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


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

Do Good: 

•    Purchase your concert tickets before they sell out. 

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

•    Connect with the Pops on Facebook.
 

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

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

Do Good: 

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

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

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

 

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


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

Do Good: 

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

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

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

Library Foundation announces newest Writer-in-Residence


The Library Foundation has a new Writer-in-Residence, local high school English teacher Kurt Dinan.
 
Dinan teaches 10th grade English and creative writing at William Mason High School. He also serves as the advisor for the school’s yearbook.
 
Dinan will make his first appearance in his new position at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the Main Library’s Popular Library Lounge, where he’ll read from his first published young adult novel, Don’t Get Caught. The reading will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
 
“I started writing at 30, and I think when you find your passion, you want to be able to share it with people,” Dinan said.
 
He’ll have the opportunity to do just that, as he’ll share his talents through a variety of modes and mediums from now through next September.
 
Conducting writers’ workshops, hosting podcasts and blogging are just a few items on his agenda.

“I’m just really thrilled,” Dinan said. "I’ll have the opportunity to help other writers in the community and support the Library.”

Do Good: 

•    Support The Library Foundation in its quest to better the community through literacy, activity, enrichment and other support services.

•    Keep up with the Library and its upcoming events on Facebook.

•    Mark your calendar for Dinan's first appearance as Writer-in-Residence, which is at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15.
 

Local employer teams up with Starfire, builds inclusive workplace environment


Catherine Bennett and Craig Ihlendorf have worked closely with one another since September 2015, which is when Ihlendorf started working at Kinetic Vision.

Prior to his work at the engineering consulting firm in Evendale, Ihlendorf was unfulfilled by his job.

“It was okay,” Ihlendorf said. “But I didn't really care about what I did. I didn't get to work on anything that was important to me.”

Now that’s all changed, and the impact can be seen in a variety of capacities. 

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

“When I go to work, I get to be around other people who like the same things I do,” Ihlendorf said. “When I suggest something, they really listen and encourage me.”

The pairing was made possible by Starfire — a local nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities discover their talents through relationship building, then places them in communities where they can thrive. Working with one person and their family at a time, Starfire connects people to relationships and uncovers a person's talents and passions so they can thrive in their communities alongside their neighbors.

Kinetic Vision wasn’t concerned with Ihlendorf’s disability. Instead, they saw his passion and ability to work with computers, and as a result, both the company and the individual are seeing positive results.

Do Good: 

•    Want to help Starfire build a more inclusive community? Connect with the nonprofit.

•    Like Starfire on Facebook.

•    Learn more about Kinetic Vision, and connect on LinkedIn.
 

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, at The Carnegie Center of Columbia Tusculum.
 
New this year is the “Painted Pets” auction of unique artwork by Mara McCalmont, local artist and creator of the “Peter Max” Painted Pet, and other artists who are donating their work.

“Ninety-nine percent of my work features animals,” said McCalmont. “It’s hard to put my love for animals into words — it’s unconditional — it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a bad day. They don’t care what you look like. They’re like children that never grow up; they just stay your sweet little baby.”
 
The organization, which provides food and low-cost veterinary care for pets in homes of those living at 150 percent below poverty level, currently serves 1,800 households.
 
“I’ve seen first-hand how Pets In Need helps people keep their pets, when it would have otherwise been impossible,” McCalmont said. “Their work is so important because pets are just such a big part of our lives.”
 
The nonprofit’s function stretches far beyond providing food and low-cost veterinary care for board member and volunteer Lexie Stevenson.
 
When one client’s canine companion, Beowulf, was euthanized, her niece requested memories of Beowulf from better times.
 
“She told me later how much it meant to her aunt to have those pictures,” Stevenson said. “At Pets In Need, we provide amazing low-cost veterinary care, but we also provide something intangible: respect, compassion and dignity to people who are often worn down by poverty, illness or age. It means almost as much to me as it does to them to be able to provide a memento of their dear companion.”  

Do Good: 

•    Register now for Petcasso, Nov. 19 from 7-10 p.m., $85, 3738 Eastern Ave., 45226, includes open bar, live entertainment, cocktail buffet.

•    Can't attend Petcasso? Support Pets in Need by donating.

•    Connect with Pets in Need on Facebook.
 

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.
 
Students Together Assisting Refugees (STAR), founded in 2015, will host a benefit chamber concert featuring Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) principal musicians Oct. 18.
 
The intimate concert experience will allow STAR, in collaboration with the Junior League of Cincinnati’s project RefugeeConnect, to fund scholarships for student refugees.
 
“We live comfortably in Ohio, far away from most of the international conflict, but there are refugee teens in Cincinnati who struggle with very difficult lives,” said Adam Sella, STAR president and WHHS senior. “We hope to raise enough money from the concert to offer more than one scholarship to Cincinnati Public Schools’ students.”
 
It’s important to Sella and other STAR members to reach out to their fellow student body as well. German Consul General Herbert Quelle, who will attend next week’s concert, will also speak to WHHS students about the German response to the refugee crisis.  It’s just one of many opportunities for both learning and engagement STAR makes possible.
 
“Last year when two Bhutanese youths spoke, the WHHS students were shocked to learn their stories of hardship and asked questions about what it is like to be a refugee,” Sella said. “It is important for everyone to understand the refugee crisis.” 

Do Good: 

•    Support WHHS's STAR in its effort to raise funds for student refugees' education by attending next Tuesday's concert.

•    Even if you can't attend the October 18 event, consider donating to the scholarship fund.

•    Want to do more? Learn more about RefugeeConnect and how you can get involved.
 

Women craft brewers host beer tasting to benefit Women Helping Women


Amelia BEERhart: Celebrating Women in the Craft Beer Industry — the brainchild of Ei8ht Ball Brewing — 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.
 
Women Helping Women will receive a portion of the proceeds from the Oct. 14 celebration.
 
“The nonprofit is local, like all of our breweries, and through programs, it gives strength to women who have lost their voice,” said Holli Redmond, who manages Ei8ht Ball Brewing’s taproom in addition to outside sales within its distribution area.
 
A portion of sales from each fli8ht special, in addition to proceeds from a silent art auction in which local females have depicted what it means to be a strong woman will go to the nonprofit, as will diapers — a much needed item, according to Women Helping Women — which are being collected all week, and throughout the night of the event.
 
According to Redmond, the decision to give back came out of the gratefulness women within the craft beer industry possess with regard to their experiences and expertise.
 
“As a female in the craft beer industry, I know there are other women, but our paths don’t always cross, and it can seem like you are surrounded by men,” Redmond said. “We thought it would be a great to invite women interested and working in craft beer to an event that celebrates them and gives them a chance to see that in a sea of male craft beer fans — who are equally as awesome — they are not alone, and that’s a very cool thing.”
 
Ei8ht Ball Brewing has teamed up with more than 8 other local breweries to present the event, which takes place at Ei8ht Ball’s taproom, which houses 42 different beers.
 
“The event is open to everyone, but we wanted to specifically invite women who are interested in, or who work in the industry,” Redmond said. “We have teamed up with other local breweries who not only have female employees, but whose female employees are taking on leadership roles and breaking the mold in the industry. It takes a strong, confident women to be in this field.” 

Do Good: 

•    Male or female, it matters not. Make plans to attend Friday's event from 5-8 p.m. at Ei8ht Ball's taproom.

•    Donate diapers to support Women Helping Women. Each Ei8ht Ball guest donating a pack of diapers will receive a glass of non barrel-aged Ei8ht Ball Beer for the price of a taster. Visit the taproom, and bring your donation by any day this week. 

•    Support Women Helping Women by getting involved
 

Raising awareness, reducing stigma surrounding mental illness in urban communities


One in five individuals is affected by mental illness, according to Gloria Walker, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness.
 
“African Americans are no exception,” Walker says.
 
It wasn’t until one of Walker’s loved ones began exhibiting symptoms of what was later diagnosed as a mental illness that she says she came to understand the ways in which mental illness is addressed within the African American community.
 
“I was introduced to the Alliance for the Mentally Ill — People of Color [Support Group] of Greater Cincinnati, and through that involvement, I recognized how devastating stigma and ignorance, lack of information and hopelessness about these illnesses impacted the African American community,” Walker says. “Stigma, perpetrated by jokes people tell and the names people are called keep people from getting the help they need early when recovery outcomes are better.”
 
She went from knowing nothing, she says — researching a mental illness on her own, joining a support group and asking questions  — to running a nonprofit that’s aimed at raising awareness and providing much needed resources to the urban community so they can lead fulfilled and productive lives.
 
Oct. 2-8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and one way that the UGCNOMI is doing its part in raising awareness is through a partnership with ReelAbilities Cincinnati Film Festival.
 
Patrick’s Day, a love story between a man living with schizophrenia and a female flight attendant who is suicidal, will premiere at the Esquire Theatre on Oct. 6. It will be preceded by the debut of an art exhibit at Sitwell’s Coffee House, which will feature the work of those within Greater Cincinnati who are experiencing or living with someone who is experiencing the effects of mental illness.
 
Deb Pinger, director of ReelAbilities, says she’s eager to partner with the UGCNOMI and bring Patrick’s Day to the community.
 
“It’s a powerful film, and we are excited to premiere it in Cincinnati as yet another example of the stories we believe need to be shared in the community to celebrate the lives of people who experience disabilities,” Pinger says.
 
For Walker, the film premiere and art opening are ways to honor the UGCNOMI’s current campaign — “Bringing Mental Illness Out of the Shadows."
 
“People with mental illnesses are human with human feelings," she says. "They deserve respect and understanding. We hope this will get and keep the conversation going. We want people to leave wanting to learn more and feel comfortable reaching out to us for help if they need it.” 

Do Good: 

•    For more information about NAMI's Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness, contact 513-238-7788.

•    Check out ReelAbilities' website to learn more and to purchase tickets for Thursday's premiere screening of Patrick's Day. Tickets are also available at the door. The showing begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $10.

•    Stop by Sitwell's to check out the art exhibit prior to the showing. It debuts at 5:30 p.m. and will remain on display for the next month. 
 

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.
 
Dick Weiland, 87, serves on more than 30 boards and commissions, and has worked tirelessly during his lifetime to serve others and stand up for what he believes.
 
“This is an incredible honor and one I will not take lightly,” Weiland said. “To be recognized alongside so many respected leaders in the Civil Rights Movement is truly a lifetime achievement.”
 
Among those leaders are individuals like Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Toni Morrison and the Ohio Tuskegee Airmen, to name a few.
 
The Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame was created in 2009 and is the product of a collaborative effort among the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, Honda Manufacturing of Ohio, Wright State University and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
 
Throughout his life, Weiland has advocated for civil rights on both national and local levels. He met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt at the United Nations and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. He also helped put a stop to the Cincinnati riots in 1967 and founded the Halom House for Jewish adults with disabilities in 1982. But his accomplishments don’t end there.
 
“I believe we have a duty to take care of our fellow man; I have always upheld that we have to treat others the way we want to be treated,” Weiland said. “I was fortunate enough to have many role models while growing up who taught me the importance of making an impact on our community.”

Do Good:  

•    Make an impact on your own community. Think of someone you could help or something you could get involved with, and begin your work. 

•    Check out this year's Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame inductees, and read more about their life's work. 

•    Attend the 8th Annual Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 10 a.m. on Oct. 6 in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium.

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


The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is inviting you to reimagine your experience with its new initiative — Friday Orange — an idea that stemmed from the desire to make the CSO more energetic and inviting.
 
“Our temporary ‘home away from home’ at the Taft Theatre is right in the heart of downtown, so we hope to catch some of that urban vibe and incorporate it into the concert experience,” says Meghan Berneking, the CSO’s director of communications. “We decided to use orange because it is a hot, passionate color and a welcoming color — we want even first-timers to feel welcome and excited to be spending their Friday night at the CSO.”
 
A few individuals in attendance will be selected from the crowd — only if they’re in orange, of course — and rewarded with a free drink ticket.
 
“We want Friday Orange to be a place where first-timers feel welcome, relaxed and like they are part of something vibrant,” Berneking says.
 
Not only will attendees get the chance to be playful, but they’ll be exposed to world-class music while also having a unique experience, as each Friday Orange is planned by a different guest curator.
 
“We had The Millennium Robots hip-hop group for the launch, specialty cocktails, lighting, a sense of community or just an overall vibe of intrigue,” Berneking says. “Friday Orange rethinks the traditional concert experience, and there are sure to be surprises along the way. These are not traditional concert experiences.” 

Do Good: 

•    Check out the lineup for future Friday Orange performances, and plan to attend. 

•    Never been to a CSO concert? Call 513-381-3300 if it's your first time, and purchase $10 tickets.

•    Connect with the CSO on Facebook.
 

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.
 
The international engineering company with local firms recently pledged its product lifecycle management (PLM) software, in addition to $1 million, to establish the Siemens PLM Simulation Technology Center at UC’s College of Engineering & Applied Science.
 
Siemens’ staff will also be on board, as it will provide support to both students and faculty as they navigate a new learning experience by experimenting with the same software used to design things like the Mars Rover and Maserati cars.
 
“As manufacturing companies worldwide move closer to Industry 4.0, it is more important than ever for academic institutions and educators to move beyond CAD software and embed digitalization into their curriculum,” says Chuck Grindstaff, president and CEO of Siemens PLM Software. “The Siemens PLM Simulation Technology Center will help establish the connection between academia and industry to develop future employees for the digital enterprise.”
 
Around the globe, a documented 140,000 companies utilize PLM software, so being able to access it and problem-solve with it at the Center will prepare students for future work.
 
Siemens PLM Software’s Milford office has also committed to employing UC students via a long-term co-op program, in which students can gain further experience.
 
“We believe that simulation expertise will be a real differentiator for UC,” says Jan Leuridan, senior vice president of simulation and test solutions for Siemens PLM Software. “We are proud that together we are empowering the next generation of digital talent.”

Do Good: 

•    Learn more about the CEAS at UC.

•    Want to support CEAS students and the work they do? Consider giving

•    Connect with Siemens on Facebook, and follow in the company's footsteps by partnering with local educational institutions to enhance learning opportunities for students. 
 

Clifton Performance Theatre, home to intimate performances and youth workshops


If you’ve never checked out the Clifton Performance Theatre, there’s no better time than now.
 
Its 2016-17 season opened this past Thursday with The Road through Damascus — a new play that is written by local playwright and Northern Kentucky University graduate Robert Macke.
 
Presented by the Clifton Players, a nonprofit collective of actors who are committed to delivering engaging, intimate material to audiences, the play will prompt audience members to partake in a world filled with people much like themselves who question life’s everyday occurrences.
 
It’s because of the space, Nate Netzley says, that he’s most excited to direct this play in particular.
 
“You won't get a more intimate and honest experience than you will in the space at Ludlow, because there is no place to hide,” he says. “There is no room for being fake — even in a play that's a kind of magical realism like this one — everything you do has to be honest, or it won't read." 
 
It’s just one of the benefits offered from small, local theaters like CPT, which functions not only as a space to view performances, but also as a place for youth to interact with and learn from actors by attending summer camps, classes and workshops.
 
Upcoming fall workshops include offerings such as “Baby Box: Creating Characters,” which allows children as young as 3 to dabble in the world of storytelling by exploring the stories of people all across the world. They will "open their suitcases" and add a new sticker to their passports each week.
 
A complete listing of fall session offerings, in addition to information regarding tickets to The Road through Damascus, can be found on CPT’s website

Do Good: 

•    Learn more about the Clifton Players by connecting with them on Facebook.

•    Purchase your ticket to The Road through Damascus, which closes Oct. 1, and see what it's like to engage in intimate, community theater.

•    If your child is interested in acting, sign them up for a fall workshop.

 

Melodic Connections seeks funding for new storytelling podcast


It’s been two weeks since flash flooding unexpectedly destroyed the possessions and changed the lives of many Cincinnatians.

Melodic Connections, a community music therapy studio, lost all of its instruments and is now in the process of searching for a new and permanent home, as its former facility was destroyed in the flooding.
 
Thanks to generous donations from the nonprofit’s supporters, however, the organization has been able to restore all instruments and resume programming and lessons in a temporary location at LADD, Inc.
 
“Community support is telling us that we must continue our work,” says Betsey Zenk-Nuseibeh, Melodic Connections’ executive director.
 
That work includes music therapy via lessons and opportunities for performance, but also unique activities like “Hero Radio. Stories Beyond the Music.” — an original podcast created by members of Melodic Connections’ adult conservatory and Mount St. Joseph University students. The podcast profiles well-known musicians with Cincinnati roots.
 
"This project will make great strides in advocating for the abilities of individuals with different learning needs,” Zenk-Nuseibeh says. “By using a storytelling medium that people are so familiar with, we know that listeners will get ‘hooked’ and return for a weekly reminder that different is not less.”
 
The service learning opportunity allows adult conservatory members to not only collaborate with others, but to also practice interviewing and storytelling skills, while composing an original piece of music and visual art — not to mention recording and editing audio.
 
“Our vision requires a quality end product, and that's where our financial need lies,” Zenk-Nuseibeh says, who recognizes the tough place the nonprofit is in fiscally. It needs a facility for daily operations but also funding to launch the podcast series. 
 
If Melodic Connections can raise $15,000 for the podcast seres by Dec. 1, the organization will receive a matching grant, increasing the total to $30,000.
 
“We need additional funding to boost our recording capabilities so that our participants' voices are not just heard, but heard loudly and clearly,” Zenk-Nuseibeh says. “And so their message comes through with no interference."

Do Good: 

•    Support Melodic Connections by donating to its disaster relief fund. More than $50,000 is still needed to secure a new facility for operations.

•    Contact Melodic Connections to learn how you can help the nonprofit launch its podcast series.

•    Learn more about the podcast series, and check out the theme song that has already been created by Melodic Connections' students.
 

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.
 
It’s the first time the musical groups have toured internationally since 2009, when the CSO performed in Japan.
 
“Cincinnati’s orchestra is known throughout the world, and it’s an honor for us to be invited to perform in these important cities,” says Louis Langrée, director of the CSO. “We are proud to represent our community and Cincinnati’s vibrant cultural arts scene to audiences across Asia and Europe.”
 
The 2017 international tour kicks off March 17 when the CSO will perform at the Hong Kong Arts Festival, and concludes with performances next fall at an array of festivals throughout Europe.
 
Cincinnati Pops will perform in both Shanghai and Taiwan, and John Morris Russell, who conducts the Pops, says he could not be more excited.
 
“We’ve sold more than 10 million albums over the years and know that many of our most fervent fans live on the other side of the earth,” Russell says. “There is nothing like a live performance of Cincinnati Pops and the CSO, especially when we are sharing the joy of unbridled music-making with the world.”
 
The travel announcement comes at both an appropriate and celebratory time, as it was 50 years ago that the U.S. Department of State first sponsored a world tour for an American orchestra — the CSO — in 1966. 

Do Good: 

•    Support the CSO and Pops by donating.

•    Plan your experience to a CSO and/or Cincinnati Pops concert this season. 

•    Get involved by volunteering with the CSO and/or Pops. 
 

Patricia Garry nationally recognized for building local communities


Patricia Garry, executive director of the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati, is retiring from the field of community development after 51 years of service, but she’s ending her career on a high note after receiving the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations’ top leadership award.
 
“Patricia Garry brings national recognition to Cincinnati and the city's community development corporations because of the strong partnership she developed between the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati and the city government,” says NACEDA Chair Sharon Legenza. “Because of Patricia, community development corporations throughout the country look to Cincinnati as an innovative leader of community development models, strategies and policies.”
 
When Garry began her work in 1965, she says she remembers taking her 3-month old son along with her to meetings in her Bond Hill neighborhood because she recognized the value of communities having a say when it came to neighborhood development, early-on.
 
“CDCs have grown and increased their capacity wonderfully in all this time,” Garry says. “Now there are new collaborations and partnerships all over the country — with banks, funders and cities — and also with artists, the food industry, health care systems and many others. These networks provide strong webs of support for communities, their businesses and their residents.”
 
The NACEDA connects with nearly 4,000 community development nonprofit organizations throughout the United States, spanning 28 states and the District of Columbia “to advance opportunity and prosperity in low-income and moderate-income communities.”
 
According to Nate Coffman, the Ohio CDC Association’s executive director, Garry is incredibly deserving of the national award, which is why he chose to nominate her.

“Her leadership has ensured CDCs in Cincinnati  — and throughout Ohio — will continue to improve neighborhoods for the people who live and work there long after she leaves the field," he says.

Do Good: 

•    Learn more about the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati by signing up for its newsletter

•    Connect with the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati by liking its page on Facebook.

•    Help the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati continue to build its communities by becoming a member
 

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.
 
Dance and drama, in addition to both 2- and 3-dimensional art are all realms of exploration at the workshops.
 
“These programs offer students opportunities to wonder, create, communicate, problem solve and more,” says Alissa Paasch, education director at The Carnegie. “Problem solving and innovation can be developed if students are given opportunities to make decisions and learn through exploration. Too often, students are presented with step-by-step instruction, which is wonderful for developing technique, but not as successful in developing creativity and problem-solving skills.”
 
Take for example “Tiny Town,” a 3-D visual arts offering where students dream up their ideal city and then build it.
 
“Our programs are very student-driven, allowing them to freely create and reflect upon their work in a safe environment,” Paasch says. “On top of that, they are taught by top-notch teaching artists — two instructors are in the room at all times — for a very low cost.”
 
It’s a way to immerse students in all that The Carnegie offers — visuals, theater and education — as it “inspires creativity for all.”
 
“It is important to us that we engage students in all forms of expression, from visual arts to dance to theater to creative writing and more,” Paasch says. “Our goals are to help students find their voice and their mode of expression.”

Do Good: 

•    Register your child for one or more workshops. Details regarding fees and class offerings can be found here.

•    Visit The Carnegie.

•    Learn more about The Carnegie by connecting on Facebook.
 

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


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

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

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

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

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 individuals together for a time of celebration and togetherness this weekend.
 
This year’s theme “The Family: Strong and United” is fitting, as the accomplishments of those who are working to improve our community will receive recognition. But also because events such as a job fair and free health screenings will be offered, providing those in attendance with further opportunities for growth. 
 
“Besides the annual parade and live music draw, many people don’t realize we host Health, Arts and Spirituality Pavilions,” says Tracey Artis, Black Family Reunion event producer.
 
It’s a way to bring communities, consumers, corporations and nonprofits together to connect with one another in engaging and beneficial ways.
 
The celebration kicks off Friday and extends through Sunday, with events taking place at Sawyer Point, Yeatman’s Cove, Sharonville Convention Center and other sites throughout the city.
 
“This three-day, fun-filled weekend brings people together to honor historic strengths and values of the black family,” Artis says. “We provide a safe, positive environment emotionally and physically. The event celebrates and unifies the African American family.”

Do Good: 

•    Check out the full schedule of events here.

•    Want to get involved? Consider volunteering.

•    Invite a friend, and plan to attend this weekend's celebration.
 

ReelAbilities Cincy presents creative opportunity to local filmmakers


Attention, filmmakers: the 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.
 
Organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled, Cincinnati RAFF is now in its third year; however, it’s the first year the festival has conducted an open call for local submissions.
 
“We are so excited to open this call for entries to local filmmakers,” says Debra Pinger, director of ReelAbilities in Cincinnati. “Cincinnati and our region is home to so many artists, story tellers, musicians, actors and filmmakers, and RAFF gives them an important place to showcase their talents. It’s the creatives in our community who will help draw the world’s attention to Cincinnati as a forward-thinking, diverse and inclusive culture.”
 
Cincinnati RAFF is the region’s largest film festival aimed at exploring our differences while recognizing our shared humanity.
 
Anyone living or working within 100 miles of Cincinnati is welcome to submit an entry. Short films 40 minutes or less will be accepted, but films that are 20 minutes or less are preferred. There is no cost to enter.
 
November 1 marks the deadline for submission. Selected films will be screened March 9-12 and highlighted on Local Night, March 12, at the culmination of the festival.
 
“Local stories are at the heart of ReelAbilities because they are the catalyst for community dialogue,” says April Kerley, organizer of Local Night. “Local films are like a familiar homecoming that transforms your experience from virtual reality to reality. It's like being a tourist in your hometown and seeing people and places you recognize in a whole new light.”

Do Good: 

•    Read the Call for Entry to learn more about guidelines for submission.

•    Submit your film. The deadline is November 1.

•    Connect with ReelAbilities Cincinnati by getting involved. 
 

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


August is just as good a time as any for a pool party, and if you’ve ever wanted to attend one that merges barbecue, beverages, a pool installation, swimwear, art, dancing and a dunking booth, then Wave Pool: A Contemporary Art Fulfillment Center’s second-annual fundraiser and art auction is for you.
 
“It’s by far our least serious and most welcoming event of the year,” says Cal Cullen, executive director of Wave Pool. “Even though it's our ‘fundraiser,’ it's really more of a block party than anything. Whether you love contemporary art or not, you'll have a good time at this party.”
 
Proceeds from the Aug. 13 event supports Wave Pool’s mission, which is to serve as “a dynamic place where art intersects with community,” and to function as a “catalyst for social engagement” while cultivating artistic development.
 
Some of the ways Wave Pool accomplishes its mission: Its Artists in Residence program; and Art Space is Your Space — a competitive program that allows socially engaged artists to reside at Wave Pool for about a month while they’re given the space and freedom to “conduct programs, experiences and experiments with community members in and around Camp Washington,” Cullen says.
 
The nonprofit also houses artist studios with a multitude of artist-generated programming — everything from film screenings to dark asana yoga — in addition to partnerships with other local organizations, such as Camp Washington Urban Farm and its mobile produce cart, and Heartfelt Tidbits through its work with refugees.
 
“In short, Wave Pool is a contemporary art space, but we really see the potential for what contemporary, experimental art can achieve in our neighborhood as truly limitless,” Cullen says. “We're all about being radically inclusive and engaging in both our process and our programs, and hope that Camp Washington (and beyond) continues to embrace and steer the evolution of what we do.”  

Do Good: 

•    Mark your calendars for 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, for the Wave Pool Pool Party. 

•    Interested in volunteering by helping to serve drinks Saturday? Contact Wave Pool. 

•    Interested in submitting a proposal for Art Space is Your Space? Keep your eyes peeled, as proposals for 2017 will open next month.
 

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.

Henson, an associate professor and the head of illustration at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, received his master's degree in painting from the University of Cincinnati

Henson is no stranger to the Curtis G. Lloyd Fellowship. When he first became a fellow during the 2013-14 academic year, he studied the Renaissance alchemy and magic books at the Lloyd Library, which helped him write and illustrate his book, Alchemy and Astral Projection: Ecstatic Trance in the Hermetic Tradition.

This time around, Henson is preparing a new edition of John Uri Lloyd's novel Etidorpha, which was originally published in 1895. The new edition is set to be published this fall by Bootstrap Press, which is located in Oakland.

Etidorpha is considered one of the first psychedelic novels, and has commonly fallen into the genre of science fiction. Henson has been combing through the archives of the Lloyd Library, where he has been scanning and transcribing previously unpublished material and writing a new introduction for the book.

"I've been reading letters to Lloyd from several famous 19th century occultists, which have helped me piece together his beliefs, and will help form the introduction I'm writing for this new edition of Etidorpha," Henson says.

Henson has examined all of the editions of the book — as well as the original manuscript — to prepare for piecing together the new edition. In doing so, he has discovered an unpublished chapter that was cut due to its horrifying nature.

The new edition will also include scanned original drawings and paintings done by former AAC student and professor John Augustus Knapp — some of which are owned by Lloyd Library and others made available by Knapp's surviving family. 

"It sort of brings the story full circle," Henson says. "I'm working on this project not just because of my interests in magic and mysticism, but also because Knapp taught at the same school, and I want to keep his memory alive."

Do Good: 

•   Visit the Lloyd Library, 917 Plum St., downtown.

•    Learn more about the Lloyd Library on its website.

•    Donate to help support the Lloyd Library and its programs.
 

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.
 
The annual festival, which is hosted by Renaissance Covington, is known as Art Off Pike, and its main focus is on local emerging artists. Event organizers are currently looking for artist submissions for this year's event. Interested artists are suggested to submit a selection of photos, a description of their work, and a link to their website (or Facebook page).
 
Sept. 25 will mark Art Off Pike's 12th year of turning the streets of Covington into a colorful canvas of art and culture.
 
“For many years, people questioned why Art Off Pike was located in downtown Covington, where progress was slow and storefronts were vacant,” says Katie Meyer, Renaissance Covington’s executive director. “I believe that the event's resiliency and the vision of past event organizers influenced the progress that we've seen in downtown.”
 
This year, the festival will continue its tradition and be on the street, but it will also be integrated into Braxton Brewing. Attendees will be able to enjoy more than just performance art, art installations, local food and drink, and live music. Photography, ceramics, paintings, sculpture and jewelry will also be for sale.
 
Art Off Pike is also looking for interactive installations — sculptures, murals, sound, performance — for the festival. Four artists will be selected and given $500 to create their installations. Submissions are due July 31, and winners be will notified Aug. 6.
 
“Art Off Pike continues to focus on urban and emerging arts,” Meyer says. “Our goal is to create a curated experience alongside the art vendors, including performance art, installations and music.”

Do Good: 

•    Are you an artist who is interested in having your work presented at Art Off Pike? Registration is $60 for a booth and guarantees a spot in the show. Submissions for booths and installations should be emailed to artoffpike@rcov.org.

•    Art Off Pike is a free event. Mark your calendars for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 25.

•    To learn more about Art Off Pike, visit its website
 

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.
 
Books by the Banks was founded with the intent to entertain and enrich the lives of Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky residents by promoting authors, and celebrating reading and writing.
 
"For 10 years, Books by the Banks has brought blockbuster literary names to the region, and we are delighted to be able to grow the festival to include lead-up programming throughout the year," says Cari Hillman, co-chair of the marketing team for Books by the Banks.
 
Some of the pre-festival events during the summer and early fall include a writing contest for teenagers and adults; writing programs with Women Writing for (a) Change, the University of Cincinnati and WordPlay; panel discussions; and book giveaways.
 
More than 100 national, regional and local authors and illustrators are expected to be at Books by the Banks, which is free and open to the public. Attendees can enjoy book signings, panel discussions and family-friendly activities.
 
“Our mission is to enrich the lives of people in the area through reading and writing, and we’re taking that joy and excitement beyond our annual festival,” says Greg Edwards, president of Books by the Banks. “Expect to see Books by the Banks out in the community at a variety of events all year long.”
 
Do Good: 

•    Take a look at the full lineup of pre-festival events.

•    Meet some of your favorite authors and buy a few new books. Mark your calendars for Books by the Banks, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 15, Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., downtown. Admission is free. 

•    Become a Book Festival Friend and donate to help support the annual festival.
 

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


For Daryl Tate, martial arts is not only a passion — it’s a way of life.  
 
He began taking Tae Kwon Do and Tang So Do at the age of 9 (he has black belts in both), and was later introduced to Muay Thai, which Tate says he “fell in love with,” so he became an instructor.
 
“I have trained boxers, Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts fighters, and have trained countless police officers and civilians in self-defense,” Tate says.
 
And he’s done so for more than 20 years.
 
His level of engagement in martial arts as a hobby extends to Guided Chaos, which is a close-combat form of self-defense where the goal is to train the body and mind to survive in real-world situations. Tate is one of the few first-degree black belts in Guided Chaos who lives outside of New York.
 
But Tate’s engagement in martial arts is far more than a hobby. He has more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement — serving as everything from a member of the Mayor’s Executive Protection Unit in Atlanta to Defense Tactics and Use of Force Coordinator for the state of Oregon.
 
Now he’s finding ways to involve himself in the community so others can learn the principles of what has both influenced and guided his life up to this point.
 
“I believe everyone should be equipped with the basic knowledge and skill to prevent any harm that may come to them through the hands of another,” Tate says. “It's unfortunate — but true — that we are living in times when terrible incidents can happen at any moment.”
 
Tate and his family experienced the unexpected, as they were victims of a home invasion last year.
 
“Thank God we were not injured in the assault, but I'm convinced that the reason we came out fine was because we were prepared,” Tate says. “Believe it or not, even my daughter, who was 6 years old at the time, was amazing during this scary incident.”
 
Preparedness, which Tate says requires a basic level of knowledge and skill, is key; and that’s what he hopes to instill among those he instructs.
 
“Self defense is taking the first opportunity you have to leave a dangerous situation,” Tate says. “Once your counter strike starts, and you're able to stop the attacker, you put as much distance as possible between you.”

Tate will be teaching a Communiversity class through the University of Cincinnati entitled "Personal Safety and Survival: What's Your Plan?" Classes begin July 16.

Do Good: 

•    Sign up for Tate's class online, or by calling 513-556-6932.

•    Can't attend Communiversity's upcoming session of classes? Contact Tate if you have questions or are interested in pursuing individual learning or training opportunities. 

•    Keep up with Tate on Facebook by connecting and liking his page.
 

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

This year's traveling exhibit includes pieces acquired from 2007 to 2015 by the Helms Trust Collection, which awards scholarships to the students whose artwork is purchased. To maximize the visibility of the curated student artwork collection, the exhibit will travel to seven different venues across Cincinnati during the next seven months.

“I don’t think anyone realizes how much of a difference this makes,” says Joan Kaup, AAC’s vice president of institutional advancement. “For many of these students, it’s the first time anyone outside of the school has seen their work and affirmed that it’s valued.”

While the scholarships help student artists pay for their tuition or personal expenses, the traveling exhibit also gives them the chance to truly get noticed — the most important moment in any artist's career.

"The day I won the Helms showed me that there are people out there who understand and see the time, sacrifice, effort and experience that goes into making art," says Katelyn Dobson McBroom, AAC ’14. “The AAC left a mark on me and my path in life, and it was humbling knowing that I would be leaving my mark within its walls as well.”

Do Good:

•    Visit the next stop for the traveling exhibit, which is at the Sharonville Arts Center on August 5.

•    Become an artist. Take a class at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

•    Support the next Picasso. Donate to the AAC's scholarship fund.
 

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.

So he started Stages for Youth, a program that focuses on teaching kids video production. But more importantly, he's teaching them skills they'll need to know once they graduate. 

“I think the question to ask is, ‘Are we preparing our kids for the world of work after they graduate from high school and college?’" O'Farrell says. "The short answer is no, absolutely not. There isn’t an environment where they get to develop these 21st century skills, which are crucial to success in the workplace. That’s really what Stages for Youth stands for — using the film discipline to prepare our young people for the workforce, particularly in the creative economy.”

O’Farrell’s son, who is now 18, struggled in a traditional school environment. While he was intelligent and creative, he wasn’t given the opportunity to express his talent in the classroom. His frustration led to O'Farrell creating an alternative avenue for success — Stages for Youth.

During the film camp, teenagers ages 12-19 are invited to create films. There are 15 students in each of the three sessions that take place throughout the summer. Within each session, students are broken up into three groups of five. Each group comes up with an idea they are passionate about, and decides how that idea can be made into film.

And in just two weeks, O’Farrell says everything changes.

“Magic happens. They sit down as complete strangers on day one, then create teams and go through the process of ideation, debates, negotiations and collaborations. Every single time, we are blown away by them throughout the incredible process.”

O’Farrell brings in professional mentors from the industry — production teams, screenwriters, photographers, editors, animators and more. 

“One of the things we’re trying to do is provide a roadmap for these kids by showing them there are possibilities in the creative economy, and how to get there,” O’Farrell says.

That roadmap seems to be working pretty well.

Many of the films produced during the camp have received recognition. One film won an honorable mention at the White House Student Film Festival last year. Another won an $8,000 scholarship to Watkins School of Design in Nashville.

“These are real, tangible results,” O’Farrell says. “These are solid outcomes they can add to their portfolio, increase their self-esteem, and help that belief that they can be successful.” 

Even though the biggest focus is on being creative and focusing on video production, O’Farrell wants kids to take away the skills that will help them succeed in the workplace.

“Kids don’t get the opportunity to collaborate and learn communication, critical thinking, problem solving, project management and time management skills. These things have been removed from our education system. They won’t be successful in the workplace if they don’t cultivate these skills.”

Do Good:

•    Register your child for the third session of Stages for Youth's summer camp, which begins July 25. Registration is $300 per child.

•    Connect with Stages for Youth on Facebook

•    Donate to help support Stages for Youth's mission. 
 

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,” which encourages people to explore, have fun, and engage with one’s surroundings throughout the remainder of the year.

Even if your summer getaway is already booked, or perhaps your vacation days for the year have been exhausted — the good news is, Cincinnati makes for an ideal “staycation.” 

“I don’t think locals realize how massive tourism is here,” says Debbie Pappadakes, senior communications manager with CincinnatiUSA Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Visitors to Cincinnati spend an average of $4.4 billion a year.

And what makes that number even more impactful (aside from the economic benefit to the region) is the fact that many of the establishments that visitors frequent — establishments composing some of Cincinnati’s finest — make it a priority to give back. 

Orchids at Palm Court — the only AAA Five Diamond-rated restaurant in the state, and 1 of just 63 restaurants in the country with the highly sought-after designation — is one of those establishments. 

With its 1930s French Art Deco interior and its commitment to the highest quality ingredients, Orchids is at the top of travelers’ lists of must-visit places. 

On a quarterly basis, the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, which the restaurant calls home, engages in community outreach. But one thing Orchids concentrates on specifically is its partnership with La Soupe, a nonprofit that takes recovered food from local kitchens and turns it into healthy and delicious meals for families who are facing food insecurity.

“We also make weekly donations of recovered food to the Freestore Foodbank,” says Orchids’ Executive Chef Todd Kelly. “We want to make sure we’re doing our part to better the community where possible — not only by volunteering — but by supporting local vendors, farmers and artisans.” 

Another venue making its mark on the city is Maverick Chocolate, a place that’s put Cincinnati on the map when it comes to craft chocolate. 

Not only do they go from bean to bar in-house at their Findlay Market shop, but Maverick also pays anywhere from $500-2,000 above market price to ensure cacao beans are being sourced ethically from the farmers and co-op managers that they work directly with. 

According to Paul Picton, co-owner of Maverick, Peruvian communities are particularly excited to see chocolate makers arrive, as farming communities are trying to transition from coca, which is used to make cocaine, to cacao. 

“They had been under pressure from the terrorist groups to provide drugs that funded the Shining Path in Peru, and you can’t just tell people to stop what they’re doing — it’s their livelihood. But we’ve done a good job here in the USA of providing an alternative, and that’s chocolate.”

Do Good: 

•    Be an advocate for the region. Use the hashtag #summerincincy to showcase the best the region has to offer. 

•    Take a staycation and explore your community's gems. 

•    Become a certified tourism ambassador for the city. Contact CincinnatiUSA Convention & Visitors Bureau to learn more. 

 

NKU, Strategies to End Homelessness collaborate to launch unique app


There’s now a free, simple way to help the homeless, and it can be accomplished in a matter of seconds via a smartphone.
 
Students from Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Applied Informatics recently collaborated with Strategies to End Homelessness to develop and launch an application called Street Reach. It’s now available for download in both the Google Play and iOS Apple stores.
 
“People who are on the streets are very vulnerable, so it is important to provide them with services as quickly as possible,” says Kevin Finn, president and CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness. “The Street Reach app allows anyone who is concerned about helping the homeless to connect them with assistance.”
 
The app is simple — users are able to identify a location where individuals are sleeping on the streets, then type in a few sentences or notes regarding the situation. Once the information is received, outreach workers can then follow-up with reports to make sure those who are homeless are receiving assistance and have a plan in place to attain housing.  
 
According to Rachael Winters, a social work professor at NKU, the app could potentially serve as a national model.
 
“Street Reach makes it possible for community members to provide help to the homeless,” she says. “It also educates the public about the resources available in our community.” 

Do Good: 

• Download the Street Reach app today. 

Support Strategies to End Homelessness. 

• Spread the word about Street Reach and encourage your friends to download it as well. 
 

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


If there’s anyone who knows how to keep herself busy, it’s Kelly Thomas.

She has a background in creative writing and attended the MA program at Miami University. She received her MFA from Butler University and currently teaches literature and composition at Northern Kentucky University and Xavier University. Before coming to Lydia's on Ludlow, Thomas was a graduate student and writer-in-residence at Wordplay.

Thomas is also the event organizer for Literary Lydia’s, a showcase for Greater Cincinnati musicians, writers and performers. Open mic nights on the second and third Thursdays of each month are at Lydia's on Ludlow in Clifton, formerly known as Om Eco Cafe.

Upcoming Literary Lydia's events are scheduled for June 30, July 28 and Aug. 25, all beginning at 7 p.m.

Thomas organizes events and readings with local playwrights and poets, but her favorite part about her job is the plethora of people she crosses paths with.

“I get to meet so many different people from the city and network with writers and artists who are doing amazing things,” she says.

As a creative thinker, Thomas wanted to do something different this summer with the Lydia's on Ludlow events. 

“We’re shifting gears this summer to a different kind of series,” she says. “I wanted to explore the connection between yoga and the artistic process."

Starting July 7, CREYOS will host various yoga instructors and performances from varying creative disciplines. 

On top of all of the event organizing and teaching she does, Thomas has her own editing and writing business on the side, which she hopes to pursue more in the future.

Do Good:

• To learn more about Lydia's on Ludlow, visit its website

• Attend the opening night of CREYOS on July 7 at Lydia's on Ludlow, 329 Ludlow Ave., Clifton. 

• Stay connected with Literary Lydia's on the group’s Facebook page.
 

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. The program focuses on increasing the awareness and availability of STEM-related opportunities (science, technology, engineering and math) and is a collaboration between the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative (GCSC) and ArtsWave.

The resulting website, Cincy ARTS + STEM, is a place where parents and educators can search by grade level, date, discipline, provider and type of activity to find various camps and activities. Activities range from engineering and robotics to testing Ohio River water to African dance to developing mobile-game applications. 

“GCSC is thrilled with our region’s first-ever Summer of STEM," says Mary Adams, GCSC program manager. "It's connecting more students, including some of the most underserved, to many of our region’s best summer education programs. GCSC’s growing network of partners are excited about the possibilities we’re creating for students’ futures and our region’s future.”

The integration of STEM and the arts was something Cincinnati didn't realize it needed. 

“Both the arts and STEM are vital parts of education, and that’s why ArtsWave was so excited to work with the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative on the website,” ArtsWave President and CEO Alecia Kinter says. “The online guide highlights great programs, including those running during the Summer of STEM, that ensure that students in Greater Cincinnati develop the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st Century workforce: innovation, creativity, collaboration and more.”

Just one of the many programs is happening at William Howard Taft STEM Elementary, where fourth and fifth graders have been learning how to plant and tend to gardens. They have focused on planning, measuring, evaluating soil, studying water conditions and irrigation.

"The GCSC Summer of STEM initiative has provided students participating in the summer Organic Gardening program the opportunity to learn about an important sustainable life skill in an urban setting," says Elizabeth Cone, school community coordinator at William Howard Taft. "Everything in the garden has been planted and managed by the students. They have learned about plant biology as well as the healthy benefits of eating what you grow. The feeling of accomplishment is so evident on their faces when they see the seeds they've planted grow into food. They are even more excited about taking what they've learned to their own backyards or even patios."  

Do Good:

• Take a look at the camps and programs available on the Cincy ARTS + STEM website

• Learn more about the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative.

• For more information on ArtsWave, visit its website
 

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 and Story Soiree.

Starfire helps adults with disabilities uncover their talents and interests, which inevitably helps them thrive in their communities.

"This celebration is about all the great work our community partners have done," says Mariah Gilkeson, Starfire's marketing and special events coordinator. "It's a way for us to showcase the work that's been done in the last year." 

The June 16 breakfast celebration is a chance for community members and business professionals to view the stories of Starfire's members through film. Keynote speakers will talk about their experiences and how to build relationships.

The following night, Starfire will host its Story Soiree, which is free and open to the public. The event will feature a collection of 20 different stories in 1-minute clips that showcase the progress members made during the past year (see an example here).

"Our annual celebration truly showcases the work we've done to make Cincinnati a more inclusive city," GIlkeson says. "I think that's important. It shows how important relationship building really is. It shows the impact it can have on someone." 

Do Good:

• Register for the Starfire Breakfast Fundraiser, which begins at 7:30 a.m. June 16 at the 20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Road, Oakley. Tickets are $100.

• Attend the free Starfire Story Soiree at 7 p.m. June 17, also at the 20th Century Theater. Admission is free.

• For more information on Starfire and its mission, visit the organization's website
 

Cincinnati Chamber selected for pilot program on small business inclusion


The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber was recently selected to participate in a pilot program designed to increase workplace inclusion in small businesses for people with disabilities. 

"Getting Down to Business: A Pilot to Strengthen Small Businesses Through Disability Inclusion" is a one-year program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy. Cincinnati was one of three cities selected to participate in the pilot.

The program allows the Cincinnati Chamber to implement strategies to help businesses create more inclusive workplaces and help businesses recruit and retain qualified people who live with disabilities. While the program won't directly lead to employment, the Chamber hopes to institute an internship or shadowing arrangement to connect businesses with potential employees. The pilot will end in October, which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. 

Approximately 68 percent of working age people with disabilities were unemployed, according to the Department of Labor in 2015.

"One of the things we know about people with disabilities is that many of them are unemployed," says Mary Stagaman, the Chamber's senior inclusion advisor. "What's not true is that most of them are unemployable. We see people with disabilities as a large, untapped resource."

A group from Cincinnati presented testimony to U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot in Washington, D.C. at a congressional hearing to discuss initiatives to increase workplace inclusion for people with disabilities. 

Among that group was Susan Brownknight, executive director of Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled, and small business owner Terri Hogan, who also served on the pilot committee's advisory board.

"One of the biggest obstacles to independence for people living with disabilities is equal opportunity," Brownknight says. "The barriers they face as it relates to getting a job are massive. At the same time, employers are looking to diversify their workforce, to add and attract new talent, and there's this pool of potential candidates that have a lot to contribute to their workplaces. They happen to be people with disabilities whose unemployment rates are unacceptably high."

But Brownknight thinks this pilot program is a chance for Cincinnati to show its true colors.

"Cincinnati is emerging as a national leader in full community inclusion as it related to people with disabilities," she says. "This city embraces people of all abilities. I think that is something this city should be very proud of. The Chamber being selected as one of three sites in the nation is a reflection upon that."

Hogan believes in the positive effects of hiring people with disabilities.

"It's not just the right thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do," she says. "The bottom line is they make really great employees."
 

World Music Fest returns with 50 performances celebrating art and culture


What was once an annual event has now returned for the first time since 2010, as World Music Fest takes places June 11 at a variety of venues throughout Covington. The mix of live performances, art exhibits, interactive programs and food will be a feast for the senses as festivalgoers immerse themselves in a multitude of different cultural experiences.
 
The all-day, family-friendly event is produced in partnership by Liz Wu and Renaissance Covington. Wu has assisted with marketing and fundraising since the event’s inception in 2007 and since then has taken the reigns for its successful implementation.
 
For Wu, whose cultural background is mixed — her father is from Taiwan and her mother’s ancestry is German, English and Native American — and who has traveled extensively and spent time living abroad, the festival creates an opportunity for people to enrich the lives of others in a way that she says “typically requires a plane ticket.”
 
“Having a chance to travel outside of your home country, especially if you do not speak the language, is enriching, educational and humbling,” Wu says. “The arts are a natural and universal way for people of all walks of life to come together and communicate. So much richness of experience and diversity of the world is present right here on our doorstep — and that is cause to celebrate.”
 
This year’s festival will showcase 50 performances — everything from Brazilian, French and Cajun jazz during brunch to world hip hop performances paired with a documentary screening about break dancing.
 
According to Wu, there is something for everyone to appreciate.
 
“One can orient to some degree by themes,” she says. “Everything is staggered, so a very ambitious person could potentially catch a little of everything.” 

Do Good: 

• Check out the schedule of events for Saturday's festivities.

• Are you a photographer? If so, World Music Fest is in need of volunteers to document the event. Sign up as a volunteer photographer or videographer and contact Liz Wu to confirm. 

• Spread the word and invite your friends to World Music Fest by sharing the event page on Facebook.
 

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


Shannon Minor, who serves as head basketball coach for the North College Hill High School boys’ varsity team, is prepped and ready for another year of camp.
 
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 — one day prior to Father’s Day, which has significant meaning for Minor. Shannon was always close to his father, Pete.
 
“Growing up, I was able to spend a lot of time with my dad, which allowed us to bond and develop a special relationship which turned into a friendship,” Minor says. “My dad tossed baseball, hit ground balls, rebounded shots, played goalie, tossed football, took bike rides and went to the park during my childhood. These are all positives memories that I will cherish during my lifetime and pass on to my children.”
 
In 2011, however, Minor was forced to say goodbye to his father, who was hit and killed by a drunk driver while changing a tire on the side of the road.
 
Rather than taking a tragedy and allowing it to manifest as such, Minor wanted to memorialize his father in a way that embodied his values and ideals — the ones that drew Shannon and his sister so close to their father in the first place.
 
“Fathers are important figures for any child's development,” Minor says. “Fathers guide their children by helping them make good decisions, answer questions and provide support for challenging situations.”
 
Rather than distancing themselves or even becoming consumed by the cell phone, for example, Minor wants fathers to put distractions away and for one day bond by working together through drills, pick-up games and teamwork.
 
Northern Kentucky University men’s basketball coach John Brannen, a father of twins, will join this year’s campers, which Minor says he’s excited about because he knows Brannen can relate.
 
“In the past, we have had step-dads, uncles, coaches and counselors,” Minor says. “My dad would always help children by coaching, driving them to practice or just providing a positive comment to make them smile. Since Kicks for Kids is all about leveling the playing field for all children to give them an opportunity to participate in camps, this serves as a platform to accomplish their vision and goals.” 

