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GCF provides grant funding to three local orgs for literacy improvement programs


Three Cincinnati organizations striving to close the literacy gap received grants from the Gladys and Ralph Lazarus Education Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation to help take their work to the next level.

“These investments are certainly in alignment with GCF’s overall strategy of building a Greater Cincinnati where everyone can thrive,” says Molly Robertshaw, program officer. “GCF, alongside its generous donors, has invested in several meaningful ways in education, and more specifically, literacy, over the years.”

Cincinnati Public Schools received $248,000 to hire a kindergarten reading specialist for a pilot project at Roll Hill Academy, as well as for hiring a continuous quality improvement manager to focus on literacy.

“At this point in time, nearly all reading intervention specialists district-wide are focused on third graders,” says Robertshaw. “Many say that this is too late to catch kids and play catch up if they are struggling to read. The district’s leadership would like to explore moving reading intervention efforts into younger grades in order to get kids on the right track earlier, but the district needs flexible dollars such as this to test the idea before coming close to considering shifting resources.”

According to data provided by CPS, in kindergarten to third grade literacy, CPS students scored 60.7 percent proficiency on the state reading test, which was a significant improvement from 46.5 percent the year before. The goal for this school year is 75 percent proficiency, reaching 90 percent by 2020.

Madisonville Education and Assistance Center received a $35,000 grant to expand its Early Literacy Initiative, which provides year-round, small group and one-on-one instruction to students struggling to read.

“MEAC is a unique public/private partnership based in Madisonville’s neighborhood school, John P. Parker,” says Robertshaw. “Funds granted will be used to expand to serve additional students, as well as to document the model in hopes of potential scaling in coming years.”

The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative was awarded $5,000 to launch a program developed by Stanford researcher Dr. Jo Boaler to improve student confidence and outcomes in math. The Collaborative will train math teachers in CPS and Winton Woods school districts to implement the Math Mindset system in their classrooms, providing them with support and resources.

“GCF makes investments at both the systems change and program levels to drive the broadest scale change and to test promising ideas,” Robertshaw says.

In addition to these grants, GCF has partnered with The Scripps Howard Foundation and Duke Energy Foundation to invest in regional reading literacy efforts. GCF also works closely with the Success by 6 and Strive Partnership to support systems level change. In late 2018, GCF will offer a program-focused Ensuring Educational Success RFP.
 


People's Liberty announces its first round of project grantees for the new year


People’s Liberty, a philanthropic lab that brings together civic-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of Cincinnati, has announced its grant recipients for the first part of 2018.

Launched in August 2014, PL has constructed a philanthropic experiment that will come to a close in 2019. Since its inception, it has awarded grants to 55 people.

Eight grantees are announced per cycle, and there are two cycles per year. Project grantees are awarded $10,000, a six-month series of launch events and access to mentorship and workspace provided by PL. The first round of 2018 winners will implement ideas ranging from artistic basketball courts and care packages to weaving together the community and improving nutrition for local individuals.

Cycle 6 winners and their projects can be found below:

- April Culbreath: Operation Comfy Chair will teach veterans how to reupholster and refinish furniture, which will then be donated to various organizations that help veterans and the homeless.

- Clayton Brizendine: Courts of Art will turn dilapidated, outdoor basketball courts into works of art where people of all ethnicities, religions and racial backgrounds can gather and play.

- Eric Gruenstein: BioChar will teach children and their families how to use charcoal as soil to produce healthy vegetables and to remove greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. His hope is to mitigate the dangers of climate change and to improve nutrition through awareness.

- Jay Kalagayan: MeSseD is an underground installation in a real service tunnel that will create a social “moment” using his comic MeSesD, which features a sewer worker named Lilliput. He hopes his project will create an appreciation for MSD employees who treat, process and provide life-sustaining water to the city.

- Simone Cocks-Charles: Campus Closet is a mobile recourse for college students from low-income households that will provide care packages and other upcycled necessities, making the transition into college life easier.

- Jeffrey Miller: Lunchbox is a lunchtime pop-up destination that will provide a diverse range of meal options using ingredients rescued from local grocery stores and farms. His hope is to educate the community about food waste and “ugly food.”

