has between 25 and 30 active officers and members. 
Beyond education, Beta Pi Tau also works to serve as ambassadors to fellow students, which won them the College Project Award. Members also participate in fundraisers for various causes. The most recent fundraiser was the Kenton County Relay For Life, which raised more than $1,000 for the American Cancer Society and brought more than 50 students and faculty members out to walk from 6 pm until 6am. 
"One of the biggest benefits we see is that when people are more engaged in projects outside of class is the increased graduation rate," says Margaret Thomson, director of marketing and public relations for Gateway. "Being a part of Phi Theta Kappa gives is important to give students scholarly and relevant ways to grow." 
Do Good: 
Give: to Gateway and help with everything from scholarships to building funds.
Become: a member of your Phi Theta Kappa Chapter.

Taft's collection hits the streets in Art for All

A Rembrandt on Fountain Square. Rousseau’s Fontainebleau in Fairfield’s Founder’s Park. A Millet at the Boone County Library.

Famous works of art on display outside? Why yes, says the Taft Museum of Art.

To commemorate its 80th anniversary, the Taft has begun installing 80 framed weather-proof reproductions from its collection in public spaces around the region. Reproductions of landscapes, portraits and expansive vistas will be at libraries, schools, parks, the Great American Ball Park as well as restaurants and even a bar or two. A full map of all locations can be found here.

“This is a great way to engage new audiences and reenergize the interest of those already familiar with the Taft’s collection,” says Deborah Emont Scott, Taft director/CEO. “Plus, it will be great fun for those who are out and about to find a masterpiece around the corner in one of the city’s many great neighborhoods.”

Dubbed Art for All, the Taft program was modeled after successful public art projects by the Tate Gallery in London and the Detroit Institute for the Arts. The $200,000 project, which officially starts June 1 and runs through September, was funded by The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, says Tricia Suit, the museum’s marketing and communications manager.

The Taft has spent months preparing for the open-air exhibit and has worked with numerous community groups, including ArtWorks. That public art group will create two permanent murals based on works in the collection that will be installed in Over–the-Rhine and Bellevue, KY.

“This is a great addition to the project,’’ Suit says, adding that the murals last for about 20 years. “It would be fabulous to have them up until our 100th anniversary.”

As part of the project, the museum is also holding Third Sunday Fundays from 1 to 4 p.m. The free events will include performances, family activities and short talks about the works of art. Each Sunday will focus on an area of the city where the collection’s reproductions are located: June 17 will feature works on the West Side of Cincinnati; July 15 will feature the East Side; August 19, downtown and the central region; and Sept. 16 will focus on Northern Kentucky.

Downloadable maps will be available online after June 1. Printed maps will be available at the Taft and other area locations. In addition, the museum will use social media sites like Flickr, Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter to share information about the project. Suit says she hopes people will snap pictures of themselves with the art with their smartphones and upload it to the museum’s Art For All Flickr account.

Does Suit think some will go hunting for all 80? Sure. “I know we will have some who will do that … we should really have a fabulous prize for those who do. It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt. I think it would be great for folks to discover – or rediscover - parts of our city and our area as part of this.’’

Do Good:

• Like Art for All on Facebook.

• Follow Art for All on its Twitter account.

• Party in the garden at the Taft’s Soiree in the Garden, Thursday, May 17.

By Chris Graves

Chris Graves is the assistant vice president of social and digital media at The Powers Agency, a public relations and advertising agency. You can follow her Art For All check-ins on FourSquare .

Emery Theatre welcomes Waddie

Once, there lived an old man, disabled and alone in the world, languishing in a nursing facility far from his home. Yet, this silent, marginalized man rallied a community of supporters to help him find a loving home in his beloved town of Savannah, Ga., where he spent his final years.
"Welcome Home: The Waddie Welcome Story" is a new play about Waddie and the diverse community who grew to love and help him. Showing at the Emery Theatre for one day, May 12, it is also the story of young woman who has risen above her own disabilities to bring this story to the stage.
Nikki Booker was a student at Starfire U when she first read the book Waddie Welcome and the Beloved Community. Starfire U, a post-secondary program designed for people with disabilities to explore and discover their talents, assigns a capstone project to its students. Booker decided to bring Waddie and his story to life as her capstone. She traveled to Savannah, Waddie Welcome’s hometown, to gather research and meet the people who had known him. She
commissioned a playwright to adapt the story, and by this February, she had completed fundraising for the project.
Just as in Waddie’s tale, the Cincinnati community began to rally around Booker’s dream of producing her play. Partnering with the Requiem Project and Starfire U, the Emery Theatre graciously offered free use of its facilities for two Saturday performances. Starfire U students will participate in the production, some as actors and others as crew. Aaron Kent of DIY Printing, which works closely with artists in its open printing studio, is printing all of the posters for the production, as well as teaching Booker how to screenprint.
Along with designer Jeni Jenkins, playwright Catie O’Keefe has worked closely with Booker to adapt the book into a script. Says O’Keefe of Booker, “She has been great to work with; she has a very clear vision of what she wants the production to be.”

If that vision is to show how much good people can bring to their communities, Booker has succeeded before the curtains even rise.
Do Good:
• Attend: a performance of "Welcome Home: The Waddie Welcome Story" at the Emery Theatre.
• Read: about the play, Nikki Booker, and the partners who have made this production a reality.

By Becky Johnson

Watkins offers personal touch at Seven Hills

University of Cincinnati senior David Watkins might best be known as the student who was forced to evacuate Egypt when his study-abroad plans dovetailed with the Arab Spring uprising. While barricaded in his apartment, he witnessed random acts of kindness by Arab men, strangers to him and his fellow foreign travelers, who promised to protect the students through the tumult.

But that transformative moment, one that led him to return to the Middle East to finish out his educational plans with a stint in Morocco and eventually led him to an internship at the State Department, isn’t the one that he cites when he talks about making an impact in the world.

Watkins, who studies political science and international affairs, now works directly with young people at Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses, a Cincinnati nonprofit that provides, among many basic amenities to locals in need, after-school educational assistance to students.

With placements from UC’s work study program, students like Watkins work for organizations like Seven Hills. UC’s sponsorship helps augment Seven Hills’ workforce with enthusiastic students who earn while they learn.

“Where I am now, I have a passion for and feel strengthened by human rights,” Watkins says. His future may not be set in stone, but he has learned important lessons to apply as he makes his decisions. “I want to do something that impacts, in a meaningful way, some part of the world -- either on my own, for the government, or what have you.”

Working directly with children is a new experience for Watkins.

“Most of my previous volunteer work was impersonal, like a neighborhood cleanup, or volunteering for the park board,” he says. “When I started at Seven Hills, I thought, ‘Well, this is something I’ve never done before. I don’t have any experience. It’s going to be difficult, I’m going to put myself outside of my comfort zone. Whatever, I’m going to do it.’ ”

Part of each weekday afternoon, Watkins goes to Seven Hills’ main location in Cincinnati’s West End and helps kids as young as five with their homework assignments. In many cases, he is the only figure outside of the classroom who is paying any mind to the young students’ academic progress.
?"There are cases where kids get upset when you don't look over their papers,” Watkins says. “Our involvement encourages them to keep up."

Do Good:

Answer the Wish List. From books to clothes to boxing equipment, the Seven Hills wish list is long. Offer what you can to help.

Check out the photo gallery. See Seven Hills in action.

Learn more about the history. Seven Hills' work in Cincinnati dates back to 1961.

By Sean Peters

'Fuel the Fire' lets audience decide funding

In the age of online micro-loan sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, one Cincinnati non-profit is finding innovative ways to add fuel to local initiatives.

Fuel Cincinnati, formerly Ignite Cincinnati, is a non-profit organization launched in 2011. Under the umbrella of Give Back Cincinnati, Fuel connects projects that benefit the city with people and organizations that can help them with funding.

“We don’t want to fund 5k runs or golf outings, but we want to help people who have projects that help the community,” says Maggie Brennan, grants chair at Fuel Cincinnati.

And sometimes, Fuel cuts out the middleman and brings the community directly to the project. April 12, Fuel will host a benefit at the Moerlein Lager House called “Fuel the Fire,” during which five proposals from groups with existing projects will be funded. Attendees purchase tickets at the door and cast ballots for the projects they want to see come to fruition.

“It’s unique because we’re allowing the audience to decide,” says Brennan. “Whoever gets the most votes at the end of the night can hit the ground running.”

Projects range from fine arts initiatives to the environment. One group seeks funds to create a floating water treatment wetland in the Mill Creek. Another seeks to use a photography installation to change the lens of how young Cincinnatians view their relationship with the city.

“We’re seeing a little bit of everything,” says Brennan. “Our focus is to provide grants between $500 and $2,000. If we can’t provide applicants dollars, we’re going to do our best to find them resources.”

Since launching, Fuel has helped launch a local biodiesel initiative along with charitable website that raises funds for other charities. If Fuel can’t offer donations, they try to match organizations with volunteers who can point them in the right direction.