Do Good: 

• Support Kicks for Kids and spend quality time with the little one in your life by signing up for camp June 18 at the Friars Club in St. Bernard. 

• Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Contact Shannon Minor.

• Like the Pete Minor Father/Child Basketball Camp on Facebook.
 

DPCR senior receives Gates Millennium Scholarship


Jonathan Abe, DePaul Cristo Rey (DPCR) senior and Price Hill resident, is one of just 15 students across the state of Ohio to be named a Gates Millennium Scholar. The prestigious award is presented to 1,000 students annually, and this year more than 53,000 students applied. 
 
The scholarship removes financial barriers to education for minority students with high academic success rates and leadership capabilities. For Abe, the scholarship provides security and a sense of relief.
 
“I was not expecting this big of an award — it was shocking for me,” Abe says. “It means I’ll have my college education paid for, and graduate school. My family doesn’t have to worry as much about financial aid and getting loans to pay for my college.”
 
Abe, salutatorian of his graduating class, has been accepted to six colleges and will attend the University of Cincinnati to study engineering in the fall. He’s one of 38 DPCR seniors who have been accepted to college and will walk across the stage to receive their diplomas May 31; it’s the second straight senior class that has achieved 100 percent college acceptance at the new Catholic high school.
 
As one of seven children in the Abe family, Jonathan hopes to set the standard for higher education.
 
“I have two older sisters and four younger siblings, and I’m the first one going to college,” Abe says. “I think I’ve set an example for my younger brother who goes to DPCR. I’ve worked really hard for my grades, and this is the result. I’m hoping he sees this is what happens when you work hard for good grades.”

Do Good:  

• Connect with DePaul Cristo Rey on Facebook.

• Support the school by giving.

• Learn about volunteer opportunities at DPCR.
 

Child Poverty Collaborative committed to looking past differences to further progress


According to the Census Bureau’s American Community survey, nearly half of all children in Cincinnati and one in five children in the Tristate live below the federal poverty line. 

“That is simply unacceptable,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says. “We are deeply and passionately committed to tackling this head on, to bringing together diverging opinions, stakeholders, organizations and communities so that we can work together in finding solutions.”

The Child Poverty Collaborative of Cincinnati — a diverse group of community leaders and concerned citizens aiming to move 10,000 children and their families out of poverty in the next five years — is leading the effort, and they’ll hear May 24 from Adam Kahane, an international leader in social change.

Kahane co-facilitated Mont Fleur workshops in South Africa, which were aimed at bringing individuals together despite their different ways of seeing and being, and ultimately helped the community find a way to peacefully transition from apartheid to democracy.

About 250 individuals will be in attendance for the conversation with Kahane, who hopes to inspire our local community to look past their differences for the sake of furthering progress.

“While everyone who will be in that room on May 24 will have different perspectives, what we will all agree on is that this is a very important problem that we must solve in order to strengthen the lives of individuals and families and strengthen our region,” says Donna Jones Baker, President and CEO of the Urban League of Southwestern Ohio. “Adam’s discussion with us will help us move forward together in facilitating collaboration for the betterment of us all.” 

Do Good: 

Contact Sean Rugless at the Katalyst Group to learn more about childhood poverty and what we can do to diminish it in our region. 

• Engage in dialogue about childhood poverty and brainstorm potential solutions. 

• Be knowledgeable about childhood poverty in our region and understand its impact. 
 

Union Institute celebrates National Police Week by delivering cookies


It’s National Police Week, and Union Institute & University (UIU), whose largest degree program is Criminal Justice Management, is doing its part to recognize local officers by expressing gratitude and delivering cookies to five Cincinnati Police stations.
 
More than 2,200 officers nationally hold a degree from UIU, and more than 25 of them have gone on to become police assistants, chiefs or sheriffs.
 
According to Covington Police Det. and UIU Site Coordinator Eric Higgins, knowledge of the criminal justice system is important to propel society forward and help mitigate some of the current tension that exists.
 
“Police departments and police academies do a very good job of training officers to shoot guns, drive in tough conditions, gain knowledge of the law and learn self-defense tactics,” Higgins says. “A college education will offer you life experiences, different ways to look at things and knowledge in a field of study.”

It’s why Covington Police Officer Scott Dames, a current student, is enrolled at UIU.

“It’s given me the opportunity to understand the reasoning behind many of my present administration’s decisions,” Dames says.
 
UIU’s criminal justice curriculum is designed and taught by law enforcement professionals, all of whom hope to make a difference in the lives of their students by providing them with varied experiences from “different walks of life” and new perspectives, Higgins says.
 
It’s a profession the school recognizes as important, one it hopes to continue to grow and enhance as more students enroll.

“Union Institute & University simply wants to say thank you to all law enforcement officers for keeping our communities safe,” Media and Public Relations Manager Teresa Wilkins says. “Kindness goes a long way.” 

Do Good: 

• Thank a police officer. 

• Interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement? Learn more about UIU's Criminal Justice Management program. 

• Connect with UIU on Facebook
 

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 May 21 as students work to serve their community by raising funds for The Cure Starts Now Foundation and the iWILL Awareness Foundation.
 
The students leading the effort, which features hot air balloons at the Norwood High School practice field, call themselves “Team Erase!!!” since their mission is to erase cancer.
 
“We believe that teaching our students to serve others builds compassionate, caring, young people,” says Laura Ferguson, After School Program Coordinator for Avenues For Success, which affords unique learning opportunities both before and after school for students of all ages.
 
Glow for the Cure is just one of the ways the students engage with their community.
 
Since Avenues for Success believes that students thrive through nontraditional social, academic and recreational avenues, there’s a Skateboarding Club, for example, that picks up trash as they skate throughout the neighborhood, in addition to a Family Floral Club that creates flower arrangements for local nursing homes.
 
Because students are able to dabble in various activities and even discover their passions, they excel in a multitude of ways.
 
“The impact of Avenues for Success in our students’ lives is far reaching,” Ferguson says. “We have students that have struggled academically that have improved their grades, students that had difficulty in social settings and began to make friends in their clubs, students that have been exposed to the arts in ways that can only happen in the hours after school, and students that have experienced new opportunities that have led them to future career choices.” 

Do Good: 

Attend Glow for the Cure Saturday, May 21 from 5 p.m. until dusk. The event is family friendly and takes place at Norwood High School. 

• Avenues for Success can deliver unique opportunities to its students only through community partnerships, so if you're interested in pairing up, contact Laura Ferguson. 

• Avenues for Success is always in need of volunteers. Want to get involved? Find out how.
 

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


Are you a nonprofit interested in furthering both your impact and your reach through engaged philanthropy? 
 
If so, Social Venture Partners Cincinnati (SVP) will host the free discussion “Scaling and Accelerating Social Innovation: Learning from the Technology Startup Community” May 19 with those who already have successful models in place.
 
The event will begin with a conversation among local panelists from Design Impact, Flywheel Cincinnati and Impact 100 and will culminate with an address from keynote speaker Nancy Heinen, Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2) board member and partner and former Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Apple.
 
“We are so honored to have Nancy Heinen as our keynote speaker,” SVP Cincinnati Executive Director Lauren LaCerda Merten says.  “As an experienced corporate lawyer and senior executive in both small and multinational companies, Nancy has had a distinguished career focused on innovation.”
 
And when it comes to innovation, SVP knows how to deliver.
 
According to LaCerda Merten, SVP as an entity itself is a model of what it looks like to scale innovation, because what starts as a $20,000 grant over a three-year time period becomes much more for the nonprofits that SVP funds.
 
“Each grant is leveraged by the strategic contribution of our partners’ time and expertise, so that the average benefit to the nonprofits is three to five times greater than the cash grants alone,” LaCerda Merten says. “The engagement between Social Venture Partners and nonprofit investees fosters a relationship that makes customized, sustainable change possible for the nonprofit, and an unparalleled journey to increased philanthropic impact for our partners.” 

Do Good: 

• Find more details and register here for the free event at 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19 at Cintrifuse’s Union Hall in Over-the-Rhine.

• Learn more about Social Venture Partners Cincinnati and how to get involved.

• Connect with SVP Cincinnati on Facebook.
 

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


Bad Girl Ventures (BGV), which supports female entrepreneurs, is hosting the first workshop of its Grow series May 16.
 
“The BGV Grow workshops are meant to support female business owners at all phases of her business cycle, whether or not she is a BGV alumnae,” BGV Cincinnati Executive Director Nancy Aichholz says.
 
BGV alumnae have previously completed the Explore or Launch phases that combine micro-lending and business development into one, but Grow allows the nonprofit to extend a helping hand to all whether or not they’ve worked with BGV in the past.
 
According to the Covington-based nonprofit’s website, women compose 60 percent of the U.S. population and earn 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, and while females own 50 percent of privately held companies, they have access to only 5 percent of the capital — something BGV hopes to change.
 
Participants attending Grow will receive insight and mentorship from experts in the field such as Maggie Frye, founder of Core Consulting Group LLC.
 
Frye will lead participants through a lesson on the importance of knowing and developing one’s strengths, while future sessions will be led by other successful women who will focus on other topics of interest.
 
“We are thrilled with the caliber of business experts willing to donate their time to teach these high-level workshops,” Aichholz says. “GROW is one of the assets BGV has to offer as we position ourselves as the regional resource center for female-owned businesses.” 

Do Good: 

• Interested in learning more about Bad Girl Ventures’ three-tiered class program? Sign up for more information.

Support BGV by donating, volunteering or starting a new chapter in a new city. 

• Like BGV on Facebook.
 

Cincinnati Symphony, CCM lead diversity push among American orchestras


According to the League of American Orchestras, about 4 percent of classical orchestra musicians are African American or Latino. To promote a more diverse and inclusive environment, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) have teamed up to provide a unique opportunity for mentorship and applied learning among students.
 
Thanks to a $900,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, five string players are now CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows.
 
The program is the first of its kind and aims to change the face of America’s orchestras, kicking off in August at the start of the 2016-17 school year. Five new Fellows will be welcomed in 2017-18, as the program is slated to run for two years.
 
“Our Fellows hail from New York, Georgia, Kentucky, Costa Rica and Hong Kong and represent the future of American orchestras,” CCM Dean Peter Landgren says. “Working in close collaboration with our partners at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, we will prepare these Fellows for long and fruitful artistic careers while challenging the status quo of our industry.”

In addition to financial support via scholarships, stipends and award money, students will also receive compensation to practice and perform with the CSO.

For Emilio Carlo, one of the five students selected as an incoming Fellow, the opportunity is particularly special.

“Being raised in the Bronx, I would’ve never thought my future would involve classical music,” Carlo says. “When I attend orchestra concerts, there aren’t many musicians of color seen on stage. In fact, it’s always an ‘aha’ moment when I see a Latino or African American musician playing in a symphony.”

Do Good: 

• Learn more about the Multicultural Awareness Council and how you can promote diversity and inclusiveness within the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. 

• Connect with CSO on Facebook

• Check out a list of upcoming events at CCM.
 

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


If you’re in the mood for salsa dancing, live music and authentic Latino cuisine, mark your calendars for May 7-8, when the 13th annual Cincy-Cinco highlights Latino traditions, values and culture on Fountain Square.
 
“We want people of all ages and backgrounds to have the opportunity to enjoy and learn about the rich heritage of Latino music, dance, and food,” Cincy-Cinco Chair Alfonso Cornejo says. “And this year we are celebrating Mother’s Day all weekend long.”
 
Children will be sure to have a good time with piñatas and a Conga parade. There will also be opportunities to paint flowerpots as tokens of appreciation for mom.
 
Cincy-Cinco is the largest Latino celebration in the region, with all proceeds benefiting local nonprofits that serve and support the Latino community.
 
“We are so happy and proud that this event is becoming a great tradition in this city to add to the many other wonderful events and traditions,” Cornejo says.
 
Cincy-Cinco takes place 12-11 p.m. Saturday and 12-6 p.m. Sunday.  

Do Good:

• Check out the music and dance lineup, food and children's activities offered at Cincy-Cinco May 7-8. 

• Connect with Cincy-Cinco on Facebook, share the page and invite a friend to the festivities. 

• Brush up on all things Latino by learning more about Cinco De Mayo, Fiesta De Pueblo and the piñata.
 

Hive helps undiscovered musicians reach new audiences


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

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

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

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

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

• Download Hive in the App Store.

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

• For more information, visit Hive's website.
 

Magnified Giving program teaches student philanthropy


Roger Grein had always been a philanthropist, but it wasn't until 2002 that he expanded his reach to college students. 

Grein launched a student philanthropy program, known today as Magnified Giving, at various colleges and universities to help students learn about philanthropy by awarding grant money to local organizations of their choosing. When he found that it worked well for college students, he trickled the program down to the high school level. 

This year's group of students will award grant money to their chosen nonprofit recipients in two more ceremonies on May 9 and 11 at the Mayerson JCC after a first event April 26.

Magnified Giving allows teachers and administration to best fit the initiative with their existing curriculum, whether it’s through a class or after-school club. Students decide on a barrier they want to study or an agency they’re interested in, and each group cross-educates on its topic — homelessness, hunger, veterans affairs, etc. From there, the class decides who gets the grant.

Teachers and students can shape their philanthropy to what they want it to look like.
 
“We're educating the next generation and exposing teenagers to community needs,” Magnified Giving Executive Director Kelly Collison says. “All of the stories touch their hearts and minds so that they can make great change. It gives students the chance to learn lifelong lessons while doing it.”
 
Each school is given $1,000 and is encouraged to raise additional money. Magnified Giving will match up to an additional $250 of what is raised for the chosen organizations or agencies.

Currently, Magnified Giving has 350 registered social service agencies in its system. 
 
“Kids become very passionate about how blessed they are,” Collison says. “They want their work to matter. It really resonates with youth once they have a platform to stand on.”
 
Do Good:

RSVP to attend the May 9 or May 11 awards ceremony at Mayerson JCC, 8485 Ride Road, Amberley Village.

Donate to support Magnified Giving’s mission.

Volunteer your time to a cause you’re passionate about. 
 

Internationally renowned photographer features local families in "ReelBeauty" program


While the ReelAbilities Film Festival won’t return to Cincinnati until March 2017, nonprofit organizer Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD) has put together a series of monthly “ReelPrograms” happenings leading up to the main event.

Intended to build anticipation for ReelAbilities, the region’s largest film festival, and also prompt dialogue about the abilities of those labeled as “disabled,” ReelPrograms will feature everything from encore screenings of past years’ award-winning films to the ReelBeauty photography exhibition that made its debut at Christ Church Cathedral last month. 

The exhibition features the work of Rick Guidotti, internationally known fashion photographer turned activist and founder of Positive Exposure, a nonprofit aiming to shift perceptions of those living with physical, genetic, intellectual or behavioral differences.

“I see beauty everywhere,” says Guidotti, who hopes to challenge viewers to “change how they see,” then “see how they change.” 

Guidotti photographed 12 local families to produce a collection of 22 photos for ReelBeauty. Rather than walking down the street and choosing to stare at someone or make eye contact then quickly look away, he says his aim in photographing those with differences is to showcase the shared humanity one can only recognize after steadying one’s gaze and looking directly into another person’s eyes. 

“There are individuals everywhere in the world that don’t want to be seen as diseased or as a diagnosis,” Guidotti says. “We all want to be seen as human beings.” 

Photos will remain on display through the end of May.

Do Good: 

• Check out ReelBeauty. at Christ Church Cathedral, 318 E. Fourth St. downtown. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday. 

• Mark your calendar for other upcoming ReelPrograms.

Connect with Cincinnati ReelAbilities on social media or by getting involved as a volunteer or supporter. 
 

Impact 100 seeking Young Philanthropist Scholarship applicants


Impact 100 is currently accepting applications for its 2017 class in the Young Philanthropist Scholarship Program

Impact 100 awards more than $100,000 each year to Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky nonprofit agencies, with over $3.6 million donated since its inception in 2001. Every dollar from each $1,000 annual membership fee goes directly to the grant pool.  
 
The Young Philanthropist Scholarship Program is meant for young women who have an interest in philanthropy but can't fund a full Impact 100 membership on their own. Each grant applicant chooses a focus area in one of the following categories: culture, education, environment, family and health and wellness.
 
“The program is a means to encourage young members to experience women’s collective giving,” Impact 100 President Donna Broderick says. 
 
Do Good:

• Do you know someone who would be a good fit for the Young Philanthropist Scholarship Program? Encourage them to apply by the April 30 deadline. 

Donate to the Young Philanthropist Scholarship Fund.

• For more information on how you can get involved, contact Impact 100 directly.
 

"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, with topics pulled from Douglas Blackmon's book and documentary film, Slavery by Another Name.

"We want to educate people about our history and how it's still affecting us today," says Lydia Morgan, event coordinator. "That part of our history is affecting black men and minority men in general. I think a lot of people who have watched that documentary or read the book are totally shocked about what went on."

Slavery by Another Name focuses on issues around the idea of forced labor after most people assumed that slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The book/documentary follows the re-enslavement of black Americans from the Civil War to World War II and discusses how forced labor made its way into modern day society. 

The event is free and open to the public and is presented by Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Cincinnati. The discussion comes after the U.S. Housing and Urban Development announced that turning down tenants or buyers based on their criminal records may violate the Fair Housing Act, Morgan says.

Do Good:

Register to attend the Slavery by Another Name discussion at 5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 28 at United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2400 Reading Road in Walnut Hills.

• For more information, contact Chloe Gersten.

• Stay up-to-date on recent discussions on Facebook.
 

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 (NEW) annual speaker series on Thursday, April 21.
 
Founded in 2001, NEW is a national organization that uses leadership development, networking and education events to advance women and men in the consumer products and retail industry. There are nearly 10,000 members from 750 various companies all across the country, says Kim Markle, Cincinnati NEW committee chair.
 
Harris will speak about “The New Way to Start Out, Step Up or Start Over in Your Career," which is based on her recently published book, Strategize to Win.
 
NEW brings in speakers each spring and fall, usually prominent businessmen and women who can offer insights around leadership. The April 21 event will feature a networking event following Harris’ keynote.
 
"It's not always about work," Markle says. "It's about who you get to know that will help you professionally, who can make you more well rounded."
 
Do Good:

Register to attend the Cincinnati NEW event at 1:30-6 p.m. April 21 at Horseshoe Casino downtown.

• Learn more about NEW’s mission and vision.

Join the Cincinnati chapter of Network of Executive Women.
 

Female community leaders mentor girls with 3D printers


Over the course of 10 weeks, a group of female community leaders traveled to South Avondale Elementary every Thursday to mentor fifth-grade girls using a 3D printer. The initiative was a collaboration among United Way's Women of Tocqueville, Women Investing in the Next Generation (WINGs) and the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative.

South Avondale Elementary was just one of 13 local schools participating in the project. The women who served as mentors came from varying fields — consultants, lawyers, coaches, attorneys — and Kelly Dehan, a Women of Tocqueville member, served as project manager. 

The students used the printer to make simple items like jewelry and keychains. But they also focused on what they could invent to solve a problem.

"The 3D printer is especially nice because here you are doing research on what you can invent to make life easier," Dehan says. "It was really rewarding for all of us to watch."

The students came up with the idea of a phone cradle — something that would hold a phone while it played videos — so that instead of leaning their phones up against a hard surface they could use the cradle. 

South Avondale was able to keep the printer for future use by its students. 

"I think the process of thinking problems through, working with others and bonding gave them a renewed sense of confidence," Dehan says. "You could definitely see the confidence and can-do spirit improve over a several week period."

Do Good:

Donate to support United Way's programs. 

Learn more about Women Investing in the Next Generation (WINGs) 

• Find out how you can help support the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative.
 

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


For the second consecutive year, DePaul Cristo Rey (DPCR) High School seniors have achieved a college acceptance rate of 100 percent. The senior class of 39 individuals met the school-wide goal months in advance of graduation and has earned nearly $1.7 million and counting in merit-based college scholarships. 

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

Last year’s graduating class was the school’s first since DPCR opened in 2011 as Greater Cincinnati’s first new Catholic high school in 50 years, and all 48 seniors were accepted to college. Farfsing acknowledges the first two classes have set the bar high, but he’s confident future classes can continue the legacy.

“With our school's focus on college-preparation and the commitment and zeal of our teachers and students, I have no doubts future classes can reach that bar,” he says. 

Students have committed to universities like Purdue and Xavier so far, but not everyone has finalized his or her decisions. 

Paige Yaden, for example, has been accepted to five colleges and is weighing her options. 

“For me, being accepted to five schools is awesome,” she says. “A few years ago, I didn’t think I would be accepted anywhere. My freshman year grades were bad; sophomore year was worse. But I got it together junior year and have been on the honor roll every quarter this year.”

Students like Maggie McDonald, who will attend XU’s School of Nursing, credit their teachers’ compassion and dedication for pushing her classmates to strive for greatness.

“The teachers make everything happen here,” McDonald says. “They love us. They made sure we knew we had this goal, and they wanted us all to get accepted. I was proud of everybody for reaching this point. There were some students in the beginning who slacked off, but as they started to believe we could do it like the seniors last year they really started working.”

According to the Cristo Rey Network, which comprises 30 schools nationwide, 96 percent of its student population comes from families with an average annual income of $34,000.

Do Good: 

• Support DePaul Cristo Rey's mission and learn about ways to give.

• Learn about volunteer opportunities at DPCR.

• Connect with DPCR on Facebook.
 

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 April 23 to back Beads of Courage, a national arts-in-medicine program that supports children coping with serious medical issues.
 
Artists gather at Brazee every September for National Bead Challenge Day, when they create glasswork that enables children to record and share their own stories of hope through jewelry creation. The Oakley-based studio is extending its support for Beads of Courage, however, by asking skilled volunteers to stop by for a two-hour shift April 23 to utilize their talents for good.
 
Volunteers will work specifically on birthday beads, beads for the upcoming holidays, transportation beads and dream beads.
 
“These beads are tangible signs of hope and progress for the kids who receive them,” says Chelsea Borgman, Brazee’s gallery coordinator. “They show the kids, their families and the world just how much they’ve overcome.”
 
The event runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Food and non-glass bead making activities will be provided by Brazee, which is also supplying glass artists with free torch time and, of course, glass.
 
In addition to creating beads, the new Beads of Courage Volunteers Superstars program will be introduced. The goal is to foster skill building and community not only among bead makers in the studio but also between bead makers and bead recipients.
 
“We’re proud to work with Beads of Courage each year to brighten the days of brave children undergoing difficult medical treatments,” Borgman says.
 
In conjunction with the Mini Bead Marathon, Brazee will also host its fifth annual Art Supply Swap, in which creatives can drop off unwanted supplies in exchange for useable materials. Drop-off begins at 9:30 a.m., and leftover supplies will be donated to Indigo Hippo, which makes art more accessible to children and other local artists in need of added support when it comes to obtaining supplies.

Do Good: 

• If you're a skilled glassworker, contact Brazee Street Studios to volunteer at the Mini Bead Marathon April 23.

• Even if you're not a glassworker yourself, the event is family-friendly. Stop by between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to join in festivities and watch the artists in action. 

• Bring any unneeded art supplies to swap out for materials that may be of use to you. Drop-offs begin at 9:30 a.m.
 

Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam gives voice to local teens


Students from all across the tristate area will participate in the final round of the world's largest youth poetry slam, Louder Than a Bomb (LTAB), on Saturday, April 9 at the School for Creative and Performing Arts.

DePaul Cristo Rey, Walnut Hills, Hughes and Elementz Hip Hop Youth Center students, as well as 15 individual students from various schools, will use spoken word and poetry to describe their experiences growing up in the Queen City. LTAB, born in Chicago in 2001 as a way to give ostracized and disenfranchised youth a platform to share their unheard stories through poetry, allows youth to engage with one another, tell their own stories and listen to the stories of their peers. 

Desirae "The Silent Poet" Hosley is a spoken word artist, poet, author and community organizer who has worked as a LTAB coach since 2014. 

"I love working with these amazing teens because I get a chance to be that ear for them," Hosley says. "They just want to be heard. Being a teaching artist that focuses on performance, I was able to connect on a level that made their poem come to life and, not only did it come to life, it helped everyone see the fight in their eyes and sincerity of their poetry."

Coaches work with students, mentoring and guiding them as they find creative ways to tell their stories on stage. Hosley herself has seen teens speak about hard-to-discuss issues like poverty, race and sexual orientation in front of a bunch of strangers.

Being able to have a platform to be heard gives students a boost of self-confidence. 

"One thing that separates each teen poet from the masses is that they had the courage to step on stage and become vulnerable in room of people who don't know their story," Hosley says. "And in that moment, they will grow an inch taller and stronger in who they are."

Do Good:

Register for free tickets to Louder Than a Bomb at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at SCPA's Corbett Theater, 108 W. Central Pkwy., Downtown/Over-the-Rhine.

• Read about previous Louder Than a Bomb competitions winners

• Find out how you can get involved with Louder Than a Bomb by visiting its website
 

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


It’s an exciting weekend at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, as the ensemble will perform an all-Spanish program while also collecting non-perishable food and hygiene-related items Friday and Saturday in an effort to support the Freestore Foodbank.

One in six Tristate individuals are at risk of facing food insecurity, a prime reason why the CSO participates in the national Orchestras Feeding America (OFA) initiative to fight hunger across the U.S. The CSO is one of more than 450 orchestras working hard to engage the community to show they’re more than just a musical group. 

Since OFA’s inception, 475,000 pounds of food have been collected and distributed to those in need. Here at home, the CSO also provides further incentive for its patrons to donate. 

“Offering discounted tickets ($10) with a canned food donation at Friday’s concert is a way to make a world-class, live performance as accessible as possible while at the same time supporting the work of the Freestore and helping neighbors in need,” CSO Vice President of Communications Chris Pinelo says. 

And the world-class live performance is not one to be missed, as Latin Passion features not only the CSO but also partial staging, a full chorus, a multitude of vocal soloists, a Spanish guitarist and flamenco dancing and singing. 

“The CSO really brings the world to Cincinnati each season, engaging a diverse array of artists from around the globe and exploring different repertoire,” Pinelo says. “The music for this ‘Latin Passion’ program is lush, exciting and beautiful, sure to thrill any audience.”

Do Good: 

• Support the Cincinnati Symphony and Orchestras Feeding America by donating a non-perishable food item or hygiene product at a performance this weekend (8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Music Hall). With a donation, $10 tickets are available for Friday's performance. 

• If you can't donate this weekend, support the Freestore Foodbank any day of the week.

Support the CSO and plan to attend an upcoming performance. 
 

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 April 28 to help support the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health. Approximately 20 percent of all sales from 6 to 8 p.m. will benefit the foundation’s research and projects. 

Patty Brisben launched the foundation in 2006 as the nonprofit arm of Pure Romance to help organizations serving women seeking relief and counsel for issues impacting their sexual well-being. The foundation has raised more than $3 million for research, education and community involvement since then and donated nearly $2 million in grants to local and national organizations.
 
“I am so excited that more and more businesses continue to open their doors to support women’s sexual health through the foundation,” Brisben says. “I absolutely love Kendra Scott’s pieces, and I can’t say enough about the excitement of a fun night out to support a wonderful cause.”
 
Funds will go directly to the foundation’s work in its four primary focus areas: vulvovaginal pain disorders, intimacy-related sexual dysfunction after cancer treatments, the impact of perimenopause and menopause on sexual health and libido & desire. 
 
Do Good:

• Shop Kendra Scott while giving to a great cause 6-8 p.m. April 28, 7560 Gibson St., Liberty Township.

• Can’t attend but still want to support the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health? You can place an order over the phone at 937-889-6291.

• For more information on how you can help the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health, visit its website.
 

Cincinnati Gorilla Run to raise funds for Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund


The Cincinnati Gorilla Run returns April 3 for its fifth year to help raise funds for the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund (MGCF), the Denver-based organization protecting mountain gorillas and habitats in Africa where they’re highly endangered.
 
“We’re helping protect the estimated 880 remaining mountain gorillas, which is all that’s alive in the world,” MGCF Development Director Debbie Wright says. “Run like a gorilla to save a gorilla.”
 
The 5k run will start and finish at Montgomery Inn Boathouse, taking gorilla- and banana-dressed runners through downtown, across the bridge to Newport and then back into Cincinnati.
 
Everyone is encouraged to run, and groups are suggested. There will be awards for first, second and third place in both the male and female categories as well as the most creative costume.

Funds raised from the marathon will go toward the Ruth Keesling Wildlife Health and Research Center, a veterinary facility in Uganda where local students are trained to become veterinarians and take care of gorillas in the field, Wright says.
 
Do Good:

Register to participate in the Cincinnati Gorilla Run 2016, starting at 11 a.m. April 3 at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse downtown.

• Can’t run/walk in the 5k? Donate to help support the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund’s mission.

• For more information on how you can help, visit the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund’s website.
 

Girls on the Run celebrates 20 years of empowerment


Girls on the Run (GOTR) International is celebrating 20 years of empowering young females, and the organization is calling on the public to help celebrate. By using the hashtag #GOTRBorntoRun and sharing what one believes she was born to do, joining the festivities is made simple. 

Girls in grades 3-8 make strides toward self-discovery throughout the program, as they train with coaches who incorporate physical activity, along with confidence and character building to prompt self-love. 

The nonprofit began in Charlotte, N.C. with 13 eager participants, but throughout the past 20 years it’s expanded to include 225 councils serving more than 1 million girls.

GOTR Cincinnati, which launched in 2005, served 3,000 girls last year alone, 50 percent of whom received financial support to make their journeys possible. 

“Thanks to dedicated coaches, volunteers, sponsors, partners and SoleMates, we are able to continue to reach more girls every year and provide scholarships to reach every girl with interest,” says Mary Gaertner, GOTR Cincinnati’s executive director.

And the organization hopes to continue to do so in the years to come. 

Girls enrolled in this year’s spring session are currently training for their program culmination: a 5k that takes place at Paul Brown Stadium. 

Share what you were born to do and help girls celebrate locally by cheering them on or even joining in their 5k as they realize their potential while experiencing a sense of accomplishment May 7.

Do Good: 

• What were you born to do? Share your passion on social media, and use the hashtag #GOTRBorntoRun.

Register for the GOTR Cincinnati 5k on May 7 (beginning at Paul Brown Stadium downtown) and help the girls celebrate in-person. 

• Become a SoleMate and help fundraise for GOTR Cincinnati so the nonprofit can reach even more girls in years to come. 
 

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.

The Great American Cleanup — hosted by Center for Great Neighborhoods, Keep Covington Beautiful and the City of Covington — is Covington’s largest annual volunteer event, garnering more than 800 helpers each year.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for people to come out and join with their neighbors to give back to their community,” says Shannon Ratterman, the Center’s community manager of community development. “This is a big collective effort to make our community a more beautiful place.”

Attendees who sign up will be assigned to specific sites around Covington to pick up litter, place trees, spread mulch and plant flowers. Rumpke is this year’s event title sponsor.

Anyone interested in learning more information about Great American Cleanup can attend an informational session Saturday, April 2, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Braxton Brewing Company in Covington.

An after-party will take place at Goebel Park to celebrate, Ratterman says.

Do Good:

Register as a volunteer for Great American Cleanup on Saturday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to 12:00 noon. 

• Attend the informational session Saturday, April 2, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Braxton Brewing Company, 27 W. Seventh St., Covington.

• For more information on how you can get involved, contact Shannon Ratterman
 

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


UpSpring is raffling off Opening Day Diamond seats to raise money to support Summer 360°, its education and enrichment summer program that serves Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky children experiencing homelessness. 

The organization, formerly named Faces Without Places, has been established for almost two decades. The summer program gives children the chance to hone their math and reading skills with the help of licensed teachers while also participating in fitness and other activities. Transportation and meals are provided free of charge each day.
 
UpSpring found that more than 85 percent of kids increase or retain their skills through the program, and all of them show an increase in hope, stability, comfort and well-being.
 
“This is simultaneously one of the most heartwarming jobs and horrifically depressing at the same time,” UpSpring Executive Director Mike Moroski says. “When kids come to the program, you see them make friends and do well, and it’s beautiful. But it’s depressing when at the end of the day the kids are going back to the couch, shelter or wherever they are staying.”
 
The Opening Day Diamond seat tickets were donated by John Burns, CEO of Encore Technologies and friend of UpSpring. Burns donated tickets for UpSpring’s raffle last year as well.  
 
Funds from the raffle will continue to support children living in poverty and experiencing homeless by giving them access to education and enrichment-based programs like Summer 360°.
 
“Cincinnati has the second-highest child poverty rate in the country,” Moroski says. “We’re striving harder to reverse the nasty trend of poverty in our town.”
 
Do Good:

* Purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win Opening Day Diamond seats. Raffle ends March 31. 

• Learn more about UpSpring’s Summer 360° program

• For more information on how you can help, contact UpSpring
 

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 (REC) at the Cincinnati Art Museum since it opened last March.
 
The 2,300-square-foot space is designed to give children and their parents a hands-on experience inside the museum with interactive exhibitions that rotate based on permanent and special collections. Interactive installations are usually hard to find in most art museums.
 
“When people come to an art museum, they’re are usually told not to touch anything,” says Jill Dunne, Cincinnati Art Museum Director of Marketing and Communications. “In REC, kids can come in and not only see art but create art of their own. It takes (museum visits) to a whole new level.”
 
Rosenthal Education Center is also home to family programs like Summer Camp, Wee Wednesday, Art in the Making, Connect, Creative Encounters and Evenings for Educators. When it comes to the future, the REC — and the Art Museum itself — has plans to become more accessible and more open to the community.
 
“We’ve always been a museum of the people for the people,” Dunne says. “We want to add more interactive and hands-on experiences within our galleries for an overall positive experience for adults and their children.”
 
Do Good:

• Stop by the Cincinnati Art Museum and visit the Rosenthal Education Center, 953 Eden Park Dr., Mt. Adams. Hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Mondays; admission is free.

Make a donation to help support the museum’s programs, including the REC.

• For more information, visit the Cincinnati Art Museum website.
 

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. 

In its most recent grant cycle, the focus was on building an inclusive community for all. A total of $30,000 was awarded to grantees creating unique opportunities for togetherness “from incorporating personal possessions into a mosaic mural to highlighting the collective artistic talents of an entire neighborhood to learning culinary techniques in a new way alongside the blind and visually impaired,” says Shannon Ratterman, the Center's Program Manager of Community Development. 

In the new round of grants, the focus is on health. 

“We believe that the health of the community is dependent upon the health of its residents,” Ratterman says. “When residents have access to physical activity, healthy foods and good medical care, they are more likely to succeed in other aspects of their lives.” 

Anyone who identifies as an artist and who has some connection to Covington is encouraged to apply. Finding creative approaches to addressing health-related topics like smoking cessation, food security and physical activity is ideal.

The grant deadline is May 2, and the Center will notify recipients after it reaches a decision June 15.

Do Good: 

• Check out previously highlighted projects and consider applying for a grant.

• Learn how you can help support the Center for Greater Neighborhoods.

• Like the Center on Facebook so you can keep up to date with the projects and other related events.
 

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 to help them make sense of their tax forms.
 
Last year, 940 families received help from the Center with their taxes, and more than $1.2 million was refunded to those families.
 
The Center sponsors an IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site as part of a collaboration with the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, which is also leading efforts to educate local taxpayers about the Earned Income Tax Credit and offering free assistance to low-income residents who want to file taxes online.
 
The Center for Great Neighborhoods opened a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic this year to help clients with IRS-related questions and problems. The clinic also provides seminars for English as a Second Language clients with the help of translators to educate Spanish speakers with tax questions.
 
The Center offers a variety of financial education services, including budgeting and credit management workshops, that reached more than 300 individuals last year.
 
Do Good:

• Tax preparation sessions are offered 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursdays through April 16 at the Center for Great Neighborhoods, 1650 Russell St., Covington (map here).

• Learn more about Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.

• For more information about the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, contact Mary Leppor.
 

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


Prospective high school or current college students studying engineering, management, planning, mechanics or any other transportation-related field are eligible to apply for a Cincinnati Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) scholarship.

COMTO will work to further its mission of ensuring “a level playing field and maximum participation in the transportation industry for all individuals, businesses and communities through information sharing, training, educational and professional development” at its April 21 scholarship luncheon.

Scholarships ranging from $750-$2,500 will be awarded to eligible and deserving students. 

According to Brandy Jones, Cincinnati COMTO president, pursuing a career in the transportation industry presents opportunities with much potential both now and for years to come.

“The transportation sector is thriving and can be a very rewarding career choice,” says Jones, who serves as public relations manager for Metro. 

Students can apply for the Mallory Humanitarian Scholarship, the First Transit Achievement Scholarship and the MV Achievement Scholarship, while current COMTO members are also eligible to apply for the Will Scott Scholarship if interested in career development. Nearly $10,000 will be awarded at the scholarship luncheon. 

“Through our scholarship program, we hope to inspire interest in the transportation industry and help develop its future leaders,” Jones says.

Applicants must complete and submit required information by the March 31 deadline. 

Do Good: 

• If you are a current or prospective student interested in the transportation industry, apply for a Cincinnati COMTO scholarship.

• Learn more about COMTO, and consider becoming a member.

• Like Cincinnati COMTO on Facebook.
 

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 the 2015 Growth Award. 

As a recipient of the award, Clovernook Center will receive funding enabling it to sustain employment while focusing on upward mobility and to continue growth by facilitating more employment opportunities for its clients. 

“We are incredibly proud of this recognition from NIB,” Clovernook Center President and CEO Christopher Faust says. “We have worked hard to provide sustainable employment opportunities for individuals who are blind and visually impaired in Cincinnati and Memphis.” 

According to the NIB, 70 percent of Americans who are blind and of working age are unemployed.

Clovernook Center’s Community Employment Services department works to change that statistic, providing coaching and job opportunities for individuals on and off campus through Clovernook’s own social enterprises and also through local employers who collaborate with the organization. 

“Our employees are hardworking and dedicated and have truly earned this honor,” Faust says. 

And for the NIB, awarding the Clovernook Center with a Growth Award is an honor.
 
"Clovernook Center continues to lead the way in creating employment and high-growth career opportunities for people who are blind,” NIB President and CEO Kevin Lynch says. 

Do Good: 

Support Clovernook Center by donating.

Connect with Clovernook Center on Facebook.

• Clovernook Center offers a multitude of volunteer opportunities, so get involved.
 

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


A whopping 47 percent of 2013 high school graduates across the country did not fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) while $141.9 million of college aid was unclaimed in Ohio and Kentucky, according to NerdWallet calculations. 

The United Way of Greater Cincinnati has brought together a multitude of community partners to address the issue in hopes of making postsecondary education for more low-income and first generation students a reality through its pilot program TEAM-FAFSA

TEAM-FAFSA has joined forces with its Earned Income Tax Credit initiative to streamline the process of completing one’s taxes while at the same time providing families with advice on FAFSA completion, a task that can prove difficult when parents’ tax information is not readily available. 

“Too many students are not completing the FAFSA and losing precious dollars that can help fund their dreams of higher education,” says Michelle Bullis, youth leadership development coordinator at Brighton Center Inc., a TEAM-FAFSA site.

According to the United Way, a survey of 500 local students from the class of 2014 indicates that access to parental tax information was a barrier in completing the FAFSA. Without this information, students have no clue as to whether or not they’re eligible for a Pell Grant. 

Through the EITC initiative, qualifying families receive free tax preparation. Immediately following preparation, families and prospective students learn about possibilities for their futures, which Bullis says is a win-win. 

“TEAM-FAFSA is getting teens excited about college and streamlining the process for parents and guardians. Being able to complete your taxes and then immediately receive expert advice on FAFSA completion is huge,” Bullis says. “We’re encouraging students, traditional and non-traditional that higher education is possible, and the way to fulfill that dream is through the FAFSA. Seeing the teens’ reactions to the realization that college is possible and a better future is in reach, tells me that the TEAM-FAFSA project is making a difference.”

Do Good: 

• Attend an upcoming TEAM-FAFSA event to receive coaching and guidance while completing the FAFSA. 

• Join TEAM-FAFSA as a volunteer.

• Learn more about the United Way and its partner organizations working to make TEAM-FAFSA possible.
 

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


For both diehard and casual college basketball fans, ’tis the season, as March Madness is almost upon us. 

Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati, “a visionary organization working to build better lives for people with disabilities,” is gathering people together March 19 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

The event is aimed at young professionals and basketball enthusiasts alike and takes place during the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament as teams work their way to the Sweet 16. 

Throughout the evening, amidst the festivities Starfire will also share stories of those within its community that showcase the organization and what fellowship with others can do for one’s sense of self. 

Take Josh, for example, who began volunteering at Xavier University Cintas Center’s concession stands about three years ago to help raise money for a local girls’ basketball team. Everyone now knows him by name, and he’s embraced the chance to surround himself with likeminded individuals who are passionate about the same thing he is: sports.

“The data is clear: People with developmental disabilities grow increasingly lonely as they age,” says Mariah Gilkeson, marketing and special events coordinator. “Starfire works to decreases people’s experience of social isolation by forming relationships to people and places in the community based on strengths and shared interests.”

Individuals like Josh and his family will attend FlyAway (Josh’s favorite Starfire event that he looks forward to each year), which presents another opportunity to mingle with those who have similar hobbies. 

“It’s one of our biggest fundraisers of the year,” Gilkeson says. 

Tickets are $65 in advance or $80 at the door and include a chance to win 2017 Final Four tickets.

Do Good: 

• Plan to attend Final Four FlyAway at the Woodward Theater in Over-the-Rhine at 7 p.m. March 19.

• Try your luck at predicting the Big Dance and purchase up to 10 brackets at $10 a piece for a Split-the-Pot opportunity with Starfire.

Contact Mariah Gilkeson if you’re able to donate baskets to Starfire, which is need of extras for raffle preparation. 
 

Skyward rolls out LiveWell NKY to improve health outcomes


Skyward recently implemented a community-wide initiative that aims to improve the health of Northern Kentucky residents, LiveWell NKY.

Skyward, formerly known as Vision 2015, is responsible for developing and managing Northern Kentucky’s strategic plan, myNKY. After months of intensive research and feedback from the community, Skyward found that health was a major concern in the community — so it became one of the plan’s four main focus areas.

“Kentucky overall comes in 47th out of 50 states in health outcomes,” Skyward President Bill Scheyer says. “That number clearly sets the stage for raising the health level of people in Northern Kentucky. It’s not that there is no culture of good health, but a culture of poor health.”

LiveWell NKY is currently in its pilot phase and will focus on helping communities, schools and organizations in three key ways: active lifestyle, better nutrition and smoking cessation. Improvement in any or all of the areas will ideally move Northern Kentucky residents into a better health status and help adjust and improve existing community policies.

Five coalitions in Northern Kentucky are currently piloting the program: Covington, Newport, Ludlow, Fort Mitchell and Gallatin County. LiveWell NKY will focus on those coalitions for the first year and then add others as needed.

Founding partner St. Elizabeth Healthcare donated $100,000 to help launch the initiative, Scheyer says.

Do Good:

• For more information on LiveWell NKY, visit Skyward's website.

• Become a LiveWell NKY ambassador

• Take advantage of various opportunities to eat better, get more exercise and stop smoking.
 

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


Accelerate Great Schools recently announced it will invest $1.43 million in grants to help support Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Accelerate Great Schools was launched in 2015 with the idea that students in every Cincinnati neighborhood should have access to a great school. Funding for the program, which comes from private donations, will help students find a higher level of success in school.  

Accelerate Great Schools is splitting its investment into two grants: $128,000 will help CPS and its work with TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project) to develop a talent pipeline of school principals, assistant principals and teachers; $1.3 million will help Seton Education Partners introduce a blended learning model at two local Archdiocese of Cincinnati grade schools.

“We believe every student in every neighborhood deserves a chance to attend a great school,” Accelerate Great Schools CEO Patrick Herrel says. “Our only objective is student success.These initial investments are a bold first step to ensure more students have access to quality education here in Cincinnati. We’re thrilled to partner with Cincinnati Public Schools and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to build upon their foundation of success.”

Do Good:

• For more information, visit Accelerate Great Schools’ website.

• Make an investment to Accelerate Great Schools by contacting Patrick Herrel

• Learn more about how to apply for funding through Accelerate Great Schools.  
 

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. The celebration will include chefs and artists coming together under a theme of Farm to Gallery, which will feature several interactive environments of the farm-to-table movement.
 
The first night, Feb. 24, will be limited to 200 guests who can enjoy interacting with seven local chefs and listening to live music. The second night, Feb. 26, will feature dinner-by-the-bite from 20 local chefs and food-inspired art created by local artists.
 
Attendees will also be able to see how The Art of Food has evolved since its inception in 2006. 
 
“It's hard to believe it’s been 10 years since we held the first Art of Food at The Carnegie,” Executive Director Katie Brass says. "Each year The Art of Food has evolved, and each year we've been able to work with even more amazing local artists and chefs to make it bigger and better.”
  
Do Good:

Purchase tickets to The Art of Food Feb. 24 or Feb. 26 at The Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington.

• Get more information on The Art of Food at The Carnegie’s website.

Donate to help support The Carnegie’s mission. 
 

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


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

Started in Cincinnati in 2001 by Wendy Steele, Impact 100 was created with the idea of promoting philanthropy among women — if 100 women each donated $1,000, a grant of $100,000 could be awarded to a nonprofit community organization. Since its inception, Impact 100 has expanded to 18 chapters across the U.S. and two international chapters.

“These grants can really make a difference for a nonprofit organization,” says Becki Meyer, marketing and public relations chair. “Because of the size of the grant(s), nonprofits get to carry out projects they might otherwise just dream about.”

Impact’s philanthropic investments come mostly on behalf of its members. Membership proceeds go directly to the annual grant pool, which has supported numerous nonprofit organizations over the past 15 years.

Organizations that seek funding can submit a proposal for a dream project that will extend or improve their mission. A judging committee looks at each proposal and nominates winners, who will be announced at Impact’s annual awards celebration in September.

“We can really see the transformation and impact a grant can have on a non-profit,” Becki says. “It’s exciting to watch it make a difference in people’ lives."

Do Good:

• Become a member of Impact 100.

Donate to help Impact support local organizations.

• Take a look at previous grant recipients.
 

People Working Cooperatively plans final Hometown Hollywood Gala


Throughout the past 18 years, People Working Cooperatively has raised $1.7 million in funding through its Hometown Hollywood Gala, which benefits the nonprofit’s Modifications for Mobility program. 

This year, however, marks the final year for the Gala, as something new is in store for 2017. 

“While we are a little sad about this being the final Hometown Hollywood, we’re equally excited that this Hometown Hollywood will be unlike any other and will give guests a brief glimpse of what we have in store for our exciting new event and format for 2017,” PWC Vice President Chris Owens says.

“Back to Black and White” is the theme of this year’s Gala on Feb. 28, which will take attendees to “old-world Hollywood” as they dress up for their red carpet entrance, eat, drink, mingle, enjoy live entertainment and silent auctions and watch a live stream of the Oscars telecast. 

Most importantly, however, guests will learn more about the event’s beneficiaries — elderly individuals, individuals with disabilities and those who are low income — who are able to remain in their homes as a result of much-needed renovations and repairs offered through the Modifications for Mobility program.

“Each year we look forward to this event as a chance to spend time with our supporters, colleagues and friends,” Owens says, “but we also look forward to sharing the stories of our clients with attendees. That’s the real reason that we’re all gathered together, and we can’t wait for this year’s event.”

Do Good: 

• Find out if you are eligible for Modifications for Mobility.

• Support Modifications for Mobility by attending Hometown Hollywood 5:30 p.m.-midnight Feb. 28 at the Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel downtown.  

Volunteer at the final Hometown Hollywood Gala.
 

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


With Valentine’s Day approaching, there’s no better time to consider thoughtful gift-giving ideas.
 
Envision Children, a nonprofit that provides educational enrichment and added support to students in need of that “extra push,” is hosting Sweet Art, a Feb. 12 “friendraiser” at Art Design Consultants downtown. The benefit features the creation of Valentine-themed art, small bites, wine and, of course, friendship and good company.
 
Rosalyn Fuller, local artist and Envision Children board member, will lead a painting lesson in which participants gain knowledge of various techniques to aid them in the creation of their own unique designs.
 
“No artistic skill or talent is required,” Fuller says. “If you can paint a circle, you’ll be fine. We did an event like this before, and it’s fun to see how distinctly different each painting turns out to be.”
 
All proceeds benefit Envision Children, which will put funds toward tutoring students in need.
 
Space is limited, but interested parties can sign up via Eventbrite, and one lucky winner will go home with an added bonus: a Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant prize package valued at $125.
 
“This is an opportunity to make a gift for your sweetie while having a great time and supporting Envision Children,” says Sheryl McClung McConney, Envision Children’s founder and president.

Do Good: 

Get tickets to Sweet Art, which takes place from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12. Tickets may also be purchased over the phone by calling 513-772-KIDS.

• Support Envision Children by donating.

Contact Envision Children if you’d like to volunteer as a tutor or if you have a child in need of the nonprofit's services.
 

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


When Stacy Sims started True Body Project 10 years ago, she wanted girls to identify and connect with their bodies despite what the media told them they should look like.

Sims began engaging girls in workshops, classes and summer camps to study body, body image, gender and media. Each day, those girls connected with each other and engaged their bodies in a different way: positively.

“I felt like the stakes were getting higher for young women to have a healthy relationship with their bodies and themselves,” Sims says. "I know from personal experience how far you can move away from your best self because of outside forces.”

Sims has done work with young girls in Cambodia, Poland, Equador and various cities in the U.S.

Since its inception, True Body Project has created two books, a documentary film and a website by and for girls, My True Space. While the project originally started out for just girls, Sims has plans to make the curriculum more gender neutral to reach boys and young men.