- Geralyn Sparough: Shelter from the Storm will be a large weaving shelter in a public space in Cincinnati. She hopes this structure will help illustrate and strengthen our ties to each other as a community.

- Tina Dyehouse: She wants to create an ombudsman for the Cincinnati area using social media and a blogging platform called Urban Ombuds. An ombudsman, or ombuds, will investigate, negotiate and resolve problems for individuals with a government or public agency.

On Nov. 16, PL kicked off a celebration for the halfway point in its five-year venture with Intermission. The multi-week celebration includes reflection on past grantees and projects accomplished through PL, as well as conversations about future projects to come, including the opening of a new storefront in Camp Washington next spring.

Intermission will also include an extended program called PL20, which will focus on 20 days of grantee- and resident-led special events and programs. These programs will take place through Dec. 14, and will range from hour-long to day-long projects. More information about PL20 can be found here.

PL is currently accepting residential applications for its Residency Program, including positions in design, digital, writing and more. For more information about PL, its stories and to apply for the residency program, click here.
 


UC's 1819 Innovation Hub will be where local talent and industry "collide"


Renovations are currently underway at 2900 Reading Rd. — once the Uptown home of Sears & Roebuck — where leaders at UC will soon unveil a 133,000-square-foot innovation lab for students and faculty across all departments to mingle with top business leaders, researchers, economic developers and nonprofit professionals.

Named for the year UC was founded, the 1819 Innovation Hub will be fully open and accessible by next summer. The hub is a result of a “mutually beneficial” relationship between UC and Procter & Gamble — whose Live Well Collaborative will be the hub’s anchor tenant — according to UC’s first-ever chief innovation officer David Adams.

“Let this be the place where magic occurs,” says Adams, whose team reports to UC president Neville Pinto and is tasked with maintaining the strategic vision for the 1819 Innovation Hub as an effective interface between local industry and talent. The plan is for local businesses to liaise (via Adams) with UC students from all disciplines — a format that sets this program apart from those offered by other higher education institutions.

“The vision is for this hub to be school-agnostic,” says Adams. “Engineering students, art students, nursing students and business students can work together to bring their ideas to fruition faster, in one building, and with support and mentorship from key industry stakeholders.”

The facility’s location is also strategic: It’s less than one mile from UC’s main campus, the distance research shows as ideal for student access, says Adams.

According to published plans, the hub’s first floor will house a 12,000-square-foot makerspace furnished with hand tools, 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC machines. The second floor will primarily consist of multi-purpose learning, event and meeting spaces. A third-floor café, coffee and food area will neighbor gallery space where student artwork and other exhibits will be displayed.

The fourth-floor simulation center will presumably be where the real talent-pipeline magic happens, with students working on real-life projects for P&G. Adams says a goal of the 1819 Innovation Hub is to begin partnering with area high schools and middle schools to reach students earlier in the education lifecycle.

Experience is another factor that shows promise for the 1819 Innovation Hub. Adams arrived at UC last July via the University of Louisville, where he oversaw the $1.2 billion financial and operational aspects of the university and pioneered an academic-industry talent funnel there.

Click here for more info, and to view 1819 Innovation Hub photos and renderings.
 


Eight must-follow Instagram accounts that rule the Queen City

As you read this, phones are hovering over heads at a concert and poached eggs are dripping with hollandaise; people are posing in front of bathroom mirrors and sweeping the vista for that perfect panorama of Eden Park. Instagram unites our city shot-by-shot, uncovering the particulars through the eyes of those who live here. As you discover #cincinnati on Instagram, these accounts might help illuminate your community in unexpected ways.



Cincinnatians have known for a long time that our zoo is one of our city’s best attractions. However, Fiona's saga has caused the @cincinnatizoo's social media to explode. The world can’t seem to get enough of the littlest hippo that made it despite all the odds.



With creative perspectives and subjects, professional photographer David Schmidt looks at the Queen City in a fresh, exciting way. With regular features like #RoeblingWednesday, @cincygram captures iconic structures as well as the lesser-known details that make our city beautiful. Alarmingly technicolor sunsets and moody shots of a mausoleum tell the story of a dynamic, if complicated, city.