“We want to make sure we can give people a path.”

Do Good:

• Join the party. Attend the “Fuel the Fire” event April 12 and get a first-hand look at how some Cincinnatians are trying to help change the city for the better.

• Donate. Busy April 12? You can help Fuel Cincinnati by helping them fund other projects. Make your tax-deductible donation here.

• Connect. Like Fuel on Facebook and follow the group on Twitter.

By Ryan McLendon

iPads, grads from UC capture ancient Pompeii data

Many collegiate graduate programs are not exactly glamorous. You forfeit your social life and free time for sleepless nights and library-related migraines.

However, there is a grad studies program at where students gladly dig deep into their studies: the Pompeii Archeological Research Project in the University of Cincinnati’s Classics Department. Spearheaded by assistant professor Steven Ellis and 35 graduate students, the research project is the only American graduate program with an excavation presence in Pompeii.

Eliis has been leading the digs for the past 15 years. The excavation effort in Pompeii focuses on uncovering how Pompeian families lived 200 years before the city was leveled in 79 AD by a volcanic eruption from Mt. Vesuvius.

“We’re interested in excavating stuff from before the volcano erupted,” says Ann Santen, a 10-year volunteer with the Classics Department who regularly participates in UC’s digs. “We are excavating very small stuff, not huge statues of mosaics.”

UC’s team has turned up many relics of life in Pompeii. The area was largely commercial, bustling with markets and commerce. Most of the finds are coins and ancient, carbonized food, like fish bones. Last year, the team found ornate decorated tiles, a controversial find because they appeared out of place for the time period.

“What was it doing in our merchant area?” asks Santen. “People who lived in this area would never have that decoration.”

But UC’s presence in Pompeii isn’t the only unique quality of the Classics’ digs. How they’ve been recording their findings has also garnered national attention. Ellis’s team used iPads to record and store the information from the site. This not only saved hundreds of man-hours in manual data entry, but was a prime example of using new technology to document ancient data.

In 2010, Ellis sent an email describing how they used iPads on excavation to former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Remarkably, Jobs returned the email and expressed great interest in their efforts. Apple featured UC’s efforts on its website for much of 2010 as an example of creative iPad use.

“We got more hits than people who watched the Superbowl,” says Santen.

As the Classics Department readies for another dig in Pompeii, Cincinnatians can visit The Cincinnati Museum Center’s current “A Day in Pompeii” exhibit, where some of the children’s activities and displays were designed with help from UC Classics grad students.

Do Good:

• Visit the relics. The Cincinnati Museum Center is located at 1301 Western Ave. Buy tickets online or call 513-287-7000.

Show your support. Become a Museum Center member or make a donation. 

• Connect. With the Museum Center on Facebook and Twitter.

By Ryan McLendon

MY Cincinnati teaches classical music to kids

Despite an occasional glance at the videographer, the children focus intently on their music. With a good tempo and an intermittent squeak, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy flows from young hands holding the bows of violas, cellos and violins. Price Hill’s newest orchestra is bringing classics to kids in a way that may build a whole new outlook and vision for the community’s future.
Music for Youth in Cincinnati (MYCincinnati) is the reason these Price Hill children gather daily after school to study a musical instrument and play in an orchestra. Led by classically-trained cellist Laura Jekel, the program follows the model of El Sistema, an internationally renowned system of building youth orchestras to transform the lives of underserved children through music.
Three elements define the El Sistema program. “First, it’s free and located in an area that may have access barriers in studying classical music,” says Jekel. It is also a great commitment of time and energy. Children study two hours a day under both Jekel and musician Eddy Kwon. Finally, the orchestra is at the core of the students’ learning development. Following the students’ first day, which was an introduction to the instruments, “the second day was in orchestra,” Jekel says, and it has been that way ever since.
Why offer an orchestra experience over the usual private lessons and individual practicing? “Musically, it creates a different kind of musician, one that is not focused just on themselves but on the group,” says Jekel. “Although all ages [7- 13-year-olds] are playing together, all at different levels, the levels are still all progressing ,and the group sound gives the kids confidence.”
That focus on the group dynamic is why a community development organization like Price Hill Will was interested in supporting this youth music program. “The community wanted us to work with youth,” says Matt Strauss, director of marketing and neighborhood promotion at Price Hill Will, but “our goal isn’t just to teach kids to play classical instruments. The program is vigorous and kids have to work as a team and be dedicated.” Despite a wide mix of racial and economic backgrounds, “these kids work together beautifully.”
Do Good:
• Watch: a performance of youth orchestra.
• Participate: Do you know a child who may be interested in this program? Would you like to volunteer or make an in-kind donate ? Contact Laura Jekel, 513-251-3800 (106).
• Find out: about other programs Price Hill Will supports.

By Becky Johnson

Haimovitz premieres new Glass concerto with CSO

When renowned cellist Matt Haimovitz was 17, he hadn’t played a note written in the 20th century, he recalls. “I grew up in a very traditional classical music home.”

So this weekend, when the Julliard-trained California native premieres a Philip Glass cello concerto, he’ll continue on his genre-bending path to keep classical music “living, breathing” and relevant for modern music audiences.

The new concerto grew out of a film score Glass wrote for Naqoyqatsi, part of a trilogy of films by Godfrey Reggio that also includes Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi. Naqoyqatsi translates from Hopi to mean “life as war.” Haimovitz, who played cello along with the film at a screening in Edinburgh, says that being a part of the expanded concerto brings both freedom and responsibility.

“I predict the audience is going to connect with the music,” he says. “It’s accessible and very lyrical. It’s a very moving piece.”

Accessibility has become one of Haimovitz’s trademarks. The cellist discovered Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane and Janis Joplin in college, when he also became fascinated with improvisation.  Still, it was a classical recording of Bach cello suites that first pushed him out of concert halls and into biker bars, punk rock clubs and honky-tonks around the country.

“In a way, I wanted to return to the sense of intimacy with them,” he says. He views playing at a coffee house in western Massachusetts as the modern equivalent of an early chamber music concert. “There is something about hearing good music with just a few people up close, stripping away all the artifice and just going back to the essence.”

Finding the essence of music, Haimovitz says, is all the more compelling when working with a living composer. Getting immediate feedback from the artist who wrote a modern classical piece helps him bring it to life. “This is a breathing living genre of music,” he says. “We put these composers on pedestals, but they are writing music that deals with our human nature, whether it’s 300 years ago or now.”

So when the cellist who played his arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” while sitting amid protesters at Zucotti Park (they asked for an encore of Bach, he notes), picks up his bow at Music Hall, he’ll bring a new world of experience and excitement to the stage.

“It belongs to all of us,” he says of classical music. “It’s not meant for the 1 percent.”

Do Good:

See the premiere. Tickets are available for the March 30 and 31 performances.

• See Haimovitz perform with friends as part of the Linton Music Series April 1.

• Watch Philip Glass discuss his Boundless Series creative directorship with the CSO on YouTube.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Cincinnati Opera, concert:nova, CSO create tango operita

“Please, just for me, forget the steps… Hold me, feel the music, and give me your soul. Then I can give you mine.”
It is hard to imagine a dance that seems at once as passionate, intricate and alluring as the tango. As daunting as it is seductive, the tango has excited audiences worldwide for well over a century. While there is no shortage of drama in a well-executed tango, imagine what can happen when its seductive sensuality becomes the foundation for a stunning opera performed in one of Cincinnati's most cherished landmarks.
Prepare yourselves for a hot spring and considerably sultry  – passionate even – summer as the tango gathers Cincinnatians in an irresistible embrace of culture and self-expression. Maria de Buenos Aries, a tango operita by Astor Piazzolla, is coming to Music Hall in late July thanks to a remarkable collaboration between the Cincinnati Opera, concert:nova and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Maria de Buenos Aries premiered in Argentina in 1968. The drama follows Maria’s journey into the darkest realms of society as she is seduced into a dangerous world through the passion of tango. Celebrated Colombian soprano Catalina Cuervo plays the title role, while baritone and artist diploma student at CCM Luis Alejandro Orozco plays several male roles. Argentine native and CCM graduate Jose Maria Condemi will direct the fully staged piece to be performed in the unconventional setting of the Music Hall Ballroom.
“The music of Piazzolla’s Maria is not just great tango writing for a small ensemble, it’s a mesmerizing and passionately evocative drama,” says Ixi Chen, artistic and managing director of concert:nova and clarinetist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. “Co-producing this with Cincinnati Opera will take it to a whole new level of dramatic intensity and dynamism. Concert:nova is looking forward to working with a cast, directors and dancers of consummate artistry.”
Speaking of dancers, Northside’s Tango del Barrio and Patricia Paz Tango have teamed up with the artistic collaborators of Maria de Buenos Aires to bring internationally recognized and Tony Award-winning tango dancers Fernanda Ghi and Guillermo Merlo to Cincinnati to perform the work’s tango pieces.
Audiences don’t have to wait until the summer, however, to experience the Argentine Tango. Ghi and Merlo will perform at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club Saturday, March 31, for a one-night-only engagement as part of a series of promotional performances leading up to Maria de Buenos Aries.
Ghi and Merlo pride themselves on creating original choreography for each performance. Thanks to the partnership between Tango del Barrio and Patricia Paz Tango, Cincinnatians will have the rare opportunity to see one of the most prominent couples in the world of Argentine Tango perform in an intimate setting. Currently touring the U.S. with their creation “This is Tango Now: Identidad,” Fernanda and Guillermo have agreed to make a special stop along their tour to present “This is Tango Now: Fragments,” a shorter version of “Identidad.”
“Audiences will see a nuanced and complex expression of tango - two people embracing and moving as one,” says Ella Moskovich of Tango del Barrio. “[Fragments] is a passionate, intricate and sensual dance accompanied by and integrated with a spellbinding musical score.”
Both native to Argentina, Ghi and Merlo have been living and working in the United States since 1997. They adhere to a demanding travel schedule to bring their specialty, the Argentine Tango, to audiences here and abroad.
With their show, “This is Tango Now: Identidad,” Fernanda and Guillermo hope to bring the many varieties of tango to audiences of all nationalities. “Tango is a universal dance,” says Fernanda. “We want to train others and show them how tango is a form of personal expression.”
If you can’t get enough tango after Saturday night’s performance, Fernanda and Guillermo will offer tango workshops on Sunday, April 1, and Monday, April 2, through Tango del Barrio in Northside. “We want people to understand the enormous potential of tango,” says Fernanda.
Ghi and Merlo will be back for the July 25 and 27 performances of Maria de Buenos Aires.
Do Good:
• See “This is Tango Now: Fragments” on March 31. Advance tickets can be purchased at