In celebration of True Body Project’s 10th anniversary, Sims decided to launch City Silence, a network of community gatherings where strangers can meditate and practice mindfulness.

City Silence will take place every Friday during the month of February at the Popular Library Lounge at the main branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Anyone is welcome to practice whatever form of meditation or mindfulness that is best for them. The weekly meetings are slotted for an hour, but people can come and go as they please, whether they stay for a few minutes or the whole hour.

While True Body Project has a deeper curriculum, City Silence is meant to reach a large group of people in a shorter amount of time.

“I created City Silence with the idea that every human being would be better with more chances to just be still, quiet and meditate,” Sim says. “You become more genuinely understanding of your habits and thoughts."

Do Good:

• Join a City Silence session 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m on Fridays throughout the month of February at the Popular Library Lounge at the Main Library, 800 Vine St., downtown.

• To learn more about True Body project, visit its website.

• Watch the True Body Project documentary.
 

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 (CYC) and local schools and organizations.

Set to launch this spring, the initiative is intended to help college students during their first year and encourage college retention. It’s starting with 40 mentors and a goal of expanding to reach hundreds of inexperienced students who face the difficulty during their first year of college.

“It’s becoming a national dialogue that about one-third of college freshman are dropping out,” says Kate Elliot, CYC communications and marketing specialist. “This is the kind of program the community needs right now.”

Many students don’t have the mental and emotional support they need in the transition from high school to college, as the culture can be very different. The mentoring program will allow students to have a longtime partner who will support them through that transition and during their first year.

The program is a collaborative effort between CYC, Cincinnati Public Schools, University of Cincinnati, The Business of Good Foundation, Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation and Accenture.

While there will be traditional face-to-face meetings, the program will have an online platform where mentors can tutor and share advice online, whether it be school-related or about financial or personal issues.

“This support will help students feel like they have a handle on college,” Elliot says. “We want to make sure someone is in their court so they get the most they can out of their college experience. They won’t do that if they don’t feel supported.”

Do Good:

• If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, contact Cincinnati Youth Collaborative.

• Learn more about the College Mentoring Initiative.

Donate to help support CYC’s mission.
 

MotherLOVE to host first workshop for grieving mothers


MotherLOVE, an organization created for bereaved mothers by bereaved mothers, will host its first workshop Feb. 26.

Many grieving mothers suffer from depression, a lack of meaning or purpose and less life engagement after the loss of a child. MotherLOVE’s programs go beyond the needs of a traditional grief support group, addressing longer term goals that empower mothers to increase meaning, purpose and joy in their lives, says Marcie Warrington, founder and president.

MotherLOVE programs are open to mothers who are at least one to two years beyond the death of their child.

“I know from firsthand experience how important it is to have that mother-to-mother connection,” Warrington says. “I also know that living a more beautiful life, one beyond mere survival, is the best way I can honor the love for my son.  My son’s life was a blessing, not a curse.” 

Workshops will be kept small, no more than 25 people per group, and will combine evidence-based research with proven techniques for increasing well-being and flourishing.  The first workshop, “Mindfulness and Character Strengths,” will be hosted at Mayerson Academy.  Other currently scheduled workshops will be hosted at Main Street Yoga.

MotherLOVE has program partners all over the city: City Silence, VIA Institute on Character, The Lindner Center of HOPE, Women Writing for (a) Change, Ordinary Hero Foundation, Lucy Hone and Sianna Sherman.

Warrington began the process of building MotherLOVE in June 2015 after finding no organized groups--beyond grief support groups--that focused primarily on helping grieving parents take the next steps to integrating the whole of their lives to live more fully. 

“A child’s death is part of your life,” she says.  “It’s part of who you are, but it’s not your whole story.”  

Do Good:

• If you’re a grieving mother or know someone who is, register for the Feb. 26 workshop at Mayerson Academy in Corryville by emailing Marcie Warrington.

• To learn more about MotherLOVE, visit its website.

• Make a donation to help support MotherLOVE’s mission.
 

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


Social Venture Partners (SVP) Cincinnati is once again hosting its Fast Pitch competition, in which innovative organizations learn to communicate their mission to intended audiences in effective and engaging ways. 

Twenty nonprofits and social enterprises will dip their feet in the water Jan. 27 when they share three-minute pitches with SVP members, who will then vote and narrow the field to eight competitors.

“Cincinnati is a giving community and rich in nonprofits working to make a difference,” says Melisse May, chairperson for Fast Pitch Cincinnati. “Yet we still have many challenges.” 

Among those challenges are things like poverty, hunger and lack of access and exposure to the arts. 

“Therefore, Fast Pitch Cincinnati is seeking nonprofit programs with innovative and creative ways to more effectively help solve our community’s problems,” May says. 

SVP will work with the final eight competing organizations, providing guidance via one-on-one coaching and training sessions in preparation for the March 2 finals. 

UPDATE: Here are the eight finalists.

More than $30,000 in funds will be awarded to winning organizations that share their pitches with an audience of more than 500, including a panel of judges looking for compelling, creative and clear messages that describe future community impact.

“Fast Pitch is just one way that SVP Cincinnati is fulfilling its mission to cultivate effective philanthropists, strengthen nonprofits and build collaborative relationships for social change,” says SVP Cincinnati Board Chairperson Sandy Hughes. “Fast Pitch is not only effective, it’s a fun way to engage the community in philanthropy.”

Do Good: 

• Get your 2016 Fast Pitch tickets for the March 2 finals competition, which takes places at The Phoenix downtown.

Contact Melisse May if you're interested in sponsoring this year's competition. 

• Learn more about Fast Pitch by checking out highlights from the 2014 and 2015 competitions. 
 

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


The 10-year anniversary of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day is Jan. 29, which marks a nationwide effort to draw taxpayers’ attention to its potential benefit while also highlighting sites engaging in free tax preparation. 

According to the Internal Revenue Service, millions of people — one in five eligible workers — miss out on thousands of dollars because they're unaware of the EITC and the Child Tax Credit available to those with a child under the age of 17.

“Both the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit provide critical work supports for employees earning low to moderate wages,” says Lucy Crane, Director for Community Impact at the United Way of Greater Cincinnati

The United Way is doing its part to ensure the local community does not miss out on these available tax credits, as the organization and its partners are once again providing free tax preparation both online and in-person at 30 different venues across the tristate. 

“Thanks to our dedicated, trained and certified volunteers, we plan on assisting more than 9,000 households this year,” Crane says.

Free online prep, complete with trained United Way operators available via phone or chat to answer questions, is available to filers with an income of $62,000 or less, while in-person tax prep is available to those with an income of $53,000 or less.

Volunteers are trained to ensure filers who are eligible for tax credits receive them, which can provide much needed relief in day-to-day life.

“Claiming these tax credits can put eligible workers on the path to securing better housing, obtaining dependable transportation, paying for quality child care or pursuing higher education,” Crane says.

Do Good: 

• File your taxes for free online if you make under $62,000 per year.

• Learn about free in-person tax preparation if you make under $53,000 a year, and take advantage of one-on-one assistance available. 

• Join the United Way's volunteer base by donating your time this tax season.
 

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 debut in 2013 and plans to double that number by the end of 2016. 

The interactive educational program is an effort to equip the next generation with the Heimlich maneuver. Four known trainees have saved lives after participating in the program, says Terri Huntington, program manager.
 
The program allows for real-life application of the Heimlich maneuver, which requires trainees to practice on a specially made training doll. The training is created so teachers, nurses and leaders can facilitate using a video in a variety of environments.
 
“We’ve created this training-in-a-box that makes it easy to learn three important things in one hour,” Huntington says. “It teaches them to recognize the signs of choking, learn how to minimize that risk and how to respond in a choking emergency.”
 
Development for the program came from the help of the Deaconess Foundation and The Heimlich Institute in 2012. The program was first piloted in 2013.
 
Heimlich Heroes works with schools and youth organizations like the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs and different scouting organizations to increase their reach.

The program teaches trainees as young as 7 years old. Why so young? Most kids don’t learn the life-saving skill until junior high or sometimes high school.
 
“You just never know when it’s going to happen,” Huntington says. “Kids are learning this skill and hoping they don’t have to use it, but now they have the confidence to really step in and act if they do see that kind of emergency and save someone’s life.”
 
Do Good:

• Read about what people are saying about Heimlich Heroes. 

• Learn more about Heimlich Heroes at its website

Donate to support Heimlich Heroes' mission. 
 

Findlay Market's incubator kitchen nearing completion


Findlay Market’s new kitchen incubator is still under construction but already has a solid group of members ready to open the doors.

The 8,000-square-foot shared-use kitchen space will support aspiring food entrepreneurs, whether they’re just starting out or looking to expand to their business, by providing affordable access to a licensed kitchen facility. Members will pay a $75 annual membership fee to use kitchen equipment and storage space for their businesses. 

“There are so many barriers to not only starting a business but a food business,” says Marianne Hamilton, director of Findlay Kitchen. “This gives people an opportunity to start small without having to invest in a brick-and-mortar space.”

There are 10 available kitchens within the facility and most can be rented by the hour, though some will be leased by the month for members who are dedicated to mass production. Members will have 24-hour access to come and go as they please.

The facility will also feature a space in the front to be used for cooking classes and demonstrations for the general public.

Greater Cincinnati is seeing a wave of entrepreneurial support for food and drink startups — including a new mini-incubator kitchen in Newport, The Hatchery — though the idea of implementing an incubator kitchen within Findlay Market has been discussed for 20 years.

“The timing is right from many different perspectives,” Hamilton says. “There’s a renewed interest in handmade and artisan foods and a trend toward people seeking out unique and different foods. It fits very well within the ecosystem of Findlay Market.”

Findlay Kitchen is also partnering with local organizations to provide business support services for its members, such as accounting, legal, marketing and branding advice.

Findlay Kitchen will open at the end of February if all goes as anticipated, Hamilton says.

Do Good:

• Apply to become a Findlay Kitchen member.

• To learn more about Findlay Kitchen and its mission, visit its website.

• For more information on Findlay Kitchen and how you can get involved, contact Marianne Hamilton.
 

Local group celebrates one year of random acts of kindness


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

• Join the Random Act of Kindness clothing drive.

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

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

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. The expansion is a result of an integration with BeauVita, a local organization that provides services and transportation for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The plan to move west began five years ago, but the timing wasn’t right until now. Stepping Stones wasn’t ready to get involved with another project at the time, says Executive Director Chris Adams.

The organization saw a need for expansion, though, when full buses came in from the west side for its summer day camp. Stepping Stones and BeauVita provide similar programming, so the integration made perfect sense. 

“This seemed to fit really well with what we do as an organization,” Adams says. “It will help us continue to grow our program and offer more additional services that are needed on the west side of town."
 
When it comes to plans for the future, Adams says any plans to expand will be neighborhood-based.
 
This expansion is Stepping Stones’ second in two years. The organization merged with United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati in 2014 at the Norwood campus. Stepping Stones also has campuses in Indian Hill and Batavia.
 
Do Good:

• To learn more about Stepping Stones, visit its website.

Donate to help support Stepping Stones’ mission.

• For more information, call 513-965-5109.
 

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 a new lecture series beginning in March. The series will be hosted in the Mercantile Library throughout spring and provide information for those who are interested in getting a sneak peek of what it’s like to play as part of the orchestra.

“We’re really excited that Friends of the Pops has taken on this initiative to offer the public to experience the orchestra in a new way,” says Meghan Berneking, Director of Communications for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. “This lecture series gets to the heart of giving Pops fans the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes by engaging a little deeper with artists they see on stage already while also opening doors for those who haven’t been to a concert.”

Friends of the Pops was formed in 1991 by its late conductor Erich Kunzel and is committed to increasing awareness and pride for the Cincinnati Pops and provides opportunities for Pops fans to get together. 

Lectures are free and open to the public, although donations are suggested.

Do Good:

• Attend one of the lectures to learn more about Cincinnati Pops: March 30, April 19 and May 17. All lectures will be hosted in the Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut St., downtown.

• For more information, contact Meghan Berneking.

• Learn more about Cincinnati Pops at its website
 

Red Boot Coalition founder to speak on building genuine human interaction


Charlotte native and coalition leader Molly Barker believes in one thing: compassionate listening. She intends to share that vision when she visits Cincinnati Jan. 20.

It all began when Barker retired from Girls on the Run and went on a cross-country trip from Charlotte to Las Vegas and back, interviewing hundreds of people from all walks of life along the way about our nation’s conversations on hot topics like race, politics and gender. After finding that many people felt unheard and ignored, she founded Red Boot Coalition.

“Red Boot is simply about providing a place for people to share their journey and perspectives on being human,” Barker says. “People really need to be heard. We are all yelling, and no one is listening.”

Red Boot, which is just a little more than one year old, focuses on engaging people in a guided process of sharing and listening. No matter the topic, Red Boot provides a simple approach: providing a safe place for human conversation.

Barker will be lead a model Red Boot session when she visits Cincinnati to help attendees unravel negative stereotypes and inspire genuine human interaction.

Do Good:

• Attend the Jan. 20 Red Boot model session at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, 1602 Madison Road, Walnut Hills.

• Learn more about Red Boot and the 11 Steps at its website.

Find a local meeting in your neighborhood. 
 

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 from international artists all around the world, including work from local Visionaries + Voices artists.
 
Visionaries + Voices gives support to more than 125 artists with disabilities by providing studio space, supplies and support in a creative environment.
 
Visionaries + Voices first began looking for artwork for the exhibition during fall 2013, asking for submissions to have a focus on a neighborhood theme with no limitations on medium or size. Artists were asked to describe their neighborhood and the things that make it interesting while considering all of the different parts that could make up a correspondence.

The exhibit runs through March 10.
 
Do Good:

• Stop by to see mail art from Cincinnati and all around the world at the “Envelope” exhibit, Main Public Library Branch, 800 Vine St., Downtown.

Take a look at some the “Envelope” exhibit submissions.

• Find more information about Visionaries + Voices at its website.
 

Poetry in the Garden Contest looking for talented local poets


The Poetry in the Garden series is returning for its fifth year, and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is looking for new and talented poets to enter its contest.

The contest is a partnership between the library system and Greater Cincinnati Writers League and runs through Feb. 29. Adults who are at least 18 years old can submit a piece of poetry.

Winners will have the chance to read their work on the opening night of the series, April 5. Winners will also have their work published on the library’s website.

“We wanted to create new excitement about this poetry series and further engage our community,” says David Siders, Popular Library Manager. “The openness of the contest has really given people creative license to follow their own voice.”

Although the contest has a couple hundred entries on average, most writers are not stirred by the amount of competition.

“It’s always a welcoming and creative environment,” Siders says. “Writers support each other and the diversity of thought. We have people from very different backgrounds and where they are with their poetry.

Submissions come from all walks of life, from brief haikus to personal narrative poems on a wide range of subjects. The judging panel is a committee of literary professionals, including the Library Foundation’s writer-in-residence, Jeffrey Hillard.

Do Good:

• Take a stab at writing your own poetry and make sure to submit your entry by Feb. 29.

• Attend one of the Poetry in the Garden Poetry contest “write-ins”: Jan. 16 at 1 p.m. at the Sharonville branch; Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. at the main branch downtown; and Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Delhi Township branch.

• For information and the contest rules, visit the website
 

West African student receives funding for final residency at Union Institute


Edward Fiawoo, a West African attorney and Brigadier General in the Ghana Armed Forces, will begin his final required residency this week at Union Institute & University prior to completing his Ph.D. in Public Policy and Social Change. As an international student, Fiawoo is ineligible for federal financial aid and was unsure of how he was going to raise the $2,500 expense for his flight this year.
 
“Each January and July, about 100 or more doctoral candidates come together to participate in very valuable face-to-face time with their faculty and fellow students," says Carolyn Krause, UI&U’s Vice President for Advancement. “Edward had attended all his required residencies for the past two years, borrowing from friends and relatives and scrimping and saving.”
 
This time around, however, the financial burden was going to be too much for Fiawoo to bear. When UI&U’s International Alumni Association heard the news, they joined together to produce the needed funds.
 
“This is not something Edward or his faculty wanted to miss,” Krause says. “It is a testament to both Edward’s success as a doctoral student and the passion and loyalty that our Union alumni feel. Union is all about service and social responsibility, and this exchange brought our mission to life.”
 
For Fiawoo, the assistance makes all the difference.
 
“It is normally a tall order for me,” he says. “That is why I am most grateful to the alumni association.” 

Do Good: 

• Learn ways to give at Union Institute & University. 

• Consider UI&U as an option for your future studies.

• Connect with UI&U on Facebook.
 

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


The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (CHRC) and the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) are partnering in an initiative to address racism in the Cincinnati community, “Rethinking Racism.”

The event will take place Jan. 14 at Father Rivers Hall at St. Joseph in the West End and is meant to challenge organizations and individuals to make a commitment to not only addressing racism but ending it.  

CHRC and IJPC work independently to educate the community on social issues, specifically racial equality. Event organizers hope it will begin a dialogue on the long-lasting racism issue in Cincinnati.

Attendees with have the opportunity to address what they see as modern-day racism and participate in discussing strategies on how to combat the issue. 

Do Good:

• Register to attend “Rethinking Racism” at 6:30-8:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at Father Rivers Hall at St. Joseph Parish, 745 Ezzard Charles Drive, West End.

• For more information, contact IJPC at 513-579-8547.

• Find your own ways to start conversations about racism in your community. 
 

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


What began as a capstone project for Lisa Marie Watkins is now permanently helping many women and their families who live in Price Hill.
 
While Watkins was a student in the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at Northern Kentucky University, she developed an innovative program, Healthy Homes, to improve the health and safety of at-risk families.
 
Watkins used her connection at Santa Maria Community Services to launch the program within the neighborhoods of Price Hill. Months after she co-authored a grant application submitted to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Healthy Homes received a $40,000 grant to help fund the program. The grant will cover the cost to pay staff but mostly will help the program provide much-needed items to the families, Watkins says.
 
Foster care played a large part in why Watkins wanted to build a program like Healthy Homes. She was 7 years old when she entered the system and traveled between foster homes until she was 18.
 
“I had a lot of people who loved me and showed me how to maneuver this world,” Watkins says. “It’s not easy. I was fortunate to be with foster parents who dedicated their time to show me love and also show me how to not let the past shelter my future.”
 
Watkins currently coordinates and oversees the program, which recruits and trains block captains who identify families with children under 6 years old and/or a pregnancy. 
 
Block captains reach out to families by going door to door and coordinating services. They distribute information and materials to help families connect to a pediatrician or prenatal care provider as well as provide baby safety items and books for children to improve literacy and help prepare them for kindergarten.
 
There are other social service agencies that want to replicate Healthy Homes’ model, says Chellie McLellan, Santa Maria’s Income Impact Director.
 
The program is successful now and has impacted the lives of more than 100 families, but building the program from the ground up wasn’t an easy task.
 
“We’re working to build an ecosystem,” McLellan says. “How do you build a boat out at sea? It was really groundbreaking for us. There was no manual or go-to guide for how to do this. It started with one block and one block captain and grew from there.”
 
Do Good:

• Help support Healthy Homes’ mission by donating.

• Learn more about the Healthy Homes by contacting Chellie McLellan

• For more information on Santa Maria, visit its website
 

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. The dollar-for-dollar match came from the Gerhardstein & Branch law firmJim Obergefell, the Yorksmith family and David Michener in honor of the plaintiffs and attorneys who fought for marriage equality.
 
Safe and Supported is looking to continue its fundraising efforts to match the $35,000 gift and hosted a fundraiser Dec. 10 in an effort to engage the community.
 
Safe and Supported is led in partnership by Lighthouse Youth Services and Strategies to End Homelessness and is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative. Safe and Supported also partnered with the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Last year, Cincinnati and Houston were invited to pilot the community collaborative approach to end LGBTQ homelessness in their cities.
 
LGTBQ youth are a large subpopulation of those at risk for homelessness. More than 100 youths are on the streets of Cincinnati every night, some of whom might not even identify after trauma they’ve been through, says Melissa Meyer, director of Safe and Supported.
 
Safe and Supported underwent a six-month planning process in which it developed a comprehensive community plan built to help meet the needs of LGBTQ youths at risk for homelessness. The plan focused on improving outcomes in four core areas: stable housing, education and employment, social and emotional well-being and permanent connections.
 
“This is as much about prevention as it is intervention,” Meyer says. “We want them to have a safe place to land.”
 
Safe and Supported proposed the idea of host homes as an alternative to an emergency shelter where youths will have the opportunity to live with a family where they can feel welcome and stay until they find sustainable independence. There is also a family acceptance project, in which social workers are trained to help identify youth who are at risk of being homeless. They can step in and provide intervention services to help build family acceptance of the child’s identity rather than the child feeling they need to run away.

The initiative has widespread support from Mayor John Cranley’s office, the Ohio Attorney General and Cincinnati Public Schools.
 
As Cincinnati approaches the one-year anniversary of the death of Leelah Alcorn, Meyer suggests the transgender girl who committed suicide might have been able to find help had the initiative been started a couple of years ago.
 
“How would things have been different if she knew she could make it to 18 and then live in a host home, where she would feel safe, supported and valued?” Meyer asked. “How would that have shifted the trajectory in her life?”
 
Do Good:

• Donate to help support Safe and Supported’s mission to end LGBTQ youth homelessness. Please specify that you are donating the money for Safe and Supported in the memo or notes field.

• For more information on Cincinnati’s community plan to end LGBTQ youth homelessness, visit the website.

• To learn more about the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative, visit HUD’s website
 

OTR eco garden teaches local youth how to grow organic vegetables


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

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

• Visit Permaganic’s website for more information.

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

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


Thirteen local schools and education centers are able to establish 3D Printer Clubs thanks to a $50,000 National Science Foundation grant.
 
The grant was awarded to the University of Cincinnati’s College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services (CECH) three years ago with the purpose of integrating engineering strategies with real world application to problem solving. For example, using a 3D printer as a technology tool to solve a particular problem.
 
The grant was extended another year, which helped create the club, an after-school program that connects schools with local businesses and industry and community partners in hopes of garnering interest in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field, says Kathie Maynard, CECH assistant dean of community partnerships.
 
The club emerged from a model of the STEM Bicycle Club that was started by the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative, which acts as a bridge between the partners and schools by helping them align their vision.
 
“The 3D Printers Club is the next stage in a vision that creates a series of experiences for students, teachers and schools,” Maynard says. “It’s not just about a 10-week experience. Our long-term vision is to have a different experience every single year … experiences that really last over time.”
 
The repeated exposure will not only help students build problem-solving skills but expose them to an awareness of careers and college pathways in the STEM field.
 
Do Good:

• For more information on the grant, contact Kathie Maynard

• To learn more about the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative, visit its website

Read about how the 3D Printers Club will impact local students. 
 

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 for its third year Dec. 12 at the Heritage Community Church in West Price Hill.
 
The concert will feature Scott Elick, a member of Starfire Council’s Out & About Program and the Cincinnati chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He is also involved with the Cincinnati chapter of the American Theater Organ Society.
 
Danyetta Najoli, who is the community coordinator at Starfire Council, says Elick is happy to return for a third year to the town where he grew up.
 
“This year, there's a sing-a-long part of the concert to encourage family members, neighbors and friends to sing alongside each other,” Najoli says. “It's a way to bring this community together through song. Singing is a universal language.”
 
The concert with benefit Manna Food Pantry.
 
Do Good:

• Attend A Night with Scott and Friends 6-8 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Heritage Community Church, 4431 Glenway Ave.

• Learn more about Starfire Council and its impact on the community. 

• Support local food pantries in your neighborhood. 
 

Charitable Words to host benefit event at secret location


Charitable Words provides paid internships to college students who are struggling to pay down college debt and in turn helps local nonprofits by providing needed support. Interns help local organizations shape their outward brands by improving their websites, updating photos and videos and leading campaigns.

The innovative organization is hosting a benefit Dec. 17 at a secret location in the Cincinnati neighborhood of College Hill and is inviting the community to participate in an unorthodox way of retrieving a free ticket: a scavenger hunt video with clues leading to its location. The video with clues leading to the location of the tickets was recently posted on Charitable Words’ fundraising website.

The benefit will feature free food and live performances by three bands: B. Shields, Housewives and Coconut Milk.

Partygoers will be able to bid on different items like a one-week stay at a two-bedroom condominium in Scottsdale, Ariz., Reds gear with four infield box tickets to a 2016 regular season game, a two-month Title Boxing Club membership with gloves and hand wraps among other prizes.

The location of the benefit will be announced 24 hours prior to the event, says Tyler Mechlem, a graphic design and animation intern at Charitable Words. Tickets are $10 and tax-deductible, with proceeds benefiting Charitable Words and its interns.

Do Good:

• Watch the video and follow the clues to receive a free ticket to the benefit.

• Share a link to Charitable Words’ campaign with the #charitablewords and #unlockcincinnati hashtags for a free raffle entry.

• Can’t attend the benefit? Consider donating to support Charitable Words and its interns.
 

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


Covington’s Center for Great Neighborhoods (CGN) honored all its moving parts — current and future leaders, key businesses, community organizers, residents and students — at its Annual Celebration two weeks ago. The Nov. 18 event also kicked off the nonprofit’s Annual Campaign, which runs through Jan. 17.
 
This year’s campaign will fund renovations to the historic Hellmann Lumber building, soon to be transformed into the Hellmann Creative Center.
 
“The Hellmann Creative Center will act as the symbolic hub of The Center’s work by offering a place for everyone in the community to make their creative ideas come to fruition,” says Sarah Allan, CGN’s Program Director of Creative Placemaking.

It’s the organization’s most monumental project to date and, when completed, will house its offices as well as artist studios and community event space.
 
The Center for Great Neighborhoods believes every individual within the community has something to offer and that when residents are not provided an outlet to express their creativity the neighborhood misses out, as a story remains untold. The Hellmann Creative Center will provide residents with a venue and a voice.
 
“We know it is a big vision, but we believe it is possible,” Allan says. “Forty years of community work has shown us what people can come up with if given the space.”   

Do Good: 

• Support the Center for Great Neighborhoods by donating.

• Share your creativity with the community and view resources available to you here

• Interested in studio space at the Hellmann Creative Center? Contact Sarah Allan.
 

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


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

The event is open to the public and will take place 6-8 p.m. at United Way in Mt. Auburn. Representatives from different areas of the city like Walnut Hills, Over-the-Rhine and Kennedy Heights will share their successes and challenges and what they're doing to grow their neighborhoods.
 
“Not every neighborhood is the same,” says HOME Marketing and Outreach Specialist Chloe Gersten. “And not every neighborhood will find the same success because each one has different assets and faces different challenges.”
 
After the panelists discuss what they're doing in their respective neighborhoods, attendees will be asked to split into small groups and have in-depth conversations about what is happening in their own communities.
 
“As people hear these stories, they’ll start to reflect on what’s going on in their community,” Gersten says. “We try to get people to think about how to make sure everyone is being heard, which groups are being ignored and who feels welcome.”

Do Good:

• Attend the Building Inclusive Communities forum 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at United Way, 2400 Reading Road, Mt. Auburn.

• Learn more about Housing Opportunities Made Equal and Cincinnati Human Relations Council on their websites.

• Find your own ways to foster a more inclusive and diverse community.
 

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.
 
The 10-day festival kicks off April 15 and, according to renowned Russian violinist and founder of Constella, Tatiana Berman, is designed with audience experience at the forefront.
 
“Constella has become known as a creative incubator for artists of the highest caliber,” Berman says. “We’ve always taken chances, learning from our experiences and audience reactions along the way. Our audience tell us that Constella affects their life, opening doors to new works, artistic expression.”
 
String performances of Baroque dance music and West African bardic spirituals will converge. Local electronic media students will contribute digital art to be paired with classical piano performances. World premieres of ballet and contemporary dance will grace the stage.
 
“Amazing things are happening in Cincinnati,” Berman says.
 
New this year: Grammy-award winning musicians, gallery owners and film industry professionals will judge music videos and fine art created by students competing to win $2,000 in prize money.
 
An effort to engage audience members of all ages is ongoing. Children’s concerts have been a success in the past, and they will continue this year with interactive components intended to pique the interests of young people who gain exposure to the scene in a unique, fun way.
 
“There’s energy one can feel just by walking around downtown,” Berman says. “We want to harness that energy. It’s the people of this city who inspire us. We hope to inspire them in return.” 
 
Do Good: 

• Purchase a 2016 Constella Festival pass here for shows April 15-24 at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Aronoff Center for the Arts and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

• Connect with Constella by signing up for the Constella Club newsletter.

• Support Constella by donating.
 

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra announces poetry contest winners


The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) recently announced the six winners of its One City, One Symphony poetry contest.

One City, One Symphony is an annual initiative hosted by the CSO that fosters dialogue within the community about various themes and music. This year’s theme focused on freedom.

The poetry contest asked for original submissions responding to the question, “What does freedom mean to you?” Applicants were encouraged to find inspiration in Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony or poems written by Maya Angelou: ForgiveEquality and Elegy.
 
“The submissions were truly astounding,” says CSO Director of Communications Meghan Berneking. “The themes that came up, the personal experiences — both positive and negative — truly opened the gate for fruitful discussion about this sometimes-challenging theme of freedom.”
 
Each winner received two tickets to attend the One City, One Symphony concerts Nov. 13-14 as well as a cash prize.
 
“We hope that this poetry and the dialogue around the concerts will challenge people to think about freedom in a way they maybe haven’t before and feel inspired to continue this discussion into other aspects of life as well,” Berneking says.

The winners of the One City, One Symphony poetry contest are:

High School Division
Grand Prize: Dana Schneider of Edgewood, "Is Freedom Just Not That Into Me?"
1st Prize: Bridget Bill of Cincinnati, "A Snow Globe Sky"
2nd Prize: Alison Maniace of Columbus, "Are We There Yet?"
 
Adult Division
Grand Prize: Mark Flanigan of Prospect Hill, "The Bell Ringer’s Song"
1st Prize: Richard Hague of Madisonville, "Finding Freedom"
2nd Prize: Elese Daniel of Mt. Auburn, "Self-Portrait at 25"
 
Do Good:

• Read the winning poems on the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Facebook page.

Buy tickets to attend the Symphony's One City, One Symphony concerts Nov. 13-14 at Music Hall.

• Learn more about the CSO at its website
 

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


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

Founded in 2012, the organization is comprised of about 450 students who gain on-the-job experience while securing an hourly wage and receiving tax-free tuition assistance.

To date, students have tallied about $1.87 million in tuition assistance. Scott Maurer, a University of Cincinnati student who has been with the program since July 2013, has earned $15,000 in tuition assistance. 

“The tuition assistance program has been a motivation for me to maintain a high GPA, but most importantly it has kept me from going deep into debt,” Maurer says. “That simple fact gives me security for the future, and I would love to see more college students feel the same way as I do.”

Ten years from now — by 2025 — Education at Work hopes to fulfill its goal of expansion at both the local and national levels by benefitting 100,000 students annually. The impact on their lives, according to the organization’s CEO Dave Dougherty, has been “incredible,” and he’d like to see it snowball.

“By working hard at Education at Work and in the classroom, the students are taking their futures into their own hands and graduating with significantly less debt because of the tuition assistance they are earning,” Dougherty says. “I am grateful to all who make this possible: our clients, our university partners, our staff and most of all our students, who are EAW’s shareholders.”

Do Good: 

• If you are a current or soon-to-be college student, apply for a position with Education at Work.

• If you want to engage with EAW, get involved

• Connect with EAW on Facebook.
 

Style & Steps to support Off the Streets program


Cincinnati Union Bethel is hosting its annual Style & Steps event on Thursday, Nov. 12 at the downtown Macy’s store.

The fashion show and shopping event is hosted in partnership with Macy’s to benefits Off the Streets, a residential program run by Cincinnati Union Bethel to help trafficked and prostituted women recover and find community integration.

“When people read about (human trafficking and prostitution), they don’t see the human side or the suffering these women have gone through,” says Cincinnati Union Bethel Marketing Communications Manager Tracy Megison. “We want everyone to try and understand what it means and to try to find ways to help.”

Off the Streets is entirely voluntary, and most of the women have partially been through the justice system but have decided to join the program on their own and can leave at any time. The average client stays for three to five months and goes through various classes, ranging from counseling in group sessions to financial and nutritional education.

The fundraising event will feature hors d'oeuvres and drinks with live jazz music by Billy Larkin. Two graduates of the program will speak about how Off the Streets helped them re-start their lives.

“We want people to educate themselves on what human trafficking and prostitution is,” Megison says. “It’s a serious problem and people need to be aware that it’s happening.”

Do Good:

Register to attend Style & Steps at 6-10 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Macy’s entrance on the corner of Fifth and Race streets. Tickets are $45 and include a 20 percent discount on all shopping done during the event.

• Can’t attend the event? Donate to support Cincinnati Union Bethel’s mission.

• Educate yourself on human trafficking and prostitution in Cincinnati and find your own ways to help.
 

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.

IHNGC started out as an emergency shelter and has been helping the homeless community since 1991. Its day center serves as a resource for families to use as a storage space if they are between homes, a place use the computer lab or do laundry or to just relax.

The fundraising walk will help IHGNC continue to help the homeless community. The organization saw a 30 percent increase in families served this year versus last year, says Development Assistant Kamal Kimball.

IHNGC’s model is unique, as it partners with local congregations of various faiths, including Catholic, Episcopal, Jewish, Unitarian, Muslim, etc. Interfaith Hospitality Networks in Ohio are located in Lebanon, Xenia, Columbus and Cleveland.

A bus takes clients from the center to the congregations, where they stay overnight. IHGNC residents usually come to the center for up to 30 days, depending on their situation, and sometimes it can take months for families to get themselves back on their feet.

“We work with them on what it will take to get their life back on track,” Kimball says. “We really hope to bring more attention to the issue of homelessness.”

Do Good:

Register for the Walk With Family 5K, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, with on-site registration opening at 9 a.m. Race begins and ends at Seasongood Pavilion near the Cincinnati Art Museum. Pre-registration is $25, and day-of registration is $35.

• Learn more about Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati on its website.

Donate your time to help support IHGNC’s mission.
 

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


Students at DePaul Cristo Rey High School are able to gain real-world work experience before they graduate thanks to a work/study program and collaboration with Clark Schaefer Hackett

Clark Schaefer Hackett is just one of many businesses that partner with DePaul Cristo Rey as part of the school’s work/study program that allows students to gain valuable experience and connections while still in high school. Most of these students have an economic need and are able to contribute to the cost of their education through the program.

“We look at these kids as our city’s future leaders,” says Clark Schaefer Hackett Marketing Specialist Natalia Jones. “This is our future workforce, our future CEOs. This exposure at the professional level is important for them to think about their future.” 

The program gives students an idea of what it’s like to work for local businesses by allowing them to work in administrative roles, develop interoffice relationships and work side-by-side with firm executives.
 
A team of four students fills one full-time position on a weekly basis, each working five full days per month. The job sharing model allows students to incorporate work experience without missing classes.

Do Good:

• See what DePaul Cristo Rey High School students are saying about the program.

• Learn more about the work/study program.

• For more information on Clark Schaefer Hackett, visit the company’s website
 

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


Price Hill Will and its Arts Community Action Team (Arts CAT) are seeking artists and businesses that would like to take part in the neighborhood’s 11th annual Holiday on the Hill Window Painting Competition.
 
Holiday on the Hill, which takes place Dec. 4-6, engages the Price Hill community through a variety of events, including a tree lighting ceremony, crafts and entertainment. This year’s theme is “Memories of Past Holidays in Price Hill,” so paintings should fit within those parameters.
 
“We started this competition to make our business districts more festive for the parade and during the entire holiday season,” Arts CAT Chair Ann Andriacco says.
 
The painting competition is open to multiple types of artists — professionals, high school students and family groups — who will be paired with a local business wishing to have its windows decorated.
 
Those interested in painting should sign up by Nov. 10 and will need to finish their work by Nov. 24 in time for the Thanksgiving Day Parade, when the Window Painting Competition scavenger hunt kicks off.
 
Winners will be announced during the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, where they’ll receive up to $300 in prize money for their talents and efforts.
 
“It’s been a lot of fun for everyone involved,” Andriacco says, “the painters, the businesses and the public who gets to enjoy original, local art all December.”

Do Good: 

• Enter the Window Painting Competition by e-mailing your name(s) and category to Ann Andriacco or by calling 513-501-1879 by Nov. 10.

• Check out the Window Painting Competition information sheet for details about the competition. 

• Like Price Hill Will on Facebook and connect with the organization to keep up with events and happenings like Holiday on the Hill. 
 

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 serve as Dance With Your Heart Inc.’s inaugural event to kick off a series of dance-related projects that raise awareness and funds for nonprofits throughout the year.
 
Jeremy and Desireé Mainous, franchise owners of Arthur Murray Dance Studio’s Cincinnati location, decided to launch Dance With Your Heart and immerse it into Cincinnati’s nonprofit landscape after producing events for organizations like Cincinnati Arts Association and Cancer Support Community of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The couple recognized the need for support among local nonprofit organizations and wanted to do something to give back.
 
“We wanted a fundraising effort that was more inclusive of a variety of causes in Cincinnati,” Desireé Mainous says.
 
Previously, the couple had annually hosted Swinging for Charity, but the new event, whose mission is “to inspire and empower people to dance with their heart and dream with their feet,” will enable the couple to do more.
 
Dancing With Our Hearts will feature local celebrities like mixologist Molly Wellman and Cpt. James Kettler of the Cincinnati Fire Department representing eight different charities — everything from Northern Kentucky Hates Heroin to The Marvin Lewis Community Fund.
 
“We wanted to start a charity event that raised money for multiple causes,” Mainous says. “And we wanted those dancing to be able to choose which charity they wanted their proceeds to go.”

Do Good: 

• Purchase tickets to Dancing With Our Hearts 6 p.m. Nov. 7 at The Phoenix, downtown. 

• Learn more about the local celebrity competitors and the charities in which they represent here.

• Like Dance With Your Heart Inc. on Facebook.
 

Toss for Techs to raise money for Per Scholas IT training


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

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

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

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

• Help Per Scholas by donating or volunteering your time. 

• Follow Per Scholas on Instagram to see student testimonials. 
 

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


Felix Rodriguez was recently awarded $2,500 through a grant made possible by School Outfitters, a partner of the Evanston Spirit of Progress Mural.
 
Rodriguez, who is originally from the Dominican Republic, worked as an artist and taught in Santo Domingo for seven years before coming to the U.S. The Fulbright scholar started working with ArtWorks in 2013 while pursuing a master’s degree in art education at the University of Cincinnati. He worked as a teaching artist with ArtWorks in 2014 and returned to Cincinnati this year to become a project manager for the Evanston Spirit of Progress Mural.
 
The mural, located at the site of a former mural created in 1992, is a collaborative effort among ArtWorks, the Evanston Community Council, School Outfitters and Xavier University. It was designed by Jimi Jones and is meant to engage local residents around themes that are meaningful to the Evanston community.

“The mural is a perfect combination of nice art everyone will enjoy but will also educate people and prepare them to be better citizens, to get involved and be active participants of the city,” Rodriguez says.
 
The original timeline for the mural was seven weeks, but due to heat and unexpected weather conditions the project was extended to nine weeks.
 
Rodriguez decided to apply for the teaching grant, which was open to anyone who was part of the staff, to help cover expenses while he was pursuing his master's degree. The required essay called for applicants to explain why they’re involved in the work they are in, what they value and what’s important to the community.
 
“We are proud to be an active community partner in our area and especially excited to support the educational pursuits of teaching artists by funding the ArtWorks Teaching Artist Award,” says School Outfitters Marketing Director Verna Coleman-Hagler.
 
Rodriguez, who holds a bachelor’s in fine arts and music theory in education and a master's in art education, is currently pursuing his PhD in art education in central Pennsylvania.
 
Do Good:

• See the mural for yourself on Duck Creek Road near the I-71 North exit to Dana Avenue and Montgomery Road.

• Learn more about ArtWorks at its website

• Visit School Outfitters' website for more information.  
 

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


The Art Academy of Cincinnati (AAC) is honoring its students, faculty, donors and supporters at its Beaux Arts Ball on Friday, Oct. 23 at the Verdin Bell Event Centre in Pendleton.
 
The event will celebrate the 10th anniversary of AAC's move from its longtime home base adjacent to the Cincinnati Art Museum in Eden Park to a 112,000-square-foot campus in Over-the-Rhine.
 
The masquerade party will focus on a central Venice theme, featuring gondolas and masks hand-crafted by AAC students and will feature performances by bands Burning Caravan and Groove Session. Key supporters who helped AAC move its campus in 2005 will be honored at the ball.
 
“Part of what makes this so special is the people who made it possible to move into our building 10 years ago,” says AAC Vice President of Institutional Advancement Joan Kaup. “We want to publicly and properly thank several of them who either invested financially or helped us making strong connections so that AAC could become an anchor in this creative community.”

Do Good:

Register for tickets to attend the Beaux Arts Ball 7 p.m.-midnight Oct. 23 at Verdin Bell Event Centre, 444 Reading Road.

• Visit AAC on Final Fridays for art exhibits that are free to the public.

Enroll in Community Art Education classes at the AAC.
 

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.

The donation was announced at the Library Foundation’s recent annual donor recognition event. It will help expand and support the library's after-school program and its growing number of students. Per the donor’s request, the amount of the donation will not be released.

The Homework Help program started at the William Hueneke Homework Center at the main downtown branch in 2008 and continued to grow after successful pilots at other branches. The program provides assistance mostly between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Last year, there were more than 15,000 student interactions, a 14 percent increase from the previous year, says Education and Homework Support Manager Keith Armour.

Homework Help mentors come from a variety of backgrounds — high school students, college students and retired teachers. Each mentor is trained and dedicated to helping students K-8 with homework assistance and tutoring.

“It’s a really great program for them,” Armour says. “The kids are happy there is someone there to help them.”

Do Good:

• See a list of all the locations offering Homework Help.

• Apply to be a Homework Help mentor.

• For more information about the program, email Keith Armour.  
 

Next round of Creative Community Grants are available for Covington projects


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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Good:

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

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

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

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


When Sean Caudill isn’t cutting men’s hair in his Newport barbershop, he’s venturing through the city in search of those in need who would appreciate it for free.

Caudill, better known as Spanky, has been a licensed barber and cosmetologist since 2010. His nickname came from an uncanny resemblance to Spanky from The Little Rascals as a child and was an easy choice when naming his barbershop, Spanky and Co., which he opened earlier this year at 439 W. 12th St.

The Union, Ky. native loves what he does for a living and strongly supports giving back to the community, specifically the homeless. 

“The homeless has always held a special place in my heart,” Caudill says. “Some of these people just need someone to talk to. It makes their day and gives them hope for tomorrow.”

His inspiration for cutting the homeless’ hair came from stylist Mark Bustos, who cuts hair of the homeless for free every Sunday. Bustos is currently on a national tour that started in New York and will end in Los Angeles.

Caudill will approach people on the street and offer to cut their hair. Afterward, he shows them before and after photos so they can see the difference. He has plans to team up with a close friend and local photographer to bring a mobile printer to provide a hard-copy photo they can hold onto.

Caudill encourages everyone to help the homeless in their own way by giving some of what they do for a living back to the homeless community. But most of all, he wants to show others that everyone deserves to be treated equally.

“It’s a lot harder for some people to bounce back after a tough time,” he says. “Talk to them, ask them how they’re doing, hug them.”

Do Good:

• Help the homeless in your community in your own way.

• See some of Spanky's work on Instagram.

• Visit Spanky and Co.’s Facebook page.
 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Good:

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

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

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

Greenhouse Rock! fundraiser supports musicians with developmental disabilities


Melodic Connections hosts its annual Greenhouse Rock! event Oct. 10 at Krohn Conservatory to support its music therapy services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. The fundraiser will feature food, raffle baskets, a silent auction and performances by local bands SwampthangJody Stapleton and Chris Comer Trio.

The fundraiser will also feature performances from Melodic Connections’ own student musicians.

“This is a night where we celebrate them and highlight their abilities as musicians,” says Communications Manager Lynn Migliara. “It’s a place where they finally get to play for all their friends and family.”

Students chose their own songs to perform and have been rehearsing every day. 

The fundraiser is a great time for the students as well as for their parents.

“Most of these parents have spent a lifetime advocating for their child with a developmental disability and always wonder what adulthood is going to be like,” Migliara says. “They are so grateful that they get to see them up on stage with confidence. A lot of them never thought this would happen for their kids.”

Greenhouse Rock! will take place at 6:30-10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Dr. 

Do Good:

Purchase tickets to attend Greenhouse Rock! at Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park. Tickets are $75 each.

• Melodic Connections is still looking for event sponsors.

• To learn more about Melodic Connections, visit its website.
 

Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition raising money for Earth Day 2016


The Cincinnati Earth Day Celebration isn’t typically celebrated until April, but the Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition (GCEC) is raising money now for next year’s event. The fundraiser is scheduled for Oct. 9 at City Barbeque locations in Blue Ash and Florence.

Not only will 25 percent of purchases go toward the April event, but customers will be educated on what Earth Day is really about and how to have a better impact on the environment.

“There are different approaches to ‘being green,'” says event chair Standish Fortin. “We want to educate people on what they can do to be a better steward for the Earth. They can come and learn about what they can do and what others are doing.”

Do Good:

• Visit City Barbeque in Blue Ash (10375 Kenwood Road) or Florence (8026 Burlington Pike) on Friday, Oct. 9 and help raise money for Earth Day 2016.

• Check out the Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition’s Facebook page to learn more about how you can help the environment.  

• The 2016 Earth Day event is looking for sponsors. There are a few different levels of sponsorship to choose from. 
 

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. The structured program uses dance and drill to form positive self-esteem, interpersonal skills and help girls ages 3-18 uncover their leadership abilities.

There’s no doubt the dance teams are talented — they’re state, regional and national champions in the high kick, pom and hip hop categories. Still, Harmon-Dobson doesn’t want dance competitions to be strictly about winning.  

“Competition or not, we don’t tell them to be better than another team,” she says. “We tell them to do an amazing job and be better than the team they were the day before.”
 
The structured program is a little underhanded, as most of the girls don’t realize what the program is really about until they graduate.

“We want them to have a different outlook on themselves and what they’re doing,” Harmon-Dobson says. "We try to have our girls become leaders and express themselves better. We want them to better respect themselves, each other and the community.”
 
The Mt. Healthy studio goes far beyond just dance, drill and building leadership skills. After spending hours together after school each week, the girls form a close bond, much like sisters do.  

“We’re more than just a dance team,” Harmon-Dobson says. “We’re family. The studio is our home.”

And the girls treat is as such. They keep a tight schedule between practicing, studio chores ad doing their schoolwork. The program requires a minimum required grade point average of 2.0.
 
Many of the girls participate in the bridge program, the Highsteppers Sisterhood, once they graduate high school and make the transition to college or the workforce. They come back to the studio as mentors.

The Highsteppers’ next performance is Oct. 10 at Tri-County Mall, where they’ve been performing since 2007. Their performance will incorporate breast cancer awareness, something that touches many lives of the girls and their families.
 
“They could be doing plenty of other things, but they're doing this,” Harmon-Dodson says. “They're choosing to be positive.”

Do Good:

• Attend the Highsteppers performance on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Tri-County Mall, 11700 Princeton Pike. Performances will take place at 2 and 5 p.m. and last approximately one hour each.

• Like Highsteppers on Facebook.

• For more information, email Director Kelli Harmon-Dobson.
 

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


Covington residents, business owners and friends recently voted to determine the winning Covington Bourbon Barrel design for a time capsule they’re creating in commemoration of Covington’s bicentennial. Now COV200 — the volunteers behind the year-long celebration of all things Covington, who aim to showcase the city’s rich 200-year history, culture and potential — is working with the community to determine the time capsule’s contents.
 
“We have received quite a few ideas from the community, including 2015 mint coins, menus from all Covington restaurants, the Covingtonopoly game, photos of families, letters from kids to future kids, list of top music in 2015, the COV200 book and much more,” says Kate Esarey, COV200 Project Manager and Community Development Specialist at The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington.
 
The time capsule itself, designed by local maker Steven Sander, will be created from the reclaimed floor of a home on Scott Street. Once filled, it will be preserved in a glass case and put on display in the new Hellman Creative Center next summer, where it will remain until 2115.
 
“I think a time capsule is a great way for our community to reflect on Covington’s 200th year and explore what makes our community special,” Esarey says. “I hope folks in 2115 will really enjoy understanding how we perceived Covington in 2015 and what made it unique 100 years prior.”

Do Good: 

• Contribute your ideas for the content within the time capsule by contacting Kate Esarey.

• Connect with COV200 on Facebook to keep up with upcoming events. 

Support The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington.
 

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.

Owner Danny Korman was inspired this summer while visiting one of his favorite restaurants, Rosetta’s Kitchen, in Asheville, N.C., and noticing they offered a similar program.
 
Here’s how it works at Park + Vine: Customers order something off the menu for themselves and add any dollar amount to their ticket, then fill out a post-it note with that dollar amount and tape it on the wall next to the lunch counter. Each note can be redeemed by someone who really needs it, regardless of his or her financial situation.
 
“One thing I love is that for a moment in time it removes our own ego,” Korman says. “We get so caught in our own head and worries that it separates us from what’s happening around us and with others.”
 
Tabs can pay for a beans-and-rice dish priced on a sliding scale of $2 to $7, but customers can purchase any menu item for a stranger in need.
 
The act of kindness movement at Park + Vine is only two weeks old, but it’s already resonating with customers.
 