Instagram exists, in part, as a place for people to put pictures of the delicious food they're eating. If you need inspiration on which meal to snap next, @cincinnatifoodie is an excellent place to start. Focusing on artfully arranged plates, the meal portraits include restaurants from a range of price points, styles and locations.



Since Instagram is so food-oriented, it’s easy to get caught up in pictures of…food. @cincinnatifoodtours is an actual tour company that features plenty of plates from the spots their customers visit, but there’s also a healthy dose of Cincy food trivia and little observations about our city. Those who like to experience food will find many local opportunities as they scroll.



As Cincinnati reclaims its glorious brewing heritage, @the_gnarly_gnome has made it his mission to capture the boom of the microbrewery. @the_gnarly_gnome documents brewery openings, new brew releases and even explores some of the wineries in the area. The account proves that the ambiance of the tap room and the bottle are as important as the beer itself.



@cincinnatidoors is a reminder to stop and remember the impeccably designed details of our favorite city. By focusing on the doors around town, this account not only encapsulates our community’s diverse aesthetic, but also the history literally built into our walls.




@dogsofcincy celebrates our canine citizenry with whimsical, often hilarious portraits and brief stories of the featured pet. The account “finds the coolest dogs in Cincy,” and so far, it's been massively successful. Followers can even lobby to have their furry friend featured by using #dogsofcincy in their own Instagram post.



@outandoutfit’s Katie loves this city and the style it inspires. Often featuring her latest grabs from local boutiques, this mom also reviews nights out on the town at Cincy bars and eateries. Though her account definitely leans feminine, she posts fashion ideas for men, too.


 


Hamilton Mill wins grant to fund four strategic programs


The Hamilton Mill received a $500,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovative Strategies program, the first award to an applicant from southwest Ohio.

“We are ecstatic about the grant,” says Antony Seppi, director of operations for Hamilton Mill. “The EDA saw our collaborative approach, partnerships and our co-applicant, the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Research, as a good investment.”

During the three-year grant period, Hamilton Mill will apply the funds to four projects. The first two are water-focus: the Pipeline H2O water tech accelerator program and a new web portal for water-space issues. The other two programs of focus are Industrialist in Residence, which pairs Hamilton Mill members with mentors in manufacturing; and the ongoing City as Lab partnership with the City of Hamilton.

“One of our first milestones will be the Industrialist xChange Portal to identify and catalog the challenges regional businesses are facing in the water space,” says Seppi. “This platform will allow water startups to search the problems and see if their technology could offer a solution.”

UC will be working closely with Hamilton Mill on the programs supported by the Regional Innovation Strategies grant, bringing their water center and technology commercialization arm to the table.

“Our water center is an informal group of over 30 faculty members working in the water space,” says Phil Taylor, assistant vice president for Research Strategic Implementation. “They are researching water treatment, reuse, distribution, conservation and aquifer structure, and represent many disciplines, including engineering, biology, geography, planning, physics and design.”

The subject-matter experts at UC will work primarily with the Pipeline H2O participants, offering mentorship, research and applied research.

“This collaboration provides faculty with first-hand experience of what is involved in being an entrepreneur and lets them learn what it’s like to work with industry,” Taylor says.

In addition to faculty assistance, UC’s technology commercialization experts will provide entrepreneurial support to Hamilton Mill members and Pipeline startups.

“It’s important to work together on these issues,” says Taylor. “The collaboration between UC, Pipeline and the EPA is just starting and will evolve as we partner more effectively. This regional initiative could have global impact.”

The Hamilton Mill is coordinating with the EDA regional office in Chicago on the grant implementation and will be tracking startups coming into their programs and graduating, and the number of jobs created from those outcomes.

“We have come a long way in three years,” says Seppi. “This grant will transform us moving forward. It is a huge opportunity to take Hamilton Mill to the next level.”


New business initiative promises to ease access to foreign markets


American companies that are looking to expand to overseas markets face a bevy of logistical and legal challenges, including setting up local bank accounts, currency exchanges and brand awareness. A new public-private partnership, Getting to Global, was created specifically to minimize those barriers.