• Purchase a ticket for Maria de Buenos Aires through the Cincinnati Opera box office.
• Attend a tango workshop. Contact Tango del Barrio or Patricia Paz Tango.

Ultra runner finds inspiration in Cincinnati Union Bethel's work

George Menyhert remembers the grandfather walking his roller-blading granddaughter. He even remembers what he can only describe as a herd of cocker spaniels, 15 to 20 of them, all sharing the Loveland Bike Trail with him one day last fall.

As he ran, his thoughts turned to Cincinnati Union Bethel—he sits on the non-profit’s board—and the ongoing legal wranglings between CUB’s Anna Louise Inn and Western & Southern Financial Group. He tried to clear his mind of all thoughts, to be open to new ideas and possibilities. And he kept running.

So, when the idea for completing an Ultra—defined as any race longer than a marathon—crept into his thoughts, the 43-year-old father of two and marathon veteran put the pieces together.

“Suddenly I thought that I could use the run as a way to raise awareness of and money for CUB,” says Menyhert, an innovation consultant at Spigit. “I started thinking about how I might do that.”??He’d had just enough time away from marathon training, about three years, to forget what might be his biggest challenges. “I had time to forget about all of the pain, constant training, exhaustion and strain on family life,” he says. “The timing was perfect!”

Menyhert first heard of CUB through his connection with The Circuit’s CIO Circle, a special interest group of like-minded professionals who meet regularly to talk about technologies and networks. “Several years back Matt Mountain, the group's founder, brought in a list of charities looking for some technical guidance. I picked a name from the list (CUB) and gave them a call,” Menyhert says. “Over the years I donated my time and money.”
The more he learned about CUB, the more he appreciated its mission and programs. “They focus on a segment of the population that can really use love and caring,” he says. “And they make a real and permanent difference. Kids graduating from the early childhood education program show high levels of preparedness for kindergarten; 96 percent of women in Off the Streets program permanently break the cycles they held them in prostitution. That's real change.”

He understands the appeal of supporting causes that are more distant and in some ways glamorous, but has seen impressive results close to home because of programs run by CUB. “Closer up, people are flawed and make mistakes, so it is easier to judge,” he says. “The key is to also see that they are also wonderful and spirited and loving and caring. CUB sees that and acts on it. If you ever find yourself doubting humanity, attend one of CUB's graduation ceremonies. Tip: bring tissues.”

So, to raise awareness, and funds, Menyhert has signed up for a 40-mile ultra, the Strolling Jim 40 in Wartrace, TN, on May 5. “It is close enough that I don’t need to make it a vacation but far enough to be interesting,” he says. “It is also a street race, the hills are minimal and my sister who lives near Memphis agreed to be my crew.”

Both the size of the race and the pace of training for ultras differentiate it from marathons. First of all, instead of thousands of runners, he expects to be running with about 100 competitors in Tennessee. Second, his training schedule includes several weekends with a full marathon one day and a 10-mile run the next. “Running a marathon distance will take it out of you, but that 10 miles the next day really leaves you winded,” he says. “There is something about the combination.”?
So each week he plots his courses, runs his miles and logs his hours online. “My primary goal is to get to race day without any significant training injuries,” he says. “My secondary goal is to finish. Tertiary is to finish under seven hours. If they first two happen, I think I can do the last.”

Do Good:

• Spread the word. “Like” and “Share” the Ultra for CUB page on Facebook.

Sponsor Meynhert’s run by donating to CUB.
Learn about CUB and how you can get involved.

??By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Environmental health experts offer sustaining advice

On the heels of the release of a new study analyzing the presence of potential cancer hazards in ordinary household products, the executive director of the Silent Spring Institute visited Cincinnati to share ideas and environmental health strategies with local professionals and members of the public alike.

Julia Brody spent time at the Civic Garden Center to discuss the impact of environmental health research on community members and on overall community health. She talked about the harsh reality that many everyday products contain chemicals that can be dangerous to humans and stressed the importance of learning how to minimize exposure to toxic chemicals.

“It was a great opportunity for community members to connect with environmental health researchers,” says Sarah Elam, program coordinator at the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Environmental Genetics’ Community Outreach and Engagement Core, one of the sponsors of Brody’s visit.

Public policy makers, UC researchers and members of the Green Umbrella collaborative joined concerned audience members to discuss the power of education and awareness in discussions of environmental health.

While Brody advised audience members to check product labels carefully and look for items with as few chemicals as possible, she acknowledged that in reality, we are already exposed to a variety of potentially harmful substances. Drinking lots of water and staying vigilant about product use are two simple ways to try to keep exposure limited.

“We should have a system for testing chemicals before they go into products,” Brody says, but in lieu of that, an educated public is especially important.

Keeping the public informed about environmental health topics and research are key agenda items for the COEC, Elam says. “We strive to translate science into practical health promotion, disease prevention information, tools and resources.”

Do Good:

• Like the COEC on Facebook.

• Follow the COEC on Twitter.

Let Elam know about what kinds of environmental health topics concern you the most.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Can you spare a Jackson?

One Jackson, 20 Washingtons, 4 Lincolns – whatever your denomination, the Know Theatre is trying to raise 1120 Jacksons in Cincinnati’s first ever crowd-sourced sponsorship campaign to support the upcoming run of Tony Award nominated musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Written by Alex Timbers with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, the show opens March 31 and runs through May 12.

During its seven-week run, audiences will have plenty of opportunities to see the show that pulls no punches in a bold look at the “attraction and terrors of American Populism through the story of the man who invented the Democratic Party, doubled the size of our nation, and signed the Indian Removal Acts that started the Trail of Tears.”

Whether you’re hip to history, partial to politics or just a rock and roll fan – all types can find common ground and no shortage of subtext in this 90-minute production. The show integrates local band The Dukes are Dead into a cast featuring actor and associate company member Kellen York in the title role. In the words of Know's director Eric Vosmeier, “The production is an emo-rock musical of the life and rise of Andrew Jackson.”

The Club of Jacksons campaign began in December and to date has raised around 600 Jacksons toward its goal. Sponsorships begin at just $20. Contributions of $80 and above get you special admission to an invitation-only preview event on March 15.

“It’s a musical everyone can be attracted to due to its youth and energy,” says York.

“It’s hilariously tragic,” adds Vosmeier.

If the current political season isn’t entertaining enough, become a member of the Club of Jacksons and plan to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson beginning March 31. Tickets $15 in advance; $18 the week of performances.

Do Good:

• Got $20 to spare? Lend a Jackson to the Know Theatre.

• Buy a ticket to Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

• Volunteer at the Know.

By Deidra Wiley Necco

Harvest Gallery fosters artistic community

The large format photographs are so dimensional, they seem like sculptures. With surfaces cracked and pigments pulled apart by a clear gel applied as thick as spackling, the mixed media pieces cry out to be touched. The photographs themselves – blurred images of funerals, coffins, mourners – evoke vague feelings of faded memories and loss that encourage personal reflection.

Local artist Chris Hoeting has filled the spaces of Harvest Art Gallery this month, exhibiting these pieces along with 14 other works. The smaller, mixed media photographs reflect the loss of rural areas and neighborhoods around Cincinnati caused by highways and mass development of the suburban landscape.