“Last week, we had a woman who was having lunch with some folks take two of the tabs on the wall to put toward her purchase,” Korman says. “She charged the remaining amount on her card and then added $3 to pay it forward to someone else.”
 
The contagious pay-it-forward movement is happening all across the country. A recent NPR segment highlighted a pizza shop in Philadelphia, where 10 percent of sales come from paying it forward by the slice.
 
The Park + Vine lunch counter is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday for brunch.
 
Do Good:

• Buy a meal for a stranger at the lunch/brunch counter at Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine.

• Follow owner Danny Korman's blog on Park + Vine's website.

• Find ways to pay it forward within your own community.
 

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


Nearly four years ago, Rachel DesRochers launched her culinary dream job, Grateful Grahams, in which she prepares and sells handmade, vegan graham cracker treats while promoting gratefulness among her customers.
 
Now she’s coordinating A Grateful Plate so the community can express its gratitude for Northern Kentucky’s base of female farmers, producers and chefs.
 
“My goal with both my personal life and my business is to spread gratitude, and this event is a wonderful opportunity to do just that,” DesRochers says.
 
A portion of proceeds from the farm-to-table, dinner-by-the-bite event — which takes place Sunday, Sept. 27 at New Riff Distillery — will benefit the Community Farm Alliance, a Kentucky-based nonprofit that promotes farmers and the idea of bringing a public voice to policy makers.
 
All food served at Sunday’s event uses ingredients exclusively sourced from Northern Kentucky’s female farmers. One of the sample offerings features a biscuit bar with goat gravy and gooseberry jam from The Delish Dish, with pork shoulder and hominy by Nectar.
 
“The women farmers, chefs and producers joining us for the evening are all amazing at what they do,” DesRochers says. “And as a community, Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati are so lucky to have these women and their talents.”

Do Good: 

• Learn how you can help the Community Farm Alliance by getting involved.

• Learn more about A Grateful Plate and buy tickets here.

• “Like” Grateful Grahams on Facebook.
 

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


UPDATE: The event, originally scheduled for Sept. 27, has been moved back to Oct. 10 at the same time and locations. A statement on the event website says: The algae is not clearing from the Ohio River as fast as expected. With no rain forecast and algae as far upriver as Huntington, it is hard to predict if it will clear by September 27. Rather than make a last minute call, the Great Ohio River Swim has elected to proactively postpone the swim to Saturday, October 10.

Over the past seven years more than 850 people — as young as 10 and as experienced as 85 — have completed the Great Ohio River Swim. Oct. 10 marks the eighth annual year for the event, and it’s expected to be a record-breaking year for the timed 900-meter venture across the Ohio and back.
 
"We are anticipating record participation this year by area high school, college and club swim teams," says Jonathan Grinder, President and CEO of Tuscon Racing Inc., which manages the event. "It’s a great way to highlight Greater Cincinnati's national reputation as a center of excellence for competitive swimming."
 
While the River Swim does draw participation from triathletes and conditioned swimmers, it’s also open to anyone who can swim and wants to engage in a unique and fun opportunity to take advantage of the last remaining weeks of warm weather.
 
Proceeds benefit Green Umbrella, a nonprofit alliance that promotes environmental sustainability in our region. Specifically, the Great Ohio River Swim will benefit the nonprofit’s Meet Me Outdoors website, which highlights recreational outings around town.

Event organizers are monitoring the recent "algae bloom" reports about the Ohio River that would make conditions unsafe to swim but say on the event website that "the weather has changed dramatically with cooler temperatures and recent rain, making the likelihood of a health threatening algae bloom increasingly remote. Nevertheless, the Great Ohio River Swim is committed to swimmer safety. We are working closely with ORSANCO and the Cincinnati Health Department to monitor all conditions that might affect swimmer safety."

"This is a fun and safe opportunity for people of all ages to swim across the Ohio," says Brewster Rhoads, Swim Chair and volunteer with Green Umbrella. "Swimmers are invariably impressed with the cleanliness and beauty of the Ohio, and they become more committed to protecting it." 

Do Good: 

Register for the Great Ohio River Swim, which takes place Sunday, Oct. 10 at 8:15 a.m., beginning and ending at the Serpentine Wall/Public Landing in downtown Cincinnati.

• Check out Meet Me Outdoors and find an event to attend with your friends or families. 

• If you're interested in supporting Green Umbrella, find out how you can get involved.
 

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


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

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

• Stay connected with Your Health Matters on Facebook.

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

Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative receives national support to further learning


The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative (GCSC) is one of just 27 organizations nationwide chosen to pilot the STEM Ecosystems Initiative, a project more than 10 years in the making that’s funded by the STEM Funders Network. The project seeks to “nurture and scale effective science, technology, engineering and math learning opportunities for all young people.”
 
The GCSC has made it its mission to facilitate partnerships that afford students increased learning opportunities such as the STEM Bicycle Club, a cross-sector collaboration that models the innovative approach the STEM Ecosystems Initiative hopes to foster.
 
“Through innovative programs like the STEM Bicycle Club, we’re bringing together partners from across the region for the good of students and their futures,” says Mary Adams, program manager for the GCSC. “Support of the STEM Funders Network and collaboration with colleagues across the United States will accelerate progress against our mission to create a robust STEM pipeline of talent to meet the accelerating demand for STEM jobs in our region.”
 
The 27 groups piloting the STEM Ecosystems Initiative will convene at the White House in November to share ideas with one another and to receive support and coaching from leaders in education, science and industry. The overall goal is to find a way to move beyond gender, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and linguistic barriers that sometimes stand in the way of young people, preventing them access to rigorous learning opportunities that extend beyond the classroom.
 
For STEM Funders Network Co-Chairs Gerald Solomon, Executive Director of the Samueli Foundation, and Ron Ottinger, Executive Director of the Noyce Foundation, the design of STEM Ecosystems Initiative will allow for a more immersive educational experience for all.
 
“It is an initiative to design the kind of infrastructure that ensures that STEM learning is truly ‘everywhere’ and is a top priority for communities supporting youth to develop the skills and knowledge they need for success in a global workforce,” Solomon and Ottinger said in a joint statement.

Do Good:

Support the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative.

• If you're an educator, learn how you can do your part in facilitating STEM learning opportunities.

• Like the GCSC on Facebook.
 

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


For local salon owner Jim Brofft, compassion and open lines of communication are key when it comes to addressing differences. That’s why he’s made an offer to Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis, who has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses and is now serving time in jail for contempt of court.
 
Brofft, who owns Salon Central in Over-the-Rhine, wants to meet Davis to cut, color and style her hair free of charge.
 
"Maybe after a hour with me in her jail cell, she will see that homosexuals are just like everyone else," Brofft says.

It’s an approach that Brofft says is non-confrontational and fosters shared experiences and openness toward those who are different.

Brofft, an openly gay Cincinnati native, has successfully owned and operated his salon since 2009 and has trained at seminars across the world — Vienna, Prague, London, Montreal, Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago. He is experienced when it comes to hair, but he’s also experienced when it comes to providing clients with a relaxing experience that leaves them feeling refreshed and confident with a look that suits their features and lifestyle, he says.

"I believe in the transformative power of great style," Brofft says. "Kim will look in the mirror after a hair makeover and see not only a more beautiful woman but perhaps one who can open her heart and accept that gay people deserve to love and marry.”

Do Good: 

• Visit the Gay & Lesbian Community Care Center to learn about and access local resources. 

• Support the GLBTQ Center by purchasing your ticket to Pride Night 2015 Sept. 11 at Kings Island.

• Make an effort to talk to someone unlike yourself. 
 

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. 
 
The annual all-day conference, hosted by PreventionFIRST! at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, will feature Ann Barnum, Vice President of Community Strategies at Interact for Health, as its keynote speaker. She will speak on opioid prevention and its impact on coalitions and local communities in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

The academy is an opportunity for people in the community and coalition leaders to learn more about substance abuse prevention and public health. There will also be a heavy emphasis on coalition development and what those coalitions can do within their communities, such as changing policies and norms.

There will be three different presentation tracks for attendees: media and promotion of prevention, coalition development and the public impact of substance abuse prevention. Local speakers and leaders will share the effective strategies they're using in their communities.

“Effective prevention is always what we are trying to strive for,” says PreventionFIRST! Executive Director Mary Haag. “Substance abuse has been around for a long time, but it has to hit home before someone will want to take action. We want to make sure we make this applicable so people can go back and use these strategies in their communities.”
 
The 2015 Coalition Academy will take place 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30. A continental breakfast and lunch are included in the registration fee.
 
Do Good:

• There is still time to register for the 2015 Coalition Academy. Tickets are $50 for the general public.

• Join a coalition in your own community and help prevent substance abuse.

• Support PreventionFIRST! by making a donation
 

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


The Cincinnati Film Festival begins Sept. 10 with That Daughter’s Crazy as its opener. The documentary, directed by Elzbieta Szoka, explores the life of actress and comedienne Rain Pryor, daughter of Richard Pryor, through footage, photos, press clipping and various interviews.

“This year we have another amazing line up of over 100 films from all over the world, and many from our own backyard,” says Kat Steele, director of the Cincinnati Film Festival. “We’re honored to be able to bring Rain and Daryl (Sledge, the film’s producer) here to Cincinnati for this special opening night premiere event.”

A stand-up comedy show featuring a few Queen City natives will precede the film screening. Ally Bruener, Kelly Collette, Teri Foltz, Kristen Lundberg and Ky Platt will take the stage with Pryor headlining the show.

Bruener, who hails from Alexandria, Ky., was born with muscular dystrophy and uses dark humor in her cynical bit, “I Laughed at the Crippled Girl.”

"I'm amazed by the amount of diversity, with regard to both personal backgrounds and comedic stylings, that this lineup has to offer,” Bruener says.

That Daughter's Crazy will be screened at The Carnegie in Covington at 9 p.m. Sept. 10, preceded by the comedy show at 7:30. Tickets to both the comedy show and film are $20. The VIP meet-and-greet package, which includes cocktails prior to the show and film, is $40.

The Cincinnati Film Festival recently received a micro-grant from Fuel Cincinnati to support the 2015 schedule running Sept. 10-20 at various venues.

Do Good:

Purchase your tickets to the comedy show and film screening online.

• For more information about That Daughter’s Crazy, visit the film's website.

• Check out the full schedule of film screenings on Cincinnati Film Festival’s Facebook page.  
 

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. Locals can enjoy culinary demonstrations, chef competitions and wine, beer and spirit tastings right on the park's event lawn across from Music Hall.

Not only will you be able to sample incredible food and drink, but CF+WC is partnering with Findlay Market and Freestore FoodBank to provide more than 14,000 meals to locals in need.

Cincinnati was recently called out as the next big food city in the U.S. by Keith Pandolfi, a Cincinnati native and freelance writer for Saveur magazine. Pandolfi — who served as a judge last year for CF+WC's Pork Chopped competition — shined a light on the restaurant scene in Cincinnati and the Midwest with good reason.

“This is the kind of thing we want to stand for,” says Courtney Tsitouris, CF+WC co-founder. “Never again and never before have you seen this particular collection of talent together. We've pulled people from the Midwest and all over the country.”

Do Good:

Register for tickets to the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic Sept. 11-13 at Washington Park. Ticket packages are available for each day as well as for the full weekend.

• Lend a hand and volunteer your time for the weekend.

• Check out the full list of this year’s participating culinary talent.
 

Party like a rock star at Music Resource Center fundraiser


The Music Resource Center (MRC) in Walnut Hills is hosting its annual Party Like a Rockstar fundraiser 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.

The benefit will feature a performance from MRC students, a silent auction and an open bar featuring craft beer, draft beer, liquor and wine, says Executive Director Karen D'Agostino.

The MRC provides recording and performing equipment to local teens between the grades of 7 and 12 for $2 a month. Kids can take private lessons, train in rehearsal rooms and record music in the multi-track recording studio.

MRC recently launched a low-frequency radio station, 95.7-FM, that features original content recorded at the studio, ranging from music to talk shows and public service announcements.

But the organization is more than just about recording music and performing arts. Mentors use life skills to create a sense of empowerment for the kids who spend their afternoons at the MRC.

“Some of them have very low confidence and struggle at school,” D’Agostino says. “But that kid who can’t concentrate comes in and sits in a studio for three hours straight. He’s found a passion he hasn’t had the opportunity to explore elsewhere.”

Do Good:

• Register to attend the Party Like a Rockstar benefit event on Saturday, Aug. 29 at The Redmoor in Mt. Lookout. Tickets are $65 for one person and $120 for two.

• The Music Resource Center depends on volunteer teachers, so please donate your time for a good cause.

• For more information about MRC’s radio station, 95.7, visit their website. 
 

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, Cincinnati Metro and CincyYP are collaborating to once again host “Take a TrYP on the Metro” from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29.
 
The entertainment bus will travel along a special route through downtown, Over-the-Rhine, East Walnut Hills, O’Bryonville, Oakley, Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout, stopping at nearly 20 different bars and restaurants along the way. According to Metro’s Outreach and Sustainability Manager Kim Lahman, the event is a fun way to introduce young professionals to Metro’s services.

“I believe most participants will feel more comfortable giving Metro a try after they experience just how easy and convenient public transit can be,” she says.

Each of the participating venues along the route will offer special promotions to riders, and they’ll learn trip-planning logistics like reading a schedule and making use of Metro’s real-time apps along the way.

“National trends are telling us that millennials value and want access to robust public transportation (and) want to live in a community where owning a car is optional,” says Brandy Jones, Metro’s public relations manager. “Metro is working to better understand and meet the transit needs of our future riders, as events like this one help us engage with potential riders and discover just how Metro can be what they need and want it to be as we work to reinvent our service.”

Do Good: 

• Purchase a single rider pass for just $7 or gather your friends and purchase a four-rider pass for $20 here.

• Take a look at the bars and restaurants participating in Saturday's promotion and contact Kaitlyn Kappesser if you're a restaurant or bar owner who'd like to join the fun.

• Watch this quick video to see how riding the Metro works.
 

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


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

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

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

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

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

Do Good:

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

• Help support Clovernook's mission by giving.

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

Local glassworkers join forces to celebrate National Bead Challenge Day


Beads of Courage has worked for the past 10 years to provide a unique and innovative approach to help children who are dealing with serious illnesses find ways to cope.
 
To back the organization in its mission of providing arts-in-medicine programming, Tristate artists will gather at Brazee Street Studios Sept. 19 for National Bead Challenge Day. The event — hosted at 20 art studios across the country — is intended to encourage artists to produce one-of-a-kind designs that children who are coping with cancer and blood disorders, cardiac conditions, burn injuries and chronic illness, in addition to families with children in neonatal intensive care, can add to their collections.
 
“We’re proud to host this event each year and to know that the beads created make a difference to children undergoing difficult medical treatments and bring a smile to their faces,” says Chelsea Borgman, Brazee’s gallery coordinator.
 
The Beads of Courage program begins when a child receives a string in addition to alphabet beads to spell out his or her first name and continues as health care providers give him or her colorful new beads to mark treatment milestones.
 
Beads crafted at National Bead Challenge Day serve as particularly special additions to children’s beaded creations, as they’re reminders of their courage and perseverance throughout the coping process.
 
“These beads mean the world to children who receive them,” Borgman says. “It’s a way for these kids to show their strength and say to the world and themselves, ‘I did it!’”

Do Good: 

• Support Beads of Courage by donating.

• Attend National Bead Challenge Day at Brazee Street Studios in Oakley 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 19. There will be activities for children in addition to opportunities to write letters to children in the Beads of Courage program. 

• Connect with Beads of Courage on Facebook.
 

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


Currently the Kennedy Heights Arts Center serves about 5,000 people a year, but according to Ellen Muse-Lindeman, the nonprofit’s executive director, that number is expected to double with the grand opening of its Lindner Annex.
 
The new space, which allows the Center to quadruple in size, is already home to local artists — including the Ohio Valley Woodturners Guild — who are using studio space to develop their craft. It will soon play host to a variety of performing arts, public and private events and classes ranging in subject matter — everything from photography to graphic design in its new state-of-the-art Scripps Howard Media Center.
 
“We find that digital art forms are really popular,” Muse-Lindeman says, “Kids and young adults have lots of interests, so we want to help harness that activity and provide ways for young people to learn how to develop their own content and develop their own voices through that content.”
 
The Center, as it’s done for years, will continue its inclusion policy, so classes will be accessible to all.
 
“We don’t turn anyone away for inability to pay,” Muse-Lindeman says. “We have a sliding scale for tuition, so people pay what they’re able to afford. We have a real core concentration of participants from the area.”
 
And the hope is for that core to continue to expand, bringing more children, teens and adults — novices and already-established artists — into a space that fosters creativity and collaboration, while enhancing the region as a whole.
 
“There are so many benefits to bringing more artists to urban communities,” Muse-Lindeman says. “It brings more vitality and excitement, and when artists invest their time and their talents in this neighborhood, it attracts more types of activity and leads to positive revitalization.” 

Do Good: 

• Help celebrate the grand opening of the new space by attending Raise the Heights, an art parade and festival 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 29. The official ribbon cutting is planned for 10 a.m. Aug. 28. 

•  The Lindner Annex, in addition to the Kennedy Heights Montessori Center, make up what will now be known as the  Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus, but they're looking for a third partner to move in and complete the campus. The partner can be either a nonprofit or for-profit venture but should align with the education/arts theme. Contact Ellen Muse-Lindeman if you’re interested. 

• Connect with the Kennedy Heights Arts Center on Facebook, and stay tuned for information on events, space rental and fall programming, which begins enrollment in September.
 

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 more than 20 Lowe’s Heroes and volunteers from the Health & Wellness Walnut Hills initiative.
 
The endeavor includes plans for raised vegetable beds, an art and journaling area and a walking meditation pathway and will be completed in three to four weeks, with measures in place to ensure sustainability for years to come.
 
“We are continuing to build a strong team of dedicated neighborhood volunteers,” says Gary Dangel, community activist and co-founder of Elevate Walnut Hills. “With the ongoing support of local businesses and organizations such as Lowe’s and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, we will create a fun, interactive place that encourages kids to explore and discover the wonders of nature.”
 
Dangel led the creative process for the garden’s design on Park Avenue, just one project in the neighborhood’s push for community health and wellness.

Longtime residents like Cecil Evans, who has lived in Walnut Hills for nearly 40 years, are excited to witness the transformation and to put the renovated space to use.
 
“It’s been a nuisance. I can’t understand why people litter the Earth,” Evans says. “I lived off a farm most of my life and plan to grow vegetables here next year.”

Do Good:

• Support Keep Cincinnati Beautiful by donating.

• Learn about ways you can get involved with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful by volunteering.

• Join Keep Cincinnati Beautiful as the organization launches a crowdfunding campaign for Over-the-Rhine's Grant Park at the Christian Moerlein Brewery Taproom 5-7 p.m. Aug. 19.
 

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


It’s National Health Center Week, and communities — both at the local and national level — are celebrating in a variety of ways.
 
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the health center movement, so there’s a heightened awareness and focus on wellness and care that is accessible, affordable and high quality via kids’ health fairs, block parties, community health center open houses and other events.
 
“It’s a big deal,” says Lauren Husein, office manager at the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, a Columbus-based nonprofit that represents Ohio’s 44 federally qualified health centers. “Many people do not know what community health centers (CHCs) are or what they do, so it’s important to get this information out. They’re federally funded sites that serve populations consisting of migrant workers, children and individuals who are homeless or low-income. No one will ever be turned away for service, regardless of income or insurance status.”
 
Husein, a Cincinnati native, is attending events across the state this week but says she’s particularly excited to return to her hometown, where she’ll participate in the GE Developing Health Back-to-School Kid’s Health Fair at the Lincoln Heights Health Center, which began in 1967 as Ohio’s first CHC.
 
The Lincoln Heights Health Center and similar facilities in Mt. Healthy and Forest Park make up what is now referred to as The Health Care Connection.
 
“Fun fact: One of their sites is at an old elementary school on Waycross Road, where I used to take dance lessons,” Husein says. “And their CEO actually used to attend my church.”
 
The issue hits close to home for Husein, who will serve as a community health care advocate throughout the week’s festivities.
 
“It’s just so important that the community comes together for health and wellness,” she says. “Everyone deserves equal access to high quality health care. So many individuals in our community are underserved due to economic or social status, and it’s important that people know there are options out there.” 

Do Good: 

• Attend the sixth annual GE Developing Health Back-to-School Kid's Health Fair 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15. The event will offer fun fitness activities and free blood pressure checks for all in attendance. 

• Find a National Health Center Week event near you, and attend. 

• Connect with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers on Facebook.
 

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


Stepping Stones provides educational and recreational programs for more than 1,000 local children and adults with developmental disabilities each year. Bloom, an annual event to raise money to support its mission and programs, returns for its 11th year Sept. 12 and is bringing in sponsors from all across the Greater Cincinnati area. 

The outdoor garden party will feature live music, food from 20 different local restaurants and caterers and a silent auction. Partygoers will be able to bid on a vacation to England to see a Manchester United soccer match, four nights in a Parisian apartment, signed sports memorabilia and other prizes.
 
Through the help of Bloom co-chairs and owner of Towne Properties Neil and Susie Bortz, a financial assistance program has been established to help make Stepping Stones' programs more accessible for low-income children, teens and adults with disabilities: No Person Left Behind.
 
“Our hope is this fund continues and is the wind beneath the wings of these people who need a little help to attend our programs,” says Peggy Kreimer, communication and grants director.

The Bloom committee has designated 15 percent of each sponsorship to go to No Person Left Behind.

Do Good:

Register to attend the Sept. 12 garden party, presented by PNC Bank, on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Greenacres Arts Center in Indian Hill. Tickets are $150.

• Can't make it to the party? Donate to No Person Left Behind.

Be a buddy to a child with a disability. Stepping Stones has an ongoing need for volunteers 13 years and older.
 

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 that benefits Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The family-friendly event is presented by the Healthy Roots Foundation as a fundraiser for infant and child health in the community.

Nearly $130,000 has been raised since the first Bluegrass for Babies concert in 2009, says Anne Schneider, founder of Healthy Roots.

“This year we're going to support new research through the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth,” Schneider says. “We really want to take a new look at environment impact on prenatal care and what that looks like, what the influences are.”

Healthy Roots was established in 2009 by Anne and her husband when their youngest son, Nicholas, was born with a life-threatening birth defect. The organization aims to provide tools and resources to parents and help educate them on how to raise healthy children.

The family-friendly bluegrass concert will feature craft beer; food by Green BEAN Delivery, Eli’s Barbeque, Mazunte and Dewey’s Pizza; and live bluegrass music by Cabinet, Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, Hickory Robot and Jennifer Ellis Music. There will also be interactive games and activities for children.

Adults tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Children 12 and younger are admitted for free.
 
Do Good:

Purchase tickets online to Babies for Bluegrass 3-9 p.m. Sept. 19 at Sawyer Point downtown.

Donate to Healthy Roots Foundation.

• Healthy Roots is 100 percent volunteer based, so donate your time as a volunteer
 

Comedy benefit honors women living with breast cancer


Most breast cancer foundations focus on raising money for research or to help cover medical bills, but one is dedicated to putting fun back into the lives of women living with the disease.
 
The Karen Wellington Foundation for Women wants women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, along with their families, to enjoy their lives by taking a break from the exhausting day-to-day struggles of doctor’s appointments, scans and chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The foundation provides these women with miniature vacations, spa visits, dinners and concert tickets.

Sticking with the theme of “Fun Now!” the foundation is hosting a comedy showcase Aug. 11 to raise money to send more women on vacations and allow them to live in the moment.
 
Six top local comedians will take the stage to address the sensitive issue doing what they do best: Andy Gasper, Faith Mueller, Laura Sanders, Mark Chalifoux, Gabe Kea and Chris Weir.
 
“Comedy and humor are such a huge part of the healing process,” says Michael Holder, host, board member and local comedian. “There is tension we can destroy with comedy. Think of it is a way of laughing in the face of cancer.”
 
The foundation was founded eight years ago in honor of Wellington, a young mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 and passed away 10 years later. 
 
The benefit will take place 8-11 p.m. Aug. 11 at Go Bananas Comedy Club in Montgomery. All ticket proceeds go to the foundation and its mission.

Do Good:

• Plan to buy tickets and attend Fun Now!; admission is $15.

• Learn more about the Karen Wellington Foundation for Women at its website.

Lend your vacation home, condo or timeshare to the foundation to provide a fun break for a woman with breast cancer and her family.
 

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. Online pre-registration is closed, but on-site registration is available both Aug. 1 and 2.
 
According to Brewster Rhoads, Paddlefest Chair and former executive director of Green Umbrella — sponsor of the event — the thrill kayakers will experience on Aug. 2 is the same one that will prompt future generations of people to become invested in the Ohio River and all it has to offer as a natural resource.
 
“Sitting just inches above the water line in a canoe or kayak lets one feel the power of the Ohio as it conveys rainfall from seven upriver states to the Gulf of Mexico,” he says. “If you close your eyes, you can just imagine how Lewis and Clark felt as they made their way downriver in 1803.”

Paddlefest offers three opportunities to get in the water Aug. 2: a five-mile stand-up paddleboard (SUP) race, an 11-mile canoe and kayak race and the 8.2-mile paddle. The races begin at 7:30 a.m., followed by the paddle start. All boats put in at Coney Island and finish at the Public Landing downtown. Shuttle buses will take participants from downtown to Coney Island before the events (6-8 a.m.) and after (10 a.m.-1:45 p.m.).

The Gold Star Chili Finish Line Festival at Yeatman’s Cove will run 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., featuring live music, racer awards, Global Water Dancers, food, beer and exhibitors.
 
Kayaking between the downtown bridges with the Cincinnati skyline as a backdrop will undoubtedly be a unique experience and a scene to be remembered. It’s the largest paddling event in the country and one Rhoads says should not be missed.
 
“It is hard to love something you don't know. That's why Paddlefest is so effective in changing attitudes about the Ohio,” Rhoads says. “By giving 2,000 adults and children each year an opportunity to get an up-close and personal experience with the beauty and majesty of the Ohio, Paddlefest is helping to grow the next generation of environmental stewards.” 

Do Good: 

• Interested in paddling the Ohio? Register on-site at Coney Island Saturday, Aug. 1 (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) or Sunday, Aug. 2 (starting at 6:30 a.m.). Check here for prices and details.

• If you're feeling competitive, join one of the two races Aug. 2.

• Become an environmental steward by getting involved with Green Umbrella and its other initiatives year-round.
 

Funke pottery studio encourages individual empowerment


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

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

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

Do Good:

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

• Become friends with Funke on Facebook.

• Support Funke by buying local art products.
 

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.  
 
The Cradle to Career Accelerator Fund, launched by StriveTogether, helps communities build a better education system by focusing on collective impact that supports children from birth through college.

Six communities were chosen to join a national network of more than 9,400 organizations helping improve education success for kids across the U.S.: All Hands Raised (Portland, Ore.); Commit! Dallas (Dallas County, Tex.); Graduate Tacoma (Tacoma, Wash.); Higher Expectations (Racine, Wisc.); Seeding Success (Memphis, Tenn.); and Strive Partnership (Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky).   

“This is another example of how Cincinnati is becoming a hub for innovation, particularly social innovation and education,” says Greg Landsman, executive director of Strive Partnership. “I think it’s critically important to tackle some of the most pressing challenges that face the country right here in Cincinnati and to do so in a way that has us leading the nation. It helps to further this momentum this city has.”

Strive Partnership supports local Cincinnati communities and organizations by focusing on getting people to work better together, ensuring data is used effectively and aligning resources to have the most impact. The fund will help the organization strengthen its capacity in focus areas and, in turn, provide support to local groups and partners.

Investments will not be broken up equally but dispersed based on each community's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Each community will have its own way of tackling such an important issue, but the common denominator between all of these communities is to make sure every child is prepared for their education and supported throughout so they’re able to achieve post-high school success.  

More cities will join the Cradle to Career Network during a second round of competitive applications within the next year.

“We want to more effectively engage our partners in a personalized way so that everyone who wants to be part of this larger collective impact approach knows what’s happening, where they can plug in and where they can have the most impact,” Landsman says.
 
Do Good:

• Learn more about the Cradle to Career roadmap by visiting the group's website.

• Follow StriveTogether's progress on Facebook.

• Do your part by getting involved with your community and your schools.
 

Local kids to learn basketball skills from NBA star Tayshaun Prince


Local kids will learn the basics of basketball from NBA star Tayshaun Prince at his annual basketball camp hosted by Kicks for Kids.

Prince, a forward for the Detroit Pistons and previously a three-time team MVP at the University of Kentucky, brings his staff of top high school coaches and guest speakers to Thomas More College for a three-day camp beginning Aug. 3.

Participants will learn the basic skills needed to play basketball, including ball-handling, passing, scoring, rebounding and defense. Campers will also learn a valuable asset of being an athlete — how to be competitive but also a good sport — says KFK Executive Director Christine Sebastian.

Each camper will take home a photo with Prince and an instructional DVD featuring coaching tips and different drills that they can review in the future.

“The best part about this camp is that not only is their coach an NBA player but by the end of the camp he knows everyone’s name,” Sebastion says.

The camp will take place 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 3-5 at Thomas More’s Connor Convocation Center in Crestview Hills and other local gymnasiums. Transportation between each venue will be provided for campers.

Do Good:

• There is still time to register for Tayshaun Prince’s camp; admission is $100 for each camper.

• For more information on sponsoring a child or program, contact Christine Sebastian.

• Become friends with Kicks for Kids on Facebook
 

Students build social skills at unique music/art camp


This summer you might find kids sitting in a drum circle working together to create music. The next hour, you might see them standing around a table creating a sculpture together and presenting it to their class.
 
These kids all have one thing in common: a social skills camp collaboration between Melodic Connections and Visionaries + Voices.
 
The camp is designed to give kids with different types of special learning needs a place where they can practice their social skills in a structured environment. The camps prevents a “summer slide” that often happens between academic school years, when a child's mind sits idle during the summer months and loses valuable reading and social skills. 
 
“This summer was loaded with all of these awesome creative mediums for kids to be their silly selves together and thrive but really have some structured practice at the same time,” says Betsey Nuseibeh, executive director of Melodic Connections. “They learn how to work together and work on making friends but also finding out what that means and looks like.”

In the past, kids had the opportunity to work on their social skills through music and art. This year, yoga and dance were added to the agenda. Ensemble Theatre also had a hand in this summer's round of one-week camp sessions. 
 
The summer social skills camp is a place for kids to not only show off their abilities but to also take that camp experience and use it to create more positive experiences in their lives, Nuseibeh says. 
 
Do Good:

• Melodic Connections is always looking for volunteers.

• Be a Facebook friend of Melodic Connections and Visionaries + Voices.

Donate to help Visionaries + Voices' mission.
 

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


Thousands of people gather at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden each summer to enjoy the Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival.
 
The July 22 event will mark 10 years since Learning Through Art started bringing neighbors from all across the region together. LTA is a local organization committed to encouraging multicultural awareness understanding and commits to increasing community participation in the arts and in communities.  
 
“We want to let the world know that it's not just about visiting the zoo,” says Kathy Wade, LTA co-founder and CEO. “It's also about seeing and meeting your neighbors right in the middle of our city.”
 
In an effort to support early childhood literacy, LTA is asking patrons to join the Read to Me! Movement. Visitors can buy a book or make a $10 donation to help build a future for a child.
 
Entertainment is slated throughout the day July 22, ranging from music and cultural dance to puppeteers and hands-on opportunities for kids. The festival is introducing an international craft corner this year where kids will be able to make native crafts from six different countries, ranging from Mexico and Egypt to Russia and France.
 
Admission to the event is $1. You can ride Metro's Route 46 bus to the zoo for 50 cents for a one-way trip or $1 round trip. 
 
Do Good:

• Attend the Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival at the Cincinnati Zoo 9 a.m.-6 p.m. July 22.

• Donate to the Read to Me! Campaign on GoFundMe.

Support Learning Through Art.
 

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


The Carnegie recently announced the exhibition lineup for its 2015-16 gallery season, which runs from September until late June. Shows range from an examination of the history and communities of Covington to experimental cinema to the use of abstract art. 

How does Exhibition Director Matt Distel and his team determine which exhibitions make the final cut?

“That’s the social component of what The Carnegie is trying to do — organize shows that people will respond to, that challenge people and their conceptions,” he says. “The challenge of putting on shows is to make the unfamiliar familiar and sometimes take something you know and turning it on its head, making the familiar unfamiliar."

Each exhibition's opening night, except for the Art of Food events, includes a free informal conversation with Distel and participating artists, light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

After opening night, each exhibition can be viewed 12-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Here is the 2015-16 gallery season:

Sept. 11-Nov. 21
I am, I be, but we don’t: site-specific works by Terence Hammonds, Anissa Lewis and Tim McMichael
New works examine Covington’s history and communities.
 
Extra Credit: Documenting Higher Level Art 2008-2015
Documentation of the 50-plus murals created for Covington Independent Public Schools plus new installations and other projects by Northern Kentucky's Higher Level Art organization.
 
Dec. 4-Feb. 6
Modern Living: Objects and Context
Co-curated with BLDG, a two-part exhibition explores the intersection and conflation of design and art objects with artists and designers Keith Benjamin, Such + Such, Brush Factory, Matt Lynch, Matthew Metzger, Chris Vorhees, Taryn Cassella, Colin Klimesh, CVG Made, Grainwell and Ampersand.
 
Feb. 24 & 26
10th Annual Art of Food
The popular event returns bigger and better than ever.
 
March 11-April 23
The Mini (Microcinema)
The Carnegie is transformed into an experimental movie theater with rotating galleries and screenings programmed by C. Jacqueline Wood.
 
May 6-June 11
Formal Function: Strategies of Abstraction
Regional survey examining the use of abstraction in painting, sculpture and other media with artists Jeffrey Cortland Jones, Justin Hodges, Rick Wolhoy, Jolie Harris, Joe Winterhalter, Mark Dejong, Scott Bellissemo, Jimmy Baker, Paige Williams, Frank Herrmann, Kim Krause and more.

Do Good:

Visit The Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington.

• Keep track of what's next during the 2015-16 gallery season.

Donate to help maintain The Carnegie's mission. 
 

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 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. 

The program, known as the UC Scholars Academy, allows Hughes juniors and seniors to experience three weeks of college immersion classes, hands-on activities, field trips and speakers that will better prepare them for STEM careers and post-high school life. The hope is that the bridge program can serve as a national best practice model, says Kathie Maynard, director of community partnerships in UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice & Human Services and a leader in the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative.

The program began with an application process for students who were interested, which lead to an essay and panel interview. Of the 30 who applied this year, 12 were chosen.

UC President Santa Ono and UC Provost Beverly Davenport have each committed $100,000 to help the program flourish. The program plans to grow and reach into lower grades, garnering attention from students just starting high school.
 
“We’re bridging not only the gap to college but showing them where that leads on the other side,” Maynard says. “If we can make a difference in these juniors’ and seniors’ lives, then we can extend into lower grades.”

Do Good:

Contact Kathie Maynard to find out how you can support the UC Scholars Academy.

• Become a friend of Hughes High School on Facebook

• Advocate for more mentoring/learning connections among businesses, community and education. 
 

Watch the Cincinnati Art Museum restore outdoor bronze statue


The Cincinnati Art Museum's conservation department is in the process of restoring and re-installing The Vine, a bronze statue that used to live in its Alice Bimel Courtyard. The sculpture was kept outside for decades and was damaged by wind, rain and other elements.

Restoration is open to the public in the courtyard. Museum visitors can watch Assistant Objects Conservator Kelly Schulze revive the statue using a multi-step process that will remove any previous treatment and corrosion products. She will apply a new protective layer to protect the statue from future erosion. 

"Our conservation departments are experts in restoring paintings and structures," says Jill Dunne, marketing and communications director. "Schulze is restoring this famous, beautiful structure to its former glory." 

The Vine is one of six sculptures that stand at an 86-inch scale. Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, its Philadelphia-born sculptor, is famous for creating bronze work based on dancers who posed for her. The museum has other works of her's in the courtyard as well — one statuette and four large scale bronzes.

Restoration is expected to last through July but might go into August, depending on the weather. Visitors can view the restoration in the Alice Bimel Courtyard Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m.

Do Good:

Visit the Cincinnati Art Museum to see the restoration progress.

• Become a Cincinnati Art Museum friend on Facebook.

• Support the museum by adopting a piece of art
 

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


If you haven’t yet snagged a ticket strip for the 2015 All Star Game festivities, your odds of finding one for less than $500 at this point are few and far between.
 
Faces Without Places, a nonprofit whose mission is “to empower lives by removing educational barriers and provide enrichment opportunities for children and youth experiencing homelessness,” is giving you a chance at tickets for just $20. 
 
Thanks to a donation from John Burns, local businessman and former president of Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions, Faces Without Places is raffling off a pair of Diamond Seats — just behind home plate — for the July 10-14 events.
 
The tickets are valued at $2,500 apiece and include food along with access to all All Star Game activities, including the game itself, the SiriusXM All Star Futures Game, the All Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and the Gatorade All Star Workout Day, which features the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders.
 
“This donation will enable Faces Without Places to continue on our trajectory of expansion,” says Mike Moroski, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We have some new things in store that will enable us to broaden our impact by keeping children experiencing homelessness connected to their education.”
 
Some of the ways the organization has done that thus far are through its annual Yellow Bus Summer Camp (YBSC) and ZooMates, a year-long mentoring program that pairs children from St. Francis de Sales School with students from Xavier University.
 
According to Moroski, 95 percent of children at last summer's YBSC increased or retained their math and/or reading skills, and a large majority of the children involved with ZooMates (87%) planned on attending college after participating in the program.
 
“We have raised a little over $16,000 thus far, and our goal is to reach $20,000 by July 10,” Moroski says. “Mr. Burns' donation of these tickets will help us to expand and grow more comfortably, and we could not be more grateful for his generosity.”

Do Good: 

• Support Faces Without Places by purchasing raffle tickets for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the 2015 All Star Game and related festivities. Entries will be accepted through July 10 at 5:15 p.m., with the drawing to follow at 5:30. Winners will be contacted immediately.

• Attend a free event at the Contemporary Arts Center July 30 at 6 p.m. to introduce Faces Without Places' rebranding campaign and announce what's in store for the future.

Get involved with Faces Without Places by donating, volunteering or attending/hosting an event.
 

Students work creatively with glass, learn and grow through art


If you missed the opening for Brazee Street Studios’ fifth annual Kids Exhibition, 513 Penguins, you’ll have a second chance to view students’ work at a reception taking place July 10 at C-LINK Gallery.
 
Students from 13 local schools worked to create more than 500 glass penguins — an activity made possible by the staff at Brazee along with 13 teachers who learned the project and then taught it remotely at their respective schools. Bullseye Glass Co. donated all of the glass.
 
According to Chelsea Borgman, C-LINK gallery coordinator and communications specialist, one of Brazee’s core missions is to help children not only express themselves through art but also appreciate the art-making experience.
 
“The annual children's exhibition is not only about the end result — it’s just as much, if not more, about the process,” Borgman says. “Children get to experiment with a material they may not otherwise have an opportunity to use, see how the glass transforms through the firing process, then have their work on display, realizing their connectedness to the smaller community of the classroom and the larger community of Cincinnati.”
 
The process also teaches students trust, Borgman says, as glass is oftentimes viewed as dangerous.
 
“When we trust the children to handle the glass safely, it helps them to trust themselves and take ownership over the responsibility to use this ‘dangerous’ material,” she says.
 
Perhaps most importantly, the program provides an opportunity for children to express their uniqueness without fear of judgment, as no two penguins are crafted the same.
 
“Each one has its own personality, which is a reflection of the choices made by the child during the creation process,” Borgman says. “We hope we have provided an opportunity for children to express themselves without the worry of finding the ‘wrong’ answer. There is no ‘wrong’ way to make their penguin, which I think can be quite liberating.”
 
Do Good: 

• Attend the second reception for 513 Penguins at 6-9 p.m. July 10 at Brazee's C-LINK Gallery in Oakley. Live penguins from Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will be on site. Guests will also have the opportunity to create a penguin of their own.

• If you can't make the reception, show your appreciation for students' creations by viewing the exhibition, which is on display through Aug. 6. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays; 12-8 p.m. Thursdays; and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. 

• Check out Brazee's class offerings for students of all ages and abilities. 
 

Envision Children delivers interactive learning experiences to local kids


About 100 children between the ages of 4 and 10 just finished learning about the Greek alphabet and will continue their Summer Academic Enrichment program, offered through Envision Children, as they acquire knowledge about the origins of things like fire, medicine and the telephone.
 
This year’s “Great Inventions, Great Discoveries II” theme is designed to elevate students’ math and reading levels by at least 11 percent as they participate in hands-on learning and attend weekly field trips.
 
“Our summer program is meant to engage students in such a way that they become more excited than their parents about their own future, because they will see possibilities in many career fields,” says Sheryl McClung McConney, president and founder of Envision Children.
 
McConney saw a need for educational assistance — particularly among middle-class working families as well as those living in poverty — after running a for-profit tutoring center that provided federally funded tutoring under the No Child Left Behind initiative.
 
When Ohio was approved for the No Child Left Behind waiver, families were still in need of educational assistance, McConney says, so she converted the facility into a nonprofit to continue serving their needs.
 
In addition to Academic Summer Enrichment, Envision Children also offers tutoring and activities throughout the year: ACT Bootcamp, Power Saturdays and Academic Showdown, where fourth-grade students recently competed in an academic game show with support from some of their favorite Bengals players.
 
It’s all designed to fulfill Envision Children’s mission, which is to produce measurable results by engaging youth “in real life learning, where students see how their education benefits them through interactive and fun activities.”
 
“I love children, and I recognize their importance in the future of our communities locally and globally,” McConney says. “My life's work has been to help maximize the potential of children to excel academically and to succeed as adults as responsible, contributing citizens, whatever career field they pursue.”

Do Good: 

Learn more about the ways in which Envision Children works to bring education to life for children.

• Connect with Envision Children on Facebook.

Contact Envision Children to volunteer, enroll your child or support its mission.
 

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


For Frank O’Farrell, the ways in which society traditionally measures educational success can sometimes be limiting.
 
“It sets boundaries and expectations that some kids just cannot understand or relate to,” he says.
 
O’Farrell experienced this frustration personally raising his now 17-year-old son and as a result founded Stages for Youth, whose mission is twofold: to help youth find their voice and express their individuality through digital and performance arts and to change the trajectory of their own lives, those around them and their community.
 
“I felt strongly that I just needed to give my son, and kids like him, an alternative avenue for self expression, another way to experience success,” O’Farrell says.
 
So he spent his vacation days from work planning and developing a pilot program, bringing in mentors and volunteers, hiring staff and fundraising — all for the purpose of teaching kids video production.
 
Twenty-four teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 came together to create, shoot, edit and produce six films in five days last summer. The free film camp’s success has become apparent, as the group won an honorable mention at The White House Student Film Festival for I Am Urban Art, two Golden Lion awards and an $8,000 scholarship.
 
But the story doesn’t stop there, as O’Farrell is committed to making sure other students receive similar opportunities.
 
“The skills these kids learn through the film production discipline include creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, project management, collaboration, thinking on their feet, working against deadlines,” O’Farrell says. “These are 21st-Century skills that our young people will need in order to be successful. Employers are demanding it (but) schools are not teaching it, and the result is a ‘skills gap’ which is limiting our kids’ opportunities when they do enter the workforce.”
 
These skills don’t come naturally for all, but it’s these types of skills that do seem to be more innate in those who don’t relate to a more traditional educational setting, O’Farrell says, so he wants to build Stages for Youth into a year-round after-school program to “level the playing field” for all students.
 
“Kids will walk away with a finished project, a digital portfolio for their resume, awards, 21st-Century skills in creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, a network of industry professionals and a more clearly defined career roadmap,” he says. “And as these kids write a story for their film, they are also writing their own personal story, and that's what can change their lives.”

Do Good: 

• Help Stages for Youth expand to a year-round after-school model by donating.

• Connect with Stages for Youth on Facebook.

• Check out students' films by clicking "Summer Camp Productions" at the top of the page.
 

World Refugee Day celebrated with companionship, resources and fun


The Junior League of Cincinnati’s RefugeeConnect program, in collaboration with the Red Cross, hosted its second annual World Refugee Day Cup Soccer Tournament recently as a way to welcome our region’s newest neighbors.
 
According to the JLC, there are 12,000-25,000 refugees living in Greater Cincinnati at any given time, so RefugeeConnect works to “unite and engage” the community for the purpose of assisting newcomers with a smooth transition as they get acclimated to a new culture and a new home.
 
“We are a nation of immigrants,” says Robyn Brown, co-chair of RefugeeConnect, which constructs a sustainable system of support for those making their way out of countries in turmoil.
 
About 600 individuals attended the June 13 soccer tournament, which, in addition to fun and gameplay, matched resettling refugees with various resources in the community — everything from free dental screenings on-site to valued connections with job training services. These are the types of connections that RefugeeConnect works to create on a yearly basis.
 
This past Saturday on World Refugee Day, for example, cyclists participated in a charity ride to fund the Dean Razzak RefugeeConnect Scholarship, which provides those entering higher education with a means of “finding meaningful employment as contributory members of our community and adopted country.”
 
And RefugeeConnect makes education a priority, as ESOL training courses are offered throughout the summer as a way to mitigate the language barrier.
 
“While many of our ancestors came to America generations ago,” Brown says, “others arrived more recently to seek a better life in this country,” and it’s RefugeeConnect’s mission to assist them in doing so. 

Do Good: 

• Support the educational and career goals of young refugees by contributing to the Dean Razzak RefugeeConnect Scholarship.

• Learn more about how to help refugees adjust to a new community by attending the next Refugee Empowerment Initiative meeting, July 17 at 3 p.m. at Xavier University's Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue.

• Connect with the Junior League of Cincinnati on Facebook.
 

Deadline extended for Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire applications


Want to show off your latest DIY project? Perhaps lead a hands-on demonstration or teach others how to make a gadget? If so, the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire is for you.
 
It’s once again being hosted at the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the application deadline has been extended until June 30, so there’s still time to submit your proposal.
 
According to Cincinnati Museum Center President Elizabeth Pierce, local makers are encouraged to take advantage of the extension so they can showcase the great ideas our region has to offer.
 
“Since we opened the application, we have received an outpouring of interest from makers around the Cincinnati area who want to be a part of this year's Mini Maker Faire,” Pierce says. “We've extended the deadline to ensure that all makers have an opportunity to show off the creativity and ingenuity that this region has to offer.”
 
This year’s Mini Maker Faire — affiliated with the global Maker Faire network created by MAKE magazine — will take place Aug. 29-30.
 
According to its website, Maker Faire is “the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth,” mashing up everything from art and science to technology and engineering. Amateurs and professionals of all ages are encouraged to participate.
 
“Cincinnati Museum Center is constantly striving to develop inquisitive minds and serve as a vehicle for creativity,” Pierce says.
 
Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire will be included in the cost of daily Museum Center admission Aug. 29-30 and be free to museum members.  

Do Good: 

Apply by June 30 to participate in the 2015 Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire.

• Connect with Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire on Facebook.

• Mark your calendars for Aug. 29-30, then visit the Cincinnati Museum Center to view local makers' creations.
 

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


Major League Baseball's 2015 All-Star Game is little more than a month away, but don’t wait until July to share your love of the game with others.
 
The American Institute of Architects’ Cincinnati chapter (AIA) is sponsoring a competition titled "Fields of Dreams" so baseball fans can highlight their own stories through photos that showcase the built environment surrounding the game. Photos can range in composition — everything from the design of professional stadiums to the dugouts at local parks.
 
Contest submissions are $10 each and benefit Butler County Challenger Baseball, a league designed to “meet the needs of children and young adults from 5 to 22 years of age with special needs.”
 
If you’re not submitting a photo but just want to support your favorite entry, each vote will cost you $1 and also benefit the Challenger league.
 
For Butler County Challenger President Alan Lakamp, whose son has Down syndrome, the league is particularly special because it enables kids to live out their dreams.
 
“It’s every child's dream to be a able to play the great game of baseball,” Lakamp says. “When these kids come out to our baseball fields, they are baseball players and have no disability.”
 
Voting ends June 15 at 11:59 p.m. Winning photographers receive cash prizes and a chance to be featured in a public exhibition during All-Star Weekend in July.

Do Good:

• Enter your photos in the "Fields of Dreams" contest.

• View entries and vote for your favorite photo prior to 11:59 p.m. June 15.

• Support Butler County Challenger Baseball by donating.
 

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 complete college or further their education with a master’s or doctoral degree, thanks to an anonymous grant of $293,000. The grant will allow for 15 initial recipients to receive a three-term $7,500 stipend for living expenses, though university officials say they hope to reach more vets in the near future.
 
For Geri Maples, program coordinator and wife of a disabled veteran, the program is particularly special because it’s a way to give back to those who have already given of themselves.
 
“When I think about the sacrifice our vets make, I think mainly of the fact that for the most part they’re putting their lives on hold,” Maples says. “The pursuit of their dreams is another sacrifice made. One of the biggest reasons soldiers join the Armed Forces is not only to serve their country but also to receive the educational benefits. These benefits make the pursuit of their dreams possible.”
 
Walnut Hills-based Union Institute offers both online and low-residency programs to enable students to pursue education without interrupting other obligations like careers and family. Veterans in Union will offer a seven-step approach aimed at making sure individualized needs are met educationally, emotionally and socially.
 
“The ultimate goal is to provide personal academic and career coaching services along with employment opportunities,” Maples says. “In addition, we want these students to have all the tools necessary to be successful beyond graduation. We personalize the process for each veteran from the initial response to their interest inquiries, admission and enrollment, tutoring, wellness seminars for healthy lifestyle success, career coaching and employment exploration.”