“U.S. companies are behind in the global e-commerce arena,” says Joshua Halpern, GtG founder and executive director. “European companies are cross-border from inception. Asian companies are expanding rapidly. To catch up, we need to get the right information to the right companies, and the best way to do that is through strategic partnerships.”

The GtG Initiative combines the digital resources of Google, Facebook, eBay and Pitney Bowes with the expertise of government agencies like the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Postal Service, as well as national organizations, including the Centers for International Trade Development and Global Retail Insights Network.

“The right solutions for these companies are already out there in the market — they just aren’t aware of them,” Halpern says. “We are aggregating the massive amount of information out there and providing a targeted, appropriate response to their needs.”

GtG is targeting several large sectors of the market, including agricultural goods (health, medical and food), industrial B2B products, software services and B2C commercial goods.

“About the only thing we’re not addressing is helping a company set up their first e-commerce platform,” Halpern says. “Our partners have expertise with physical products, building global brands and international payment gateways. We provide usable, actionable information for small- and medium-sized enterprises.”

The free resources provided by GtG are available through live workshops and online videos, classes and a searchable resource guide.

“We are providing a magnifying glass, looking at successful online sellers and having them share how they went global and how it works,” Halpern says. “We are connecting businesses with a neutral source of vetted solutions. This isn’t companies presenting a sales pitch, it’s companies talking about how they use tools and services.”

As the initiative grows, GtG sees opportunities to hold physical labs across the country and build partnerships on a local and national level.

“SMEs need to understand that localizing in the current market is limiting,” says Halpern. “Ninety seven percent of the world’s consumers are outside U.S. borders.”

GtG is providing the resources to help any company anywhere in the U.S. tap into that global marketplace.
 


Fifth Third program helps prepare Shroder students for financial success


Juniors and seniors at Shroder High School are the first in the nation to receive online education on finance and entrepreneurship through a new partnership with Fifth Third Bank. Shroder received a $10,000 technology grant to fund its Finance Academy.

Fifth Third and EVERFI created Finance Academy as an interactive online development tool to help teens better understand how to manage their money and how to become an entrepreneur.

The program is an extension of Fifth Third's $30 billion Community Commitment Plan — it's part of Fifth Third’s Lives Improved Through Financial Empowerment, or L.I.F.E., program.

Launched Oct. 16, the program will teach students about a variety of elements, including banking and investing in their future.

“We're helping young students learn those basic skills in high school,” says Fifth Third spokesperson Brian Lamb.

The program will be offered in class, and students will be able to use their mobile devices to complete the program. There will also be business classes that will focus on building capital, hiring and managing a budget.

One of the guest speakers, former Bengals player Dhani Jones, illustrated to the students how he was not one of the 80 percent of NFL players that have gone broke.

"They understand the value of the game," says Jones, "but they don’t necessarily understand the value of the dollar.”

Jones says that understanding the value of money and guidance all comes from teachers and education. “If you don’t take the proper planning, have the proper mindset and understand the direction of where you’re going to go, then you’re going to be lost."

Shroder faculty members will be able to track each student's score reports and help guide them to a path of success.

“There are a lot of finances when it comes to college, like getting loans," says student Mikaela Wormley. "I feel like if we know what to do now, you have a step above everyone else when it comes to college, and then after college and knowing which job to choose versus the benefits."
 


Powderkeg's impending launch highlights Cincy's startup culture


New to Cincinnati this year, Powderkeg is a community-driven organization that hosts bimonthly pitch nights for scaling technology founders. The community helps members move up in their companies through education, media exposure, resources and technologies.

The events are formatted for three scale-ups to pitch their companies to a panel of investors for feedback. After the event, Powderkeg creates a custom piece of content about the scale-ups and their pitch, and then gets them featured in a national publication.

Through events in eight different cities across the country, Powderkeg boasts over 10,000 members; since the program's inception, $576 million in capital has been raised from 421 pitches. Pitches have been featured in national publications like Forbes, VentureBeat and Huffington Post.

Erika Kotterer, events lead for Powderkeg, believes that featuring the startups in a national media outlet helps to get the word out there about startup companies and their growth in the last decade. “We are currently in Kansas City, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham and Indianapolis. We are trying to expose what's going on in these cities to the nation.”