Hoeting, known for his role as a partner in ParProjects and art shows in recycled, mobile shipping containers, is the kind of innovative, regional artist that Harvest Art hopes to foster and encourage with its new exhibit space.

The non-profit Harvest Art Gallery works in a loose partnership with Engine 22 studios, and both are located in the Cincy Glass building on W. 15th Street. Michael Hurst, gallery manager, was a cofounder of Engine 22, which now managed by artist Cedric Michael Cox. For two weeks each month, Harvest Art offers an emerging artist, often local or regional, the opportunity to showcase artwork. 

Says Hurst, “You don’t have to have a project idea or be from Over-the-Rhine or incorporate the community into your work. [Artists] email me images of their work and if I like it, I’ll offer them a show.” He encourages anyone to apply, from established artists to students and art instructors.

Artists receive 100 percent of the profits from show sales; they, in turn, provide refreshments and any paper-based marketing, like postcards or flyers. Harvest Art promotes the shows online via social media. For the rest of the month, artists who rent from Engine 22 Studios use the gallery space.  

In March, Jenny Grotte will display her invitingly tactile pieces made of materials ranging from paper to porcelain. With a new artist showcased every month, Harvest Art Gallery joins a growing effort to foster a strengthening artistic community and outlook in Cincinnati.

Do Good:

Visit: Harvest Art Gallery, including its newest one featuring the art of Jenny Grotte, which opens the second Friday in March.

Submit: Your artwork for an exhibit; contact Michael.

Support: The Cincinnati art community and non-profit galleries like Harvest Art with your donations and attendance at exhibits. Contact ArtsWave for information on the growing art community in Cincinnati.

By Becky Johnson

Thunder Sky digs up underground artists

Raymond Thunder-Sky was an outsider – an intensely quiet, solitary man who sported a clown suit in his ramblings about town and haunted Cincinnati construction sites with drawing supplies in hand. Always a character, he was also a gifted artist and, for years, no one knew.  

Now, with a Northside gallery devoted to his memory and an exhibit opening next month in Denmark, this solitary and strange man who died in 2004 is celebrated posthumously as a talented “outsider,” a gifted but unconventional artist. His friends, social workers Bill Ross and Keith Banner, opened Thunder-Sky, Inc., to showcase his work and create a space for other unconventional, outsider artists and their creations.  

The term “outsider” is no longer new to the art world.  As Banner explains, it is “raw art, made by people not normally thought of as artists…outside the circuit." Today, with actual outsider art museums and galleries and outsiders accepted by conventional artistic communities, “it’s like a contradiction in terms.”

Still, Banner hopes that this gallery can keep that unconventional spirit, most vividly seen in Thunder-Sky’s own work, alive by reaching out to those “under the radar” artists who might never have the chance to exhibit their creativity to a larger audience than just one.

Thunder-Sky, Inc.’s newest exhibit is a collection with the enticing name of “Small Potatoes.” More than 20 artists and their drawings, sculptures and paintings fall together into a theme of domestic “smallness,” as if the gallery were a curio cabinet filled with diminutive treasures. As potatoes grow underground all summer, hiding their bounty under a few leafy vines, so this art and these artists have been hidden until this gallery called for the harvest.

Do Good:  

Visit: Thunder-Sky, Inc. to witness the works of those “outsiders” in the city’s artistic community. The gallery is located at 4573 Hamilton Ave. in Northside.

Connect: With Thunder-Sky, Inc. on Facebook, where you can see images and get the latest gallery news.

Read: About the gallery on the organization's blog.

By Becky Johnson

Adopt-A-Class connects kids with professionals

Whoever said that one person can’t make a difference has clearly never met Bill Burwinkel. A self-made man, devoted community member and successful entrepreneur, Burwinkel began his career as a high school dropout and worked his way into a successful career in sales and marketing before starting his own business. Today, Burwinkel has transformed his passion for helping others into a well-orchestrated (and highly regarded) community movement.

Burwinkel began a career in sales in 1970 after serving with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. From 1970 until 1979, he worked his way from sales representative for General Mills, to zone sales manager for Kroger, to vice president of marketing for the Shur-Good Biscuit Company. With more than a decade of experience in the consumer products industry, Burwinkel founded National Marketshare Group, Inc. in 1983.

“I started the company in my basement,” says Burwinkel. “My wife and I ran the business on our credit cards, and it took us five years to become debt free.” That was 24 years ago. Today, Burwinkel has gone from a two-person basement operation to a successful company operating in Cincinnati and Portland, Oregon, and serving clients like Kroger, Fred Meyer, City Markets and many more.

After leading NMSG for 20 years, Burwinkel decided it was time to embark on a new venture – this time focused entirely on giving back to the community. In 2003 Burwinkel founded Adopt-A-Class, a mentoring program connecting professionals with kids in Title I schools, or those where at least 40 percent of the students come from low-income families.

Hailed as a “superhero of the Cincinnati Public School system,” Burwinkel has become a champion for mentoring, with nearly 200 business and community groups servicing around 6,000 kids in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. “These kids made a real impact on us from the beginning."

Since its inception, the program has earned the United Way 2011 Clement L. Buenger Award and the 2011 2nd Act Award. In 2008, AAC was selected as finalist for the Jefferson Award for Public Service.

Adopt-A-Class provides activities and topics that mentors can share with students, including classroom parties, career exploration, drug-free education, and much more. “This program facilitates important relationships between the mentors and kids. It gives both groups something to look forward to and feel good about,” says Burwinkel. “It only requires around 7 to 10 hours per school year from its adopters, but in reality, volunteers actually commit around 14 hours each year. People love this program.”

Some major organizations in the area agree. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the Cincinnati Police Department, US Bank, and more have teamed up with AAC to become mentors. Even companies that do not provide mentors can pitch in, including the Cincinnati Reds, who donated some 1,500 tickets last year to children in AAC classrooms.

While Burwinkel remains CEO of NMSG, these days his heart really belongs to Adopt-A-Class. “Getting the word out to the business and non-profit community about Adopt-A-Class is part of each day," he says. "It’s a program made by business people, for business people."

Do Good:

Become an adopter. Learn how.

Donate. As a 501(c) 3 non-profit, Adopt-A-Class needs assistance to cover costs.

Spread the word if you know a business or organization that would make a good adopter.

By Deidra Wiley Necco

CoreChange looks to enhance urban core

What will change the most challenged neighborhood – one racked by poverty, crime, and the disintegration of lives –into a “learning organization,” a place that nurtures expansive ideas and encourages all of its residents to see the whole picture, together?
CoreChange wants to be part of the solution. The community-wide effort aims to pull together partners of all types in order to co-create solutions that will enhance the best parts of the city's core.
Co-chaired by Victor Garcia and Byron P. White, with help from its steering committee and design team, CoreChange is working in coordination with the Community Building Institute. This institute focuses on community development that is driven by the community itself, not by outside organizations. In its planning, it looks first at the community’s physical assets and the energy and needs of its residents, rather than just building a structure or fixing a problem.
CoreChange wants to bring community members together to strengthen that development process. It hopes to compliment regional planning efforts by addressing three issues that are difficult to sustain in urban renewal: systemic solutions to poverty; effective public investment in those solutions; and the engagement of people who live outside the urban core. The message is clear: no neighborhood alone can heal itself.
CoreChange’s primary strategy for accomplishing these changes is the CoreChange Summit, a three-day gathering of hundreds of residents and leaders over President’s Day weekend, Feb. 17-19. Titled “Igniting Strengths to Invent the New American City,” the sessions will allow participants to share ideas and hopes.
Do Good:
• Attend: the CoreChange Summit, “Igniting Strengths to Invent the New American City,” is Feb. 17-19, 2012, at the Millennium Hotel. Call 513-745-3896 for registration or details.

• Learn: about CoreChange and its mission at www.corechangecincy.com.
• Donate: to CoreChange and join a growing network of supporters who believe in the effort to improve the quality of life in Cincinnati.
By Becky Johnson

Blazing a trail for literacy, citizenship

An award-winning teacher in Northern Kentucky is taking literacy on the road. Lisa Lokesak, a third grade teacher at New Haven Elementary School in Boone County, Kentucky, launched the Book Blazer program about 8 years ago to help target at-risk neighborhoods by taking books and a passion for learning to their home communities.
In the classroom, Lokesak worked with at-risk kids, some transient, who actually lost library checkout privileges because life circumstances and instability prevented them from returning books. “I wanted to find a way to put books in the hands of these children, books they wouldn’t have to return,” she says. Inspired by the Book Mobile program, Lokesak successfully appealed to the PTA and Sam’s Club, procuring $1,500 in startup funds. Scholastic doubled her money, providing $3,000 worth of books which she loaded in her car and drove to at-risk neighborhoods in Boone County.
Since its inception, the Book Blazer program has given away thousands of books to kids and families in the school district around New Haven Elementary. In addition, the program now includes both print and audio selections for adults who just need a little encouragement to enhance literacy for themselves and their families. The Book Blazer travels to communities in the winter and spring, with supplemental literacy nights held at school.
On Tues., Feb. 7, the Cincinnatus Association will honor Lokesak with the C3 Outstanding Educator Award at Northern Kentucky University. In addition to the Book Blazer program, Lokesak has gone on mission trips to Africa and worked closely with Children Inc.’s Service Learning Program on everything from Operation Christmas Child, to fundraising for Haiti, to establishing a community garden. Annette Zottoli of Children’s Inc. says, “Her ability to open kids’ minds to service learning projects is amazing.”
“I want kids to learn how to be good citizens,” says Lokesak. “If what I’m doing sparks the imagination of just one child, it’s all worth it.”
Do Good:
• Donate to the Book Blazer program – money, new books, and Scholastic points are

• Read to a child.