Do Good: 

• Veterans in Union grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Apply by July 1 for consideration.

• Check out other Union Institute & University scholarship opportunities for veterans and active duty military.

• Support the university and its students by giving.
 

Shriners Hospital committed to physical, mental and emotional healing


When he was just 7 months old, Kaj was involved in a car accident that resulted in third-degree burns covering 30 percent of his body. He was life-flighted to Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati, which specializes in burn care and cleft lip and palate.
 
Shriners 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.
 
“What stood out to me the most was the genuine compassion of our social worker,” says Amanda Shrode, Kaj’s mother. “Immediately she helped me cope with what had just happened to my son, in the most comprehensive and sensitive way. She provided our family with everything we needed and answered questions I hadn't even thought to ask. For the rest of my life, I will never be able to express how much this meant to me, and still does.”
 
Kaj is now a healthy 3-year-old boy, though he will most likely require follow-up surgeries  — as do most burn victims — to ensure his future ease of mobility. And Shriners will provide services to him until adulthood.
 
At Shriners, however, services consist of more than quality medical treatment. Staffers are committed to nurturing the physical, mental and emotional healing of individuals and their families.
 
Camp Ytiliba (Ability spelled backwards), for example, is a three-night camping trip sponsored by the hospital to inspire confidence and connection among children with similar medical issues. Children return from the 26th annual outing Wednesday, June 3.
 
For Shrode, the care provided from Shriners is meaningful, as the staff works to create a warm atmosphere by building relationships.
 
“The staff at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital feels like family to me and Kaj,” Shrode says. “It’s about making sure your kids feel comfortable in their own skin.”

Do Good: 

• Support Shriners Hospitals for Children by donating.

Volunteer at Shriners.

• Connect with the Shriners Cincinnati on Facebook, where you can see photos of kids enjoying Camp Ytiliba.
 

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 the 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) in Cincinnati.
 
Participants will be given a genre, character, line of dialogue and prop that must be worked into each film and then have 48 hours to write, cast, shoot and edit it. The rest of the creative process comes about through teamwork, which Kat Steele, Cincinnati city producer for the 48HFP, says is an integral part of the weekend.
 
“The competition challenges filmmakers of all abilities and ages to think outside of the box in a team environment,” Steele says. “From high school students to hobbyists to full time media professionals, all are challenged by incredible time limitations to create a film.”
 
The mission of the 48HFP, which tours more than 130 cities worldwide each year, is to advance and promote filmmaking, filmmakers and teamwork.
 
All local films received by Sunday evening’s deadline will premiere June 7 at the Thompson House in Newport. An awards ceremony will be held in July when a filmmaking prize package will be awarded to winners of the area’s “best film,” which will be screened at Filmapalooza in Hollywood next March and have a shot at a screening at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
 
While the 48HFP is certainly focused on filmmakers, it’s the community, Steele says, that plays an integral and supportive role.
 
“It’s not just filmmakers that participate,” she says. “This is a community effort, as each film can take dozens of people to make. It’s a fantastic experience for anyone who will be involved.”

Do Good: 

Register for Cincinnati’s version of the 48 Hour Film Project.

• Support local filmmakers by purchasing tickets to the 48HFP Festival June 7 at the Thompson House.

• Connect with the 48HFP on Facebook.
 

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.
 
Roofing, carpentry, electrical work and plumbing comprised the skill sets of more than 300 volunteers who came together to make this year’s outing a success. Porches were rebuilt, doorbells fixed and ramps installed — projects ranging widely in size and scope — in order to make more livable, safer homes for elderly individuals, individuals with disabilities and individuals struggling to make ends meet.
 
According to Kim Sullivan, PWC’s marketing and communications manager, the repairs offered were “life-saving.”
 
“From ramps to handrails to replaced porches, they (volunteers) kept our clients safe and independent in their homes,” Sullivan says.
 
Repair Affair, presented by the city of Cincinnati and The Home Depot, is just one of the many initiatives offered by PWC and its volunteer base, which works year-round to repair homes, to conserve energy through weatherization and to modify aspects within the home's interior and exterior to allow for increased mobility.
 
“We always need donations to support these services,” Sullivan says. “We need volunteers year-round.” 

Do Good:

• Support the work of People Working Cooperatively by donating.

• If you're interested in volunteering with PWC, contact Aaron Grant at 513-351-7921.

• Connect with PWC on Facebook.
 

OTR Foundation launches crowdfunding campaign to support Rothenberg rooftop garden


The Over-the-Rhine Foundation kicks off its crowdfunding campaign for the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden with a happy hour at Goodfellas Pizzeria on Main Street Wednesday, May 20.
 
Tickets for the event are $20, include a slice of pizza and a beer and benefit the garden project, which is in need of everything from workstations and potting benches students can use during garden classes to mixing bowls and salad spinners for lessons on nutrition and food sources.
 
“The Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden is a transformational project that builds community by connecting students in OTR to the values of gardening in their school environment,” says Kevin Pape, president of the Over-the-Rhine Foundation. “The Foundation proudly supports Rothenberg’s students and the realization of the rooftop garden project.”
 
And it has done so loyally, raising more than $300,000 for the garden to date.
 
Nearly 450 students at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy engaged in a multitude of unique, hands-on learning opportunities afforded by the garden during the 2014-15 school year, but needs are ongoing.
 
Even if you’re unable to support the launch of the crowdfunding campaign this week, you can contribute online to help the OTR Foundation and the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden reach its $5,000 goal.
 
For Bryna Bass, rooftop garden program manager, it’s a goal that will allow students the opportunity to further their application of gardening to real-world scenarios.
 
“They learn gardening, but that’s not the mission,” Bass says. “They get to garden — that’s icing on the cake — but it’s deepening their math skills, deepening their science skills, English, language arts, literacy, social studies. We get to use it in just about any curriculum.” 

Do Good: 

Contribute to the crowdfunding campaign and attend the May 20 happy hour launch.

• Connect with the Rooftop School Garden on Facebook.

• Share your time and materials as a volunteer. Contact Bryna Bass if you're available to help. 
 

Discounted CSO tix available with donation to Freestore Foodbank


The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) wraps up its 2014-15 season this weekend, so if you haven’t had the chance to visit Music Hall lately to take in classical music fare, there’s no time better than now.
 
Discounted tickets, priced at just $10, will be offered Friday to patrons who make a donation of a nonperishable food item, as this year’s closing weekend marks a community-wide initiative to combat hunger in the region.
 
“One of the CSO’s core values is to be Cincinnati’s Own,” says Megan Berneking, the CSO’s director of communications. “That means taking a leading role in the life of the Cincinnati community. One critical issue our community faces is hunger, and through this effort we can feed not only the souls of our audience members which we do every week but also help feed the hungry in Cincinnati through the partnership with Freestore Foodbank.”
 
The May 15 effort is part of Orchestras Feeding America, which has seen 425 U.S. orchestras collect and donate nearly 450,000 pounds of food over the past six years.
 
Though discounted tickets will only be offered for Friday evening’s performance, donations for the Freestore Foodbank will be accepted all weekend long. According to Berneking, it’s a way for patrons to support two organizations that fill a vital role in the community.
 
“The CSO would encourage the public to support both organizations through this partnership,” Berneking says. “The CSO elevates the cultural life of Cincinnati, while Freestore helps provide for the physical needs of our community. In supporting both of these efforts, audiences this weekend will make the Queen City an even more vibrant place to work, play and live.”
 
Do Good: 

• Donate a non-perishable food item at Music Hall and purchase your $10 ticket to Sheherazade at 8 p.m. Friday, May 15. Tickets for Saturday evening's performance (also at 8 p.m.) start at just $12. 

Support the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. 

Support the Freestore Foodbank.
 

Starfire members explore passions, engage with community


For Starfire members like Matt Weisshaar, working on a community project is an important responsibility prompted by passion and accompanied by the development of leadership skills and relationship building.
 
Starfire is focused on decreasing the social isolation felt by people with disabilities. The Madisonville-based nonprofit is a conduit to relationships for those with disabilities, family members and community residents looking to get involved, and its approach is “one family, one person at a time,” says Rachel Almendinger, director of donor relations.

“We have a brainstorming night for each member to discuss what they’re interested in, and we get people there that are interested in the same thing to help us connect, network and ideate,” she says. “Then they start a project, so Starfire facilitates it but it’s really about Matt.”
 
Weisshaar, whom Almendinger says “loves science, loves nature, loves animals,” is currently working with Cincinnati Nature Center to put together a Citizen’s Science Day, when community members will join together to bond over bird-watching and compete in a nature-related activity.
 
“Our hope with that is Matt will be able to find some more long-term friends and create deeper relationships, not based on his disability but based on his interests and passions,” Almendinger says.
 
It’s work like this that Starfire will showcase at its Annual Celebration, which for the first time will comprise not only the Evening Celebration but also a Breakfast Celebration for business professionals unable to attend the nighttime happenings.
 
“At first it was a way to celebrate members, but people started loving the stories so much that more and more started coming who wanted to live a more inclusive life,” Almendinger says. “It’s meant to inspire that. Our goal is to help people make friends.” 

Do Good: 

• Kick off the work day by supporting Starfire and purchasing seats for the Breakfast Celebration, June 24 at 7:30 a.m. at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley.

• Celebrate the work and passions of Starfire members at the Evening Celebration June 24 at 6:30 p.m., also at the 20th Century Theater. This event is free and open to the public.

Contact Starfire if you're interested in partnering with the organization. Members would love to visit your business and explore potential opportunities and career paths. 
 

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


Former Northern Kentucky University basketball star Shannon Minor will once again host the Pete Minor Father/Child Basketball Camp in honor of his late father, who was struck by a drunk driver in 2011 while changing a tire along I-75.
 
Shannon and his father possessed a strong bond that Shannon values and wants to pass along to others.
 
“He wants to encourage dads to put down their cell phones, roll up their sleeves and be 100 percent present in their kids’ lives,” says Christine Sebastian, program director at Kicks for Kids.
 
Kicks for Kids, a nonprofit whose mission is to level the playing field for at-risk children, will receive proceeds from the half-day basketball camp June 20, when campers will learn basketball fundamentals, participate in a question and answer session with Shannon and receive a T-shirt, dinner, basketball and photo with their father figures. Most of all, though, they’ll spend quality time playing a game and being active with that older male figure who’s making a difference in their life.
 
Proceeds will enable Kicks for Kids to continue and improve upon its programming — things like sports camps, circus camps and an annual Christmas Celebration — that impacts the lives of children who may otherwise be without those experiences.
 
“All through Shannon’s life, Pete was a supportive dad, always rebounding for Shannon, going to every one of his games,” Sebastian says. “Shannon always appreciated how his dad took an active interest in his life — how, no matter what, Pete cleared his schedule and never missed a game.” 

Do Good: 

Contact Christine Sebastian by e-mail or call 859-331-8484 to register for camp. Admission is $60 per child/father-figure combination. Each extra child is $25. Proceeds benefit Kicks for Kids. 

• Support Kicks for Kids by signing up for the 19th annual RGI River Run, a 5k taking place May 23. Details can be found here

• Support Kicks for Kids by donating.
 

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


New Year’s Eve 2009 didn't end in celebration for Kevin Pearce, who was training for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics when a cab double cork on the half-pipe ended his career as a professional snowboarder and initiated his journey of recovery from a traumatic brain injury.
 
He’s now raising awareness and funds to improve the life quality of individuals impacted by traumatic brain injury through the LoveYourBrain Foundation.
 
When Pearce was severely injured, he says he’d been concussed a week and a half prior but was ultimately able to continue snowboarding with symptoms unnoticeable to those watching.
 
“My brain was not healed, and I was not in any kind of form to get that kind of hit to my head,” Pearce says.
 
But when he did, his life changed forever. He spent nearly the entire month of January 2010 on a critical care unit, and his future quality of life was unknown.
 
“They tell me I would have died without a helmet on,” Pearce says — one reason why he now travels the country as a motivational speaker encouraging others to take care of and love their brains.
 
There’s more to be done than practice physical safety habits, though.
 
“Loving your brain can be very healing. What is so bad, so damaging for us, is to have the ANTs, so what I ask all of you to do is kill the ANTs — automatic, negative thoughts — that come into our head, and that’s what is so damaging to us,” says Pearce, who experienced “ANTs” as he went from a top-notch snowboarder to realizing that his career was over and that his brain simply didn’t function the way that it did prior to his injury.
 
“I spent a lot of time rehabbing and a lot of time recovering,” Pearce says. “I’m getting back to this life I lived before that — and in no way is it the same — but there are some very cool important things. Maybe I do have some differences. Maybe I don’t remember where I parked my car. I struggle with a lot of things on a daily basis, but I don’t allow them into my brain.

“I look at everything going so great and everything I have, and I try to build on that instead of feeling bad about myself. Look at all these amazing people. We’re so lucky we’re able to be here.” 

Do Good: 

• Support organizations like Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD), a nonprofit that "facilitates the education of adults with disabilities to realize their aspirations." LADD, which presented the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival, hosted Pearce after the screening of Crash Reel, a documentary film detailing his crash and recovery that generated more than $1,200 for the nonprofit.

Get involved with the LoveYourBrain Foundation by starting a fundraising campaign.

• Protect your brain by wearing a helmet. Rest your brain. Kill the ANTs.
 

Derby party to benefit Special Olympics equestrian training program


Gather your fancy clothes, find your big hat and prepare your palette for a Kentucky Hot Brown and, of course, some Mint Juleps.
 
Derby Day is upon us, and Parkers Blue Ash Tavern is hosting a party for the second year to benefit the Winton Woods Riding Center (WWRC) Special Olympics Hamilton County equestrian training program.

Admission to the party is just $10 and includes finger foods and derby staples like pimento cheese and cucumber sandwiches, specially-priced Mint Juleps in commemorative Derby glasses and a variety of prize opportunities. The grand prize, a limited edition framed print commemorating the 141st Kentucky Derby (pictured above), will be awarded at 7 p.m.
 
Last year’s event generated about $1,000 for the Special Olympics Equestrian Team, which Rachel Neumann, manager of the WWRC, says enabled the team to pay its entry fees for both the Ohio and Kentucky State Equestrian Competitions.
 
Neumann, who also coaches six of the WWRC’s Special Olympics Equestrian competitors, says the program instills confidence and independence in its riders.
 
“Some of my athletes have been training with us for 10-plus years, and we’ve watched them grow up and learn independence on horseback,” she says. “One of my riders rode for five years without being able to handle without his dad being more than 10 feet away at any time, because of his anxiety. He is now riding independently at our highest level of competition. Such an achievement!”
 
Neumann’s goal, however, is to see that sort of impact in more riders. But more volunteers are required for that to occur.
 
“Our therapeutic riding program (Special Riders’ Program), which feeds into our Special Olympics program, has a waiting list several years long,” Neumann says. “We are only limited by the number of volunteers willing to be trained and make a weekly commitment. New volunteers would allow us to bring new riders into the program who have been waiting three, four, five, sometimes six years.” 

Do Good: 

Contact the Winton Woods Riding Center if you're interested in volunteering. No experience required. 

• Attend the Kentucky Derby Party at Parkers Blue Ash Tavern 3:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2. Tickets must be purchased in person, either in advance or on the day of the event. The Kentucky Derby itself is run at 6:24 p.m.

Support the WWRC by donating to the Great Parks Foundation. 
 

Local consulting firm inspires others to Pay It Forward


Individuals from 70 countries came together for Pay It Forward Day last year. This Thursday, the 2015 aim will be to “inspire 3 million acts of kindness around the world.”
 
For one local business, the holiday is observed in the same way that a holiday like Christmas would be observed.
 
“You have the day off, and we spend it as a group,” says Blake Eve, marketing, recruiting and community engagement manager for Ingage Partners. “This year, there’s 80 of us participating by making boxes for A Child’s Hope International.”
 
Ingage Partners, a Hyde Park-based management and technology consulting firm run as a B Corp to “inspire and engage” while serving as a powerful force for good in the community, consists of 38 individual consultants. So to have 80 volunteers assembling food, water and life packs for the Hands Against Hunger program is special, Eve says, because it means clients are behind Ingage Partners’ mission as well.
 
“It’s great as an organization. Not only does it bond us together, but it allows us time to step back and see how we can help, and it allows us that time off to go out and volunteer,” Eve says. “And then involving our clients, it’s the way we look at things. We want to influence others to look at business in a different manner.” 
 
The international holiday falls on Thursday, April 30 this year. If your business or organization has no plans, there are plenty of ways to get involved as an individual. The act can be as simple as purchasing a cup of coffee for a stranger, who can then continue the ripple effect, making someone’s day a bit brighter. 

Do Good: 

• Participate in Pay It Forward Day Thursday by doing something kind or helpful for someone. 

• Connect with the Pay It Forward Foundation to start a ripple effect of positive actions year-round. 

• Encourage your business or organization to do something for Pay It Forward Day. Here are some options for giving back.
 

Warm-weather health and safety tips for Flying Pig participants


Runners, walkers, supporters, sponsors and nonprofits will join together Sunday, May 3 for one of the biggest events in town, the 2015 Flying Pig Marathon. Individuals have been training for months, but with weekend weather forecasts nearing the 80-degree mark this year’s race has the potential to be one of the warmest in years.
 
For Flying Pig Assistant Medical Director Matthew Daggy, who also serves as medical director of sports medicine for McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital and team doctor for the University of Cincinnati’s track & field and cross country programs, increased temperatures require increased precautions and care.
 
“The weather this upcoming week will be cooler than expected on race day, so runners won't have very much time to acclimate to the warmer weather,” Daggy says. “A critical issue this weekend will be hydration. Runners need to add 2-4 more liters of fluid daily this week in order to be sure that they’re well hydrated prior to starting the race.”
 
It’s incredibly important, according to Daggy, because participants shouldn’t drink so much fluid during the race if they’re unaccustomed to doing so otherwise.
 
“The weather this weekend will provide the perfect storm for exercise  — induced hyponatremia — and if a runner overdrinks on the course the result will not only be a loss of fun, it could be fatal,” Daggy says. “Runners should be advised to follow the drinking patterns they used during their training.”
 
So long as participants are aware of health and safety tips prior to running the race, Daggy says it should be a fruitful and fulfilling experience. It certainly has been for him through his 10 years of involvement with the Flying Pig, as running is a passion, he says, making this a perfect way for Daggy to give back to the community.
 
For those not participating in Sunday’s festivities, you can and should make physical activity a priority, as it’s important to our general health, preventing heart disease and a variety of other conditions such as diabetes.
 
“The American College of sports medicine recommends that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week,” Daggy says. “Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.”  

Do Good: 

• Participate in one of this weekend’s many activities under the Flying Pig Marathon umbrella; find details and registration deadlines here.

• Support a Flying Pig partner charity by adopting a pig in the PIGGEST Raffle Ever.

• Take proper precautions prior to your involvement in the weekend's festivities so you can maintain your health and safety. 

• Drink added amounts of water this week to prepare for the added intake needed this weekend. Sports drinks containing electrolytes are preferred forms of hydration in warm weather and endurance-testing activities. 
 

NOH8 Campaign to shoot photos downtown Monday


The NOH8 Campaign will make its first-ever stop in Cincinnati Monday at The Westin Cincinnati Hotel, where people are encouraged to be photographed to show their support for the nonprofit’s stand against discrimination and bullying.
 
About 50,000 individuals from across the globe have been photographed to date sporting the signature NOH8 tattoo on their faces while duct-taping their mouths shut — a symbol initially intended to represent the voices silenced by California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state in 2008. A federal court eventually ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional.
 
Photos are $40 per person for single photos or $25 per person for couple or group shots, and all funds generated are used to promote and raise awareness for human rights.
 
For the campaign’s founders, Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley, it’s important to provide an opportunity that initiates dialogue.
 
“Coming from small towns ourselves, we know what it's like to grow up without an outlet to speak out,” Bouska and Parshley say. “We want to bring the message of NOH8 everywhere we can as a resource to give people a way to show support. Harvey Milk always said, ‘Visibility was the key way to opening hearts and minds,’ and that's what our mission is all about.”
 
Bouska, an award-winning celebrity and fashion photographer, and Parshley, executive producer for the campaign, are partners for whom the message of marriage equality hits particularly close to home.
 
“Whether you're directly or indirectly affected by discrimination and legislation like Prop 8, NOH8 photos are an easy way to broadcast your support and identify yourself as an ally of equality,” they say. “For nearly seven years, tens of thousands of supporters worldwide have been using NOH8 to keep the conversation about marriage equality in the mainstream. The message has grown to be about more than just equality; it's about building and supporting a sense of community and human rights for everybody.”

Do Good: 

• Check out the NOH8 event invite on Facebook and participate in the open shoot 5-8 p.m. Monday, April 13.

• Check out NOH8's BE HEARD Project and share your own story. 

• Support the NOH8 Campaign by donating.
 

ArtWorks restarts Saturday Mural Tours of OTR and downtown public art


ArtWorks, the local nonprofit that employs young people to create public art, is again offering 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. The OTR tour begins at Coffee Emporium at the corner of Walnut Street and Central Parkway at noon, while the Downtown walk begins on Fountain Square at 2 p.m. Two guides lead each tour.
 
The Spirit of OTR tour features “Mr. Tarbell Tips His Hat,” “The Golden Muse” and “Strongman Henry Holtgrewe” among other murals. The Cincinnati Genius tour includes three works from the Cincinnati Master Artist series, including Charley Harper’s “Homecoming (Bluebirds),” Tom Wesselman’s Still Life #60” and John Ruthven’s “Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon.”
 
The tours help raise money for ArtWorks, which lured the then 88-year-old Ruthven to a scaffold at Eighth and Vine streets in the summer of 2013 to work with 15 apprentice artists on a massive rendition of his original “Martha” that covers the entire side of a downtown building.
 
The tours run every Saturday through November and are $20 for adults and free for children under 12. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

Do Good:

• Join one of the mural tours by purchasing tickets in advance through the ArtWorks website, which also offers discounts and coupons to A Tavola in OTR’s Gateway Quarter following the tours.

• Find out about all 90 of ArtWorks’ public murals, located in numerous neighborhoods on both sides of the river, and do your own self-guided tour.

Support ArtWorks’ mission to employ, engage, create and transform the Greater Cincinnati region.
 

Cincy musician becomes national anti-bullying activist


When Cincinnati native Keenan West released an EP on iTunes a few years ago, the intent was solely to do what he loved: make music. He had no idea that upon its release he’d embark on a journey as an anti-bullying activist.
 
But when one of West’s friends heard the lyrics to his song “Never Ever,” she immediately associated its message of hope, support and friendship with victims of bullying.
 
“A friend of mine had the idea of taking those lyrics to the song and making a music video to help raise awareness and money for people in regard to bullying,” West says. “I really initially didn’t know anything about bullying prevention, but that kind of started to open my ears to know a little more about what kids were struggling with.”
 
So West collaborated with students from Sycamore Junior High School to shoot and release a music video, then partnered with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center — which receives 50 cents every time the song is downloaded — to learn more about bullying prevention.  
 
West says he saw the need for a different approach when it came to tackling the issue of bullying, so he started traveling the country, visiting about 100 schools per year, to deliver his anti-bullying campaign. His approach is unique, meshing pop culture with a positive message to reach students in a way that sticks.
 
He’s now partnered with Secret and its Mean Stinks program, which is dedicated to ending girl-to-girl bullying.
 
“With Mean Stinks, we’re all about putting the power back into the students’ hands,” West says.
 
One way that’s evident is through the most recent music video released, “Everybody Come On (It’s on Us),” which incorporates students’ advice — like complimenting a stranger — they’ve offered via social media.
 
“We inspire kids to show us how they’re doing nice acts of kindness at their school, and we have them share,” West says. “At our assemblies and through our campaign, we’re saying, ‘Let us equip you with how to respond, what to do, so you can take it upon yourself to step in.’” 

Do Good:

Bring Keenan West to your school. No school is ever turned down because of budget issues. 

• Connect with @MeanStinks on Twitter.

• Check out Girls Guide to End Bullying, a free resource created by a team of researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. 
 

"Walking Cincinnati" launches Saturday in OTR and Covington


Walking Cincinnati, the book that takes readers on a journey through historical, architectural, culinary and socially relevant highlights in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, will be unveiled at two launch parties Saturday, April 11.
 
Written by Danny Korman, owner of Park + Vine in Over-the-Rhine, and Katie Meyer, manager of Renaissance Covington, the launch party will start at noon at Park + Vine in Over-the-Rhine with the authors signing copies. At 2 p.m., Korman and Meyer will put the spirit of the book into action by leading a hike to Roebling Point Books & Coffee in Covington, which is also the home of Keen Communications, publisher of the book. The festivities will continue there until 5 p.m.
 
Korman and Meyer worked for more than two years on the project, which is subtitled “An Insider’s Guide to 32 Historic Neighborhoods, Stunning Riverfront Quarters and Hidden Treasures in the Queen City.” The authors are experienced urban explorers who have a passion for those hidden treasures that lie just beneath the surface for people who might not get out of their cars often as they travel through the area.
 
Organized by neighborhoods, Walking Cincinnati travels from Sayler Park on the west side to Hyde Park on the east and beyond in addition to Newport, Covington and other areas south of the Ohio River.
 
“This is my first book, I’m super excited about it and I’m completely honored by it,” says Korman, who doesn’t own a car and travels the four miles from his home in Evanston to his store every day on foot or bicycle.
 
Walking Cincinnati arrives as more and more people are moving into the urban core of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The book shares observations and stories collected by Korman and Meyer, but the authors would say its true purpose is to encourage people to find their own paths through the neighborhoods that generations have walked before them.

Do Good:

• Attend the launch parties Saturday, April 11: 12 noon at Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine; and 3 p.m. at Roebling Point Books & Coffee, 306 Greenup St., Covington.

• Support local writers and local publishers by purchasing Walking Cincinnati.

• Walk your own neighborhood, then branch out and try walking everywhere.
 

UC Economics Center honors those who promote financial literacy


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

Do Good:

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

• Make a difference by volunteering.

• If you're interested in becoming a corporate sponsor, contact the Center.
 

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


Steve Brandstetter was never much of a runner, but he discovered his passion for it about 15 years ago with a bit of help from his brother-in-law, a marathon runner who assisted Steve in preparing for his first-ever distance run.
 
So when traveling to Michigan, where his brother-in-law lives, it came as no surprise to Brandstetter that running would occupy at least a portion of the visit.
 
“That, coupled with a closeness to my nieces who shared a love of soccer and now this running thing which I had become enamored with, made for some great visits between our families,” Brandstetter says. “My daughters, about 13 and 17 at the time, had shared these loves to different degrees as well.”

At one point during the trip, Brandstetter says his niece mentioned Girls on the Run, an organization whose mission is to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”
 
Brandstetter was sold. As someone who had coached soccer for years and who had recently found his own love for running, it was something he wanted his girls — his daughters as well as the girls on his team — to experience.
 
Upon returning home he looked around for information regarding the nonprofit but got busy with life, deciding Girls on the Run was simply something he wouldn't realistically be able to pursue at that point in his life.
 
“Then, some months later, as I'm devouring Bob Roncker’s Running Spot quarterly publication of ‘All Things Running,’ I happened upon this blurb on the back cover of the paper that, much to my disbelief, was calling for volunteers for this program, strangely enough called Girls on the Run,” Brandstetter says. “I had found it.”
 
Brandstetter has now been involved with the organization as a volunteer for 10 years. He can’t serve as a head coach, as that role is reserved for females who serve as role models for the girls, but says he’s valued every moment of time spent with the organization serving in various capacities — everything from assistant coaching to planning the two yearly 5k runs (the Spring run is May 9).
 
“Nearly every single young girl in that program just gravitated toward me, the only male in the coaching program at the time,” Brandstetter says. “They seemed so hungry for the love and attention that only a father can give. I got notes, pictures and thank yous from many of the families, and I did nothing more than be a guy who was there and present to deserve that.
 
“But the real impact comes from the consistent implementation and delivery of the message, values and beliefs of Girls on the Run delivered by caring and engaging women who understand the value of the program, who passionately bring that experience to each girl.”

Do Good:

• Join the team of Girls on the Run volunteers.

Register your girl for the program. The Spring 5k is scheduled for May 9.

• Help make the program possible for all girls by donating
 

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


When Julie Olberding first began her career at Northern Kentucky University, she knew she would need to find a nonprofit to partner with for her Resource Acquisition and Management course. After browsing the newspaper, she came upon The Inner City Tennis Project, whose aim is to provide low-cost and high-quality tennis instruction to inner-city students.
 
“I felt compelled to work with them,” says Olberding, who currently serves as director of NKU’s Master of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management graduate certificate programs.

“It was run by two people who had worked for the Cincinnati Recreation Commission who weren’t millionaires, who weren’t loaded with resources,” she says, “but the story went on to talk about how each of them contributed something like $10,000 of their own money to pay for renting courts and vans for their teams to participate in matches. They were basically pooling money from their pockets, from their retirement, to pay for it.”
 
Both her Resource Acquisition and Management course and her Volunteer Management course engaged in service learning projects with the Inner City Tennis Project, and in the 10 years since, Olberding’s classes have continued to engage in projects that have long-lasting impacts.
 
“I had a student who went on to do an internship for them and then became a board member and ultimately their president,” Olberding says, “and he invited me to one of their special events called the Sneaker Ball, which is a gala where everybody dresses up and they wear tennis shoes, and there’s a silent auction. ... It was an idea that was created, or further developed, by the original Resource Management class.”
 
Unsure of what to expect, Olberding attended the event and was “blown away,” she says, at its success.
 
“It opened my eyes and my imagination — or interest — in terms of wondering what happened to other organizations, but I hadn’t had or taken the time to follow up with them to see what these long term impacts were,” she says.
 
So she worked with a graduate student to follow up with community partners and conduct surveys years after projects took place.
 
“In looking at the literature on service learning and even student philanthropy, which is part of that, there didn’t seem to be a lot on how these projects can have longer term impacts,” Olberding says. “We kind of assume they are, because in our classes in particular we focus on things like nonprofit strategic planning, program evaluation, fundraising, volunteer management — all things that have that potential.”
 
So Olberding and a former student compiled data to co-author a piece that speaks to the long-term impacts of service learning, which will be published in the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership later this year.
 
“I think sometimes when people think about service learning,” Olberding says, “they think of the undergraduate class maybe going to a food pantry or homeless shelter — providing hours of service in a way that’s very helpful but is somewhat contained to that moment of providing direct services — versus a graduate-level class like the ones we have where students are professionals themselves, bringing different content that really is designed to have longer term impacts.
 
“The most common comment or theme that the nonprofits I’ve been involved with have said are, ‘I haven’t thought about that’ or ‘I haven’t had time to think about it,’ and once they have information and a plan in front of them hopefully they can find a group of volunteers or a committee or board members to take the lead on helping them implement the ideas students brought to the table.” 

Do Good:

Contact NKU's Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement with a service learning idea.

Learn more about NKU's Master of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management certificate programs.

• Follow the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement on Facebook.
 

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


The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s Comic Con 2015 Drawing Contest is underway with one week remaining for children ages 5 and above, teens and adults to submit their artwork.
 
“It’s unique in that it gives people the opportunity to show their work and be recognized for their talents by everyone who attends Cincinnati Library Comic Con,” says LeeAnn McNabb, reference librarian in the downtown branch's popular department. 
 
Awards will be presented at the Comic Con's Main Event on Saturday, May 16, which will feature creator and partner booths, gaming areas, free comics and more.
 
In its third year, the Cincinnati Library Comic Con provides fans, creators and aspiring creators with a venue and an opportunity to come together “in a fun, friendly, cooperative environment where they can access the tools and information they need to entertain or educate themselves about the world of comics,” says McNabb, who initiated the idea.
 
For McNabb, it’s important that comic books, graphic novels and manga are incorporated into our understanding of literacy because they’re generally familiar, fun and not intimidating,, serving as a “gateway to reading.”
 
“People read and absorb information in different ways, and it’s important for us to acknowledge that,” McNabb says. “Some readers connect better with contextual imagery that accompanies text rather than narratives told solely through the written word. For example, some students who are struggling readers, no matter what age they are, can use the sequential art as a sort of road map that can provide clues to understanding words they are not familiar with.”

Do Good: 

• Download your drawing contest entry form here. Entry deadline is March 31.

• Check out the Cincinnati Library Comic Con Main Event schedule here.

• Connect with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County on Facebook.
 

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


For Jim Cunningham, primary founder, funder and general manager of Queen City Crowdfunding, improving the Greater Cincinnati region is a primary aim.
 
“My family and my wife’s (family) have lived here almost since the Civil War, and both of our children have stayed here, so we are totally committed to this region,” Cunningham says. “Fortunately it’s one of the best and most affordable places in the world to live. The people here are generous, as shown by the large United Way and other charitable and arts-related support.”
 
Because of that generosity, it’s important to raise awareness about crowdfunding as an asset for both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, Cunningham says.
 
Cunningham managed operations at Queen City Angels, the startup investor group, and following his recent retirement he launched QCC, a free service that allows entrepreneurs to create or publicize their already-live campaigns.
 
Many people are familiar with global platforms like Kickstarter, for example, but QCC will highlight all local ventures, attracting contributors who are perhaps outside the circles of those launching campaigns.
 
“A lot of the campaigns we support are for-profit businesses that create jobs and enrich the local business community and consumers’ choices,” Cunningham says. “But The Gallery Project is a nonprofit that I found especially appealing because it is in an urban area, on Woodburn Avenue (in Walnut Hills), that will benefit from this arts incubator for its youth. It can enrich the lives of people through exposure to the arts and hands-on mentoring in a field that is not the focus of schools.”
 
The Gallery Project raised $2,865 during its two-month long campaign, and though it didn’t reach its goal of $10,000 Cunningham says a few thousand dollars can certainly help it move forward.
 
“It’s a worthy social venture in a part of town that would not normally attract a lot of funding, but it could advertise itself to the broad Cincinnati community,” Cunningham says. “Increasing the entire region’s awareness of crowdfunding is a long-term project, and we’re in this for the long haul.” 

Do Good:

• Explore local campaigns at Queen City Crowdfunding and consider contributing.

• Join QCC and publicize your own crowdfunding campaign. It's completely free.

• Learn more about how QCC works and help the site launch by sharing it with your friends.
 

Help OTR Brewery District put Cincy on map with heritage trail


Nonprofits, small business owners and residents all came together two weekends ago in Over-the-Rhine to make Bockfest successful in its 23rd year, but there's more to look forward to given what Cincinnati’s Brewery District has in store.
 
“Bockfest is a celebration of beer, the coming of spring, but also a celebration of the neighborhood and a particular place,” says Steven Hampton, executive director of the Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation. “This neighborhood is the key.”
 
And it’s that notion of “neighborhood” and a sense of place that's driving the nonprofit’s mission to make the Brewery District “the place to live, work and play.” Through festivals like Bockfest, the OTR Biergarten, historic brewery tours and most recently its work to create the Cincinnati Brewing Heritage Trail, the Brewery District is making strides in putting historic OTR on the map.
 
“We get a lot of folks that say, ‘I’m not a museum folk or wouldn’t normally come down here, but beer history, I’m all aboard,’” Hampton says. “We joke we can tell anybody’s story in history and intertwine it with beer. There are so many facts about how much we drank and produced, but how it was intertwined with stories of how this city grew, that’s the fun thing.”
 
To share those stories and to create interactive ways for neighbors and visitors to grow the city further, the Cincinnati Brewing Heritage Trail — a project Hampton says will come completely to fruition in the next four years or so — will showcase Cincinnati’s unique history while revitalizing the northern Over-the-Rhine district and generating tourism.
 
“It really has the potential to be a world class neighborhood,” Hampton says. “Boston is known worldwide for the Freedom Trail, Kentucky for the Bourbon Trail. Cincinnati’s going to be known for this.

“Most cities would kill to have this amazing collection of history and architecture, all these different cultural assets in one amazing, walkable neighborhood. So we’re going to capitalize on and focus on what we have — these amazing assets left to us — and continue to build those and share them with folks locally and the world to make this a better place.”

Do Good 

Learn about the Cincinnati Brewing Heritage Trail.

• Take a tour and experience Cincinnati's brewing history for yourself. 

• Help build the trail by donating
 

Talbert House celebrates 50 years, honors top employees


The Talbert House has worked to “improve social behavior and enhance personal recovery and growth” for its clients since 1965. Now, in its 50th anniversary year, the organization is looking ahead to see how it can continue delivering quality care and support to the tens of thousands of adults and children it reaches in a given year.
 
One thing is certain: Quality employees lead to quality services. And to celebrate 50 years in the community, the nonprofit recently honored the key players who work day-in and day-out to uphold standards of excellence.
 
Michael Allen, resident of Westwood and clinical supervisor for the Talbert House, was honored as Employee of the Year.
 
“I am privileged to work for Talbert House, where I can do what I love every day,” Allen says. “I am passionate about my work because I want to be a part of a team making an impact in a person’s life.”
 
Allen says he arrives at work each day with the mindset that he can positively impact someone’s quality of life through his words and his actions. As an individual who works with a population of adults with severe mental illness, his optimism is key.
 
“I want the clients I work with to feel valued and to know their needs are important to me and our staff,” Allen says. “It’s important for clients to know someone is listening.”
 
And his clients appreciate that approach, like one whom he was working with biweekly for the purpose of addressing appropriate forms of social interaction within the community.
 
“He would repeatedly introduce me to complete strangers as his case manager when we were in the community together, and he would plan his entire week around those two scheduled weekly appointments,” Allen says. “And over a period of time he became more confident in his ability to live independently and reconnect with family and friends. I genuinely care about the clients I connect with on a daily basis and want to see them win in a very tangible way.” 

Do Good: 

Volunteer with the Talbert House.

• Support the Talbert House by making a gift.

• Connect with the Talbert House on Facebook.
 

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 and what that might look like. 

As a land-grant university, OSU Extension aims to bring “the knowledge of the university” to all Ohioans by “engaging people to strengthen their lives and communities.” 

“OSU Extension works with people of all ages and all walks of life. We hear from professionals and adults on a regular basis,” says Anthony Staubach, Interim County Extension Director. “But it’s important to hear from the 14- to 30-year-old population because they are our emerging leaders and will make key decisions in the future.” 

OSU Extension will conduct the “Community Reconsidered" focus group Saturday, driven by these questions: “What will be the most challenging trends and issues for Ohioans by the year 2035, and what are the best opportunities to leverage the strengths of the University and the OSU Extension to address those issues?”

It’s part of a national dialogue called “Extension Reconsidered.” 

For the past 100 years, OSU Extension has worked to better the lives of individuals all across the state, and Staubach says the goal is to now look 20 years into the future to figure out “what assets our generation will bring to the community, what opportunities exist for building a stronger community” and, finally, what role Extension will fulfill in a changing culture and a changing community. 

“We would like to hear from 30-60 residents in Hamilton County,” Staubach says. “We would like to get their honest and open opinion of the future and start to identify how OSU Extension can fit into that future.”

Do Good: 

• Share a meal and your ideas with other community members at Saturday's focus group, which begins at 6 p.m. March 14 at 5093 Colerain Ave. Register here.

• Join the Facebook event and share it with your friends. 

• Connect with Hamilton County Extension on Facebook.
 

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


Local artist Susan Byrnes’ latest exhibition Discover debuts Friday evening at Brazee Street StudiosC-LINK Gallery with a free reception and artist talk.
 
Byrnes’ work showcases a variety of mediums — everything from glass, sound and scientific research — to bring together the interdisciplinary connections between art and science. For the past few years she's explored communities and their connections to art, and in a sense her work with molecular biologists from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is a continuation of that work, she says.
 
“I am married to a molecular biologist and have always been struck by the similarities in our work habits, work environments, and creative approaches to problem solving,” Byrnes says. “I was interested in further exploring the practical similarities with the work process and perspectives on creativity that scientists have.”
 
So Byrnes, a Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellow, looked at research, textbooks and images and interviewed molecular biologists to produce audio samples of what it means to be creative in their line of work. The specialized language utilized by the molecular biologists, for example, fascinates her.
 
“It is incredibly dense and specific and about life and curiosity but expressed in a way you or I — writers, artists, poets, observers — wouldn’t usually use to describe it,” she says. “The scientific culture possesses a view of the world that I wanted to reveal through themes of wonder, failure and epiphany.”
 
The language, laboratory equipment — most things the general public thinks of when considering science — are more often than not, formulaic, Byrnes says, so the goal is to humanize the subject matter.
 
“I’m not sure how often the general public gets to experience things that have to do with science in any setting that is not sterile or clinical, which I find to be a somewhat intimidating environment,” she says. “I hope in this exhibit they will gain another perspective from an artist exploring the creativity of science.” 

Do Good: 

•    Check out the opening reception of Discover at 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 6, with the artist talk beginning at 7 p.m. The event is free. 

•    If you miss Friday evening's opening, the exhibition runs through April 3 with regular gallery hours.

•    Connect with the Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellowships' Facebook page.
 

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.
 
Melodic Connections aims to empower and build self-confidence in individuals with disabilities by providing music therapy and opportunities for lessons, group instruction and performance. The organization was recently a finalist in Cincinnati Social Venture Partners' 2015 Fast Pitch competition for local nonprofits.
 
“Volunteers will organize marketing materials and re-stock brochures around the offices, restock CDs in the gift shop, distribute materials to staff members, reset stanchions at the box office, greet visitors, and help with the preparation of mailings,” says Lynn Migliara, Melodic Connections’ communications manager.
 
While at Music Hall, the three will also have the opportunity to go behind the scenes, meet and interact with musicians and listen in on rehearsals.
 
For individuals like Joseph, one of the pilot program participants, it’s a chance to immerse himself even more fully in music.
 
Prior to finding out about Melodic Connections, Joseph spent most of his time alone in his apartment, socializing little and yearning for a more fulfilling day-to-day existence. But he’s now rediscovered a high school passion and talent: drums. In addition to making friends, performing for the public and attending weekly classes, half of each Monday will now be spent in an environment that should foster his growth even further.
 
"The opportunity for our students to volunteer at Music Hall for the symphony orchestra allows them to work on job-readiness skills and be integrated into the community,” says Christina McCracken, Melodic Connections’ board certified music therapist. “The students are already expressing a sense of pride and responsibility in their work for the symphony."

Do Good: 

•    Support Melodic Connections by donating.

•    If you have musical talent, other skills or just want to show your support, sign up to volunteer with Melodic Connections.

•    Connect with Melodic Connections on Facebook.
 

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


For 26-year old Laura Bock, who serves as Cincinnati World Piano Competition’s assistant to the executive director, world-class piano is part of her everyday being. For other young professionals, though, that exposure is less pronounced.
 
To engage more YPs with the talent of young artists who are locally and even internationally renowned while promoting the mission of the CWPC to “inspire and positively impact” the local community with classical piano music, the nonprofit is hosting Beer and Beethoven at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 5 at Rhinegeist Brewery in Over-the-Rhine.
 
“I think what will be cool about the event is the juxtaposition between the environment and the auditory experience — the one being very hard and industrial and the other being somewhat light and soothing,” Bock says.
 
Featuring CWPC competitor Julan Wang, the evening will merge world-class talent with familiarity and friendship.
 
“It blends something very common — grabbing a drink after work — and pairs it with something most likely quite uncommon for the attendees — the opportunity to hear a world-class pianist perform a solo recital,” Bock says. “This type of event is beneficial because it encourages the Cincinnati YP community to engage in a cultural experience that may be somewhat unfamiliar.” 

Do Good: 

•    Call 513-744-3501 or e-mail the Cincinnati World Piano Competition to reserve your $10 tickets for "Beer and Beethoven," which includes the performance and one beer.

•    Check out other upcoming events and the talent that CWPC showcases.

•    Support CWPC by donating.
 

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


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

“The Junior League has made an impact in almost every major area of our community, from the arts to social services,” says Susan Shelton, president of the JLC. “We have nurtured or accelerated over 120 projects.” 

Shelton has been a member of the JLC for more than 15 years and is proud to back the organization’s mission, which is “to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women and improve communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.” 

And since 1920, the nonprofit has done just that. 

“The Junior League of Cincinnati has been advocating on behalf of families in our community throughout our 95-year history, whether it has been focused on the juvenile justice system or mental health services for children,” Shelton says. 

Currently the organization is working on two projects: GrinUp! and RefugeeConnect. 

The members’ work with GrinUp!, a pediatric health campaign, is intended to promote dental health and awareness among children, while their work with RefugeeConnect consists of bringing communities together to improve the lives of refugees seeking a sense of place and belonging. 

“We are so passionate about this work and excited about the potential to continue to impact our community with these projects,” Shelton says. “No matter what the project or effort has been throughout our 95 years, when our members come together they can and have truly initiated change in our community.”

Do Good: 

•    Support the JLC by purchasing tickets to Cinsation Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Cincinnati Masonic Center downtown. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m., followed by the gala at 8:30 p.m.

•    Apply for JLC membership and join the more than 1,000 women working toward bettering the Greater Cincinnati community.

•    Support the JLC by donating.
 

Project 38 focused on helping local students overcome "Shakesfear"


“Shakesfear” is a condition that Jay Woffington, executive director of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, says affects maybe 1 in 3 Americans and needs to be promptly eradicated. So Cincy Shakes is doing its part to introduce students to Shakespeare in a way that honors the playwright and his works while engaging youth through live performance.
 
“We do a great disservice by pretending he was a novelist, and by doing so we teach our students his stories are unintelligible, dense, boring — and none of this is true,” Woffington says. “But there is a solution. In the same way we don't get our appreciation of Bach and Beethoven by reading the sheet music, we shouldn't limit our appreciation of reading the works in school. They’re not books. They’re plays.”
 
Woffington says actors, costumes, scenery and audience are key elements that “make theater,” so live performance is necessary when sharing Shakespeare with audiences who aren't already familiar with or appreciative of The Bard.
 
Project 38 is an educational initiative the company has launched 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.
 
The project will culminate with a festival April 15-22 at Memorial Hall, where students will have the opportunity to showcase and share their work with a live audience.
 
“We do 250 performances every year of classic plays that have stood the test of time … and kids come,” Woffington says. “Twenty percent of our audience is students, kids under the age of 18. We see over 30,000 kids a year in Cincinnati, and it works. Student comprehension improves 30-40 percent more than reading the play alone.”
 
Do Good:
 
• Support the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company by donating.

• Learn about the CSC’s educational opportunities and consider getting your school or student involved.

Buy tickets to an upcoming performance and enjoy an extraordinary live theater performance. The current production of Little Women runs through March 21, followed by Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew April 3-25.
 

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


When Kathleen Cail watched her daughter excel in her first-ever live theater performance of Fiddler on the Roof this past weekend, she felt a sense of pride and an immediate recognition of the ability her daughter possessed.

Cail’s daughter has a form of Muscular Dystrophy called Myotonic Dystrophy, “but that does not define who she is as a person,” Cail says.

As chair for the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival, Cail is accustomed to seeing individuals from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate and explore their differences while recognizing the shared humanity we all possess.

Her daughter’s school musical was a precursor to the excitement Cail will soon get to share with so many others, as Cincy ReelAbilities kicks off Friday morning with its Meet the Stars event, which is free and open to the public.

“It is fantastic to see celebrities from across our country who want to be a part of what we are doing here in Cincinnati,” Cail says. “They are talking about us and the great work we are doing to celebrate our diversity.”

Stars include Academy Award-winner Marlee Matlin, Seinfeld and Bones’ Danny Woodburn and Sons of Anarchy’s Kurt Yaeger, among others.

“We want everyone to see our Greater Cincinnati region as a place that welcomes everyone, where people want to come, stay, work and raise a family,” Cail says.

Twenty film screenings will occur throughout the community from Feb. 27 to March 7 — including Wampler's Ascent, previewed here — with 2,500 individuals expected to attend. For Cail, it’s an opportunity for the Greater Cincinnati community to develop dialogue while educating and celebrating ourselves and others.

“The fact that Cincinnati and a local nonprofit, Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD), host the national ReelAbilities program and that our festival is one of the largest in the nation is so fitting,” Cail says. “We really are an accepting and diverse community, and our community is truly so connected. The nonprofit, academic and business communities have really united around this festival, and that makes sense — this city supports its arts — and because we are so supportive of each other, we are able to unite so many sectors of our region behind this.”
 
Do Good:

Attend the ReelAbilities’ Meet the Stars event 9:30 a.m. Friday,  Feb. 27, at the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati downtown.
 
• Check out the films and events and purchase tickets here.
 
• Support Cincy ReelAbilities by donating.
 

ChangingGears, LawnLife win big at SVP Fast Pitch


Social Venture Partners' Fast Pitch 2015 was a rousing success last week, presenting 11 different awards and seeing four of the eight finalists — ChangingGears, LawnLife, the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative (HEMI) and Healthy Visions — each coming away with at least $5,000. Just in its second year, Fast Pitch hosted 537 attendees to celebrate the awarding of $30,000 in unrestricted grants, scholarship and marketing support to local nonprofits.
 
ChangingGears won the $10,000 Innovation That Matters Grand Award and will use the funds to purchase tools and equipment needed to add a third service bay to its garage, which will allow the nonprofit to enable more individuals to take advantage of interest-free loans to become vehicle owners.
 
"It will increase our capacity to process donated cars, so we will be able to get more cars ready for clients," says Joel Bokelman, ChangingGears president. "Our capacity will also be increased to perform maintenance and repairs for clients that have purchased vehicles."
 
For Joan Kaup, executive director of SVP Cincinnati, the event's success shows how much interest there is in nonprofit innovation in Cincinnati.
 
"Our attendance and awards more than tripled this year over last year," Kaup says. "But we won't stop here. We are already thinking about how to make Fast Pitch even bigger and better in 2016."
 