In true Shark Tank fashion, Powderkeg Cincinnati's launch event on Wednesday will feature three rising-star startups — FarmFlx, Cloverleaf and Spatial, all of which are allowed five minutes on stage to pitch their business to advisors (Dave Knox, a brand marketer; Wendy Lea, CEO of Cintrifuse; and Derrick Braziel, co-founder of MORTAR).

FarmFlx is a financial engineering software firm focused on farmland rental contracts. Cloverleaf builds great teams using assessment and other employee data to provide insight into the right people in the right roles for increased team productivity. Spatial is a location data company that uses conversations from social networks to understand how humans move and experience the world around them using AI.

Pitch nights run far and wide, and the Powderkeg staff believes that this model of startup culture will be more sustainable over time.

“Powderkeg has been hosting pitch nights for the last eight years,” Kotterer says. “A lot of pitch and tech nights attract early stage founders, whereas Powderkeg is for scaling tech founders. Powderkeg is also entertaining and fun.”

The Powderkeg launch event will be held this Wednesday, Nov. 8, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Woodward Theater. Early bird tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets can still be purchased here for $15. Tickets are limited to the first 150 buyers.
 


Hacking Heroin winners embarking on real-time implementation


The Hacking Heroin winners recently updated the Cincinnati City Council's Education & Entrepreneurship Committee and IX Health attendees on the status of their projects.

“It was fantastic to see these two teams share their tireless work with their elected leaders,” says Colleen Reynolds, director of community affairs, Office of Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld. “I'm a big believer in the collaboration between government and the tech community, especially when a tech-based solution can help us make a dent in solving a real, challenging problem such as the opioid epidemic.”

Two of the winners, Give Simply (formerly Give Hope) and Crosswave Health (formerly Window), are actively preparing their products for market. Give Simply uses crowdfunding concepts to connect individuals with local organizations fighting the heroin epidemic; Crosswave Health created a platform to match individuals with community resources for treatment.

The third Hacking Heroin winner, Lazarus, is on hold but hopes to continue working with its on-demand service platform soon.

“These teams are building tools focused on fixing local problems, but that could also be useful nationally,” says Annie Rittgers, 17A founder and one of the Hacking Heroin organizers. “Now that they are real organizations, they have much more tailored needs and are looking for mentors, funders and partners who know the markets they are building in.”

The City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County recently announced each entity would commit an additional $200,000 to fighting the opioid epidemic. These funds will be allocated to building the capacity of the Addiction Services Hotline, expanding Quick Response Teams, increasing community education and training and Narcan distribution. The City also allocated $5,000 to support further development of the Hacking Heroin solutions.

“I don't think this will be the last of a city investment in ensuring the success of these projects,” says Reynolds. “As the epidemic continues to plague our community, our Council office — along with our many community partners — believes an all-hands-on-deck response is required.”

“The June hackathon is proof that a small push like a weekend event can have enormous impact,” Rittgers adds. “The world now has two more businesses focused on making a dent in the problem, and we have a whole community here in Cincinnati collaborating in new ways that will contribute to better outcomes for everyone.”

Hacking Heroin successfully engaged the business and tech communities in the fight to end the opiate crisis. With two of the winners ready to implement their solutions, 17A is focusing on how to leverage the momentum from the June event to magnify the impact of Hacking Heroin locally and nationally.
 


LADD strengthens community with new health and wellness initiative


Last month, Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled partnered with Hamilton County Special Olympics and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission to present its first ever FitFest.


The event featured fitness instruction, group exercise classes, health screenings and presentations on health and wellness. Open to the entire community, FitFest allowed LADD to showcase and expand upon its new Health & Wellness Program that launched earlier this year.


“LADD began its Health & Wellness Program as an initiative to support our staff in lowering stress and leading healthier lifestyles, and our adults with developmental disabilities in leading fuller, more connected and more independent lives,” says Kristin Harmeyer, LADD's health and wellness coordinator.


As a result of LADD's ongoing commitment to health and wellness for its employees and clients, Fit For Life (light workouts) and High Intensity Circuits, in addition to Lunctime Yoga and Evening Yoga are offered 1-2 times each week.

 

Harmeyer says she’s already seeing an impact — an impact that’s both positive and exciting.