• Support your teachers by volunteering in the classroom or recognizing them for a job well done.

Local Star Gazers' host also Observatory star

Dean Regas has been turning Cincinnatians on to the stars for much of the past 20 years. As outreach astronomer and assistant director of the Cincinnati Observatory Center, Regas has earned a reputation as a local expert in all things celestial, from observational astronomy to star identification and mythology. Thanks to a long-running PBS program, Regas’ passion for astronomy is making an impact on viewers around the world.
In December 2010 Regas became co-host of the PBS program, Star Gazers, which airs each night on PBS stations around the world, including more than 100 stations in the United States. The program features a new one-minute or five-minute segment each week and provides education on timely astronomy topics, like the one seen in this video. “The segments are designed to help you find your way around the sky,” Regas says. The program shows people what to look for in the sky, and explains the science behind heavenly sightseeing.
Regas describes his gig as co-host of Star Gazers as “an honor,” and doesn’t mind traveling back and forth to Miami, Florida, once a month on a completely voluntary basis to tape the show. His passion for astronomy and dedication to education motivate him. Donations can help provide funds to support his travel. Some individuals have even donated frequent flyer miles to help make sure Regas and Star Gazers stay on the air. (To make it simple, donations are accepted online at http://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org/stargazer.html.)
When he isn’t traveling to Miami, Regas educates Cincinnatians, engaging all ages to experience astronomy. “My goal is to try to get people excited about the sky by making it a topic that’s accessible,” he says.

To that end, the Cincinnati Observatory holds monthly events for visitors of all ages on a wide range of topics. Kids and teens can join the Youth Astronomy Club while all age groups can take part in astronomy classes and telescope viewings.

Do Good:
• Donate travel funds or frequent flyer miles to help support Star Gazers. 

• Tune in to Star Gazers on PBS

• Support the Cincinnati Observatory by joining, participating in programs or making a donation.

Irish Heritage Center adds to lively calendar

From monthly sing-songs to geneaology lessons, visitors to Cincinnati’s Irish Heritage Center discover a new world of learning. Since it opened in the former McKinley School on Eastern Avenue, the Center has grown through much more than the luck of the Irish. Grassroots efforts continue to fuel a growing roster of programs and services, including a custom-made exhibit from the Dublin Library.

Heritage Center Founder Maureen Kennedy credits the dedication of volunteers determined to share their love of all things Irish. “The Center was imagined by many many people over the past 50 years,” she says. After purchasing the former Cincinnati Public School in 2009, the new non-profit discovered the power of grassroots support. “The school has been lovingly restored by a team of volunteers, room by room.”

The Center, which encompasses the space of a city block, includes a theater, tea room, social room, library, music room and dance room. There are also plans for a museum. Additional space is available for artist studios, club meetings, events and concerts.

“They have done an unbelievable job,” says Margaret McGurk, a supporter of the Center. She ticks off a list of regular events and activities, plus future plans that define “ambitious,” especially considering the group’s youth and limited resources. “They have done all of this with no paid staff, no public relations. They have grown so fast.”

A recent coup for Kennedy took shape while she was out of town. The Irish American Theater Company
 artistic director had implored Ireland's National Library in Dublin to share a piece of its renowned W. B. Yeats exhibit with the Cincinnati Center. When she finally received an answer last month—an answer that confirmed that a custom version of the exhibit was already on its way to Cincinnati--she was on vacation.

In true grassroots fashion, Kennedy immediately set to work sharing the news with educators and members.

But the exhibit is just part of what the Center offers to visitors. In addition to monthly Mick & Friends gatherings for fun and story-sharing, programs range from dancing lessons to concerts. “This spring, we begin instruction in sports--Gaelic ?games for 7 to 10 year-olds--Irish Football and hurling,” Kennedy says. “We strive to be a vibrant Center for all things Irish so our children and grandchildren can ?know from whence they came.”

But she stresses that when it comes to programs and activities, everyone is blessed with a touch of the Irish. “Membership is open to anyone with any tie whatsoever, including wondering why the grass is so green,” she says. “In other words, it is inclusive of all ethnicities, religious persuasions, political affiliations and so on, but is focused on?telling the story of the Island of Ireland, through entertainment in all its ?dimensions.”

Do Good:

Visit the W. B. Yeats exhibit while you can—the run is limited.

Like the Irish Heritage Center on Facebook to keep up with the latest news.

• Go to a Rockin and Readin concert by a Larry Kirwan, member of punk-inspired, New York City Irish rock band Black 47.

By Elissa Yancey/Follow Elissa on Twitter

Big Pig Gig hams it up for the world

The Big Pig Gig is back – just in time for the World Choir Games this summer, Cincinnati will have a chance to share a special public art installation centered on the humble pig as an icon of the city’s heritage. Beginning in May and throughout the summer, visitors to “Porkopolis” and locals alike can delight in lovable, giant, colorful custom designed fiberglass pigs installed throughout downtown.

The Gig is an ArtWorks project in partnership with C-Change Class Six and promises to be a highlight to the summer of 2012. The last time Cincinnati got its pig on was in 2000 when more than 400 one-of-a-kind pig designs graced downtown streets. According to ArtWorks that installation brought an estimated $170 million to the local economy. Now that the Gig is back, look for the 2012 installation to please crowds and showcase the city to visitors from all over the world.

The Big Pig Gig is, of course, a tribute to Cincinnati’s history as a major center for hog packing in the 1800s. “The pig is an important part of Cincinnati’s history,” says Carol Buckhout, marketing and development for ArtWorks. “The first reaction people have to the pigs is to smile.” After the Gig, pigs continue to represent Cincinnati as a fun, friendly and exciting place to be.

The pigs will be displayed from Music Hall to Fountain Square – and everywhere in between – clustered around the World Choir Games. The installation is set for display throughout the summer, and there are plans to place some of the pigs along the route for The Flying Pig Marathon May 6. “People should expect a wonderful range of creativity and wit with the designs,” says Buckhout. “Some will take their inspiration from the countries represented at the World Choir Games.”

One of the best things about the Big Pig Gig is that everyone can participate. Whether you’re an artist, sponsor or admirer everyone will have the opportunity to become part of what was in 2000 one of the most successful public art installations in the nation, according to ArtWorks. Sponsors are still needed, and varying sponsorship levels are available depending on the level of support you can provide. In addition, ArtWorks can match sponsors with artists, allowing sponsors to choose from designs already submitted.

“The Big Pig Gig is an opportunity for Cincinnatians to ham it up, get creative and get involved in public art,” says Buckhout.

Do Good:

•    Sponsor an artist or school. ArtWorks can match sponsors with artists.

•    Design a pig. Artists have until January 23 to submit design proposals.

•    Spread the word.

•    Go see the pigs!

By Deidra Wiley Necco

Rohs serves up coffee, conversations

Next to the sanctuary of University Christian Church in Clifton Heights, college students, community organizers and poets trickle in and out the doors of Rohs Street Café, which has been serving up fair-trade coffee, local music and community since 2003. The Café started with two goals in mind: create a place that fosters relationships and, eventually, give back to the community.

When UCC pastor Troy Jackson and Les Stoneham decided to open Rohs Street, they had three main pillars to guide them -- justice, art and community.

Justice comes in part in the form of the fair-trade coffee; Rohs Street Café was the first spot in town to serve only fair or direct trade coffee. It also extends to relationships like the ones that church and café staff have developed with coffee farmers at La Armonia Hermosa in Guatemala, where they visit annually.

“Fair trade or direct trade isn’t a perfect model to fix trade,” says Austin Coop, general manager of Rohs Street Café. “It can serve as a starting point for more conversations about justice.”

While Rohs Street wasn’t created to bring a stream of revenue back to UCC, but once the café is self-sustaining and does turn a profit, Coop says that money will go directly back into the community.

Art comes mostly in the form of live music at Rohs Street. With a long-standing tradition as one of the most intimate venues in town, the café has been a part of the Clifton Heights Music Festival and other events. In addition, as one of few local music venues that doesn’t serve alcohol, Rohs Street’s open mic night gives young musicians a place to play.

“We wanted to be a spot where aspiring musicians can be heard,” Coop says.

The community at Rohs Street is a mix of the employees, volunteers and customers. Coop has been the GM for only seven months, and stands as the least-tenured employee. Several regular customers end up volunteering as baristas to learn about coffee, or just spend more time at the café.