LawnLife, whose mission is to "provide disconnected youth with an opportunity to gain real world experience and transferable skills," came away with $8,500 and the chance to represent Greater Cincinnati at the Philanthropitch International Competition in Austin, Tex., where more than $100,000 will be awarded.
 
"Tim Arnold, executive director of LawnLife, is a passionate, persuasive speaker. His story is personal and compelling," Kaup says. "LawnLife will be a good choice for Philanthropitch International, because the issue of homelessness and hopelessness of young men is pervasive. LawnLife is a innovative solution for this critical social problem that is transferable. Any city can adopt the model."

See the full list of Fast Pitch 2015 winners from Feb. 11 event at Memorial Hall.
 
Do Good:

Support Social Venture Partners Cincinnati by donating.

• Become a Social Venture Partner yourself.

• Connect with SVP Cincinnati on Facebook.
 

C2C provides creative opportunities for teachers and students


Not only does Crayons to Computers serve area teachers by opening its doors for shopping days when educators can receive free supplies for their students, but it also partners with volunteers, businesses and other organizations to offer free educational tools and workshops.
 
Most recently, C2C partnered with Photo Pro Expo — the largest photography event in the Midwest — in an effort to support sixth- through 12th-grade teachers and students experiment with and learn how they might incorporate photography into the classroom.
 
In the “Capturing and Sharing” workshop for students, for example, participants spent time moving around different locations of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, where the event took place, to practice their skills. Each individual also received a free point-and-shoot camera to take home so they can continue to build their skills through practice.
 
“The student workshop was such a great experience and offered the kids who participated an amazing opportunity,” says Susan Frankel, C2C’s president and CEO. “Using photography and technology to connect the students to each other and to the world around them was truly inspiring.”
 
With technology constantly evolving, Frankel says it’s particularly important to stay up-to-date and find ways to relate to and connect with students. By offering opportunities to students as well as to teachers — who learned how to use new technology and who became more comfortable with the idea of introducing it into the learning space — participants felt more at ease and also inspired.
 
“The photography workshops offered through our partnership with the Photo Pro Expo provided an invaluable opportunity for the teachers and students who participated,” Frankel says. “With technology changing at such a rapid pace, it is opportunities like this that help us to ensure that the students we serve through Crayons to Computers have access to the opportunities and information that will prepare them for future success.”

Do Good: 

•    Support Crayons to Computers by volunteering and by donating.

•    Connect with C2C by liking its Facebook page.
 

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


There’s still time to get your tickets to Social Venture Partners’ Fast Pitch, the competition in which eight area nonprofits will present their overall story and impact in three minutes or less. More than $30,000 will be awarded at the Feb. 11 gathering, which begins at 6 p.m. at Memorial Hall and is themed “Innovation That Matters.”
 
Having been chosen from a group of 20 semifinalists, the final pitchers are Breakthrough Cincinnati, Melodic Connections, Healthy Visions, Circle Tail, ChangingGears, Faces Without Places, Higher Education Mentoring Initiative and LawnLife.
 
For Melodic Connections Executive Director Betsey Zenk Nuseibeh, the coaching that's occurred throughout the Social Venture Partners process has been valuable, but the event itself will provide an opportunity for awareness raising.
 
“It is such a great way for us to help people understand the power of music therapy,” Zenk Nuseibeh says. “After Wednesday night, no matter the results, 500 more people will understand that music therapy is a science that has the ability to help people change the course of their lives.”
 
The funds awarded will enable the organizations to build capacity and ultimately reach more individuals in need, and one of the eight nonprofits will be selected to attend Philanthropitch International, where they’ll have the chance to compete for more than $100,000 in prize money.
 
“The prize money (from Fast Pitch) would allow ChangingGears to add a third service bay to our shop, so we can expand capacity and impact more lives through car ownership,” says Joel Bokelman, the nonprofit’s president.
 
Faces Without Places, Fast Pitch first-prize winner in 2014, is an organization that works to remove educational barriers for children experiencing homelessness. This year, Executive Director Ramin Mohajer will compete again for a potential $10,000 prize, which he says could allow the nonprofit to provide backpacks and shoes to hundreds.
 
“Every single organization in the room is doing amazing work and deserves more funding and recognition,” Mohajer says. “I remember sitting there last year and being glad that I didn't have to pick the winners.” 

Do Good: 

•    Purchase tickets to Fast Pitch 2015 at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine.

•    Learn more about Social Venture Partners Cincinnati and consider becoming a partner. 

•    Follow SVP Cincinnati on Facebook.
 

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

Two nonprofits have joined together in an effort to fundraise 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 disabled veterans .
 
The Pro Foundation, which manages and operates the NCH City Center, is partnering with CenterStage Players, the oldest community theater group in Ohio, for The Awesome 80s Prom, an interactive performance and dance party Feb. 6-7.
 
“It’s a unique fundraiser,” says Kathy Harward, director of community outreach for The Pro Foundation. “We’ll have a whole prom court, and they’re all actors. They’ll be interacting with the guests and campaigning for them to vote for prom king and queen. People can dress up or come as they are.”
 
Proceeds will support rehabilitation of the city center, as its current infrastructure doesn't allow for year-round programming and is in need of a new roof and air conditioning unit.
 
According to Harward, more than 50 percent of NCH school district families are low income and 80 percent of the students participate in the free and reduced lunch program.
 
“The families can’t always afford good childcare, so you’ve got young children being left home babysitting the other children, and to be putting a 10-year old in charge of a 3-year old isn’t the best option,” Harward says. “It’s also important to keep the kids off the street. If they’re bored and have no structure, no activities and no one’s supervising them, it’s setting them up for trouble.”
 
Year-round programming would allow children and other community members to engage in intramural sports, fitness classes, summer camps, tutoring and daycare.
 
“We have an accredited dance teacher who scholarships dance students,” Harward says. “And there are just a lot of really good groups there who keep getting displaced, and I don’t want to see them getting displaced because we can’t continue to fund this. I want this to be a thriving community center.”

Do Good:

•    Purchase tickets for The Awesome 80s Prom Feb. 6-7 at 7:30 p.m. at North College Hill City Center, 1500 W. Galbraith Road. Tickets are $25 for singles and $40 for couples.

•    Support The Pro Foundation by mailing a check or money order to 812 Russell St., Covington, KY 41011 (the nonprofit's website is currently under construction). 

•    Contact Kathy Harward if you're a handyman or handy-woman who can volunteer services for the building's repair or if you're interested in volunteering with NCH City Center programming. 
 

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


The Bacchanalian Society, which gathers young professionals (YPs) together to integrate “social and professional networking with philanthropy,” hosted its first 2015 wine tasting last week to benefit the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
 
CSO Encore, which is the CSO’s volunteer committee of YPs raising awareness of and drawing young audience members to the symphony, partnered with The Bacchanalian Society for its Winter Gathering. Jordan Weidner, co-president of the Bacchanalian Society, says the Jan. 29 event had near record-breaking attendance, a testament to the power of Cincinnati’s YP community.
 
“Cincinnati is a very easy town to find opportunities to get involved or be a part of something bigger,” Weidner says. “I believe charitable giving and support is part of the backbone of what makes Cincinnati great, and we believe that The Bacchanalian Society’s biggest accomplishment is not only in the money that has been raised but the awareness it has created for the beneficiaries.”
 
YPs, according to Weidner, “are a dynamic group,” and for the past 10 years the Bacchanalian Society has been able to attract an audience that's philanthropic, active and engaged.
 
Weidner, a Cincinnati native, says he’s more excited than ever to live in the area, and many of the other YPs coming out to support community-rooted organizations like the CSO share similar sentiments.
 
“There is something big happening in Cincinnati, and there a lot of people and organizations to thank for that,” Weidner says. “The Bacchanalian Society is about introducing YPs to new things and supporting the institutions that make Cincinnati a great city, so it was a no-brainer to have CSO at Music Hall for our Winter Gathering.” 

Do Good: 

•    Contact the Bacchanalian Society if you're a nonprofit that would like to connect with the organization and benefit from a future event. The organization usually hosts four wine tasting events a year.

•    Connect with the Bacchanalian Society on Facebook to keep up with future happenings. The next wine tasting is in May to benefit Cancer Family Care.

•    Contact the organization to volunteer at future events.
 

Urban mushroom farming project launches on Kickstarter


For Alan Susarret, owner and operator of Probasco Farm on West McMicken Avenue, urban farming is officially underway. He's been growing oyster mushrooms for two urban farmers markets and some local restaurants for the past couple of years, and now he’s ready to expand production.
 
Susarret is passionate about his work and deeply rooted in sharing his passions with the community. In October he provided a free workshop at the Village Green Foundation in Northside, and in April he’ll share his knowledge about growing mushrooms on straw at Garden Station in Dayton.
 
He’s now asking for the community’s help in an effort to jumpstart his endeavor. Susarret recently launched his urban agriculture project on Kickstarter, and in just nine days he reached his $719 goal — yet the project is ongoing, as costs from farming continuously add up.
 
“A promo I’m doing for the Kickstarter will involve donating mushrooms to Cincinnati Food Not Bombs,” Susarret says. “They get together, cook vegan dishes and share the food at Piatt Park on Saturday afternoons.”
 
Susarret has volunteered with the organization in years past and says the mushrooms — which differ from conventional farmed mushrooms in that they're both preservative- and pesticide-free — will most likely be used in a casserole or stir-fry dish for sharing.
 
“The greatest part about the sharing, being across the street from the downtown library, is we'll get a few suits, some down-and-out folks that may or may not know to look for us, and everyone in between,” Susarret says. “Lots of people stop to ask, ‘What is this?’ We respond, and regardless of class or ethnic origin some will turn up their nose and keep walking, while others will stop for food and/or conversation.

“That's the ultimate goal, community building, and providing a safe public space for meaningful interaction.”

Do Good:

•    Check out the promos and consider pledging to support Susarret's urban agriculture project.

•    Connect with Probasco Farm on Facebook. Beginning Feb. 4, if you "share" the project an added basket will be donated. 

•    If you're interested in volunteering with or learning more about Cincinnati Food Not Bombs, contact the organization. 
 

VAE closes season, celebrates 35 years


For 25-year old Matthew Swanson, joining Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble during its 35th anniversary season has been a thrill.
 
Swanson, the youngest member of the ensemble, is a Cincinnati transplant — originally from Iowa — who first became aware of the VAE as a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. He regularly attended concerts and rehearsals at the time, and when the opportunity to join the ensemble as an artist arose he seized the moment.
 
This weekend the ensemble closes its 35th anniversary season with the regional premier of Rodion Shchedrin’s The Sealed Angel, which is a musical interpretation and tribute to the Christian conversion of Russia.
 
“VAE's 35th season is a chance to celebrate consistency and creativity,” Swanson says. “The music is both firmly historical and decidedly contemporary. Shchedrin's sound world is spacious, but the intent of the music is human as it traverses a wide range of emotions.”
 
It’s the emotional appeal that Swanson says the VAE understands and is able to communicate in a way that reaches and moves audience members.
 
“The ensemble's repertoire includes a long list of choral masterworks … and VAE brings those works to life with energy and passion,” Swanson says. “Critical to the ensemble's identity, however, is a long-time commitment to new and inventive works — pieces new to us, to our audiences or that take a fresh look at long-held cultural conventions. It is the co-existence of these identities for over three decades that makes VAE a critical component of the region's cultural scene.”

Do Good: 

•    Check out the regional premier of The Sealed Angel at two performances: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at St. Boniface Church in Northside and 4 p.m. Feb. 1 at Mother of God Church in Covington.

•    Chat with Swanson and other VAE singers after the show. The ensemble wants to connect with you.

•    Support the Vocal Arts Ensemble.
 

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. The five-course meal with wine pairings will become a regular event on the last Tuesday of each month to benefit a local nonprofit.
 
“It's about sustaining the community and shining light on other local businesses and charities,” says Chef Stephen Williams, who owns Bouquet. “Not only does it benefit them, but us as well as a part of that community. Hopefully the idea of helping others will become contagious.”
 
The idea for the dinner series came about because the restaurant wanted to resume its monthly wine dinners, which it had taken a break from during construction. It transformed into a charity event, however, after Bouquet employee James Reynolds, who Williams says “has a very philanthropic soul,” pitched the theme.
 
“He brought the idea to us, and we loved it,” Williams says. “It makes them even more fun.”

As a small business owner, Williams says he’s happy to support the community because “it all comes full circle.”

“Owning and running a business is not easy,” he says. “People put their whole lives into these small endeavors. I think it's important that we all help each other out. The more people that come to our area, the more we all benefit. Someone may come to The Carnegie dinner this month who has never dined in MainStrasse, then they see Otto’s and think ‘We need to try them too!’ We love the sense of community in this area and really enjoy the people around us.” 

Do Good:

•    If you're a nonprofit that would like to partner with Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar, contact owner Stephen Williams to explain how your organization could benefit from being a recipient of the monthly event. Bouquet is currently searching for next month's beneficiary.

•    Call the restaurant at 859-491-7777 to reserve your spot at the Jan. 27 dinner. Individual tickets cost $125, and $40 will be donated directly to The Carnegie. 

•    Connect with Bouquet on Facebook.
 

Ingage Partners passionate to "B" the change


For Markku Koistila, business analyst at Ingage Partners, there’s much more to life than making money.
 
“Ingage values (the) people and (the) planet, in addition to simply focusing on profit,” Koistila says.
 
Ingage Partners is a Hyde Park-based management and technology consulting firm organized as a Certified B Corporation, which is a company using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Ingage cares about its employees, its customers and its community in a way that Koistila says he’s never experienced at previous workplaces.
 
“The B Corp concept of ‘being best for the world’ inspires you to always do your best as a professional since you know that your efforts will result in good for the community,” Koistila says.
 
To model that concept, Koistila organized an event last fall he termed “The Most Interesting Fundraiser in the World: Hot Latin Nights Edition,” supported by Ingage and Pay It Forward Cincinnati and resulting in $2,700 donated to ProKids.
 
“ProKids works to free foster children from abuse and helps them to achieve a safe and secure living environment — something that most of us take for granted — but this is not something that is guaranteed to many of the children in the foster care system,” Koistila says. “The people who work at ProKids really give everything they've got to these children, and it was truly an honor to raise money for this tremendously important organization.”
 
With the help of family, friends, a planning committee, community volunteers and organizations, Koistila was able to make the event a success, in which individuals came together to listen to live music, learn to salsa and enjoy fellowship with one another while supporting a cause.
 
“I'd never created nor chaired a fundraising event before this one, but I would certainly do it again,” Koistila says. “Not only did I receive a lot of support from my friends and family, but I also received a tremendous amount of support from Ingage and all of my colleagues.  There's nothing better than having a great time while raising money for a great cause.” 

Do Good: 

•    Learn more about B Corporations, and consider joining the movement.

•    Support ProKids by helping a child.

•    Use business for good. It begins with the individual. 
 

Cincinnati Youth Collaborative honors outstanding mentors


Cincinnati Youth Collaborative recognized Trinitii Brewer last week on National Thank Your Mentor Day with its 2015 Outstanding Mentor Award.
 
Brewer has served as a mentor for the past 10 years — ever since she started working at Luxottica, where employees engage in a collaborative program with CYC and Cincinnati Public’s Withrow University High School in which students travel to Luxottica once a month to have lunch with their mentors.
 
She’s worked with five mentees thus far and maintained what she says are “very different” yet “fun” and impactful relationships.
 
“Some I’ve helped with homework, helped with projects. Others, it’s been helping her get ready for prom, it’s all across the board,” Brewer says. “There have been some I wouldn’t see super often, but she’d call all the time just needing advice on everyday life things. You just don’t know what kind of relationship you’re going to have with your mentee.”
 
For Brewer, the most important aspect of the mentor/mentee relationship is the different perspective each has to offer.
 
“I can’t say it’s just a matter of teaching them stuff — schoolwork — some are smart on their own and don’t necessarily need assistance in that type of thing,” Brewer says. “It might be a life experience you’re offering them that they’ve never seen before, or when they come to Luxottica and see people coming to work every day they get that sort of insight like, ‘Oh, OK, this is what it looks like to be dressed for work.’”
 
Do Good:

•    Encourage your workplace to engage in mentorship.

•    Support Cincinnati Youth Collaborative by donating.

•    Become a mentor.
 

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


It’s not often that a high school student is sick but begs her mother to allow her to go to school anyway, so she doesn't miss out. But with Healthy Visions, a nonprofit that partners with local high schools to empower students with the tools needed to navigate tricky situations but still come out on top, it actually happens.
 
“It’s because we use young, relatable people that are cool,” says the nonprofit’s director, Carole Adlard, who founded the organization 29 years ago because she says she “saw the emptiness” in youth and “wanted to give them grounding and focus so they’d want to get up in the morning and do things.”
 
It’s through individuals like Drà — short for Ladrà — who go into high school classrooms and connect with students by employing humor to teach about relevant topics like relationships, sex, drugs and alcohol prevention, self harm, self esteem and acceptance. But it’s ultimately through Healthy Visions representatives’ openness and honesty that they’re able to connect.
 
Drà and his cousin, for example, were raised in the same household, Drà by his dad and his cousin by his aunt. They came from the same situation — one that was less than desirable, involving drugs, poverty and roaches — but took different paths.
 
“There’s no preaching going on with this,” Adlard says. “It’s very much discussion-based, so that’s the key aspect there, so that the kids don’t feel like they’ve been lectured. They feel like it’s a peer who’s had a little more experience than them, sharing.”
 
And it’s effective. In a survey conducted in May 2014, after having completed Healthy Visions’ programming 72 percent said they had stopped bullying, 52 percent said they had stopped using or selling drugs, 62 percent got out of an unhealthy relationship and 81 percent said they felt better about themselves.
 
“There isn’t anybody else that reaches people exactly where they are, with someone with their exact situation, and says, ‘We’re going to give you the critical thinking skills and the tools to do exactly what you want to do,'” Adlard says. “It’s the only program I’ve ever known to have lifelong changes for students, and it truly does change lives. I’m absolutely in awe of it.” 

Do Good:

•    Healthy Visions is seeking volunteer mentors. Contact the nonprofit if you or your business is interested in helping.

•    Healthy Visions is launching online programming so course content can reach teens outside of the Tristate. If you have skills to offer with regard to IT, marketing or crowdsourcing, contact Carole Adlard.

•    Connect with Healthy Visions on Facebook.
 

Cincy ReelAbilities to showcase individuals, films that inspire


When Stephen Wampler was 42, he completed the 7,569-foot vertical climb to the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
 
Wampler has cerebral palsy and used his upper body strength and sheer will power to complete the six-day climb in an effort to show children with physical disabilities that they're capable of anything.
 
“In 2002, I had this nagging urge to give back to kids that needed the same experience I had as a child,” Wampler says.
 
So he founded the Wampler Foundation to enable other children to attend wilderness camps, which he says were “life changing” experiences for him as a child.
 
“To get them away from their mom and dad for the first time and to watch them experience the first day and realize, ‘Wow, I’m really out of my comfort zone, I’m really out there,’ changes them forever,” Wampler says. “They experience something that they never thought was possible.”
 
The foundation was at a crossroad in terms of growth in 2008, however, so Wampler wanted to do something big — he chose El Capitan. 
 
“That was my first real climb in my entire life,” Wampler says. “You go from euphoria to sadness to being really, really mad and irritated to happy to wondering why I was there. Every emotion goes through your brain all the time, and it was just really exhausting.”
 
But it was worth it, Wampler says, as his foundation has become more recognized, enabling more children to be inspired and attend camp.
 
It’s these inspiring stories that will be showcased on the big screen at the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival.
 
Wampler, among other notable individuals like Oscar and Golden Globe winning actress Marlee Matlin, will be in attendance for the region’s largest film festival, which is organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled and benefits local nonprofits.
 
Wampler’s Ascent, which draws viewers in to his drive to inspire and show others that nothing is impossible, will be shown March 4 and followed up with a question-and-answer session.
 
“Racing down the stereotype is the bigger picture of why I did it,” Wampler says. “And I think that once people get to know other people, that barrier comes down for them.”

Do Good:

•    Purchase tickets to view Wampler's Ascent on March 4.

•   Check out trailers for other films to be showcased at the festival Feb. 27-March 7 and purchase tickets.   

•    If you're interested in getting involved, sign up to volunteer at the festival.
 

SVP Fast Pitch semifinalists prep for February competition


Twenty semifinalists have been chosen for Social Venture Partners Cincinnati’s 2015 Fast Pitch competition, and the nonprofits selected are hard at work honing their presentations. The Feb. 11 finals at Memorial Hall are intended to help nonprofits inform the public about their work via three-minute pitches.
 
Eight finalists will ultimately compete, but before the cutdown the 20 semifinalists attended a training session Jan. 10 on the essence of storytelling, led by Liz Knuppel, managing partner of Skystone Partners.

“The Saturday morning session helped us to re-focus on our most basic, compelling story,” says Florence Tandy, executive director of the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission, one of the semifinalists selected. “We know what we do, why we do it, of course. But the process we went through at the workshop helped us break our mission and services down in a different way.”
 
Dean Kirker of Healthy Visions, also a semifinalist, shared similar sentiments.
 
“We work with junior high and high school students in an effort to equip them with the critical thinking skills and resiliency necessary to make better choices and have stronger, healthier relationships in the future,” Kirker says. “Trying to take an entire organization and whittle our mission, our impact, our needs and our vision into 180 seconds seems like a monumental task, but the men and women of SVP and Skystone made it all possible.”
 
For SVP, being able to successfully make that quick delivery is key.
 
“It’s important that nonprofits tell their story in a clear and compelling way that inspires individuals and foundations to want to financially support them and their mission,” says Melisse May, Social Venture Partners member and Chair of Fast Pitch 2015.
 
More than $30,000 in awards will be given out at this year’s competition, and a single nonprofit will have the opportunity to win the public’s vote and potentially take away $10,000. Yet the training itself is a valuable investment for the organizations regardless of whether or not they win the competition.
 
“The coaching provided was extremely beneficial,” says Angela Laman of Adopt a Book, also a semifinalist. “Hearing the responses and suggestions from the other semifinalists was also helpful. I felt like SVP and the other organizations that came to present, such as Flywheel and Giveunity, are really invested in wanting to see the organizations succeed.” 

Do Good:

•    Attend SVP's Fast Pitch on Feb. 11 at Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine.

•    Contact SVP's Joan Kaup if you're interested in getting involved and sponsoring the event. 

•    Connect with SVP Cincinnati on Facebook.
 

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


May We Help has been serving individuals with disabilities for the past 12 years, helping clients fulfill their passions and accomplish tasks that aren't considered necessities while also dispelling myths about impossibility.
 
“We’re changing lives on a very individual basis, but I want to see May We Help push the bar and continue to be legitimately disruptive,” says Chris Kubik, the nonprofit’s project director. "There are currently more organizations doing more good than ever, but at the same exact time, there are still massive mountains in the disability scene that make life financially, socially, and emotionally an endless uphill struggle.”

But according to Kubik nothing should be assumed and nothing should be considered outside the realm of possibility.
 
The organization assists clients by tapping into its network of volunteers to create custom-made assistance devices — everything from an adjustable harmonica holder mounted on a wheelchair so clients like Justin can switch harmonicas easily and keep up with the other members of his blues band — to physical therapy scooters.
 
“One I thought was pretty amazing we did this last year was Logan’s walker,” Kubik says. "He’s a young boy adopted from Ukraine, and he was born missing some limbs — not entirely — but with limb differences, so he had two different leg prostheses, one longer than the other, and he was learning to walk for the first time."
 
May We Help worked with Logan’s physical therapist so volunteers working on Logan’s design would have a contact point, because the goal, Kubik says, is to always work do something that’s a net positive.
 
“We realized that Logan was in a strange in-between place — rolling around on the ground successfully and getting where he needed to be, but crawling — and that was the entirety of his mobility and what he was, what he knew,” Kubik says. “And it was a constant moving target, because his parents were determined to push Logan to the limits of his ability, and he was able to dish it right back and was progressing.”
 
So May We Help volunteers started by taking a donated reverse-K walker and created an area Kubik says looked like arm rests but was actually a place for Logan to hang his shoulders. Volunteers cut holes so he could steer and balance with his residual limbs, which allowed for his posture to start becoming more erect.
 
“We then moved to a socket approach where we were using end caps from PVC fittings — putting them in there like sockets — and he’d steer with that,” Kubik says. “Then his posture became so good we got a phone call about three months after starting development, which was basically, ‘Hey, we don’t need the walker anymore. Logan’s walking independently.’”
 
According to Kubik, no one thought Logan could walk period.
 
“The parents usually are the first ones who don't believe, and challenge that kind of limiting diagnosis,” Kubik says. “Kids don’t know what they can’t do or what’s off limits. We’ve seen raw determination, and we get to be their hands and feet.” 

Do Good: 

•    If you or someone you know of is in need of a device from May We Help, request one here.

•    Support May We Help by donating.

•    If you have skills to offer and want to get involved, volunteer with May We Help, whose office is in Mariemont.
 

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


Cincinnati’s office of Ameritas, a financial services company, is committed to giving back to the community to further improve the areas in which its employees “live, work and play.” To showcase that ideal, the company recently launched The Hours Project.
 
To date, Ameritas employees nationwide have donated 16,369 total hours. Its Cincinnati employees are heavily involved in the project and have engaged in everything from serving meals at the Ronald McDonald House and the Over-the-Rhine Kitchen to providing educational assistance at local elementary schools and landscaping for the elderly.
 
“Being able to give back to the community makes me proud to work for Ameritas,” says Jennifer Mueller, disability claims examiner and member of Ameritas’ Community Involvement Council. “I know that we care about helping others. Part of our mission is about ‘fulfilling life,’ and we really do that.”
 
Mueller led more than 20 employees at this past year's annual Community Care Day, where she says she and her coworkers engaged in activity like trimming, power washing, removing dead trees from Mercy Community at Winton Woods' senior living facility's property and cleaning up flower beds.
 
“Fulfilling life” is something Ameritas employees are doing on a daily basis by helping clients to protect what's most important to them, but for Mueller it’s gratifying to be able to extend that reach beyond the company’s typical clientele.
 
“We not only give of our time, but we also give monetarily each year to worthy causes, like the arts in Cincinnati,” Mueller says. “It’s so important that my company gives back to the community. It shows that we are invested in Cincinnati and especially Forest Park, where we are located.”  

Do Good:

•    If you're a local business, initiate an activity or activities to give back to your community. 

•    Contact The Hours Project if you have an idea to share.

•    Support local nonprofits by giving monetarily. 
 

DAAP students lead hands-on effort to fix vacant lots


Students from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning have spent the past two years working with the City of Cincinnati, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and Building Value to propose sustainable ideas to neighborhoods about what can be done with vacant lots.
 
“It’s a major land use issue, it’s a planning issue, it’s an economic issue, it’s a social issue, it’s a cultural issue,” says Virginia Russell, facilitator of the Vacant Lots: Occupied project at DAAP.
 
Keep Cincinnati Beautiful approached Russell, director of DAAP's horticulture program, to come up with a plant-based response as opposed to “turf and mowing.”
 
So Russell recruited Ryan Geismar, adjunct professor and landscape architect with Human Nature Inc., to get students together for a charrette — an intensive class that met for an entire weekend — and periodically reconvened throughout the course to meet with community stakeholders to discuss ideas.
 
“It was an academic way to get students of architecture, planning and horticulture together to imagine what those lots could be,” Russell says. “Because they can’t all be community gardens, they can’t all be pop up micro pubs, they can’t all be this one cool thing.”
 
In the first iteration of the class, DAAP students created the pattern book Vacant Lots: Occupied, which is meant to serve as a resource for neighborhoods when determining what they can or should do with their newly deconstructed properties.
 
“Keep Cincinnati Beautiful is working with citizens groups to say, ‘Here’s the pattern book. This is what we recommend that you do,’” Russell says. “So you’re thinking about doing a community garden? Here are some things you need to think about before you do that move. You want to do a pop up cinema? Here are the patterns you need to view.”
 
The project is a win-win for all parties involved, and the students are certainly benefitting. The horticulture capstone class received 2014 Honor Awards — the highest honors — for their work from both the Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Cincinnati Design Awards.
 
“Any time the students get to work directly with the people who benefit from their work, it’s all good,” Russell says. “The students really enjoy the work, and we had two students who were born and raised in Price Hill [the neighborhood served in this fall’s capstone course], so that was really helpful. But we’ve had students from all over the world working on these projects — three students from France in the fall class — and they just had this image of what they see on the news, the bombed out neighborhoods like Detroit and things like that, so they learned a lot about the truth of the vacant lot problem.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the work Keep Cincinnati Beautiful does by donating.

•    Do your part in keeping Cincinnati beautiful by volunteering.

•    Connect with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful on Facebook.
 

Downtown Public Library to expand technological offerings with Makerspace


The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s main downtown branch will become the home for a revamped TechCenter and brand new Makerspace Jan. 26. For Ella Mulford-Chinn, team leader of the new space, the hope is to reach new audience members and bring a new demographic of users into the library.
 
Mulford-Chinn, 28, who is a YWCA Rising Star and who was also chosen by the American Library Association as an Emerging Leader in Libraries, initiated maker programs when she served as teen librarian at the Mt. Washington branch.
 
“It all started with a curiosity about 3D Printing that helped me discover an entire community of people who were interested in teaching and learning about new technologies,” Mulford-Chinn says. “Libraries across the country had just started implementing programs like this, so I decided to take a chance.”
 
According to Mulford-Chinn, it was a huge success.
 
“I was having teens and tweens coming in from around the city to learn about robotics, soldering, computer circuitry and app/ video game creation,” she says. “Nothing is scarier than a bunch of 10-18 year olds with soldering irons, but they were so respectful with the tools. They knew they were doing something special.”
 
Now an even wider audience will have the chance to collaborate with one another by sharing ideas and working in a space that facilitates their creativity and inventiveness.
 
After the downtown branch purchased a 3D printer in May 2014, a committee came together to discuss the ways in which even more technology could be offered to the public, and now that dream has become a reality.
 
The new downtown space will have various maker stations and include equipment and technologies like a sound recording booth and a laser cutter that can do everything from engraving glass bottles to burning wood.
 
“People will be able to go into this booth and make their own personal recordings, like in a studio,” Mulford-Chinn says. “We will have music mixing and media available for people to record and take their projects home with them. I think the teens are really going to love this. I am so excited to work with them and show them how to create their own media and not just consume it.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the library through the Library Friends or the Library Foundation.

•    Volunteer at the library.

•    Contact Ella to share your skills in the new Makerspace.
 

MU holiday performance to benefit Walnut Hills marching band


Twenty-four Miami University vocalists and a 16-member big band will join together onstage at Walnut Hills High School's newly renovated auditorium this weekend to perform “A Swingin’ Holiday: Big Band Choral Spectacular.” A portion of the proceeds from the performance will benefit Walnut Hills’ music department, which has “an astounding reputation,” according to MU’s Ben Smolder.
 
“Walnut Hills High School is full of brilliant and diverse children that have the pleasure of studying in the finest high school in the state of Ohio,” says Smolder, who will director and conduct the show. 
 
Smolder serves as Director of Miami Opera Theater, which launched a fundraiser in support of Walnut Hills’ marching band, selected by Youth Music of the World to participate in the 2016 Paris New Year's Day Parade.
 
“Being from rural Appalachia, I was deeply shaped by a similar experience in early life that led to a lifetime of travel and a deep desire to understand other cultures,” Smolder says.
 
This weekend's performance is a way to help others but also to add joy to audience members’ holiday season.
 
“Our goal was to recreate the musical specials that would appear on TV and radio during the Christmas season from the 1940s to the 1960s,” Smolder says. “One cannot hear this music without being transported back to a time when we were surrounded by our loved ones and gazing at the evening sky in hopes of seeing Santa.”
 
Do Good:

•    “A Swingin’ Holiday: Big Band Choral Spectacular” will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Walnut Hills High School. Enter promo code “Santa” at the ticketing box office to receive a discount. 

•    Support the WHHS music program. 

•    Support WHHS students by volunteering.
 

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


As the Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts gets ready to release the lineup for this April’s performances, the goal is to “target audiences nationally to come to Cincinnati,” according to Tatiana Berman, internationally renowned violinist and festival founder.

The name “Constella,” which is derived from “constellation,” is significant to festival organizers because performers and audience members get the chance to connect with one another through music in an intimate setting.
 
“The international concept for Constella was always connecting people and ideas,” Berman says.
 
To do that even more effectively than past years, Constella has made the move of going digital.
 
Berman collaborated with Julie Spangler to compose, perform and record a video performance piece, “Vitali Variations,” and the second digital short, which will be released in March as a precursor to the festival, will feature Roomful of Teeth.
 
“We would like to think this kind of a beautifully produced video can connect a whole new audience in an informal way with music, which we are passionate about,” Berman says.
 
Through these visual musical collaborations that include Grammy award winners and emerging artists, Constella will be able to further its mission of challenging “misconceptions of classical music and the performing arts” by extending its reach to a worldwide audience.
 
“Through production of music videos, recordings and other digital content, we can expand our performance presentations,” Berman says. “It allows for people around the world to experience the power of music and the arts.”

Do Good:

•    Check the Constella Festival website Jan. 15 to view the festival lineup and purchase your tickets for April’s performances.

•    For sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, contact Rachael Moore.

•    Support Constella by donating. 
 

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.
 
A Night With Scott and Friends, the west side’s second annual community Christmas concert featuring Scott Elick — member of both the Cincinnati Organist Guild and Starfire Council's Out & About program — enables individuals to celebrate one another during a time of joy and thanksgiving.
 
Beneficiaries from the night’s donations include Manna Outreach in Price Hill and West Fork Christian Faith Fellowship’s Food Pantry.
 
“Now that I'm retired from full-time work, I really enjoy lending my musical talents to causes that benefit our local communities on the west side,” says Sheryl Pockrose, Covedale resident and folk singer.
 
For Elick, who has played organ since age 8, it’s one of the highlights of his season.
 
“Scott can play anything he hears,” says Danyetta Najoli, Starfire’s community coordinator. “It's truly an amazing gift.”
 
Elick says it's also important to him to give back to the west side — Price Hill in particular — because of his close ties to the neighborhood. Not only is it the location for the concert, but it’s also where his brother lives, and family is something for which he’s grateful.
 
“I feel connected to the community,” Elick says. “The people and their culture is something I have always been interested in. I want the people of Price Hill to enjoy the Christmas season, the music, the lights as much as I do.” 

Do Good: 

•    Attend "A Night With Scott & Friends" 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13 at the Bloc Center, 931 McPherson Ave. in Price Hill.

•    Support your local food pantries. 

•    Connect with others year-round at events you're passionate or curious about by attending Local Learning Labs.
 

Giveunity provides easy, meaningful way to donate on #GivingTuesday

The Huffington Post ranked Cincinnati as the No. 4 Most Charitable U.S. City in 2013, but for Mikki Graff, co-founder and designer of the Giveunity app, this year's #GivingTuesday presents the “unique opportunity to put Cincinnati on the map as the most charitable city in the U.S.”
 
Giveunity is a free smartphone application that connects donors with local nonprofits through just a few simple clicks.
 
“Our local nonprofit organizations are doing important work,” Graff says. “They are helping to build better neighborhoods for all of us. We need to show them some love.”
 
Since the app’s development, more than 500 individuals have downloaded it, gaining exposure and giving generously to the more than 100 local nonprofits that have signed up.
 
“To date, our average donation is $39.50, and our largest donation is $1,000,” Graff says. “This #GivingTuesday, donations made to local nonprofits through the Giveunity app will be matched thanks to the Big Idea Challenge of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.”
 
The $2,500 match grant means each donation received Dec. 2 will grow in percentage, which for Graff is an easy way to make more of a local impact.
 
“It's money going directly to help your community," she says. "Explore the nonprofit profiles on the Giveunity app, make a donation, and you get to direct where these generous funds go this Tuesday.

"In previous years, local charities have harnessed #GivingTuesday to collect donations of new and used shoes for job interviews, gift cards and toiletries for homeless teens, financial support for local high schools and even bring a hippopotamus to Cincinnati. The possibilities to donate are truly limitless.“ 

Do Good: 

•   Sign up to create your free donor account, and give. 

•   If you're a nonprofit, connect with Giveunity so donors can support your cause.

•   Spread the word about Giveunity by liking and sharing the nonprofit's Facebook page.
 

The Christ Hospital to provide free surgeries to individuals in need

Four local residents will be the beneficiaries of free joint replacements Saturday, as The Christ Hospital is participating in Operation Walk USA for the second straight year.
 
“Two of our physicians came to us and said, ‘We ought to be giving back to our community like we do when we go across internationally,’ ” says Herb Caillouet, executive director of musculoskeletal services at The Christ Hospital. "They had been a part of Operation Walk International and had gone to other countries to do the same procedures there. So since it had never been done here in Cincinnati and as a market share leader in joint replacement surgery in Cincinnati, we wanted to be able to give something back to the city and to the citizens of the Tristate area.”
 
So far, one hip and three knee replacements are slated for Saturday’s efforts, in which everyone from surgeons and nurses to food service staffers will give of their time to provide quality care that's completely free of charge, throughout both the surgery and recovery processes.
 
“It’s a way for everybody to share their skills and talents with the community, to share our commitment with them and to them,” Caillouet says.
 
The recipients are more than grateful. Last year, for example, a man lost his job because of psoriatic arthritis and hip problems he was having.
 
“He couldn’t continue to work as a trucker, so they moved him into a warehouse role to continue, but he couldn’t continue it and he actually dropped out of the job market,” Caillouet says.
 
But after his joint replacement surgery, his walking improved, and he's now back in the workforce.
 
“He’s come back to the hospital and spoken, literally thanked the entire leadership group for the difference that their giving of their time has made in his personal life," Caillouet says. "The goal here is to find somebody who otherwise can’t afford it, that if it were done for them, they could reenter productive life, work-life, being a family member, a parent, a spouse, and to do so in a very productive way. These are life-changing events.” 

Do Good:

•    If you're a patient in need and who qualifies for a joint or hip replacement, sign up here. The 2015 Operation Walk USA application will be available beginning in January. 

•    If you're a vendor and would like to become involved with Operation Walk USA, contact Herb to discuss how your products might be of use to recipients throughout the process.  

•    Contact Herb if you're interested in volunteering with the aftercare process. For example, patients may require assistance cleaning their homes and securing transportation to and from therapy or follow-up visits. 
 

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

The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is the only women’s fund in the United States to include men.
 
That’s because individuals like Aftab Pureval, a member of The Women’s Fund’s Leadership Council, recognize it takes more than half the population working together to make significant progress.
 
While Pureval says he’s proud that Cincinnati’s Women’s Fund is the only mixed-gender one in the U.S., he’s also surprised by it.
 
“The face of poverty in Cincinnati is women. Cincinnati is second in the nation for childhood poverty, and a majority of those children are raised by single mothers working multiple jobs just to make ends meet,” Pureval says.
 
According to Pureval, Cincinnati is also one of the worst in the country when it comes to economic mobility.
 
“If you are born poor in Cincinnati, chances are you will die poor,” Pureval says. “These issues are not just women's issues.  They are important to the future of our city. And the Women's Fund needs the talents from men and women of all walks of life if we are to succeed in our fight against poverty.”
 
To gain more of those talents 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.
 
“The Women's Fund sets ambitious, region-wide goals, and works aggressively to achieve them,” Pureval says. “I joined because I was inspired by the people at The Women's Fund and by their results. The simple fact is investing in women works.”

Do Good:

•    If you are a guy who gets it, or knows of guys who get it, sign up to attend Guys Who Get It 2.0 and attend the event from 6-8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

•    Support The Women's Fund by giving.

•    If you'd like to get involved, contact Vanessa Freytag, executive director of The Women's Fund. 
 

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—without leaving your Thanksgiving festivities early, and while also supporting small businesses and a local nonprofit—is through Over-the-Rhine Chamber’s Holidays in the Bag initiative.
 
Holidays in the Bag: A Black Friday Shop Local event, allows shoppers to receive discounts at more than 25 participating businesses through the purchase of an official “Holiday Bag” for $5. All proceeds from Holiday Bag sales benefit an OTR nonprofit.

This year’s beneficiary is Future Leaders OTR, a nonprofit that empowers OTR 7th-12th graders to transform themselves and their community through personal and professional development, in addition to leadership experiences.
 
“This program changes the paradigm for these kids in our neighborhood,” says Ryan Messer, founder of Future Leaders OTR. “Before all of this rebirth in OTR, they lived in a predominately African American community, and their exposure to the people coming in may have felt like, ‘Wow, all these people who are largely Caucasian are moving into my neighborhood,’ and I think what we’re showing them is there is opportunity through diversity.”
 
At the Holidays Kick Off Party last Tuesday, Future Leaders OTR engaged with other residents and local professionals, and it was an experience that Renàe Banks, Future Leaders OTR program manager, says inspired a confidence in the youth.
 
“It was quite amazing to see them walk in and someone ask them, ‘What is your name?’ Their head would be down, but then as the night progressed, they became more comfortable and more confident with what they had to say and were excited that people were inquiring about who they are and what they were doing,” Banks says.

“You saw a confidence come over them, and they went from standing at the booth to venturing off into the crowd to engage in conversation with other professionals," she continues. "When you put them in an environment where there’s professionalism, laughter, conversation about culture—they’ll reflect that.” 

Do Good:

•    Purchase a Holiday Bag, beginning November 26, to support Future Leaders OTR.

•    Like Future Leaders OTR on Facebook.

•    Spread the word about Future Leaders OTR, and if you know of an OTR youth who might be interested, or if you want to get involved, contact the organization. 
 

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. The event merges giving and receiving and enables children to take a break from the everyday stress of life.
 
“It lets them know that, despite everything, life can be good. There can be joy, and there can be hope,” says Christine Sebastian, Kicks For Kids program director. “A lot of the kids are homeless—maybe one parent’s in jail; maybe they’re in foster care—it gives them some sense of feeling loved.”
 
After joining a chaperone to engage in a community service project—everything from making cards for children spending their holiday season in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to preparing a meal for the elderly—more than 50 youth from Greater Cincinnati join together at Paul Brown Stadium for the celebration.
 
“It’s all decorated, their chaperones are waiting, they get paired up and have dinner, the Christmas story is read, and they go down to the Bengals locker room and tour that,” Sebastian says.
 
But the real fun begins when the children enter the visitors’ locker room to find their names on a locker filled with things like school supplies, a new winter coat, a personalized Bengals jersey and a football.
 
“Then they get to run out on the field and the Ben-Gals are there, waving their pompoms, and they run through it and down the field,” Sebastian says. “They go up and meet Santa, who calls them by name and talks to them, then brings out their presents—Bengals players help,” Sebastian says.
 
In addition to receiving, students have the opportunity to go to Santa’s workshop, where they pick out presents for their family members.
 
“A lot of letters they write to Santa—they’ll ask for something for their sister or brother or mother—one little girl asked for a bathrobe for her grandmother because she was sick,” Sebastian says. “It makes them feel good they’re able to give something.” 

Do Good:

•    Support Kicks For Kids by donating.

•    Contact Christine if you'd like to help make the event possible. Volunteer chaperones, shoppers, and gift wrappers are needed.

•    Connect with Kicks For Kids on Facebook
 

Cincinnati YMCAs aim to strengthen global community

In 2013, the YMCA of the USA, in cooperation with 40 different YMCA associations across the country, came up with a plan to expand efforts of global community building.
 
Now, one year later, the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati—one of the 40 associations involved in Y-USA’s efforts—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.
 
“We really want to connect with our neighbors in our community in a much stronger way,” says Karyl Cunningham, executive director of the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati. “In a changing community, changing world, the Y’s mission has always been a movement about embracing people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and supporting movements that are critical for the greater good of society.”
 
At the Clippard Y, which Cunningham says is one of the most “ethnically diverse” of Cincinnati’s 14 branches, members are gearing up for the Taste of the World tailgating event, where individuals bring in their favorite meal or dish to share with one another while engaging in conversation and watching football together.
 
“There’s going to be some learning opportunities that take place, and it should be a really great thing,” Cunningham says. “And as we move forward, we’re always going to have global community as a basic premise, so the Global Center of Excellence is one of those ways to keep that front and center for the work we do.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the Clippard Family YMCA by attending the Taste of the World tailgating event Nov. 16 from 12-3 p.m. The event is $10 per family or $5 per individual, and all proceeds help the Y further its mission. 

•    Learn about joining the Y

•    Support the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati by giving.
 

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.
 
George Rosenthal, Daniel Ransohoff and Ben Rosen: Documenting Cincinnati’s Neighborhoods, which is part of FotoFocus, opened late last month, though photos remain on exhibit through December 21. And this Wednesday, community members are invited to a panel discussion with historians, scholars and community partners who are knowledgeable about the West End.
 
“The panel provides an opportunity to engage with people who have studied the West End, lived in the West End, written about the West End,” says Abby Schwartz, director of Skirball Museum and curator of the exhibition. “We hope to engage with these experts about the history of the neighborhood and the lessons we can learn from its demise, as well as have the opportunity to hear from those who knew the photographers whose works are in the exhibition.”
 
According to Schwartz, the photos on display tell a story about the “plight of urban neighborhoods” during times of transition.
 
“In the case of the West End, what was promised as urban revitalization really turned out to be a terrible chapter in the city's history, resulting in the destruction of an entire neighborhood and displacement of its inhabitants,” Schwartz says. “I think it presents an opportunity to think about what could have been done differently, and provides lessons going forward.” 

Do Good:

•    Attend Wednesday's panel discussion at 7 p.m. 

•    Check out the exhibition at Skirball Museum. Hours are here.

•    Check out other exhibitions that are part of FotoFocus Biennial 2014.
 

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

Permaganic Co.’s youth internship program, in which inner city youth between the ages of 12 and 18 engage in the “maintenance, sales and planning” of the nonprofit’s Eco Garden in Over-the-Rhine, is invaluable, according to Bryna Bass, friend of the garden.
 
Bass has volunteered with the program and served as Permaganic Co.’s board chair; and the Eco Garden—aside from being a “beautiful place,” she says—holds value for young people in that it merges job readiness, financial literacy, art, science, service learning and agriculture all into one.
 
“Not only do the kids come in and work, but they’re also learning. There’s a lot of soft skills that are being embedded and learned at the same time,” Bass says. “And the kids come from different neighborhoods—some of them know each other, some don’t—but they’ve got to figure out how to work together.”
 
Bass currently serves as program manager for Rothenberg Preparatory Academy’s rooftop school garden, so students—many whom are also familiar with Permaganic Co.’s Eco Garden because of its proximity to home and school—are constantly sharing their enthusiasm.
 
“I hear from them all the time just how excited they are that someday they could possibly work there,” Bass says. “So when they’re 10 and 11, they want to be able to work in the Eco Garden. It’s a place that they articulate and are able to say they feel safe and good about themselves in, and they feel productive there.” 

Do Good:

•    Support youth interns' work by becoming a Permaganic Co. customer

•    Volunteer with Permaganic Co. 

•    Support Permaganic Co. by donating. 
 

Contractors form alliance to serve nonprofits

Jeff Wilmink, contractor with Century Mechanical Solutions, founded Mechanical Optimizers, because he says he recognized nonprofits would save money in the long-run if they were more aware of their maintenance and repair needs.
 
“They keep having all these emergency repairs, and I think a big part of it is no one’s giving them a plan on what they need to be doing,” Wilmink says.
 
So Century Mechanical Solutions teamed up with seven other local contracting agencies to form Mechanical Optimizers, which, according to the organization’s website, is an alliance that helps others assess, forecast and budget for both current and future needs.
 
“They’re kind of sitting there, and all of a sudden, the bomb drops,” Wilmink says. “And they didn’t even understand there was a bomb in the basement.”
 
Contractors provide nonprofits with free assessments by developing a report that details the most cost-efficient solutions, then assist the organization in finding potential donors so they can avoid emergency repairs, which are often more costly.
 
Mechanical Optimizers just launched at the beginning of September, and though Wilmink says he doesn’t know exactly where this is all going, he needs to be proactive.
 
“Being proactive—that’s the whole point,” Wilmink says. “I don’t know who I can help, but the eight of us work together on projects already, so we wanted to say, ‘Hey, OK, if you need help, we’re here to help get you to this stage.’” 

Do Good:

•    Contact Mechanical Optimizers if you're a nonprofit that wants to be proactive about repairs and maintenance. 

•    Support local nonprofits by donating. 

•    Volunteer your time to help local nonprofits. 
 

First Impact Covington Day hailed a success

More than 200 volunteers came together last Saturday on Make a Difference Day—a national day of giving—to better the City of Covington.
 
It was the first of six Impact Covington days, which COV200—the group tasked with planning the city’s Bicentennial Celebration—initiated.
 
“We want to instill pride in the community,” says Amanda Greenwell, vice chair for the bicentennial. “And we think the best way to do that is for people to actually take part and make it a better place.”
 
The committee is now accepting applications for the second Impact Day, which will take place December 13.
 
“If an organization wants to do whatever—beautification, public art, social services—we have a database of volunteers and a pretty big network of people who say they want to get involved and give back,” Greenwell says.
 
This past weekend, volunteers did everything from painting to landscaping, but the next Impact Covington Day will deal specifically with work completed at social service organizations throughout the city.
 
“These events are great opportunities to actually meet your neighbors and get engaged with your community,” Greenwell says.
 
“Today with the digital age we’re in, people are really disconnected with our neighbors, so through the Bicentennial and all the events, we’re hoping to bring the community together as one to meet their neighbors and understand more about the city and the organizations that make it a better place.”
 
Do Good:

•    Submit your Impact Covington Day application by November 10 if you're a nonprofit in need. 