“People who, prior to our program, got minimal physical activity are now coming up to me regularly and asking, ‘When is the next class?’” she says. “I am seeing strengthened overall confidence and life skills as a result.”


For a program that’s already seeing success, the hope is that it can continue to grow. FitFest was the largest and newest initiative for LADD, and Harmeyer says it was important for the nonprofit to host an event for the entire community because it allowed for building connections and new relationships.

“Not only was it an opportunity for diverse people to come out, learn and be active together,” Harmeyer says, “but it was an opportunity for us to forge relationships with other organizations with shared visions who have expressed interest in more involvement with LADD’s health and wellness initiative.”
 


WordCamp returns for second year, aims to provide training and networking for Wordpress users


For the second year in a row, volunteers have come together to make WordCamp a reality. WordCamp is a volunteer-run, grassroots business seminar that focuses on website development in WordPress.

According to Marce Epstein, part of the award-winning marketing strategy team for WordCamp, WordPress is responsible for hosting about 29 percent of websites on the internet, which is why it makes sense to learn about the free and open platform.

At WordCamp, attendees are able to choose different tracks to learn more about WordPress and website development. This year’s schedule includes topics like WordPress 101, search engine optimization, code review and more.

WordCamp takes a different approach than most business seminars. Epstein says one of the main differences is its affordability. “Whereas you might pay $400 for a multiple day conference, WordCamp is intentionally financially accessible to the masses."

A $40 entrance fee grants attendees access to the weekend's events, including lunch and a T-shirt.

Financial accessibility means a diverse population of people are able to attend WordCamp. Entrepreneurs, bloggers, website development teams and anyone curious about Wordpress are encouraged to attend.

Epstein says the conference is a great place for those who often work within their own silos of expertise to "geek out" with one another.

“The benefit of WordCamp and business conferences like this is the gargantuan benefit of networking. The face-to-face time is invaluable, and I find it’s a great catalyst for sparking ideas and facilitating relationships.”

Susan Rodgers, an independent website developer, agrees. “It’s a little like going to Comic-Con. WordCamp has done a really good job of getting users together to make a community. It’s unusual to have users together to share insights and advice.”

Fellow 2016 WordCamp attendees Guarav Srivastava and his sister Shweta DuMont were inspired by the energy surrounding the WordCamp community.

“It was more like a family,” says Srivastava, who runs the blog unvrslminds.com. “I could approach speakers and ask questions. Everyone was excited to be there and were very friendly."

DuMont says she hopes to be a writer someday, and WordCamp has helped her learn the tools to create and sustain her own blog. “I wanted to get into blogging but was pretty intimidated by the idea of creating your own website. It seemed pretty complicated."

This year’s WordCamp will be held Nov. 11 and 12 at the University of Cincinnati. Click here to buy tickets.
 


CincyTech's Big Breakfast not about food but startup showcases


On Nov. 8, CincyTech’s Big Breakfast + Startup Showcase will return to the Duke Energy Convention Center.

“We offer something that you won't find at any other event on the Cincinnati startup ecosystem calendar: It puts all of our portfolio companies, as well as other startups connected to our ecosystem partners, including HCDC, Cintrifuse and The Brandery, in one room tradeshow-style,” says Peg Rusconi, CincyTech's director of communications. “You can get a great sense of the regional startup landscape and meet the entrepreneurs who are building promising digital and life science companies. In some cases, you feel like you're seeing the future.”

The Big Breakfast has expanded from a hallway of displays into one of the large ballrooms, representing not only the growth of Cincinnati’s startup sector but the number of people interested and invested in it.

“We've drawn about 700 people in each of the last couple of years,” says Rusconi. “It's really a celebration of our startup community. It's great energy and it's a great way to plug into the startup scene in one location.”

The Big Breakfast is not a sit-down, keynote speaker event. Although there will be plenty of coffee and portable breakfast food, attendees spend their time in the Startup Showcase.

“We encourage people to walk around, learn about our portfolio companies, their technology and the people behind them, and also network with others, whether they're investors, business leaders or interested members of the community,” Rusconi says.

There will be a brief presentation at 8:30 a.m. to reveal CincyTech’s annual video, highlight event sponsors and hear from an entrepreneur. Mike Venerable, president of CincyTech, will share the organization's recent accomplishments and upcoming plans.