The comfortable atmosphere and some of the best coffee in town keeps people coming back for more.

“There’s something about a cup of coffee that brings people together,” Coop says.

Do Good:
• Buy a cup of coffee: Support the farmers, Rohs Street café and the community.

• Attend a local show: Many shows are free or only a small cover fee and directly support the local musicians.

• Have a conversation about justice: Whether it be personal relationships or the effects of Fair Trade coffee, explore what you can do to make the community a better place.

By Evan Wallis

Cincinnati Pops records holiday tracks in Music Hall

The Christmas bells from this season’s Cincinnati Pops Orchestra performances will soon ring all year long.  

Following a popular tradition of Cincinnati Pops holiday albums, including Christmas with the Pops (1990) and Christmas Time is Here (2006), the Pops (CPO) just recorded “Home for the Holidays” at historic Music Hall on Monday, December 12. Many of the selections the Pops performed at its “Christmas with the Pops” concert over the December 9-11 weekend will be featured in this recording, along with the May Festival Chorus under the direction of Robert Porco, popular tenor Rodrick Dixon and the Winton Woods High School Varsity Ensemble under the direction of David Bell.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) launched a new recording label in 2010 and soon after released two albums, American Portraits and Baltic Portraits. The label’s name has since been changed to “Fanfare Cincinnati,” in reference to the CSO’s 1940s fanfare project that resulted in Aaron Copland’s Fanfare to the Common Man. “The renaming of the label alludes to that event and shows how the CSO champions world renowned projects and talented composers,” says Meghan Berneking of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops orchestras. “The new name also helps to include the CPO’s recordings under one label,” and allows the CSO more flexibility to pursue projects with the Pops and other artistic partners.

“Home for the Holidays” will be released locally on the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s recording label in time for the World Choir Games in July.

Do Good:

Look : this summer for the album “Home for the Holidays” as an early Christmas gift.

Consider: Attending various CPO or CSO concerts throughout the year or treat yourself to a yearly subscription.

Support: Cincinnati’s esteemed orchestras. The CPO’s album “Home for the Holidays” was made possible by a generous donation from Anne Heldman.

By Becky Johnson

Building sustainable, resilient communities

Cincinnati may be venturing into the winter season, but civic and eco-groups are doing their part to keep our community green. This fall and winter the Women’s City Club, the Social Justice Committee of the First Unitarian Church and the city's Office for Environmental Quality team up to present “Fixing the Future: Building a Just and Sustainable Economy,” a Friday night lecture series focused on ways to ensure both a strong economy and a healthy planet.

The series is open to the public and features experts in topics ranging from Peak Oil and building community resilience to building transition towns, and includes lectures, documentary screenings, and open discussion.

The third installment in the series, “Building Transition Towns and Intentional Communities” occurs Friday, Jan. 6, 2012. It includes speaker Nancy Sullivan from Enright Ridge Ecovillage and takes place from 7-9 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church, 536 Linton Street.

Sullivan’s lecture on building transition towns explores proactive ways that communities can build resilience within their local economies to deal with changes to daily living caused by Peak Oil. “Things we take for granted will change as the price of extraction for oil becomes more expensive,” says Sullivan. “It starts with understanding what is likely to happen, and determining where people’s interests lie in terms of awareness of transition and change.” Things such as utilizing farmers’ markets, natural building materials and repurposing materials contribute to resilience. Jeanne Nightingale, president of the Women’s City Club says, “It’s about creating an economy of abundance rather than an economy based on scarcity.”

Founded in 1915, the Women’s City Club of Cincinnati is on a mission to “secure a more just and livable community for all.” The WCC encourages citizens to become active members of the community on a broad range of topics. Upcoming topics covered in 2012 include a town forum on Cincinnati Public Schools’ community learning centers, urban farming and local food economy, the Cincinnati premiere of the documentary “Growth Busters,” and an examination of green housing and infrastructure, to name a few.

Do Good:

• Attend: “Building Transition Towns and Intentional Communities” on Friday, Jan. 6, 2012 from 7-9 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church at 536 Linton Street.

• Shop local.

• Become: a member of the Women’s City Club of Cincinnati.

• Tour: Enright Ridge Ecovillage the fourth Saturday of the month from 9-11 a.m.

By Deidra Wiley Necco

The YWCA: Celebrating 20 years of Empowering Women Artists

Hei Kyung Byun, in describing her limestone sculpture at the YWCA Women’s Art Gallery, likened the piece to her “awakening” from a strict cultural background into a freedom of her own. “Yet part of me still struggles in detaching myself completely from my history and background, as seen in the way the woman is eternally bound to the stone from whence she came.”

Awakening women to a life of personal strength and peace is the goal of Cincinnati’s YWCA. Its Women’s Art Gallery, located on the second floor of the YWCA, provides space and support to women’s artists, encourages their gifts and gives them visibility in the only gallery in Cincinnati that showcases only women’s art.

This fall and winter, the YWCA commemorates two decades of supporting women artists in the gallery with the new exhibit, “Celebrating 20 years of Empowering Women.” “We went back to women who had participated in the very first group exhibit” explains Yvette Johnson-Hegge, YWCA executive coordinator. “We wanted to show what they are doing now and how far they had come.” 22 women were invited back and offer a diverse spectrum of styles and mediums that reflect their self-expression, from quilts and oils to photography and stone.  

Johnson-Hegge sees the art gallery as a far-reaching educational tool. “Our clients, women and children, are here and exposed to art that they may not be otherwise.” The YWCA also uses the artwork in the gallery to expose issues that bring challenges to women everywhere. Over two decades, the gallery has offered exhibits on cancer survival, grief, child endangerment and racism. “Part of our mission is eliminating racism,” Johnson-Hegge says. “So in all of our shows, we work to make sure we have diversity among the artists,” be that culture, race or artistic expression.

Do Good:

Visit: Celebrating 20 Years of Empowering Women Artists, which runs through Jan. 12, 2012 at the YWCA Women’s Art Gallery, 898 Walnut St., downtown. Gallery hours are Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., or by special arrangement. Please call 513-241-7090 for more information.

Donate: To the YWCA Women’s Art Gallery, empowering women artists for 20 years.

Support: the many programs at the YWCA, including the 2012 YWCA Career Women of Achievement Awards; nominations will be accepted through Jan. 3, 2012.

By Becky Johnson

YMCA honors Latino advocate at NKU

Growing up in the most biodiverse country in the world gave Miriam Kannan a love for biology. In her work at Northern Kentucky University, that passion has led to an award with for her work in academia and the Latino community.

Kannan, a native of Quito, Ecuador, started at NKU in 1979. In her time teaching microbiology, Kannan has received numerous awards for her academic work, She was named a Regents’ Professor at NKU, and Nov. 14, she received one of YMCA’s Black and Latino Achievers of the Year Award.

For Kannan, the award reinforced the work she has been doing for decades in Cincinnati’s Latino communities. The past president of Kentucky’s Academy of Sciences currently serves as director of NKU’s Latino Center for Excellence, and in 2004, she started a Fun with Science summer camp.

The Fun with Science camps was started with NKU’s Latino Student Affairs Director as a way to reach out to Latino and multicultural middle and high school students to engage them in a week filled with chemistry, physics, geology and microbiology. The camp started as volunteer work for Kannan and some fellow faculty, but now, they have received funding and attract students from all over the world.

“Our camp has metamorphosed into an English language learner’s camp,” Kannan says. “Much of this work is why I was nominated for this award.”

The YMCA also serves as a perfect place for Kannan to find ambitious students to attend and help with her summer science camp. She pairs one undergraduate with every four camp attendees, giving them chances to interact with people from different backgrounds and opening their eyes to the diversity of plant and human life in the world.

“This award means a lot since it came from the community I work in,” Kannan says.

Do Good:

Contact: Miriam Kannan and see how you can help with the Fun with Science Summer Camp.

Volunteer: at the YWCA and give back.

Donate: to the YWCA and provide financial support to families who can afford things such as summer camp

By Evan Wallis

What's your green umbrella?

Students at Hughes High School have signed up, as have dozens of Cincinnati Zoo and Cincinnati Nature Center employees. Even Mayor Mark Mallory is in on the action. Together, they have reduced nearly 900 tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere in our region. Not bad for a Green Umbrella opened just more than a month ago.

What’s your Green Umbrella? launched in October. It’s a site dedicated to consolidating all of the sustainability efforts throughout the region under one, well, umbrella. It’s a space where information about green building, green living, green learning and green transportation, as well as other important initiatives, take root.

In addition to providing a constantly updated news feed with information about sustainability-related events and initiatives around the region, What’s your Green Umbrella allows users to track their own path toward earth-friendly living. Register as a user and you can track how your recycling and choice of transportation impacts the environment. Register as part of your employer’s team and see how you stack up against your eco-friendly competition. For example, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden remains in a tight competition with the Cincinnati Nature Center for most tons of CO2 reduced.