•    Attend one of the hundreds of events planned for Covington's Bicentennial Celebration.

•    Sign up to volunteer with COV200.


 

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

Cincinnati’s Network of Executive Women 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.
 
“People would say, ‘You’re crazy. You can’t do that. You’re never going to be in a woman’s world—never going to be in the Olympics—women’s soccer isn’t going to be in the Olympics,’” Foudy says.
 
“But with courage and conviction—as a group—to see how powerful it is, and if you can come together for a common goal and support each other and rely on each other—I always say the magic happens outside your comfort zone.”
 
That was just a portion of the advice Foudy offered to 600 men and women from the consumer products and retail industry, who also had the opportunity to network with one another at the event.
 
Through the College Outreach Program, students are paired with mentors already in the industry, who can introduce them to others and provide them with valuable advice to help them succeed in their future careers.
 
For Foudy, mentorship is invaluable.
 
“Having that type of presence in your life—that’s everything,” Foudy says. “So that they’re taking the time to do that, I just love, because for young women in particular, you need to see it—to see there are women doing it all, who are successful, who have a family and who are able to get it done—because that can be an intimidating thing when you get older.”

Do Good:

•    Connect with NEW Cincinnati on Facebook.

•    Get involved with NEW Cincinnati and its College Outreach Program.

•    Learn about NEW benefits, and consider membership.
 

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

It’s been a decade now since residents came together in an effort to save what was a crumbling, historic structure, slated for demolition, and which now houses the Kennedy Heights Arts Center.
 
Now, 10 years later, an even bigger transformation will occur, as the 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
 
When completed next year, the building will allow the Arts Center to expand its offerings to the community in a variety of ways.
 
“In the Annex, we’ll have a multipurpose events center which will be home to different kinds of performing arts programs in theater, music and dance, and we’ll have a venue for classes and workshops,” says Ellen Muse-Lindeman, KHAC executive director.
 
“We’ll also be creating the Scripps Howard Media Center, which will allow us to expand our already popular arts education programs to offer classes in digital-based art—so, photography, video, animation, web design, graphic design and the like.”
 
There will also be space for 10 individual studios, which Muse-Lindeman says artists may choose to rent, providing them a space to work, which strengthens the arts community in the region.
 
The Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus will also house the Kennedy Heights Montessori Center, and it contains enough space for a third institution, as well.
 
“We see this as the crossroads—the core of our community—as it’s revitalized in this way,” Muse-Lindeman says. “It continues to bring a more positive image to the neighborhood, it attracts more people with it being a regional destination, and it encourages more development—more on neighboring properties—and we see this as being a catalyzing project that has lots of benefits in terms of all the services we’ll be bringing to residents.” 

Do Good: 

•    Celebrate the Arts Center's expansion by attending the November 14 groundbreaking.

•    Check out the Arts Center's various programs, and consider participating in one.

•    Learn about the various ways you can support the Arts Center.
 

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.
 
Last year, at more than 30 locations across Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, 753 volunteers prepared nearly 20,00 tax returns, which provided about $21 million in refunds, and the goal this year is to have just as big—if not more—of an impact.
 
“We want people to avoid the predatory practices out there, in addition to the unnecessary fees,” says Lucy Crane, director of community impact at UWGC. “We also want to make sure they claim all the tax credits they’re entitled to.”
 
It’s not just beneficial for the families receiving tax prep, though, Crane says. The volunteers, who become IRS tax-trained and certified, learn a beneficial skill as well.
 
“I think it’s a unique opportunity, because how often do you hear about volunteering to do people’s taxes?” Crane says. “You’re interacting with people and being of assistance to them in a way that’s very concrete, and at the end of the day, you know clearly how they felt.”
 
When tax credits sometimes account for $1,000, Crane says the impact can be huge.
 
“We survey our filers and we ask them how they’re going use their refunds, and most of them use it to pay down bills—so it could be a student loan, a grocery bill, helping to pay rent—and about 10 percent use it for some kind of savings—for a car—or a lot of time, it’s for their kids,” Crane says. “They’re really grateful, and they come back year after year because they really depend on it and trust us.” 

Do Good:

•    Volunteer to commit to working at least 12 hours this tax season.

•    If you need assistance with tax prep, learn where to go to get help.

•    If you earn less than $58,000 annually, and you'd rather do your taxes on your own, file for free here.
 

Peaslee Neighborhood Center celebrates 30 years of community impact

In December 1984, a group of women—mostly composed of single moms—received keys to the former Peaslee School in Over-the-Rhine, after having led fundraising efforts to ensure their children access to quality education.

“They didn’t know where their positive steps would go, or how far that would extend for people in this community, but they just did it anyway and that’s inspiring to me,” says Jennifer Summers, executive director of Peaslee Neighborhood Center.
 
“It’s a narrative that’s not a typical narrative of low income people in our community, and that motivates me to make sure that there are consistently spaces in this community that are accessible to everybody across all types of backgrounds.”
 
Now, 30 years later, Peaslee is celebrating its space in the community that demonstrates how far the women’s positive reach has extended, in creating "a peaceful place,” where everyone in OTR is welcome and can learn from and through one another.
 
One of its particularly successful programs, and one that Summers says shows the ways in which social change is at work, is its community education partnership with the Miami University Urban Teaching Cohort.
 
“It brings people from the community—moms, volunteers, recent graduates of Cincinnati Public Schools—together to help educate young, new, potential teachers on the things they can’t learn in a book about teaching,” Summers says.
 
“So the college students see community members on a regular basis, and those relationships are formed over five or six years, so by the time that student is teaching in the local school here, they have a network of support so they can support the students in their classroom in a way that makes sense to them, that honors their experience and that is effective.”
 
One way relationships are formed is through bonding activities like quilting and storytelling.
 
“People connect across generations,” Summers says.
 
“You can’t create any kind of change collectively unless you can get comfortable enough with each other and comfortable enough to do challenging things together, and I feel like we’re leaning into that. We’re promoting basic enrichment and educational services to the community, and we’re reaching beyond that to say, ‘How do we build a world we don’t just function and survive in, but that everybody thrives in, so that our successes are tied together?'” 

Do Good: 

•    Help Peaslee celebrate 30 years by attending Peaslee Presents: A Place for Everybody on November 6.

•    If you're interested in putting together a team from your workplace or community group, volunteer to complete a project for Peaslee. 

•    Support Peaslee by donating.
 

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.
 
Last year, three grantees were awarded prize money, which totaled $7,500; but this year, there is more support and, therefore, larger prizes—and more of them.
 
“You could win up to $16,000 if you do a sweep,” says Joan Kaup, executive director of SVP Cincinnati. “So, there’s $27,500 right now, but doesn’t $30,000 just sound better? I haven’t given up yet.”
 
Fast Pitch, which is modeled on a technique introduced in the venture capital and startup community, is an idea that prompts organizations to learn their story and figure out an effective way to share it.
 
“So the goal is to initially accept 20 [nonprofits] and invite them to training, and that’s all about, ‘What is your message? What is your key story?’” Kaup says. “And then those 20 will get a practice round with the Partners, who will narrow it down to eight; and those then get a training focused on, ‘Now that you know your story, how are you going to deliver it in a way that is creative, compelling and concise?”
 
SVP Cincinnati will match each organization with mentors and coaches who will work with one another for several weeks leading up to the February 11 event.
 
This year’s theme is Innovation that Matters, and the competition is open to all area nonprofits.
 
“What are the really wicked, sticky issues we’re dealing with in today’s society, and how are we going to bust that right open and take care of it?” Kaup says. “So we’re asking them to come forward with their innovative solutions that will make a difference to Greater Cincinnati. It could be children, animals, environment—I don’t want to put a fence around it—it’s wide open.”
 
Perhaps most exciting is that this year’s winner will also have the chance to compete on a national level in September 2015, as eight different SVP affiliates host this type of competition throughout the U.S.
 
“So we’re going to come together and have a national competition, which is just great for building capacity—it’s that much more exposure, that much more awareness,” Kaup says. “It will be about, ‘What is that nonprofit doing, what is the mission, the activity, how is the organization making an impact in the community, and can it be scaled to other communities? It’s exposure to what will be national funders and foundations, so the opportunity is pretty big for them.” 

Do Good:

•    If you're a nonprofit, apply for Fast Pitch prior to the November 1 deadline. 

•    Contact Joan Kaup if you're interested in sponsoring the event and helping the organization reach the $30,000 mark.

•    Save the date, and contact Joan to be put on the event's waiting list so you're first to know when tickets are available for purchase. 
 

HUC-JIR celebrates interfaith harmony, honors former prof

Lowell McCoy learned the importance of connecting with others through shared values at a young age.
 
McCoy, 95, began his career as a chaplain in the U.S. Army during World War II, then served several Methodist congregations prior to joining the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University’s speech departments.
 
In 1940, McCoy was tasked with helping Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion set up a speech program of its own; he then joined the faculty and taught rabbinical students the art of effective oration for 50 years.
 
According to Hebrew Union College representatives, there are no other known cases of Christian ministers training rabbis; and to honor his impact and to promote interfaith harmony, the institution has created an award in his honor.
 
The McCoy Prize in Interfaith Relations was awarded for the first time at this year’s graduation ceremonies, and it will be highlighted at the college’s 31st annual Cincinnati Associates Tribute Dinner Sunday.
 
“Throughout his career, Lowell endeavored always to build bridges of understanding and friendship between people of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds,” HUC-JIR said, when announcing the prize.
 
It's for that reason, says Rabbi David Whiman—who was ordained by HUC-JIR in 1979—that an award be named in Lowell’s honor. “Lowell’s gentle manner, kind and caring heart, and commitment to interfaith understanding and love for Reform Judaism make this prize an apt tribute.” 

Do Good:

•    Support HUC-JIR by donating.

•    Call 513-487-3047 if you're interested in attending Sunday's dinner. 

•    Connect with HUC-JIR on Facebook.
 

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.
 
Volunteers donated about 1,940 hours of their time to produce final products equating to about $194,000 in value.
 
“The nonprofits couldn’t do this on their own,” says Eric Schwartz, who has helped organize the event for the past five years. “It works out every year to be usually $14,000 of labor for each nonprofit if they were to pay to do it on their own, and we get it done in 2.5 days.”
 
According to one of the nonprofits, calculations indicate their project would have actually cost around $33,000, so $14,000 is conservative, Schwartz says.
 
This year, there was also a children's code camp, which took place Saturday afternoon.
 
“It’s good for us as parents—your kids are going to learn what you do for a job,” Schwartz says. “And you’re starting to teach the next generation of kids to do this.”
 
The best thing about the weekend, Schwartz says, was seeing nonprofit representatives hanging around with the team of volunteers working on their projects.
 
“Those are the most successful projects—where they work alongside each other, get to know how to work it and provide feedback,” Schwartz says. “And at the end, it’s just great to see their eyes light up when they see this brand new thing.” 

Do Good:

•    Connect with Southwest Ohio GiveCamp on Facebook.

•    Once you connect with the organization, learn about its volunteer-needs so you can help SWOGC help even more nonprofits next year.

•    Check out SWOGC's portfolio of work.
 

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.
 
Chef Jean-Robert and his wife Annette founded the organization in 2003 after losing their daughter Tatiana to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
 
Now, according to Annette, part of the goal is to keep her memory alive.
 
“The whole purpose is that she’s not forgotten,” Annette says. “And we keep giving back through her, and honoring her in her name.”
 
One way it honors her is through the Tatiana de Cavel Scholarship Fund at The Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, which enables students to finish their studies, though the organization’s overall goal is to fund research and education in an attempt to eradicate SIDS.
 
Last year, the de Cavels were able to award $27,500 to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cradle Cincinnati and Cribs for Kids to enable research, support families and promote safe sleep; and organizers say this year's brunch was even better.
 
If it weren’t for the local community and members of the restaurant community—who have dedicated their time and talents to the annual brunch—Annette says none of this would be possible.
 
“It’s incredibly touching,” Annette says. “We both are not from Cincinnati, and it’s that friendship and support during tough times that has helped.” 

Do Good: 

•    Save the date for next year's brunch, which will take place Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

•    Like the organization's page on Facebook.

•    Support the foundation by giving.
 

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.
 
Abdullah currently serves as generalmusikdirektor in Aachen, Germany, but he is a former member of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra.
 
“I was living in Dayton [during my time with the CSYO], but all my training basically happened in Cincinnati,” Abdullah says. “I’d always wanted to play in a youth orchestra year-round.”
 
So from 1993-94 and 1995-96, Abdullah developed his talents as a clarinetist and played alongside other talented students and then-members of the CSO.
 
According to Abdullah, his time with the CSYO was not only musically engaging, but also healing.
 
When he was 11 years old and at Interlochen’s music camp, he received news that his brother had been mugged, shot and killed.
 
“It was a difficult time for me and my family, so it was a good thing to give my life a little bit more structure,” Abdullah says.
 
It helped Abdullah keep his mind occupied and focused on his passion, and it was also a formative experience for him, he says, as it was an opportunity to further his knowledge and continue on a path that would enable him to pursue music as a career and become an international talent.
 
“I’ve always loved Cincinnati,” Abdullah says. “I rehearsed with the CSO when I was a kid in the youth orchestra and always loved them, so to be able to actually work with them, it’s a really great honor and really great pleasure as a woodwind player.” 

Do Good:

•    Support Cincinnati's orchestras, choruses and musical programs by donating.

•    Support our performers by attending an upcoming performance

•    Learn about audition requirements for the CSYO.
 

Mannequin hosts Beer, BBQ & Bach fundraiser

Beer, BBQ & Bach, Mannequin’s second-annual yearly fundraiser to raise rent money for the charity boutique, will take place October 22.
 
“The thought behind it is, if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes my friends to raise my rent,” says Moe Rouse, the boutique’s founder. “Last year, it raised a lot more—it paid for the utilities—and I pay for the one paid position in the shop, so we can say really truly that every penny of sales goes to our seven charities.”
 
Since the boutique’s opening in 2011, Rouse says the store has generated about $50,000 per year, so UCan, Lighthouse Youth Services, the Freestore Foodbank, First Step Home, Caracole, Tender Mercies and Wesley Chapel Mission Center each come away with about $7,000 annually.
 
Though Beer, BBQ & Bach is a fundraiser for rent, Rouse says it’s ultimately a way to support the charities.
 
“Are they in fact paying my rent, or in fact giving money to the charities?” Rouse says. “It’s an idea that allows more money to go to the charities.”
 
And it’s through “a juxtaposition of things you wouldn’t expect,” she says. “It will take place at Rhinegeist—a factory that goes back to the 1800s—with this quartet playing Bach, and then people stuffing their faces with Eli’s Barbeque and Rhinegeist beer.” 

Do Good:

•    Stop by Mannequin, and ask for an invitation to attend Beer, BBQ & Bach.

•    Call 513-378-2620 if you're interested in volunteering at Mannequin. 

•    Donate your gently used items to the boutique, or stop by to shop. 
 

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.”
 
This year’s two Outstanding Student awardees—both exemplifying that success—spoke at the event and were presented $1,000 scholarships for post-secondary endeavors.
 
Alexius Golden, who now attends Berea College on a full scholarship, and Robert McMurray, who attends Northern Kentucky University, recounted their personal stories—determination to succeed, despite barriers like homelessness—and finding a father-figure through CYC’s one-to-one mentoring.
 
“They endure conditions most of us have never faced—homelessness, incarceration in the family, violence in neighborhood, lack of family support, drugs, teen pregnancy—the list can go on,” says Jane Keller, CYC’s president and CEO.  
 
But despite these struggles, CYC seniors have attained a five-year graduation rate of 96 percent because of their work with positive adult role models and through college readiness and career preparation.
 
“Graduation from high school is so important at this stage of their lives,” Keller says.
 
“Our partner United Way may say it best when they say, ‘We reach out a hand to one, it influences the condition of all.’ And our partner Strive will say, ‘It’s through collaboration we can obtain community collective impact.’ We can’t do it alone. We have to do it together.”

Do Good:

•    Support CYC students by volunteering as a mentor or tutor.

•    Support CYC by investing in a student's future.

•    Connect with CYC on Facebook.
 

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.
 
“We’re so grateful to him for being so open about it, but we’d like to continue the conversation,” Flannery says.
 
CancerFree KIDS is a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that funds grants and forms alliances with researchers “to identify projects that need funding and make them happen.”
 
In the organization’s 12 years of existence, it’s raised about $2 million in research funding—most of which has directly benefited researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
 
“With all the money government puts into cancer research, less than four percent goes to childhood cancer research,” Flannery says. “There’s all these brilliant people trying to do research to save our kids’ lives and they can’t get funding to do it, so all these potentially life saving treatments aren’t even tried.”
 
CancerFree KIDS is working to help fill that void, but according to Flannery, it’s scary that a lack of funding is the primary barrier to curing cancer.
 
“A lot of people think the roadblocks to curing cancer are that the researchers are stumped—they don’t know what to do,” Flannery says. “But literally, it’s a lack of funding—they don’t have enough money to do the great research they want to do—so when you have a loved one who has cancer, it’s a ridiculous thing to think about. It’s just funding? We’re losing people everyday.”
 
More money needs to be put into saving lives, Flannery says, because there’s promise in the research being conducted.
 
The first grantee who was ever funded by CancerFree KIDS, for example, is about to see his research begin clinical trials.
 
“We thought it showed promise, and now he’s gone to get millions more in funding,” Flannery says. “Every animal they’ve tried it on, every type of cancer they’ve tried this drug on, it’s cured it—and that’s unheard of. It just goes to show—what if we hadn’t given that grant and he had never tried?”

Do Good:

•    Learn about the various football-related events and partnerships you can engage in to support CancerFree KIDS through its fourth-annual Tackle Childhood Cancer initiative. 

•    Text the word "tackle" to 80100 to donate $10 toward funding pediatric cancer research.

•    Support CancerFree KIDS by giving or attending upcoming events.
 

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

When Cincinnati native and mom Shelby Mckee wanted to be comfortable and wear flats to a Bengals game on a cool October day, she wasn’t willing to sacrifice her warmth by wearing no-show socks or “footies,” so she got creative.
 
“I grabbed my husband’s dress socks and cut a hole in the top of them, and that’s where the journey began,” Mckee says.
 
Three years later, in August 2012, she and her two sisters, Christy and Stefanie, launched Keysocks—the first-ever no-show knee high socks to reach the market.
 
“Coming together with my sisters and having a business together has been amazing,” says Christy Parry.
 
But perhaps more amazing, Perry says, is that the company, after just two years of existence, is now able to partner with a charitable organization.
 
“My sister Stefanie is a cancer survivor, so last year, we had donated Keysocks to Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research’s gala,” Mckee says. “They reached out to us again because they loved the socks so much that they wanted to partner with us, so we ended up putting their angel logo on the back of the socks, and 100 percent net proceeds go to their foundation.”
 
The partnership kicked off last month and will continue through Sept. 1, 2015. The goal is to sell at least 15,000 pairs to directly fund blood cancer research.
 
“To have a foundation we could partner with and be able to give back to means so much,” Parry says. “And Keysocks—we just couldn’t have a better connection with it being to cancer, with my sister”—(Gabrielle was also one of three sisters)—“and being able to give back in the early stages of such a small startup.”

Do Good:

•    Support cancer research by purchasing a special edition pair of Keysocks.

•    Support Gabrielle's Angel Foundation for Cancer Research by donating.

•    Connect with Keysocks and Gabrielle's Angel Foundation on Facebook.

EXCEL grad displays leadership through Camp Joy scholarship creation

Gunner Blackmore, Camp Joy development manager, recently completed The Executive Curriculum for Emerging Leaders (EXCEL)—a program offered jointly by Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati and the Talbert House— and its impact on his ability to make a difference in the community was immediate.
 
He initiated a class-wide effort to raise money for a $500 scholarship that will allow a child to attend Camp Joy’s summer program for one week.
 
The organization partners with various nonprofits to bring children who are living with serious medical conditions, who are experiencing grief, who are living in poverty or who are in foster care, together for traditional camp activities that bring engagement and recreation into their lives.
 
“For example, we’ll partner with the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and they’ll come out all as a group,” Blackmore says. “So when a child is at school or just in a neighborhood, they might feel like an outsider, but when they come out to Camp Joy, they’re surrounded by hundreds of other kids with a chronic heart condition, and they’ll talk about what it’s like living with the illness. It provides them a tremendous amount of support.”
 
Since there’s typically no room in the budget for partnering agencies to afford a child the opportunity to go to summer camp, this is a way, Blackmore says, to allow an individual to realize the benefit of the experience, without economic crisis presenting yet another barrier.
 
“And a lot of them end up coming back year after year, because it’s that reinforcement experience that’s an added benefit,” Blackmore says.
 
“Oftentimes our counselors can really notice them growing and becoming leaders. Sometimes they’ll be shy the first couple days and they’ll get a lot of self esteem as the year goes on. Then the second year, they’ll really take charge and become a leader for the new campers. It’s really neat to see.” 

Do Good: 

•    Support other campers by giving to Camp Joy.

•    Support Talbert House by giving.

•    Support ESCC by giving.

Citizenship, opportunity through music at MYCincinnati

The ten hours a week MYCincinnati orchestra members spend together enables students to not only become talented musicians, but also increase self-confidence, build social skills, engage in citizenship, and express their creativity and passion.
 
Through participation in the orchestra, which is offered through Price Hill Will and modeled on El Sistema—a program that utilizes music as a vehicle for social change—residents of the area are provided with an instrument, high-quality instruction and an opportunity.
 
“Every family faces their own unique set of challenges, but they all want a better road to the future for their children,” says Laura Jekel, program director. “I believe MYCincinnati is that road.”
 
Since the program’s inception, one student has gone from having never touched a violin to being an accomplished instrumentalist who has worked her way into the School for Creative & Performing Arts’ top orchestra.

Another student turned down a free opportunity to go to Kings Island, because she didn’t want to miss a single day of camp this summer.
 
For Jekel, the program opens up “a world of potential” as soon as a student gets an instrument in his or her hand.
 
“We’re giving them the skills to transform their neighborhood,” Jekel says. “To forge relationships across barriers of race and language, and to lead their communities.” 

Do Good:

•    Support MYCincinnati.

•    Volunteer with MYCincinnati.

•    Enroll your child.

Community Matters moves forward with Washing Well

The average middle class family spends less than one percent of its income on laundry, while residents of Lower Price Hill spend, on average, one-ninth of their income on laundry, according to Jen Walters, Community Matters’ president and founder.
 
“There’s about 600 families—over 90 percent of our neighbors are renters—and the vast majority rely on public transportation,” Walters says. “There’s a high percentage of female-headed households, and $9,600 is the average annual salary. Our community is full of strong hardworking people, but they don’t have access to things others sometimes take for granted.”
 
Currently there’s a lack of access to a local laundry facility, but that’s about to change, as the nonprofit gears up to implement plans for what will eventually become a worker-operated cooperative—the Washing Well project—which will “create a community laundromat to meet the severe need for access to safe, affordable and local laundry in the Lower Price Hill neighborhood.”
 
Now, rather than having to take two bus trips—potentially accompanied by children—and spend about five hours at a laundromat, residents will be able to access laundry facilities without having to leave the neighborhood.
 
After taking care of the barrier regarding access, Walters says the organization needed to address affordability.
 
“It will be priced below the market but [will] still [generate] enough to be sustainable,” Walters says. “We’ll sell detergent by the cup, because buying that detergent from the beginning was often a barrier, and they were trying to stretch it out as long as they could, which took away from the hygienic aspect for doing laundry in the first place.”
 
If the price point is still an issue, there will be nonmonetary options, like volunteering, which residents can engage in, so they can earn washes and dries; and the space itself will become more than just a laundromat.
 
Instead of sitting around waiting for clothes, residents will be able to work with an Americorps member, who will provide assistance in connecting them to jobs and resources—an added benefit, in addition to access to clean clothes.
 
“It may be the difference that stops people from thinking they can’t go for a job,” Walters says. “It can provide that confidence for kids at school and [instill a sense of] self-worth.” 

Do Good:

•    Volunteer with Community Matters.

•    Support Community Matters by donating.

•    Connect with Community Matters on Facebook.
 

Mercy Health physician hosts second annual health fair

For Kent Robinson, Mercy Health physician, it’s important that people begin to expand their notions of “wellness.” 

“It’s a very broad spectrum, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness,” Robinson says. “We have to really look at these areas and see where we could use some restoring of balance.” 

That’s the goal with A Day of Wellness, a free community health fair Robinson will host October 11.
 
“We bring together various experts and authorities, so people come and talk, and we teach people the principles of good living, and they can take that [knowledge] home to help them live better,” Robinson says.
 
A Mercy Health mobile mammogram van will be on site, and various physicians will present information on everything from diabetes to mental health.
 
“We do it in the community so people can come out and get themselves checked,” Robinson says. “So we always find people with diabetes who didn’t know it, with high blood pressure, who didn’t know it. So those people we’ve been able to bring into our practices and follow up.”
 
According to Robinson, the ultimate goal is that people will become more health conscious and learn to take better care of themselves so they have longer, more productive lives.
 
“We focus on nutrition. We have movement activities. We have elders come and talk about remaining physically active and socially engaged,” Robinson says. “We just make it a very full and interactive type of day for people so their lives become more full and more healthy.” 

Do Good:

•    Attend the event, which takes place October 11 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Keystone Parke.

•    Spread the word about the event, and encourage your friends and family to attend. 

•    Contact Nikki at 513-924-8118 if you're interested in volunteering.
 

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.
 
The courses will offer sample lesson plans and instruction to K-8 teachers who can then implement material into the classroom, without having to set aside separate instructional time that is needed for core subject matters.
 
“Our whole mission is about teaching economics and personal finance at an early age,” says Jaclyn Smith, marketing director at the Economics Center. “But teachers are so busy, because they have all these new assessments, and requirements getting thrown at them—especially this year—so we’re trying a new integration approach.”
 
According to Smith, though, this isn’t simply an education-related issue.
 
“What we’re really trying to do is combat the surveys—if you look at financial capability in the TriState region, we rank really low on the national average, so what we want to do is shift that trend,” Smith says.
 
The way to do that, she says, is by introducing young students to key concepts at a young age.
 
“So if you’re teaching language arts, why not do a book like Lawn Boy where you’re teaching these children in elementary school about reading, but at the same time, they’re reading a book about a 12 year-old who starts his own lawn mowing business,” Smith says. “You’re introducing them to all these broader concepts, and we’re thinking about how to bring that to life.” 

Do Good:

•    Sign up for the upcoming professional development courses. If you register for all four Cruisin' through the Standards courses, you'll receive 50 percent off registration with the code UCEC during checkout. 

•    Help the Economics Center further its mission by donating

•    Volunteer with the organization.
 

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—a record for the all-female philanthropic organization who awarded two $108,000 grants at last year’s event.  
 
The Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati, Price Hill Will’s MYCincinnati and Community Matters’ Washing Well project were this year’s recipients.
 
The funds will enable the LNGC to extend its reach by implementing its Adult and Children’s Basic Reading Programs in the Price Hill and Avondale Communities.
 
MYCincinnati (Music for Youth) will reach more students, as the organization can now double its hours of operation and expand its age-range offerings.
 
And Community Matters will now be able to implement its Washing Well project, which will enable the organization to build a laundromat to serve Lower Price Hill residents who currently have no easy access to laundry facilities.
 
“It's very amazing—humbling—to be part of it—inspiring—and just, wow,” says Lisa Kaminski, Impact 100 member and vice president. “I was part of the team that worked for years to break three grants and I'm a total jumble of emotions.”
 
Since its first grantee in 2002, Impact 100 has awarded $2.8 million to 25 nonprofits who are able to create “magic in their communities,” says Sharon Mitchell, Impact 100 president.
 
Cincinnati Community ToolBank and Welcome House of Northern Kentucky were this year’s other two finalists, and it’s always difficult, members say, to not be able to fund all five groups. But they aim to change that, as the organization continues to grow.
 
At the awards ceremony this year, enough pledges were made to enable Impact 100 to commit to again giving three grants next year, but the goal is to award four or even five, and certainly even more, in years to come.
 
“One of the someday-projects on my list is trying to capture the ripple effect of Impact 100,” Kaminski says. “The number of lives impacted by those who have received grants, and also the impact on those who were not granted one. We’ve already heard that Cincinnati ToolBank has gotten a 12-foot covered trailer donated—so, wow.” 

Do Good:

•    Join Impact 100 so you can help the organization further its reach in the community. 

•    If you're a nonprofit with a plan to transform lives through your work, check back Oct. 27 for information on how to apply for one of next year's grants

•    Spread the word about Impact 100 by connecting with the organization and sharing its Facebook page.
 

ATGScholars excel through citizenship, responsibility

Cleophis Carson, 16, was Michael Farrell Jr.’s inspiration for founding Against the Grain Scholars, he says.
 
“He’s hitting on all cylinders and is kind of our guinea pig for everything—he’s the oldest,” says Farrell, who came up with the concept of ATGScholars when he was teaching students who were at-risk, but who were excelling in the classroom, were respectful and essentially doing “everything they were supposed to be doing, despite the odds.”
 
To honor those students’ achievements and further their opportunities, Farrell came up with the concept for ATGScholars.
 
“We ended up going in the route of not only providing mentoring and support for the kids, but also facilitating unique volunteer opportunities, because we felt like, here we have this group of kids, always used to being the ones who are being helped, so put them in a position and give them the opportunity to be able to help other people,” Farrell said.
 
When students were first given the opportunity to pick a volunteer experience, they decided to help animals. Through Project Dog Rescue, the students chose one of the SPCA’s “old-timers”—the first time around, it was Zoey—who had been in the shelter for eight months, and found her a home.
 
For Carson, the enjoyment of knowing you helped someone feels good, he says.
 
“What I learned is that when you help and give a dog a home, it makes the dog feel very appreciated—not lonely,” Carson says. [And for those who take the dog in,] “they have added a new member to the family, which will strengthen the bonds between them. “
 
For the group of scholars, which has now grown to eight students, this is just one of the many volunteer experiences they engage in; and compassion for others and servitude are just a couple of the qualities they’re strengthening.
 
Carson, who received a full scholarship to Elder High School after graduating eighth grade at Over-the-Rhine’s St. Francis Seraph, goes to most every ATGScholars’ outing, maintains his GPA, is expected to log more than 150 volunteer hours by the time he graduates high school—about twice the number Elder requires—and he holds down a job at Kroger.
 
“A friend of mine has helped him with financial literacy, saving money, managing money, donating money,” Farrell says. “He donates 10 percent of every paycheck to his church.”  
 
“If you do it, it shows that you’re a nice guy and not selfish with your money and that you don’t spend it all in one place,” Carson says. 

Do Good: 

•    Support ATGScholars by donating.

•    Connect with ATGScholars on Facebook.

•    Contact Farrell if you're interested in mentoring or coming along on one of the ATGScholars' outing.
 

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

World renowned former fashion photographer Rick Guidotti founded Positive Exposure in 1998 after he made it his mission to help others change the ways in which they see things, so in turn, they could begin to see change.
 
“As a fashion photographer, I was always told constantly who’s beautiful—who the model of the moment was—so I always stayed within those parameters of what was a restrictive beauty standard, and I was always told it was beautiful,” Guidotti says. “And as an artist, I don’t see beauty just on the covers of magazines. I see beauty everywhere.”
 
It was after leaving his studio that Guidotti says he saw a girl with albinism who was “just beautiful.” He had never met a model who looked like her, he says, so he began to research individuals with albinism to see what he could find.
 
“I found nothing but horrible images—kids in their underwear up against walls in doctors’ offices, images of just disease, sickness—I didn’t see any photographs of this gorgeous kid,” Guidotti says. “And it’s always ‘the evil albino’ that we see depicted in movies, in Hollywood—every representation I could find was a negative. And it was so upsetting and so eye opening.”
 
So Guidotti partnered with the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation to make something beautiful and show the world something different, he says.
 
“So this girl walks in the room and she was amazing—she was so beautiful, but she walked in with her shoulders all the way up, no eye contact—she had zero self esteem, and I can only imagine the abuse she had in school, the teasing” Guidotti says.
 
“I didn’t know what to do—she was so vulnerable—but just the day before, I had photographed Cindy Crawford, and I said out of respect for her, ‘I’m going to photograph her like I’d photograph anyone else,’ so the fan went on, the music went on, and I took a mirror and said, ‘Christine, look at you—you’re magnificent—and she looked in the mirror and she saw it. Her hands went on her hips, and she exploded with the smile that lit up New York City. It was incredible.”
 
It’s this beauty that Guidotti sees because of the shared humanity we all possess, he says, and it’s what’s inspired him to shift his lens from fashion photography to individuals who are portrayed as being diseased or disabled, but who are nothing short of amazing.
 
And that’s the clientele that Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled works with everyday on the local level, as well as the mission of the ReelAbilities Film Festival, which the organization will present Feb. 27-March 7.
 
As part of the organization’s ReelPrograms leading up to the festival, Guidotti will speak to local schools, share his story, exhibit Positive Exposure, The Spirit of Difference at FotoFocus, and photograph local families with physical and mental disabilities to add to his collection, which will be displayed during ReelAbilities.
 
“It’s inclusion, and it’s happening concurrently, but it’s individuals everywhere in the world that don’t want to be seen as diseased or as a diagnosis,” Guidotti says. “We all want to be seen as human beings.” 

Do Good:

•    Hear Guidotti's story, and check out his work, as well as other events taking place through ReelProgram events. This Cincinnati tour of Rich Guidotti is presented by the Edwards Foundation managed by Crew Capital with support from Contemporary Cabinetry East.

•    Support Cincinnati ReelAbilities by donating.

•    Spread the word about ReelAbilities and all of the events coming up by volunteering.
 

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.
 
Scott Sayre, owner and dentist at Advance Dentistry, founded the event because he says the need for dental treatment in this country “goes largely under the wire.”
 
“There’s almost nobody that in their life escapes dental disease, and when you actually compound that to the really big problem—massive amounts of dental disease—it’s just horrendous,” Sayre says. “The need is huge.”
 
Clients over the age of 18 will be entitled to one free cleaning, filling or extraction. Last year, Sayre says about 300 individuals received these services, and this year, he says he hopes to serve even more.
 
“We had one mom that was going two weeks later to see her son graduate from the Marines’ boot camp,” Sayre says. “So we were able to do several extractions that day—a little more than we were supposed to—but we got her ready so she could get fitted for dentures and have her smile back before she went to see her son and all his friends.”
 
It’s stories like this, Sayre says, that prompt him to host the community-wide event, and that inspire him to build upon the event’s foundation in years to come.
 
“What I’d like to do in the future is have Cincy Care to Share where we’re doing dentistry here, maybe others are helping in their offices on the other side of town, we’ve got a general physician doing checkups, lawyers offering their services over here—I’d like to break the whole thing loose,” Sayre says.
 
“Patients are in pain. They don’t know where to turn, but they’re able to come here and get some care that day. So I think if we can help in our own backyard, it’s just a really important thing to do.” 

Do Good:

•    Spread the word about Cincy Care to Share

•    If you're interested in contributing services and growing the event next year, learn how you can help.

•    Connect with Cincy Care to Share on Facebook.

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.
 
More than $1.3 million has been awarded at the scholarship fair in the past four years, and scholarships often are awarded on the spot.
 
“That’s what really sets us apart,” says Rico Rice, president of Rice Education Consulting, LLC and organizer of the fair. “We ask that the students come to us with their transcripts, résumé, letters of recommendation, and an essay on why they want to come to college, so they’re able to really have those conversations with representatives—some of whom are directors of financial aid or admissions.”
 
According to Rice, offering the fair for multicultural students is important, because historically, they haven’t had as many opportunities and are underrepresented on some of the bigger college campuses across the country.
 
“Colleges see the need for a diverse student body,” Rice says. “The second piece is a lack of resources. In certain pockets of the community, they don’t have the exposure and are dealing with a lot of first-generational college students.”
 
With so many talented young individuals in our community, Rice says it’s only fair to serve as a community resource for them so they can achieve success.
 
“Talent doesn’t get you into college. You have to apply and learn the process,” Rice says. But when students receive assistance, he says it’s invaluable. “Obviously to know that a big burden has been lifted—it’s priceless.”

Do Good:

•    Spread the word about the Multicultural Scholarship Fair.

•    Learn about and get involved with Cincinnati Museum Center's Youth Programs.

•    Connect with the Cincinnati Museum Center and Rice Education Consulting, LLC on Facebook.

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.
 
“Cincinnati was ranked No. 1 in America by the Academy of Sports Medicine this past spring when it comes to outdoor recreational infrastructure—trails, parks, campgrounds, rivers—but the health condition of our citizenry was No. 38 out of 50,” Rhoads says.
 
“So part of what we’re about is connecting our citizens in the region to the recreational opportunities we have.”
 
The weekend’s events, taking place September 27-28, will feature opportunities for all. Zip-lining across our region’s tree canopy, canoeing, kayaking and even swimming across the Ohio River are just a few of the options offered.
 
“It has become one of the largest—if not the largest—outdoor education and recreation samplers in the country,” Rhoads says. “It’s a way to introduce people—parents with kids, millennials and others—to the critical recreational and nature education opportunities in the region.”
 
According to Rhoads, Greater Cincinnati’s vibrant outdoor culture is a benefit to all who inhabit the area, and it’s an asset to our city, in that it's an attractor of young talent.
 
“You don’t have to live in Portland to bike to work, for example,” Rhoads says.
 
And according to Rhoads, that’s evidenced by the fact that Cincinnati was listed, for the first-time ever, as one of the top-50 bike-friendly cities in America.
 
“We don’t claim that we make all this happen,” Rhoads says. “But we play a role in being a facilitator as a promoter of collaboration to move this area forward.” 

Do Good:

•    Attend one, or multiple events at Great Outdoor Weekend.

•    If you can't make it out to Great Outdoor Weekend, check out Meet Me Outdoors! for a listing of free outdoor activities to engage in on a more frequent basis.

•    Get involved with Green Umbrella.
 

Healthy Roots Foundation continues Bluegrass for Babies, rebrands to expand education and outreach

The Healthy Roots Foundation, formerly Bluegrass for Babies, will host its sixth annual benefit concert Saturday to support Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Perinatal Institute.
 
The nonprofit rebranded itself this year in an effort to better reflect its focus on educational outreach for familial health education.
 
“[The name] Bluegrass for Babies no longer made sense for everything we’re doing,” says Anne Schneider, who founded the organization with her husband, Matt, in 2009. “It made sense for one of our events. So basically, it’s grown so much—we thought that the Healthy Roots Foundation was a name that represents the true essence of trying to create healthy families and improve children’s health.”
 
Since 2009, Bluegrass for Babies has raised nearly $100,000 for Cincinnati Children’s, which Schneider says she’s “incredibly humbled and thrilled” to have accomplished, because the concert—now hosted at Sawyer Point—initially began as a backyard party.
 
As the event has grown, so has the nonprofit’s goals and outreach.
 
“We’ve realized there’s a big gap in education for families—health education in general—and people really aren’t getting the knowledge they need to make good decisions,” Schneider says.
 
So at this year’s concert, six interactive experiences—all aimed at empowering families with healthy decision-making capabilities—will complement the festivities.
 
The activities are similar in nature to some of the play-based activities the nonprofit has hosted at the Cincinnati Museum Center, for example.
 
“We have a make-your-own pizza garden, so it’s a gardening activity where kids learn how it’s made,” Schneider says. “And then once it’s made or taken home and planted, we give them basil seeds, and we give them recipes to make their own pizza with it—so they’re looking at where it’s coming from, how it’s made, and then that’s your food—so it impacts your nutrition and healthy choices.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the organization in its efforts to raise funds for Cincinnati Children's Perinatal Institute by purchasing a ticket to attend Bluegrass for Babies. One-hundred percent of proceeds from food purchased at the event, from both Green BEAN Delivery and Mama Mimi's, will also benefit the Perinatal Institute. 

•    Support the Healthy Roots Foundation by giving.

•    Connect with the nonprofit on Facebook.
 

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.
 
The nonprofit, whose mission is to “unite communities to promote life, health and education,” has a lot to celebrate, as the organization has reached some important milestones throughout the past decade.
 
More than 400 local volunteers, for example, have given freely of their time to engage in service learning and health care initiatives in three villages of Tanzania.
 
“Just knowing we’ve been able to unite this many people behind a cause, both people from Tanzania and the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond—being able to focus on how to make people’s lives better—that’s probably been the biggest reward,” says Chris Lewis, founder.
 
One of the nonprofit’s most notable successes is opening Tanzania’s first-ever health care center, which has served more than 20,000 villagers since 2011.
 
Lewis says he remembers his first trip to the region in 2003 when he was in the University of Cincinnati’s family medicine residency training program.
 
“On a daily basis, people would be brought in to the hospital I was working at, having died having to have made the arduous journey from the remote outlying regions,” Lewis says. “The first patient I remember was a pregnant lady who had bled to death having tried to walk eight hours to get to the hospital to deliver her child, and that sort of thing leaves a permanent mark on you.”
 
Village Life Outreach Project has also collaborated with Engineers without Borders, through both its student chapter at UC and its local professional chapter, to teach villagers how to build sustainable and structurally sound buildings and to begin digging water wells so villagers can access clean drinking water.
 
“Everyone comes to Tanzania thinking they’re going to really make a difference and change the world, and by all working together—yeah, we’ve made some great progress—but the biggest change I think comes to the volunteers themselves,” Lewis says. “I think their lives are changed in this experience, when they get over there and feel what it means to work in partnership with people who need you. That makes all the difference in the world.” 

Do Good: 

•    Join Village Life Outreach Project at Night on the Serengeti for an evening of celebration and a keynote address delivered by Oscar and Emmy Award-Winning Actor Louis Gossett, Jr. 

•    Support Village Life Outreach Project by donating.

•    Contact the nonprofit to learn more and figure out how you can get involved.

Impact 100 member grows, spreads philanthropic values to young members

Emily Throckmorton learned the value of philanthropy at a young age.
 
At age 18, she’s 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.
 
Last year, the organization was able to provide Crayons to Computers and Easter Seals TriState | Building Value with $108,000 grants; and this year, membership has grown, so three nonprofits will receive $109,000 grants.
 
“You’re basically putting your faith in these organizations and choosing who you want to help and how you want to help them, and the whole experience is amazing,” says Throckmorton, who’s received membership as a gift for the past two years.
 
Throckmorton just began her freshman year at Purdue University, so as a college freshman, and certainly as a high school student, contributing to a philanthropic organization isn’t always financially feasible. But in Throckmorton’s case, her membership has been a much better gift than any material possessions could have been.
 
“This is something I will continue, not just at school, but through the rest of my life,” Throckmorton says. “Seeing the money they had spent the whole year raising going toward these amazing causes—I really want to stay involved and help out doing something like this because I love helping others.” 

Do Good:

•    Check out this year's five grant finalists, and attend the Annual Awards Celebration September 16 when this year's recipients will be announced. 

•    Help Impact 100 continue to grow. The organization is always looking for new members, particularly young professionals, so it can sustain itself and further its community impact for years to come. Consider joining.

•    If you're a nonprofit, learn about how to apply for next year's grant, and stay connected with the organization through Facebook to keep up with the latest news and updates.
 

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.
 
“There really aren’t that many in comparison to male chefs, and I’ve always really admired the lineup we’ve had in this city,” Kroner says. “And I wanted to be more of a part of that community and try to bring everyone together, because this doesn’t happen very often.”
 
Kroner serves as executive chef at Sleepy Bee Café, where the event Showcase: Dinner for a Cause, which will benefit the YWCA’s Battered Women’s Shelter, will take place.

“It’s always been in the back of my mind to try to do more philanthropic things with food, because on a day-to-day basis, in a restaurant setting, you’re usually catering to people that can afford to come to the restaurant,” Kroner says. “So it’s nice to feel like you can give back to the community in a way that it’s still done through your craft.”
 
Ten chefs will collaborate on Sunday’s multi-course dinner, while female performing artists will provide entertainment. The evening’s table centerpieces— sculptures created through a collaborative effort with Brazee Street Studios’ C-LINK Presents: Showcase: Female Artists for a Cause—will be auctioned off as well.
 
Though proceeds from the event will benefit the YWCA, Kroner says she is looking forward to the event because it won’t necessarily feel like a fundraiser so much as it will be a celebration of the local talent that female creatives have to offer.
 
“Just bringing the female creative force all in one room—that’s always been something that in theory sounds super inspirational—and I can’t wait to be part of that group and feel the energy,” Kroner says. “We’re all going to be orchestrating together in the back as we prepare, and there aren’t that many female chefs, but I think that in general, it’s an underutilized group of people.” 

Do Good:

•    Reserve your spot at Showcase: Dinner for a Cause.

•    Support the YWCA by donating.

•    Volunteer with the YWCA.


 

Rosie's Girls empowers girls with STEM-related skills

For Sandra Ramirez Pvac, a freshman at DePaul Cristo Rey High School, the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati’s program Rosie’s Girls provided her not only with a fun and engaging summer experience, but also a sense of empowerment.
 
“We made lamps, cut the pieces, sanded it and painted it,” Ramirez Pvac says. “Then we also got it to work through the electricity that we did. We also made our own toolbox—it was just cool.”
 
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.
 
“The part that excited me was going through carpentry, because usually when I hear about Messer and Turner Construction sites, usually men do it,” Ramirez Pvac says. “You see guys outside putting concrete on the streets, so I thought it would be interesting to go and experience that and see how it is.”
 
Ramirez Pvac actually graduated from the program in 2012, but this past summer, she returned as a counselor in training.
 
“I was excited because my younger sister was going this year, and she also was excited because she saw the stuff I had brought home,” Ramirez Pvac says.
 
Since her time in the program, Ramirez Pvac has been able to put her skills to use. When her bed broke, she fixed it. And when she was on a mission trip working in the garden of an older couple, she noticed a broken bench that was going to be thrown away.
 
“It was a pretty bench,” Ramirez Pvac says. “And they said they just hadn’t found someone who could fix it, so I got the opportunity to get the tools and fix it.”
 
Rosie’s Girls fostered a sense of independence in Ramirez Pvac, and it’s one she says she noticed with the other girls who participated in the program this past July.
 
“They were able to do the stuff themselves. They were able to have confidence by being able to do stuff that you wouldn’t see a young girl doing at this age,” Ramirez Pvac says. “And I feel like some girls actually felt like they wanted to take a career that has to do with that, with carpentry.”

Do Good:

•    Learn about Rosie's Girls, and encourage young girls to apply for next year's program. 

•    Support the YWCA by donating.

•    Connect with Rosie's Girls on Facebook.

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.
 
The award recognizes institutions or individuals who have made “an outstanding contribution to the advancement of library service for the blind and physically handicapped.”
 
Mundy serves as quality assurance specialist for network-produced recordings at Mutlistate Center East, a division of Clovernook, as he works to improve the quality of—and expand upon the availability of—audio materials available to library patrons who cannot read print.
 
“My position’s unique, and it’s the only one in the U.S. that works directly with volunteer programs to get the material to a particular quality level,” Mundy says. “And what’s really cool is all the people that get involved—a lot of them are retirees with a background in dramatic arts or broadcasting and are capable of handling really difficult material.”
 
As Mundy travels around the country to the National Library Service volunteer studios, he assists in the behind-the-scenes production that allows for continuity of sound and quality for the various materials available.
 
“There’s a revolving door of volunteers—maybe 10 narrators involved in a typical issue of Smithsonian magazine, for example—and the whole key is, over time, the staff and volunteers involved with it are constantly changing,” Mundy says. “Plus, the technology changes. I learn it and impart some of that knowledge to them.”
 
Mundy says he’s humbled to be a recipient of the award, but he’d like for more individuals to take advantage of the resources he helps make available.
 
“At any given moment, 900,000-1 million people are currently using it (the Braille and Audio Reading service), but there are 3 million who are eligible for it,” Mundy says. “So roughly 2 million don’t know they can access it with a doctor’s note. There’s just so many people in everyday life who might really benefit from knowing about it.”

Do Good: 

•    Connect with Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired on Facebook.

•    If you know someone who could benefit from services offered through the BARD, help them apply.

•    Support Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
 

CYC grad shows fortitude through adverse situations

Withrow International High School graduate Niyubahwe Dieudonne is familiar with transitions.
 
He’ll begin his studies at the University of Cincinnati in August, and in early October, at the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative’s 11th annual Dream Makers Celebration, he’ll find out whether or not he’s the recipient of the Outstanding Student Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
 
Dieudonne was nominated for the award because of his success and perseverance through a time in his life that was by no means easy.
 
“I moved from East Africa from a small country called Burundi in 2007,” Dieudonne says. “It was really hard for me, because I didn’t know any English when I came, so it was really hard going to school here.”
 
In the sixth grade, Dieudonne enrolled at the Academy of World Languages, where he participated in English as a Second Language classes; and during his freshman year of high school, he became involved with the CYC.
 
“It was good because it gave me the experience of having a mentor,” Dieudonne says. “And the mentor would always stay in touch with us, help us with our school work—whatever we needed, they were there for us—they’d always make sure we were doing the best we can.”
 
Coming to a new country that he knew nothing about and essentially having to “start over” was the hardest thing Dieudonne says he’s ever experienced. And though he’s overcome that obstacle, he says he still struggles.
 
“Especially when I’m starting college right now,” Dieudonne says. “But I’m planning on going to UC to study biology. But moving here has inspired me to do my best and to not be afraid of challenges that life gives me.” 

Do Good:

•    Connect with CYC on Facebook, and attend the Dream Makers Celebration October 2 at Music Hall

•    Volunteer as a CYC mentor.

•    Support the CYC by making a gift.

Price Hill sports painter assists nonprofits by donating artwork

It was around the age of 7 that local artist Chris Felix says he drew a picture of his dog that impressed his mother and others.
 