The new site also offers tips on green living, local resources and the chance to win prizes that will keep you in harmony with nature.

Do Good:
Get under the umbrella. Register to see how you rate and help your employer or group gain traction as a regional force for the environment.

Make a donation. Support green initiatives throughout the region.

Check on the progress. See how your business, neighborhood or faith community rates in this competition – remember, under the green umbrella, everybody wins!

By Elissa Yancey

Teens discover social innovation at UCREW

Small groups of teens huddled together, talking about companies they admire. Apple, Google, Facebook top the lists. They spend the rest of the evening listing what makes good companies great, and what makes non-profits successful. The 60 youth come from high schools throughout the region. Together, they represent the latest class of UCREW: Cincinnati.

Formed as a school-year based student advisory board, UCREW is an outgrowth of the non-profit UGIVE.org, which gives students and young people opportunities to learn and grow through volunteering. Now in its fourth year, UCREW will create an awareness building event called AMPLIFY and, for the first time ever, launch a social business.

A the second group session of the six-month program, UCREW teens brainstormed about business ideas and causes they would love to support. From healthy living to employment training, their wide-ranging social concerns give a hint as to their awareness of the needs around them. Business ventures ranged from online services to a series of fitness classes for teens that could raise funds to support similar classes for inner-city youth.

“I’d never heard of social entrepreneurship before,” says Grace Kennedy, 17, a senior at Lakota East High School. “(UCREW) really made me interested in business, which I have never been before.”

In addition to planning a social business, UCREW teens take part in volunteer efforts as a group. They participate in planning and mentoring sessions, all geared to prepare them to become long-term philanthropists as well as well-rounded citizens. An added benefit? Since teens come from a wide range of high schools, UCREW offers like-minded peers opportunities to build not only a business, but also cross-town friendships.

Do Good:

Join UGIVE. Whether you are a parent, a non-profit, a part of a school community or student, you can find ways to connect.

Keep UGIVE free for non-profits and schools. Every donation to the non-profit helps.

Learn more about UCREW. Though launched in Cincinnati, UCREW now operates in eight Ohio cities. Find out how you can help support the effort and spread the word.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter.

Honor Flight flies veterans to recognition

It’s a journey that spans nearly 400 miles and aims to thank the men and women who were willing to sacrifice everything for their country more than 60 years ago.

Every year, Honor Flight Tri-State makes several trips from Cincinnati-Covington Airport to Washington, D.C., taking with them World War II veterans. In the less-than-two-day trip, the veterans are taken to their war memorial and recognized for their service.

“[In 2007] I had a wonderful experience, even tied with the war, and that was my Honor Flight trip to Washington,” said Herb Heilbrun, who, during World War II, was an airplane commander of a B-17.

During the war, Heilbrun went on 35 missions logging 262 combat hours with the 15th Air Force out of Italy. He was, at the time, escorted by the Tuskegee Airmen.

While in Washington, Heilbrun was able to spend time with one of the Airmen who escorted him during the war.

“It was really an outstanding, emotional situation to see that memorial,” he said. “… It was just a marvelous day.

Honor Flight, which is headquartered in Cincinnati, was founded in 2005. Since then, the now nationwide organization has taken more than 63,000 veterans – of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam – to their memorials. In the program’s first year, 157 veterans took the trip, according to the Honor Flight website.

Last year, more than 22,000 went to Washington with the Honor Flight.

The program’s growth happened quickly. In May, 2005, the first flights were done using six small planes. By August of that year, the small planes would no longer work and commercial airplanes were booked instead.

For veterans, the entire trip is free, which is made possible by donations. A guardian wishing to accompany a veteran must pay $350.

The flying season starts in May and lasts through October – although dates are not set in stone. Next year, Honor Flight Tri-State has five scheduled flights: May 1, June 12, Aug. 14, Sept. 25, and Oct. 30.

“To remember veterans who fought for their country is a wonderful thing,” Heilbrun said.

Do Good:

Donate: Flight for veterans are free, but they aren’t possible without donations. All donations are tax-deductible.

Sign up: Known a veteran? Sign them up for the program.

Give thanks: Saying “thank you” to a veteran is one of the simplest ways to show appreciation.

By Taylor Dungjen

Cincy Parents for Public Schools promotes collaboration

Rolanda Smith knows the secret behind student achievement.

“When you have parents holding their children accountable, and they feel like partners in the process, that’s when students achieve.” Smith, the executive director of Cincinnati Parents of Public Schools (PPS), knew this years ago. Only now, the research is proving that when parents are involved, student achievement increases. PPS’s continued goal is to foster collaborative relationships not only between parents and their students, but between parents and schools and to sustain that involvement so that all students can achieve.

In the last 15 years, PPS has ignored the national finger-pointing over failed education systems and earned the trust of key Cincinnati community groups, teachers and administrators by engaging parents in collaborative and constructive roles with the schools.  

PPS’s biggest initiative, its Parent Leadership Institute (PLI), is a three-month, intensive professional development program, supported in part by the Mayerson Academy. Over several weekends, PLI trains parents to understand state data, translate that information to the district level, know how to read individual school report cards and how to partner with school professionals and other parents to identify issues and design action plans to increase student achievement. Graduates of this program have become community leaders in education, serving on state and local school committees and helping engage other parents in schools.

Gearing Up (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), an initiative between PPS and the University of Cincinnati, reaches first-generation college hopefuls. While students are instructed in financial aid and application requirements, parents learn how to check homework, set expectations and create structured time at home, things that may have been lacking before. “And when a parent learns those new skills, it affects the rest of the children at home,” Smith says.

“I’ve never met a parent who didn’t care about a child’s education,” she adds. “We know there are many levels of parent involvement, and it is all helping to increase student achievement.”  

Do Good:

Congratulate: PPS for receiving a best practice award for its Extra Mile Award program at the Parents For Public Schools national conference in October, 2011.

Apply: For PPS’s upcoming Parent Leadership Institute, help on the following days in 2012: Feb. 10-11, March 9-10 and April 20-21.

Sign: A petition championed by the national Parents for Public Schools organization to discourage elected officials from cutting any more funding to public schools.

By Becky Johnson

Ponte forges new path at Child Wellness Fund

Jamey Ponte had it all -- he owned his own small business and was doing really well. He had nice cars, nice clothes. There was little to worry about.

In the past several years, Ponte, 45, has left all of that. He makes about $3,000 a year, doesn't surround himself with new products, and he's never been happier.

"My quailty of life is perfect," he says.

He ditched his small marketing company for missionary work and a shot at building a better Cincinnati, giving back wherever and whenever he can.

He's an artist who now spends six months of the year living in Africa, where he has a hospital and is building schools -- which take shape in the form of mud huts, he says.

But before all of that, he was a marketing man, working with clients and managing a small staff. After awhile he saw his marketing business changing, and not for the better. There was more greed, less loyalty. The independent work was starting to feel more like corporate grind.

"Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life?" he recalls thinking at the time.

It was time for a change. He told his employees that, within two years, the company would close. Ponte sought a new direction in his life.

Ponte saw friends with a special-needs child struggle and face frustrating challenges. He wanted to do something to help.

"I saw how families are thrown into hell overnight," Ponte says.

Then he saw the impact directly when one of his sister's children developed a terminal illness.

"I thought, 'Wow, this is what I'm supposed to do,' " he says.

In 2003, a project he had been working on, Child Wellness Fair, became an official non-profit -- what is now called the Child Wellness Fund. It started as a campaign to bring awareness to programs in the community that were already doing good.

The organization's evolution was "organic," Ponte says.

He and the people he worked with were helping others who had great ideas. They worked with individuals who wanted to make positive impacts on the community -- but maybe didn't know how to get started or what to do -- and set them in the right direction.

"Most of what we do now comes from other people," Ponte says. "We're not working on any projects I started."

One of the funds major projects is Second Home. The organization collects gently used, mostly pediatric, medical equipment -- like wheelchairs -- and finds families who need the equipment but cannot afford it on their own. In the first six months of the project it placed $150,000 worth of gear with families who needed it.

To raise money for Child Wellness Fund, Ponte is spearheading this year's Cincinnati Holiday Arts Show. The show will feature artwork, available for sale, from 30 local artists. (More than 60 applied to be a part of the event, says Ponte, who will have his photography on display.) The artwork at the show is priced to sell -- from $10 to $175.

Ponte's photography focuses on animals and landscapes -- as well as some people -- that he sees while he's in Africa, where he lives for about six months of the year. While he's there, he lives with the people he's helping, who are also helping him, he says.

Do Good:

Sponsor the show
: Any little bit helps both the artists and the Child Wellness Fund.

Be social: Promote the show's Facebook page and get your friends in on the action.

Buy artwork: Show up at the show, Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the North Presbyterian Church, 4222 Hamilton Ave., Northside. Admission is free.