“This sparked my interest in drawing more,” Felix says. “And I started taking some lessons from a cousin of mine who was an art teacher.”
 
Felix’s work has evolved over the years, and a primary area of focus for him now is sports paintings—everything from portraits of Reds players to landscapes of golf courses.
 
“As projects arise, I research my subjects by scouring books in the library, images on Google, and asking around at memorabilia shops for pertinent material relating to my subject,” Felix says.
 
He photographs his subjects and backgrounds for points of reference then gets to work, but the process doesn’t stop there.
 
Felix, who grew up in Price Hill and who has lived in Cincinnati his entire life, has a passion not only for art, but also for his city and those who inhabit it.
 
So he makes it a point to use his paintings and prints to give back.
 
Since the late '90s, Felix has donated an original and more than 20 prints per year, on average, to organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Reid Rizzo Foundation, the Bethany House Shelter and others, to assist with nonprofits’ missions of propelling the community forward.
 
“Helping others is something I love to do,” Felix says. “The impact is nothing but positive. I believe that we get back more than what we ever give.” 

Do Good:

•    Support Felix by checking out his art and sharing it with others. 

•    Connect with Felix on Facebook.

•    Look for Felix's art around town at places like the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Muesum, Art on the Levee, the Cincinnati Mueseum Center and Heirloom Framing Co.

 

Bengals tailgating sparks idea for new nonprofit

Jason Chapman says he remembers tailgating at the Bengals-Steelers Monday Night Football matchup last September like it was yesterday—and not just because it was a Cincinnati win against a top-rival.
 
He remembers it because it was the start of something bigger and more meaningful than he says he’d ever imagined.
 
“It just so happened that all day that day, I wound up helping people in small ways—giving money here and there— and I didn’t put two and two together,” Chapman says.
 
“But before the game, as we were tailgating, we saw onlookers outside the gate, and some people looked like they could have been less fortunate than myself and some of the other partygoers.”
 
So Chapman and his friends offered food to those who stood outside, and his act of kindness soon became contagious.
 
The desire to help others spread not only to the other tailgaters that evening, but also to Chapman’s friends and followers across social networks and across the country.
 
“We had enormous support from friends and followers who were willing to donate the next time we were downtown tailgating—or just anything we were willing to do—they were ready and willing to give,” Chapman says.
 
So The Midwest Project, a nonprofit for which Chapman is president and co-founder, was born.
 
The organization works by utilizing social media to raise awareness and funds for things like education, health and wellness, and nonviolence.
 
“It made me think about how I have a tremendous support team and some influence in my city and community,” Chapman says. “So why don’t we start a nonprofit so we can build on that, and that’s kind of how it started.” 

Do Good:

•    Check out The Midwest Project's website, and tell your friends.

•    Connect with the organization on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates.

•    Support The Midwest Project by donating or volunteering.

 

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

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

Do Good:

•    Support Midwest Culinary Institute students by dining at The Summit

•    Support Cincinnati State students by giving.

•    Learn about MCI's programs and courses.

CSYO provides networking, friendship, engagement to youth

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

Do Good:

•    Learn about, and consider auditioning for the CSYO.

•    Support the CSO and its programs. 

•    Connect with the CSYO on Facebook.

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

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

Do Good:

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

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

•    Join the yp/CC and sing.

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

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.”
 
One of the programs—Global Classrooms, for example, pairs international students from the University of Cincinnati with local school districts—so Greater Cincinnati’s youth can begin learning about other nations’ cultures and people.
 
“It’s an opportunity for the students to become those global citizens we’re trying to bring in to the world,” says Michelle Harpenau, GCWAC’s executive director.
 
Perhaps the most popular global education program the nonprofit offers, however, is Academic WorldQuest, which is an international trivia competition for high school students.
 
GCWAC partnered with the Cincinnati Museum Center earlier this year to host 11 teams from six different schools, as each competed for a spot in the national competition.
 
Princeton High School won the local competition and traveled to the nation’s capital to represent Greater Cincinnati in the World Affairs Councils of America’s large-scale event this past April.
 
“You can explore D.C. with that international twist,” Harpenau says.
 
The four student representatives finished in eighth place out of nearly 50 teams and had the opportunity to not only compete by offering their new knowledge of things like current events and cybersecurity, but to see our nation’s current and historical landmarks and even meet Singapore’s ambassador to the U.S.
 
“It speaks to our tagline—explore, experience and engage your world,” Harpenau says. “And it’s so important because we’re one local Council, but these issues are not just affecting us—they’re affecting the nation and the world.” 

Do Good: 

•    Support the GCWAC.

•    Join the GCWAC.

•    Like the GCWAC on Facebook.

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

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.
 
ESCC volunteers provide consulting services to area nonprofits by applying their skills and knowledge from the workforce to the not-for-profit sector.
 
For Bob Conklin, Procter & Gamble retiree and one of the four individuals recognized, volunteering with ESCC is a meaningful endeavor because it gives him a chance to continue to apply his knowledge in an environment that’s not money-driven.
 
“Many of the nonprofits are small organizations, staffed by people who have a tremendous passion for whatever service they’re doing,” Conklin says.
 
Conklin has assisted a variety of nonprofits, but his favorite task was supervising construction of the new Scout Achievement Center, he says.
 
“The Boy Scouts had no one who had project-management, design and construction experience, so I was able to help interpret for the architect what was needed and help on a day-to-day basis with decision-making,” Conklin says.
 
“No matter what’s designed, there are always things that are encountered in construction where plans have to be changed, and so I was able to bring the technical and project manager expertise to that to give them guidance.”
 
Conklin spent about 20 hours a week volunteering with the Boy Scouts’ project, which he says was at times challenging, but incredibly rewarding.
 
“There is such an overwhelming need with nonprofits, but they typically don’t have time or the structure behind them to work on developing things like, ‘How do I manage an organization? ‘How do I recruit people? How do I set up a financial system?’” Conklin says. “So what we can do is to provide some advice, assistance and training that really helps them be more effective at delivering their mission.” 

Do Good:

•    Contact ESCC if you're a nonprofit with a request for assistance

•    Volunteer with ESCC.

•    Support ESCC by donating.

By Brittany York

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

 

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

The Money Savvy Kids program will equip 50 area teachers with the resources to bring financial literacy into the classroom to 1,500 elementary students.
 
State Farm has partnered with the Economics Center to provide this program to teachers by creating a curriculum based on financial risk, goal setting and stability.
 
“I think one of the reasons it’s important is because if we know how to create a budget and fix credit ratings and plan for the future, then we’re going to improve our odds for financial stability and success,” says Jane Chitwood, State Farm representative. “Implementing that early into the youth is going to be huge for the success of our future generations.”
 
“A Slice of Life” is a sample lesson that teaches children the importance of budgeting by breaking down one amount into several different pieces.
 
“It’s a youthful mind,” Chitwood says. “How do you order a pizza and decide all the different ingredients you want on a pizza? Then how do you put it into segments, break it down to build a monthly budget?”
 
According to Chitwood, financial literacy is so important because it sets the standard for a stable future.
 
“Part of State Farm’s mission is to help people realize their dreams,” Chitwood says. “So if we can help them learn financial stability and literacy from the very beginning, we’ll be much better off.”

Do Good:

•    Contact a local State Farm agent if you would like assistance in bringing financial literacy into your school. 

•    Support the Economics Center by donating.

•    Check out the Economics Center's resources for the classroom.

By Brittany York

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

 

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.
 
“It’s all about creating infrastructure in places where people can be physically active,” says Jaime Love, Interact for Health’s program officer for healthy eating and active living.
 
The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, for example, was one the eleven organizations awarded; and as a result, Latonia Elementary School will be the site of a new area from which the whole community can benefit.
 
“They worked in partnership to convert the dilapidated playground at the school and turn it into a community park,” Love says. “So there’ll be a new playground, fitness equipment—there’ll be a walking track—and it really will be something that both the school and the community residents can enjoy.”
 
Other organizations will receive things like a pool lift to increase accessibility, and exercise equipment to add to a fitness trail.
 
According to Love, creating a culture of wellness where people have easy access to physical activity is the goal.
 
“We want to encourage public places that are free of charge as well, because we know cost can be a barrier to some people being able to participate,” Love says.
 
“So when we have lots of public spaces that are safe and up to date and easily accessible—people can walk or bike to them, they’re not too far away from their homes—that just increases the likelihood that they can get out with their family and friends and have some activity on a regular basis.”

Do Good:

•    Check out the 11 physical activity and environments grantees, and make use of the spaces when they become available for use.

•    If you're interested in applying for a grant to receive funds for physical activity environments in 2015, there is still time. Proposals are due by noon, May 1. 

•    Connect with Interact for Health on Facebook.

By Brittany York

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

 

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.
 
The event is designed to give local artists a boost, while expanding the work of ArtPrize—a nonprofit venture and annual competition that takes place in Grand Rapids, Mich.
 
The goal of the competition is to bring more than 1,500 individuals together to expose and fund the work of emerging artists.
 
“In Cincinnati, there’s a wide range of talented artists working in all mediums—many of whom have been educated by the outstanding arts education institutions, and I feel certain there are a number of wonderful artists in Cincinnati who deserve to have broader exposure on a national stage,” says Alice Gray Stites, 21c’s chief curator and director of art programming.
 
Participation in ArtsPrize would afford local artists that opportunity, says Gray Stites, who wants to see all area artists submit proposals for Pitch Night, in which five chosen finalists will present their pitches to compete for a $5,000 grant to bring their ArtPrize idea to fruition and receive a guaranteed installment space within the competition’s 19-day, three-square-mile exhibition.
 
“ArtPrize shares our dedication to the art of today and especially that of emerging artists,” Gray Stites says. “So we hope all interested Cincinnati-based artists will participate, and we encourage the art community and public to come to the discussion.”
 
Do Good:

Contact ArtPrize for inquiries regarding the application process, and submit your proposal. 

• Attend Pitch Night Cincinnati May 22 at 21c. The event is free and open to the public. Visit the website for more details.

• Like ArtPrize on Facebook.

By Brittany York

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


NKU students use grafitti as vehicle to fund nonprofits

For students like Jason Hulett, community-building events are invaluable when it comes to presenting ideas, raising awareness, sparking conversations and making a difference in the lives of others.
 
GraffitiFest, which took place last week, constitutes one of those events, says Hulett, a Northern Kentucky University senior entrepreneurship major and GraffitiFest lead organizer.
 
“I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could have graffiti on campus? And then, wouldn’t it be cool if we could provide graffiti to people on campus? And if we’re going to hold an event, we might as well do it for a good cause,'” Hulett says.
 
So likeminded students from an event planning class came together to bring graffiti artists, local musicians, vendors, teams of entrepreneurship students and the general public together to raise awareness and funds for nonprofits who provide relief to others.
 
“We wanted to show graffiti in a positive light because it gets a bad rep with vandalism and all that. But if we were going to raise money, we wanted to do it for social good and not just personal gain,” Hulett says. “So it goes toward artists and nonprofits—no CEOs—the university makes no money off this. So that was important to us.”
 
Proceeds from the event, in which graffiti artists’ work from the day was auctioned off, totaled about $1,500 dollars, which will be split down the middle to benefit artists as well as charities.
 
“It was a celebration of an artform that we think is underutilized and underappreciated, and it created an opportunity for something different to shine in a light that’s more positive,” Hulett says. “Some of the causes of the nonprofit—especially Revive the Heart with human trafficking—people don’t want to hear about that. But if you present it in that kind of format, you get a better response because people are more willing to participate.” 

Do Good:

• Like GraffitiFest's Facebook page, as the students plan to make this at least an annual event. 

• Follow GraffitiFest on Twitter.

• Support local artists and nonprofits you're passionate about.

By Brittany York

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


Rooted communities at The Civic Garden Center

The Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati’s annual plant sale is just two weeks away.
 
It’s the nonprofit’s largest fundraising event and brings plant lovers of all kinds together to talk, shop and have all their gardening questions answered by other likeminded individuals—all while helping The Civic Garden Center raise enough money to fund one of its programs for an entire calendar year.
 
“That allows us to do our youth education programming, or it allows us to do community gardens for another year. It’s substantial,” says Vickie Ciotti, executive director. “If we did not have this fundraiser, we would have to eliminate one of our programs, so that’s like saying, 'You can’t keep all your children.' How would you decide?”

For Ciotti, the gardening, education and environmental programs all build camaraderie; and everyone involved—whether it's one of the 500 volunteers who assist the nonprofit, or the visitor who happens upon the unlikely refuge nestled within the city—feels welcome.
 
“You see people who you haven’t seen in a long time, and it’s the most enjoyable, relaxed fundraiser I’ve ever been a part of,” Ciotti says. “There’s just this spirit to the place—we see people as they are, meet people where they are—and it’s not a pretentious group of people at all.”

Do Good:

Register for the plant sale's preview party. 

• Attend the plant sale is May 3-4. View details here.

Volunteer with the Civic Garden Center.

By Brittany York

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


 

Local small biz owners launch app to increase charitable giving

When Daniel Graff, Giveunity co-founder, heard his friend’s—and now, business partner’s—story about how he tried to donate money to a homeless shelter, but couldn’t, he knew something needed to change.
 
“He had seen something downtown that triggered the idea of donating to this shelter,” Graff says.
 
“So by the time he got home and found the shelter on his laptop and he went to their little online website donation page, and it wouldn’t take some of his data, and he had to re-fill out the form, and as he tells it, the dog started barking, had to go out, and the wife came home—long story short—after an hour of trying to give them money and couldn’t, he just gave up.”
 
So Graff and his wife, designers and owners of Graff Designs Inc., and their two friends—both of MOBA Interactive—had dinner and put their heads together to come up with an idea for a smartphone app that allows individuals to donate to a local nonprofit in just three easy clicks.

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

It's completely free for everyone to use, as the four app developers funded the project completely on their own, and within its first 50 days in the app store, it received 1,800 profile views. According to Graff, the top donation so far is $500 dollars, with the average contribution being about $38 dollars; and the money reaches the nonprofit instantly.

"What's been really fun for us is that we've had nonprofits showing up on the app that we didn't even know existed, and that's kind of the idea of the 'explore' section, but I've had my business now for 18 years and just wanted to do something to give back to Cincinnati," Graff says. "We don't always have the funds to donate to nonprofits, but we certainly have the time and talent to build this and give back."
 

Do Good:

Download the free app today.

• Like Giveunity's Facebook page, and tell your friends.

• If you're a nonprofit, register for free and create your profile and $GiveTag.

By Brittany York

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

 

UC promotes inventiveness, innovation among students

University of Cincinnati associate professor Catalin Macarie says he wants the next innovation like Google or Facebook to come from a UC student.
 
In order to help make that happen, he took on a leadership role in rebranding the Innovation Quest Elevator Pitch, which he expanded from last year to create a university-wide opportunity, open to all majors.
 
“My ultimate goal, and this is pretty much my dream: to stop the brain drain that happened for so many years in Cincinnati,” Macarie says. “And get all these students the opportunity to stick around and continue with their ideas to have support, money and a place to help make this a solid, thriving community for young entrepreneurs, innovators and young startups.”
 
Macarie put this year’s event together, as 113 registered teams of students were given 90 seconds to present their pitches to judges and potential investors from within the local entrepreneurship community.
 
Cash prizes of up to $1,000 dollars were awarded for the top three ideas at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and a separate award was set aside for a social enterprise.
 
The money is intended to help kick-start a plan of action, and in the case of this year’s winners, it covers everything from innovations with footwear to pharmaceuticals. 
 
“It’s all about the spirit and getting the confidence,” Macarie says. “It’s about carrying out the name of UC. It’s not inert—it’s an active, dynamic position for UC to work with the entrepreneurship community, with innovation—it’s a nice synergy going forward where every side is really helping each other.”
 
Do Good:

• Keep up with the event website, and get involved in next year's competition. 

• Spread the word. 

Connect with Catalin Macarie if you're interested in sponsoring a student or learning about a project.
 
By Brittany York

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


Meet neighbors, fund community-based ideas at Cincinnati SOUP

The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission 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.
 
SOUP is a model based on something done in Detroit, where individuals join together over a potluck dinner to bond and share ideas, which they then vote on and fund something they care about by combining small donations.
 
“We were interested in how this initiative that was started by four or five people became a citywide movement that’s literally led to the funding of dozens of projects,” says Christina Brown, CHRC’s community outreach and engagement coordinator. “It’s a way to find unique projects that individuals can literally pay for themselves within their communities.”
 
The CHRC plans to host SOUP events bi-monthly to give individuals opportunities to find ways to fuel creativity and make a real difference within the City of Cincinnati.
 
And the best part, according to Brown, is that anyone can get involved.
 
“It can be startup funding. If you want to start a dads and donuts club where you have dads come together and give donuts to kids, you don’t need a nonprofit for that, but they need money to purchase the donuts,” Brown says. “You don’t have to be affiliated with a 501c3. You can just be a concerned citizen.” 

Do Good:

• Keep up with the CHRC website so you know when the next Cincinnati SOUP event will take place. Plan to attend or potentially present your idea.

• Get to know your neighbors.

• Like the CHRC's page on Facebook.

By Brittany York

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


Singing with neighbors at Northside Tavern

A group of about 20 individuals, all who love to sing, 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.
 
Sing! Cincinnati is just one of Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati’s initiatives aimed at building a sense of community around shared interests.
 
“Inevitably, someone will always come to the back and talk about how back in college, they used to be involved in xyz choir or some choral group—something they had done previously—but then because of getting in a career, they put it by the wayside, but continue to miss it since they stopped doing it,” says Michael Heckmann, who serves as project manager for some of Starfire’s community-based initiatives, like Sing! Cincinnati.
 
“There’s not a lot of time pressure: You show up, you practice, you sing—it’s all in one night.”
 
The project just started a few months ago, but so far, the small group has performed “For the Longest Time,” “Pure Imagination” and “Happy.”
 
“I've thoroughly enjoyed helping take familiar songs and bring them to life with the amazing people that come to the events,” says Ali Marvin, one of Sing! Cincinnati’s directors. “I can't express how overwhelmed I am by the response from those who have come and can’t wait to see more of Cincinnati start singing together.”
 
Any individual who enjoys meeting neighbors and singing is encouraged to join in, as it helps Starfire to fulfill its mission of bringing people together.
 
“We want to make sure that everyone in the community is seen for their gifts and talents and the contributions they can make to society,” Heckmann says. “Those contributions lead to the building of relationships and growing of respect for all people.”

Do Good:

• Like Sing! Cincinnati on Facebook.

• Attend the next Sing! Cincinnati gathering at Northside Tavern April 23 from 6-9 p.m.

• Bring a friend. 

By Brittany York

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


Philanthropic biz recognized for creating positive social and environmental impact

A 17-year long career in consulting wasn’t enough for Kelly Dolan, co-founder and CEO of Ingage Partners. There was something missing.
 
“Myself and my business partner Michael Kroeger got to the point in our careers where we felt like there was something different we could be doing that’s more purposeful and more fulfilling,” Dolan says.
 
“So we decided to start up Ingage Partners with the prospect of leveraging what we know—the consulting industry—to create a company that thinks differently, and hopefully inspires and engages people to think differently.”
 
After just three years of being in business, Ingage Partners has already etched its place in the B Corp (benefit corporation) 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.
 
“The model that B Corp is trying to present is this idea that, ‘No, my company’s not best in the world. We’re trying to be the best for the word,’” Dolan says.
 
Ingage is one of 92 businesses worldwide recognized, which puts it in the top 10 percent of the 990 total B Corporations nationally.
 
According to Dolan, when she and Kroeger started Ingage, they knew they wanted a strong focus on giving back to the community.
 
So, each year, the company gives 25 percent of its profits to charity. Ingage employees are also given four hours per month for paid volunteer time off. And there’s a program in place where Ingage matches donations of its employees when they give to an organization or cause they’re particularly passionate about.
 
“What we’re trying to do is inspire and engage people to do things differently—try to give back more to the community so that our business can be used for that force for good,” Dolan says. “It’s about modeling that. It’s about our employees giving of their talents, giving of their time, as well as building some momentum around this idea of using business for good.” 

Do Good: 

• Use the #bthechange hashtag to show how you're using business as a force for good. 

• Consider ways you can begin to use business for good. It starts with an individual. 

• Like Ingage Partners on Facebook.

By Brittany York

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


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.
 
“We’re going to go over the types of zombies there are, the theories behind how the viruses are spread, as well as do activities—like build a zombie survival kit,” says LeeAnn McNabb, PLCHC reference librarian. “So we’ll see who has the best score, and there will be prizes.”
 
Zombie Preparedness Boot Camp is just one of the many options the public has to choose from when considering an educational and entertaining event for community engagement.
 
“We’re having a drawing contest now—it can be comic book, manga or anime related—and people ages 5 and up can participate,” McNabb says. “But we have events for a variety of age groups that are related to comic books or graphic novels or manga—things of that nature—and then the main event, where there will be booths and a gaming area.”
 
Various art and writing guests will also be present throughout the series of events.
 
“We bring in people who are professionals, and they’ll do a workshop on say, writing for comic books, or drawing for comic books. And of course we have materials within our collection that artists or writers can use to hone their skills or learn what they need to do for that particular genre or format,” McNabb says.
 
“So there’s a multifaceted educational approach for this event, and in general for comic books and graphic novels. We’re just hoping for a fun space where people can learn about our resources and have fun at the same time.”

Do Good: 

• Learn about the drawing contest, and consider entering. 

• Keep up with the events schedule, and plan to attend. 

• Like the PLCHC on Facebook.

 By Brittany York

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

 

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.
 
Potzick traveled with UC student group Serve Beyond Cincinnati to photograph and shoot video of the students as they helped build water and sanitation systems for those living in rural Nicaragua. But this year, Potzick is going back on her own and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to make it all happen.
 
“When I went last year, it was different than anything I’ve ever experienced, but at the same time, I felt this very strange connection to home,” Potzick says. “I felt very comfortable there, and I experienced more hospitality and love than I expected, and one of the biggest things that I learned while I was there was just how similar people are.”
 
Potzick will spend three weeks in May as she works with Nicaraguan-based nonprofit Amigos for Christ—an organization that serves the rural community by facilitating “water, health, education and economic development.”
 
“Where I was last year—most of the people in that village had to walk up to two miles to get their clean water for the day—and it’s something that’s really hard to manage, because insanitary water is the number one cause of skin disease and diarrhea and all sorts of other diseases that are most common in Nicaragua,” Potzick says.
 
In many communities there, Potzick says it’s not unusual for people to wash their clothes, go to the bathroom, drink and bathe in the same water.
 
“We know how unsanitary that is,” Potzick says. “So what Amigos does is makes it so every family in these rural communities can have up to 100 gallons of water per day for less than $5 a month, and it greatly increases their chance at a more healthy life.”

Do Good:

• Support Brandie in her crowdfunding campaign

Learn about Nicaragua.

• Engage in service opportunities in Nicaragua through Serve Beyond Cincinnati or Amigos for Christ.

By Brittany York

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


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.
 
“But the Lower Price Hill Community School is not going away,” says Mike Moroski, LPHCS director of outreach services. “The administration’s staying the same. We’re not only going to be providing the same services we always have—we’re going to provide them on a larger scale—plus offer new services to the community.”
 
Moroski will transition into the role of director for Community Matters, which he says will function as a safe haven for residents, while offering access to more community events and opportunities.
 
“One of the things I’ve always been attracted to about LPHCS is they’re not interested in coming into the community and saying, ‘Here’s what you need to be better,’” Moroski says. “They’re interested in finding out what the community wants and then providing it.”
 
Lower Price Hill, for example, has no laundromat; so the nonprofit is working with Xavier University to launch one through the Washing Well project, which will eventually be turned over to the neighborhood as a co-op.
 
A business plan is currently in the works, and Moroski says the long-term vision is to work with Xavier University professors to offer a business incubator course, which would be open to anyone—Lower Price Hill resident or not—who would eventually like to open a new space in Lower Price Hill.
 
Jack’s Diner will also enter the neighborhood, as it takes shape within the renovated property that once housed the Urban Appalachian Council. The diner will serve not only as the only restaurant within the neighborhood, but the upstairs will function as a service learning center for high schools and colleges.
 
“It serves the neighborhood, it could be a revenue stream for the nonprofit Community Matters, and it’s a gathering place,” Moroski says. “So now we have the opportunity to provide educational space and have another revenue generator for the school.” 

Do Good:

Support Community Matters through its crowdfunding campaign. 

Support the Lower Price Hill Community School by donating, volunteering or spreading the word.

Contact Mike Moroski if you're interested in volunteering. 

By Brittany York

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


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.
 
The winner will receive a renovation of an indoor space that is utilized to support its overall mission.
 
Last year, ReSource initiated a Member Makeover Program, in which the Lower Price Hill Community School and the YWCA House of Peace Shelter received makeovers, but this year, ReSource wants to engage the public.
 
“Collaboration’s kind of the name of the game in nonprofit now, and we love the idea,” says Martha Steier, development director at ReSource. “We decided to put it in a contest so the public can vote on it, and we’ve gotten a lot of interest from volunteers—some interior designers, DAAP students from UC willing to come out and be a work crew—so based on the response of volunteers and our members, we’ll use the time, talent and treasure that comes along to the max.”
 
Since ReSource functions as a business-to-business operation, Steier says the general public isn’t always aware of its efforts to assist member nonprofits, but a makeover is something she says is fun and that has the ability to engage anyone.
 
“Whether you have to do one in your own home or own office, or if you’re an HGTV junkie, you might appreciate the fact that nonprofits need makeovers,” Steier says. “So we’re looking at it as a benefit of membership. And nonprofits don’t get to treat themselves to a fresh start or upgrade, so we feel like this will be a wonderful way to get the word out about ReSource so we can all support the nonprofit community better.” 

Do Good:

• If you're a nonprofit member, register for the contest by March 14. Keep an eye on the website, as voting opens March 24.

• If you're not a nonprofit member, sign up by March 14, and then register for the contest.

• Support ReSource by donating or engaging in corporate sponsorships.

By Brittany York

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

 

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.
 
The exhibit coincides with National Women’s History Month; and for Kennedy Heights Art Center’s Executive Director Ellen Muse-Lindeman, the project, which was inspired by work created by women in Art4Artists, is a way to showcase individual women’s voices.
 
“They’re beautiful works of art, so in talking about the exhibit, I just really saw not only how much the books are able to be enjoyed in terms of their artistic expression, but also how they can really serve as a springboard for discussion on a whole range of issues related to women and women’s lives,” Muse-Lindeman says.
 
Each art book showcases women’s hopes, dreams and curiosities, and contains responses to themes like “Voices Swimming in My Head,” “Odd Jobs for Odd Women” and “Wrinkles.”
 
The mission at Kennedy Heights Arts Center is to present visual art that sparks conversation, but it’s also to bring diverse groups of artists together, Muse-Lindeman says.
 
To that end, KHAC facilitated a project with teen girls, who used mixed-media methods like sewing, collage and painting to reflect themes like self-awareness and relationships. Their work will be displayed alongside the books made by Art4Artists.

Following one of the teen art sessions, Muse-Lindeman says she spoke with a participant who gained self-confidence as a result of the project; and that’s something she hopes finds it way into the lives of future participants this spring, as the arts center will continue its work in the community to provide similar opportunities for at-risk girls from Cincinnati Public SchoolsThe Children’s Home of CincinnatiLighthouse Youth Services and The Family Nurturing Center.

“She realized that she always was frustrated making visual art because she felt she’d have to make it look a certain way, and she really came through this experience understanding that art is really an expression of one’s self, so there really isn’t a right or wrong or a good or bad,” Muse-Lindeman says. “She really embraced that through the project, in terms of not feeling so self-conscious, but really of being proud of what she accomplished.”

Do Good:

• Attend the opening reception for WomenWorkBooks Saturday, March 8 from 6-8 p.m., and if you can't make it, check out the exhibit during gallery hours. It runs through April 19. 

• Meet the artists, and attend a panel discussion April 5 at 2 p.m. Call 513-631-4278 to schedule a personalized tour and hands-on activity if you have a group interested in attending. 

Support the Kennedy Heights Arts Center.

By Brittany York

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

 

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.
 
They’ll also honor the individuals who have played integral roles within the organization when it comes to service and a belief in the capabilities of others.
 
This year’s honorary event chair and recipient of the Charity in Action Award is Julie Elkus, director of innovation and design at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and long-time volunteer with VISIONS, an organization that merged with Children, Inc. last year.
 
“I was really on the ground floor of VISIONS in getting it up and running when I first moved to Cincinnati 25 years ago,” Elkus says.
 
At the time, Elkus paired up with Marcia Simmons who had just received the initial funding for a childcare facility in the West End.
 
“She had written a master’s thesis as part of her nursing degree on teen parenting and just recognized the number-one reason teen parents drop out of school is due to lack of childcare,” Elkus says. “So she wanted to be able to address that need within the community.”
 
It was through her service at VISIONS that Elkus says she recognized the need for a new approach to emphasizing the importance of childhood literacy.
 
“The way in which we were communicating to our moms about that probably wasn’t very effective,” Elkus says. “We had some talking pieces about brain development and how much of the brain is developed prior to 2 years old and the impact of reading and language on the brain and the links between reading and language with success in school, but it was really presented in some sheets of paper and pamphlets and information that wasn’t particularly easy to read or very user-friendly.”
 
So she wrote the children’s book “When My Mama Reads to Me,” and co-founded Reading For Life to secure funds to illustrate the book, publish it in English and Spanish and distributed 80,000 free copies to places like preschools and physicians’ offices.
 
“When a parent sits and holds a child in their lap, that child knows that parent loves and cares for them, and they start to associate reading with that sense of love and companionship,” Elkus says. “I’m hoping that I have created that experience for families who may not have had an awareness of the importance before or had a book in their home before.”

Do Good:

• Support Children, Inc. by attending Raising of the Green 2014.

Volunteer with Children, Inc.

• Read to a child.

By Brittany York

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

 

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.
 
The program’s goal is to help prepare children for the transition from preschool to kindergarten, with a particular emphasis on children who have never attended preschool.
 
“Together—me and the parents—we develop a learning plan, and that’s determined by things I see on the assessment,” says Felicia Selvie, SPARK parent partner. “And some things the parent wants to see the child work on might be, ‘I want them to identify letters in their name, I want them to write their name, I want them to tie their shoes'.”
 
SPARK has a set curriculum for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds, but Selvie says she and other parent partners always leave a book as an activity for parents and children to read together as an at-home activity.
 
“They are getting the foundation—some kind of education—so that when they come into the school building, they’re not so behind,” Selvie says.
 
“We’re working on colors, numbers, letters, writing—and these are things that if they’re not in school, they’re not getting any of that," she continues. "The parents, of course, are working with them, but a lot of kids—they’re looking forward to having someone else other than mom work with them.” 

Do Good:

Support SPARK so it can become available to more schools in the future.

• Like SPARK on Facebook, and spread the word to your friends.

Contact Felicia if you'd like to donate books to the program.

By Brittany York

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


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 began taking classes at Xavier University so he could become a teacher.
 
After graduating and securing his teaching license, Farrell Jr. landed a job at St. Francis Seraph in Over-the-Rhine, but he still hadn’t found his calling.
 
“Probably like most people who teach in inner city, I was all geared up to change the world,” Farrell Jr. says. “But when I got there, I quickly realized there were a lot more challenges there than I would ever be able to imagine in my life.”
 
Despite the circumstances, something stood out to Farrell Jr.
 
“I realized in every class at our school from eighth grade to kindergarten, there were always those one or two kids in every class who came from the same circumstances as the rest of the kids, but for various reasons and motivations, there were always the one or two who did everything you asked them to do,” Farrell Jr. says. “They did their homework every night, they studied for tests, participated in class, were respectful to the teachers, staff, their classmates.”
 
So Farrell Jr. founded Against the Grain Scholars, a nonprofit dedicated to building on the foundations already established in these students’ lives, while also introducing them to community networks and showing them the impact they can have in the lives of others.
 
“The kids were going against the grain of the popular culture of their peers,” Farrell Jr. says. “And I started to realize, most of the nonprofits are geared toward a mission that’s more aligned with ‘let’s take the bad kids and make them good,’ ‘let’s grease the squeakiest wheel,’ and the thing that drove me crazy was here you have this subset of kids who are doing everything you’re asking them to do despite their circumstances, and no one’s focusing on them.”
 
So Farrell Jr. inducted the first two ATGS in December 2012. Now there are five scholars, and Farrell Jr. hopes to add two more at the start of the next school year. He’s already had to purchase a special vehicle so there are enough seats and seatbelts for everyone to ride along to tutoring and volunteer opportunities, in addition to activities and dinners where they debrief.
 
“You hear all these stories about what’s going on at home and have newspaper evidence of situations, and some of it could be true, some could be rumors, but of the stuff I knew, I thought, ‘Here’s this kid who could probably use every excuse in the book to come in here and act like a total knucklehead,’” Farrell Jr. says.
 
“But he comes in every day with his homework as if he has the teacher’s manual in his lap, and you wonder how a kid like this goes home and even finds a place to do his homework, and he was just grinding it out, so I thought, ‘OK, there’s programs, but the commitments are too heavy,’ so I though there needs to be some sort of nonprofit, some sort of in-between to reinforce his behavior and help him along the path.” 

Do Good:

Support ATGS by donating.

• Check out ATGS' Calendar of Events, and contact Michael Farrel Jr. if you're interested in getting involved or attending an event with the group.

• Like ATGS on Facebook, and share the page with your friends.

By Brittany York

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


CSO celebrates African American song with Classical Roots

About 150 voices from dozens of Tri-State churches will join together in song Friday evening in one of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s biggest community outreach initiatives of the year.
 
Classical Roots, which is an annual program that celebrates African American musical traditions, is focusing its efforts this year on the power of song.
 
“Each year we have a different theme,” says Paul Booth, chair of the CSO’s Diversity and Inclusion board committee. “And everyone you speak with that performs with the choir indicates it’s an absolutely awesome experience.”
 
Cincinnati Pops conductor John Morris Russell will lead the Community Mass Choir, who will perform with the Cincinnati Symphony’s full orchestra, in addition to special guest performers, like Grammy-Award winning Gospel leader and pastor Marvin Winans, who is headling the event.
 
“It’s unique in that persons from all walks of life, who perhaps just love to sing, but who also do have some ability to read music, can perform with a world-class orchestra and conductor,” Booth says.
 
Making classical music accessible to a wide range of audiences is one of the CSO’s goals, and reaching out to community members to make the symphony experience one that all can enjoy and learn from is something the organization does an excellent job with, Booth says.
 
“Our world is diverse, and certainly Cincinnati is a diverse city,” Booth says. “And I think any organization that’s going to be successful should be certain that they reach out and involve and appeal to all aspects and segments of the community.” 

Do Good:

• Purchase a ticket to attend Classical Roots, Friday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m., and spread the word about the event to your family and friends.

Support the CSO and Pops by donating.

• Like the CSO on Facebook.

By Brittany York

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


YWCA celebrates female leadership in workforce

Charlene Ventura, president and CEO of the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati was involved in the women’s movement in Cincinnati prior to beginning her career in 1974. 

“There were a lot of inequities,” Ventura says. 

“There were jobs that were not open to women in Cincinnati—people who would collect money from meters, elevator operators. The newspaper ads were stereotypical, with nursing, clerical jobs, cleaning—maybe a teacher—and all the others were male help wanted.” 

So Ventura worked with the YWCA as a collaborator to open city jobs to women and to change the advertising system so all jobs were open and weren’t categorized based on gender. 

During a time period when women were making 60 cents for every dollar a man made, Ventura says it was important to celebrate role models for women in the workplace. 

“There were no women astronauts, there was one woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, who got the title because her husband died, and there were no women on the Supreme Court,” Ventura says. “And we thought this was a pretty dismal scene, so YWCAs across the country were starting to look at women’s economic empowerment.” 

So the YWCA hosted its first Career Women of Achievement event to celebrate female leaders in the workplace, and now, 35 years later, women are making 74 cents for every dollar a man makes, there are 57 female astronauts, 22 who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and three who are on the Supreme Court. 

At this year’s May 14 event, eight women will be recognized, while scholarships will be awarded to promising future leaders. 

“These are unsung heroines, and oftentimes people haven’t heard of them,” Ventura says. “But it’s really important to present their accomplishments and leadership, so they can lift as they climb and help others say, ‘I can do that.’” 

Do Good:

Purchase a ticket for this year's luncheon.

Support the YWCA by volunteering or donating.

• If you are a woman seeking assistance or shelter, contact the YWCA by calling one of its hotlines. 

By Brittany York

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

Illustrators collaborate with WordPlay students on exquisite corpse project

Some of Cincinnati’s best illustrators showcased their work this past weekend at the opening reception for STORY TELLING: The Fine Art of Illustration.
 
Brazee Street Studios and C|LINK, a website designed to connect local creatives with one another, are presenting the exhibition, which runs through April 4 and features collaborative pieces by eight illustrators and children at WordPlay.
 
“We had our very wonderful willing illustrators start off a drawing of a character, so they made a head or face, and we took them back to WordPlay and let the kids finish them,” says Leah Busch, gallery coordinator at Brazee.
 
WordPlay is a Northside-based nonprofit that provides free tutoring, literacy and creative writing programs for students; but it’s this kind of unique opportunity that sets it apart as an engaging place for an entire community.
 
Tara Calahan King, illustrator, muralist and public sculpture designer, says she was particularly excited to create something students at WordPlay could build on because she’s worked with children for about 20 years and has had the chance to witness many different reactions in response to illustrations.
 
“Usually it’s grand excitement,” she says. “I can only imagine when they first saw the character’s head—their expression—I’m sure there were big smiles on their faces, and just the excitement to complete that figure—the body—and to feel a part of something—to feel that connection between ourselves and them.” 
 
The project was inspiring for the children and the illustrators alike. Christina Wald, who drew a tiger in a top hat, liked her character so much, she’s going to incorporate it into her comics.
 
“How amazing for these kids to be showing with artists like Tara and Christina,” Busch says. “I think Brazee as a whole—that’s part of our mission—to just be really accessible.” 

Do Good:

• View the exhibition at gallery One One.

Support WordPlay by donating or volunteering.

Join C|LINK.

By Brittany York

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


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.
 
Local Learning Labs, which are also offered in Northside and Silverton, are environments designed to engage community members in teaching and learning.
 
“Anyone can come, and all are invited,” says Danyetta Najoli, co-host of Price Hill’s Learning Lab and community coordinator at Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati.
 
Price Hill’s Local Learning Lab kicked off in January, and since its inception, individuals have come together to learn about things like aromatherapy, gardening, and African and Brazilian dance.
 
Sarah Buffie, community connector at Starfire—the local nonprofit that hosts the Local Learning Labs—says the gatherings provide an outlet for community members to share gifts without the exchange of money. All sessions are completely free.
 
“Community members can see themselves as access points to one another. We’re in a society where a lot of communication happens through the internet, and being able to get together and see one another as gifted and talented people, versus neighbors we never talk to—it starts to break down some of those social barriers we might have,” Buffie says.
 
“It’s bringing back that borrow-a-cup-of-sugar mentality. Why go out of your community when you can get it right there?” 

Do Good:

Attend the Price Hill location's Local Learning Lab March 11. 

Get connected with your community at another Starfire-hosted event, including Local Learning Labs in Silverton and Northside. 

• Contact Danyetta or Sarah if you're interested in bringing a Local Learning Lab to your own community.

By Brittany York

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


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.

Most boys will see the music for the first time Saturday morning, but for those involved with Cincinnati Sings!, it’s a culminating performance and a chance for students to showcase their efforts from the past six weeks.

“It had become primarily a suburban institution, but we wanted to make sure we were reaching boys of all parts of the city, of all economic levels, of all talent levels,” says KellyAnn Nelson, festival director.

Nelson directs Cincinnati Sings!, which is a volunteer choir for elementary school students in five Cincinnati Public Schools.

“We’re getting feedback from their teachers and finding out it’s something they look forward to each week,” Nelson says.

In fact, the biggest problem the choir has, Nelson says, is singing too loud—they have passion.

The festival is a way to give a one-day experience to any boy from around the city.

“We have boys coming from Mason, we have boys who have never sang in a choir in their life, we have boys who are black, Hispanic, white—all together, singing together for a day, wearing the same T-shirt, eating the same pizza and singing the same music,” Nelson says. “The boys are really in love with it.”

Do Good:

• Attend the free concert at 1 p.m. Saturday.

• Check out the full events schedule, and attend a Cincinnati Boychoir concert.

•  Support the Cincinnati Boychoir.

By Brittany York

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


Creative writing workshop will build community through storytelling

Everyone has a story to tell.

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 those stories with otherwise unlikely recipients.

“Through the power of our words, we have the ability to change the world, and when people agree to come together like this, it creates an impact,” says Wendy Braun, head of creative writing at the School for Creative & Performing Arts and founder of the workshop.

“So many people are silenced here—you’ll hear one story, and it’s like it’s the only story, or the only voice.”

At the two-day workshop, high school students, teachers, professional writers, community members and guests from local organizations like City Gospel Mission, Our Daily Bread and Tender Mercies will join together to engage in flash fiction, poetry, spoken word and other forms of writing.

It’s a chance, Braun say, for people to get to know each other and break down barriers.

“One thing I noticed about writing workshops and events is they tend to be closed off to people who have a CV or resume that proves they’re a writer,” Braun says. “At SCPA, some of my kids have money, some don’t at all. But I was able to get enough people together who literally out of the goodness of their heart thought that this was a good cause.”

Do Good:

Register for the event, which takes place March 22-23. Participants must register by February 21.

Contact Clare Blankemeyer if you're a writer interested in participating, or if you're willing to donate snacks or bottles of water for workshop participants.

• Spread the word about the upcoming workshop, and encourage your friends to attend.

By Brittany York

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

 

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.

“The students will actually be talking with their mentors about some specific topics that coordinate with the Diplomas to Degrees program, which each month highlights a different topic—one month might be college access, one might be financial literacy,” says Niki Gordon, Fidelity’s manager of community relations and program mentor.

The virtual mentorship program is the result of a partnership organized by Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, whose mission is to “empower vulnerable children,” says Danielle Gentry-Barth, CYC chief development officer.

For Fidelity call center employees, it’s a way to engage with others in a meaningful way, without the stresses of coordinating schedules that require employees to leave the office during lunch or in between commutes.

“We have about 4,000 employees here, and we have a lot of folks on the phone and a lot of folks that are required to travel for their jobs as well,” Gordon says.

“When we were looking for mentoring opportunities, a lot required them to take a day out of their week to go visit the student at their school, so when you’re looking at someone with a day job and they have a family, a couple hours a week ends up taking a lot of time realistically out of their day, so we wanted to make it convenient for the mentor and the mentee.”

Do Good:

• Be a mentor.

Support the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati.

Contact CYC if you'd like to specialize a mentor program with your own company.

By Brittany York

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


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.
 
“This is the seventh year we’ve been doing it, and it’s really great,” says Katie Brass, executive director at The Carnegie. “There’s a lot of stuff you can build on, whether it’s cookware or utensils or wine glasses. We’ve had some amazing art come out of this. “
 
In addition to cookware and utensils, edible designs and creative dishes will fill all six of The Carnegie’s galleries, with creations from chefs ranging in specialties represented.
 
Seasonal foods from Eat Well and hand-crafted delights from Chocolats Latour are just a couple of the local eateries to be showcased at the culinary art show.
 
For Brass, though, The Art of Food is more than a display of unique art forms. It’s a community experience.
 
“Our gallery opening—just like when you sit down and eat—you’re with friends, and you sit down at the table, and you’re having this wonderful time,” Brass says. “And it all revolves around food—and that was the basis for this.”
 
The Art of Food opens February 28 at 6 p.m. and runs through March 16. 

Do Good:

Purchase a ticket to attend the opening reception of The Art of Food, February 28 from 6-9 p.m.

• Check out the exhibition during Gallery Hours, which are Wednesday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m. 

• Like The Carnegie on Facebook.

By Brittany York

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


Downtown lawyer recruits 22 new tutors for Be The Change

When Andy Kaplan, a partner at Vorys law firm, first heard about Be The Change—a collaborative tutor recruitment program that serves students within the Cincinnati Public Schools district—signing up wasn’t a question.
 
“I always liked working with kids,” Kaplan says. “And my wife is an English teacher, and I have a son who did Teach for America, who is now teaching in the elementary school grades, so I knew I had some great resources for helping kids learn to read.”
 
After making a phone call, Kaplan found himself at Hays Porter Elementary School in the West End. Within a close proximity to his firm, Kaplan was able to begin tutoring during his lunch break once a week.
 
Now in his third year of tutoring, Kaplan has since recruited 22 other lawyers—more than 25 percent of Vorys’ lawyers in Cincinnati—to join in the effort.
 
“I thought, ‘We’ve got like 80 lawyers in our Cincinnati office,’ and figured there had to be a number of people who would find this attractive,” Kaplan says. “So I publicized it and called a meeting for people who had any interest.”
 
For Kaplan, tutoring is a special experience not only because he’s helping children succeed, but also because of the bond he’s able to form with students through literacy sponsorship.
 
“Virtually every single time I went to tutor, I’d come home with some moment that really kind of affected me—sort of an unexpected moment,” Kaplan says. “Like when my student last year would say to me, ‘Me and my daddy read that magazine you gave me over the weekend together,’ which is just what you’re hoping for.” 

Do Good:

Sign up as a Be The Change tutor. 

• Learn more about the need for tutors, and tell a friend. 

• Support your local school districts. 

By Brittany York

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

 

Local man works to create sustainable fire service in Africa

After graduating from Northern Kentucky University in 2006, Dave Moore became fire chief of Glendale; but his life changed after visiting Nairobi, Kenya, on a mission trip in 2012.
 
“They run schools in the slums of Nairobi, and they had asked me to come and help with issues of fire safety because they had had some fires and welcome any sort of fire prevention there,” Moore says.
 
With three fire engines and 156 firefighters for a city of roughly 5 million people, Nairobi’s fire stations are underequipped and understaffed.
 
“We did basic training with the school staff—how to conduct a fire drill,” Moore says. “We taught some of the basics. They had never heard of stop drop and roll—that was a new concept for them.”
 
Moore says one thing the school asked was that he try to build a connection with the Nairobi fire department prior to returning to the United States, so he met the chief and was able to get some of the firefighters to also join in on the training sessions at the school.
 
“Then, as we were getting ready to head home, the fire chief asked if there was a way we could help the fire department in addition to the schools. I was expecting them to say, ‘We need money, fire trucks—big things,” Moore says. “But what won me over was when he said, ‘We need knowledge.'”
 
That comment stuck with Moore, and when he returned to Cincinnati, he left his job as fire chief and founded Africa Fire Mission—a local nonprofit dedicated to “building and increasing the sustainable capacity of fire departments across Africa.”
 
Since that time, Moore has organized an effort to ship 200 sets of bunker gear and training materials to Nairobi; and this past November, he returned to the city with two other Cincinnati firefighters to provide a week of training to about 75 of Nairobi’s firefighters.
 
“One of the other benefits we could never have realized through the donations was bringing fire service to the forefront of the attention of the governor there,” Moore says. “He found out the fire department had been trying to buy fire trucks for years, and on the day of our donation, he signed a contract to buy nearly 30 fire trucks for Nairobi, which will be delivered by the end of 2014.”
 
Nairobi’s fire service is improving, but Moore says he’s not going to leave them behind.
 
“We’re working to create sustainable fire departments,” Moore says. “Not one-time gifts where the support then goes away.”

Do Good:

• Support Africa Fire Mission by making a donation. The next set of donations and training materials will be sent to two cities in Zambia, and the cost to ship one container is $10,000 dollars.

Contact Dave if you'd like to volunteer with Africa Fire Mission in any capacity, or if you would be willing to allow Africa Fire Mission to speak about the organization at your community group, church, etc. 

• Support the organization by purchasing a Nairobi Fire Service t-shirt.

By Brittany York

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

                                                

SVP Cincinnati coaches nonprofits for Fast Pitch speeches

For the past four weeks, 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.
 
SVP Cincinnati, the local chapter of an international group of philanthropists, is composed of 40 partners who do more than just fund nonprofits. Members give of their time, expertise and passion as they use their knowledge and skills to collaborate with local organizations to help them better fulfill their missions.
 
And on February 12, SVP Cincinnati will host 120 individuals involved in and supportive of the local nonprofit community at its inaugural Fast Pitch event at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where organizations will have three minutes to hit on their key goals and accomplishments as they compete for one of three grants, ranging from $1,000-$5,000 dollars.
 
“Fast Pitch is known in the venture community, and we’re learning how to apply it to nonprofits,” says Melisse May, SVP partner and event chair. “And we’re filling a void as we get that training more established and broadened, because every nonprofit needs their elevator speech, and that’s where they struggle the most.”
 
While three nonprofits will receive a grant, all organizations competing will receive two hours of consulting on a topic of their choice; and according to May, the coaching is more valuable than the money to many of the nonprofits.
 
“In the case of Fast Pitch, it’s like Mark Twain said: ‘I apologize for the length of this letter, but I didn’t have time to make it shorter,’” May says. “It takes a lot of thought, a lot of crafting, and you have to really know the essence of your organization to have a good, short pitch.”  

Do Good:

Purchase tickets for Fast Pitch, where you'll hear from Tom + Chee founders—who certainly know how to pitch—and listen to competing nonprofits' speeches, then vote for your favorite. Tickets are $20 and include food from Tom + Chee, in addition to one drink ticket. 

• Join SVP Cincinnati by becoming a partner.

• Like SVP Cincinnati on Facebook, and if you're a nonprofit, connect with them and apply for a grant. 

By Brittany York

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