By Taylor Dungjen

Nick Rose is Cincinnati Shakespeare's Macbeth

Nick Rose moved to Cincinnati in 1994 with a love for the stage, a strong work ethic and a dream. A founding member of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Rose currently plays the starring role in this season’s production of Macbeth, running now through Nov. 20.

Set in a version of modern day Scotland, Rose’s Macbeth transports Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy to the present moment. “In some ways, Macbeth is Shakespeare’s simplest and shortest tragedy,” says Rose. “Essentially it illustrates what happens in the mind when one becomes a murderer and a dictator.” The real-life husband and wife team of Nick Rose and Sara Clark (Lady Macbeth) brings both heightened passion and raw intensity to the stage. Audiences can expect PG-13-style bloodshed and violence as the actors present a “psychology horror movie” that is remarkably relevant in today’s global political climate.

Rose studied acting at James Madison University in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley where he toured with the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express. He was a founder of the university’s student-run second stage  - a project launched with a $2,000 budget. He credits this experience as the impetus that led him and a group of young theatre artists to move to Cincinnati and start what was then called the Fahrenheit Theatre Company. Founded in 1993 with the mission of producing Shakespeare and the classics for modern audiences, FTC produced The Taming of the Shrew at Gabriel’s Corner in Over-the-Rhine in its first season.

The first season FTC had 17 subscribers. By season 3 they had more than 650 – and have been growing ever since.

“We faced some challenges in the beginning,” says Rose. “We were relentless in our dream, and committed to our mission. That brought us through those early days.” In 1997 the company changed its name to the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival, and then to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in 1999. Rose credits the company’s strong commitment to production values, talent and skill for much of its success.

Rose has been with CSC for 15 of the last 18 seasons, leaving for a short time for a job outside the theatre. His love for the stage brought him back to CSC, where he now works full time as an actor. “I’m very thankful,” says Rose. “Cincinnati is a great city with many opportunities for local actors.” In addition to his work with CSC, Rose has also starred or played in a number of productions at the Ensemble Theatre, the Know Theatre,  the Edgecliff Theatre, and Playhouse in the Park. Some of his favorite roles include Satan in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati), Gordon in Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), and Mr. Cupp in A Christmas Carol (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park).

Catch Nick Rose in Macbeth through Nov. 20, as well as in three more upcoming Cincinnati Shakespeare Company productions this season. He can also be seen in A Christmas Carol at Playhouse in the Park coming this holiday season.

Do Good:

See: Macbeth or purchase a subscription. Tickets online at www.cincyshakes.com.

Become: a benefactor.

Spread the word by telling your friends about Cincinnati Shakespeare Company or showing them videos like these. Here and here.

By Deidra Wiley Necco

Cincinnati ranks in top 100 communities for youth

In a nation where 7,000 students drop out of high school every day, Cincinnati has been recognized for its collaborative efforts to stem the tide.

This month, Cincinnati achieved national recognition as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance and the investment firm, ING. Cincinnati competed with more than 300 large and small communities across the country that have been working to lower student drop-out rates through services and support to youth. The city of Norwood also received the award this year, having lowered its high school dropout rate by 13 percent in the past decade.

The award competition, now in its fifth cycle, is part of the Alliance’s Grad Nation campaign, a 10-year initiative to end the high school drop-out crisis and create a healthy, 21st century workforce.

One Cincinnati youth, Genine Gray, received a $2,500 scholarship from the Alliance and ING. Gray, the only student to receive this award in the nation, recognized Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates (JCG), Bethany House, Dress for Success and Bridging the Gap for supporting her journey from homelessness to high-school graduation. JCG president Barbara Seibel, in turn, credits the Southwest Ohio Regional Workforce Investment Board for financial support. “Their Workforce Investment Act grant to JCG makes it possible for youth like Genine to be in JCG.”

Cincinnati, now a two-time award winner, continues to build on collaborative initiatives, like its Safe Routes to School Initiative, designed and implemented by local residents, the Cincinnati schools, the Department of Transportation and Cincinnati police.   

The city’s Strive Partnership, a national model of aligning resources to raise graduation rates, provided help and technical assistance in the application process. But, again, it asks that the honors be shared. “The award itself is really owed to the hard work of our partners, including the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, ArtsWave and Artworks, among others,” says
Strive’s Ben Greenberg.

Do Good:

• Learn: about what Strive Partnership is doing to align resources to raise graduation rates in Cincinnati.

• Volunteer: at one of the many organizations that are helping support Cincinnati youth, like Connect2Success, Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates  and Bridging the Gap

• Support: America’s Promise Alliance, founded by former general Colin Powell, to prepare young people for college and promising careers

By Becky Johnson

Cohen brings energy, experience to Books by the Banks

You may have heard his distinct voice on the radio touting the benefits of Grand Victoria Casino, or waxing poetic about Skyline or Gold Star Chili. But local voice artist Howard Cohen’s first loves are books and music, so after nearly 20 years in the publishing industry, he feels right at home at Books by the Banks.

This year, his third at the five-year-old festival of local, regional and national authors, Cohen serves as volunteer co-chair of the author team. “We came up with a wish list of authors that we went after,” he says. Connections from his former life as a book publicist helped land authors from major publishing houses, including Lions of the West author Robert Morgan and former Cincinnatian Brock Clarke, author of Exley.

All together, more than 100 authors will spend time chatting and signing books at the Duke Energy Center downtown this Saturday at the free festival. Cohen sees it as a natural byproduct of the city’s literary strengths. “We’ve got this rich tradition,” says Cohen, 45, of Kennedy Heights. “Cincinnati is always listed as one of the top ten most literary cities in the country, and it seems as though we have people who read.”

Cohen left the pressures of the publishing industry, stepped up his voice work and took at job as a crew member at Trader Joes. Helping shape and promote Books by the Banks allows him to dip his toes back into the world he will always love.

“I missed being in books,” he says. With electronic books and e-readers gaining traction in the marketplace, he feels even more confident that the future of reading is bright. “The book is not going to go away, it is just going to be read differently.”

?He’s particularly proud that Books by the Banks offers authors and events for kids, making the downtown trip a budget-friendly family outing. This year, Biscuit author Alyssa Satin Capucilli and local favorite author/illustrator Will Hillenbrand offer star power for young readers.

For his part, Cohen also worked to expand the reach of the festival online, using Facebook and Twitter to generate more buzz and raise awareness of an event he wishes more locals knew about.

Do Good:

• Attend. Visit Books by the Banks in its fifth year, Sat., Oct. 22, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Be a fan. Catch all the latest news about the festival on Facebook.

Tweet all about it. And remember to tweet at and about the festival #bbtb.

By Elissa Yancey

Red Tree offers coffee, art, philanthropy

If you’re in the mood for a cup of coffee, to see local art or do your part to support the American Cancer Society, a local gallery has you covered.

Artists for a Cause Silent Auction, held at Oakley’s Redtree Gallery for four weeks in October and November, benefits both the American Cancer Society and the local artists who have donated special pieces.  

The mission of Redtree, a combination art gallery and coffee shop, is to encourage both emerging and established artists, with an emphasis on the local arts community. Local artists create over 90 percent of the art featured at Redtree, which features all mediums styles and expressions.  
With six open-call shows a year, the gallery actively supports emerging artists who may never have shown before. Alison Lee, marketing and development director for Redtree, sees that as one of the gallery’s main missions: “to get people to submit art, to have the courage to do that.”   

The coffee shop, with its fair-trade coffee, specialty drinks and relaxed seating, offers opportunities to continue this conversation about art every day. “I feel it breaks down barriers, maybe the idea of art galleries being stuffy or unapproachable,” Lee says. Visitors who come for a cup of coffee may never have visited an art gallery before. “This exposes them to artwork and inspires a sense of community” with the art world.  

The ongoing Artists for a Cause is one of Redtree’s group shows. Suggested by local artist Bruno Zabagilo, the silent auction has more than 30 local artists’ work, on which customers can submit written bids through an entire month. Proceeds benefit the cancer society. Gallery owner Wendy Smith sees this as another extension of Redtree’s mission. “Bruno and I have both had relationships with people with cancer, as so many people do,” she says. “And we’re always excited and happy to support an artist who is passionate about something like this.”  

Do Good:

• Attend: Opening Night of Artists for a Cause, Friday, Oct. 14, 6-9 p.m.

• Support: the American Cancer Society anytime.

• Visit: Redtree to grab a cup of coffee and bid on silent auction items. The auction ends Saturday, Nov. 5, at 9 p.m.

By Becky Johnson

Pick your brain at WVXU fundraiser

Can you tell the difference between a Harry Potter character and a skin disease?

This month, WVXU is hosting an unusual fundraiser which raises just such questions as a way to raise money for the station and entertain listeners. Pairing with Mental Floss Magazine, the station hosts a trivia night to inform and engage participants at Go Bananas in Montgmery.

WVXU, known for both its national and local music and news coverage in Cincinnati, operates as a non-profit, and has always counted on listeners for donations.

After using some of Mental Floss’s games as gifts during a fund-drive, WVXU and Mental Floss struck up a partners