“CincyTech was created to help entrepreneurs get access to capital, to build their businesses here and to grow the regional tech economy,” says Rusconi. “We'll share our metrics and highlights from the past year, but as an organization, we are always looking ahead. As a seed stage investor, we always have an eye on the future.”

The event will be held from 7:30 to 9 a.m., and is free and open to the public; pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

“This is a fun, high-energy mingle-fest,” says Rusconi. “It’s a great opportunity to see how much promise there is in these startups, and that our region is home to companies working on real problems and developing solutions that will improve our world.”
 


Local chef introduces variety, one cookbook at a time


One local chef is bringing adults of all ages together for a travel-themed potluck dinner once a month in Over-the-Rhine.

Chef and owner of the Tablespoon Cooking Co., Jordan Hamons, came up with the idea for a cookbook club from articles she read on Serious Eats and Food 52. She based her business model on other successful platforms she's read about.

Those that join, as well as the chefs, make dishes from a different cookbook each month and bring their dishes to Revel OTR Urban Winery and share with others.

“I wanted a space that was welcoming and friendly and promoted conversation,” Hamons says.

In September, the theme was French cooking. Everyone made a dish from the cookbook My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. It was about more than just the food — it was about the conversations that took place.

People started to talk about the book, the recipes they made and their travels to France or their hopes to travel to France. “You meet new people and it really encourages that type of conversation,” Hamons says.

Last month's 33-member group included adults of all ages with little to very advanced cooking backgrounds. Hamons encourages people of all kinds to cook food from the cookbooks that they would not normally cook from.

“It's like a no-risk way to try a lot from the book and find some new foods that maybe you would not have expected to like,” she says.

Hamons and some of the other chefs involved provide a few of the main dishes and pair them with tasteful wines. Anyone can sign up on Tablespoon's website and pick a dish to cook, which range from easy to very advanced. The cookbook potlucks are $30, and cover the cost of the main dishes, the rented space at Revel and three glasses of wine. The cookbooks have to be purchased separately.

The cookbook club will meet again on Nov. 7 for a Lebanese themed potluck. This time, the cookbook is Orange Blossoms and Rose Water by Maureen Abood.

“She's a friend of mine and it's an amazing book,” Hamons says. “The food is so good."

The last day to meet for this year will be the potluck on Nov. 7, but after the New Year, the potluck will return once every month. Next year, Hamons will be working on the cookbook club as well as more cooking classes and a series of tasting events with Tablespoon.

To check out what she has in the works, click here.
 


Fifth Third adds innovation center to break down walls within the workplace


A buzzer echoes from a circular gallery space near the entrance of ONE67, Fifth Third Bank’s new innovation center. A group of men and women — the top 100 leaders in the company — aren’t sitting around a board table muttering over “the numbers."

Instead, they’re playing a game.

Incorporating a sense of freedom and fun into the workplace is the idea behind the avant-garde workspace in Fifth Third’s downtown skyscraper. Michael Crawford is the product manager for Momentum, a free app from Fifth Third aimed at millennials to help pay down student loans. Crawford works in ONE67 every day and says the space is meant to stimulate creativity and build community.

Before its opening at the end of August, Crawford describes the space as very 1970s. “You would’ve seen a lot of offices that democratized all of the window space,” he says. “Your position in the company could’ve been determined by how close you were or how much window space you had.”

Partnering Nelson Architects with Fifth Third’s Enterprise Work Services team, the newly designed 15,000-square-foot space redefines what it means to work in an office.

“We wanted to open the space to make it feel welcoming to all, and make it an area where you can always find your own corner based upon your day, your mood, your job and who you’re working with,” Crawford says.



Everything is designed to be mobile. Movable walls run along ceiling tracks in the gallery and can conform the space to fit the needs of employees.



A large barn door closes off the gallery from the "garage space" where employees are free to work, explore, create and even play.

“From here back, all of our walls are white board walls,” Crawford says, stepping through the door. “The team is all about being raw and not about being afraid to make mistakes, which is the whole notion of a white board wall.”

ONE67 has a variety of workspaces, including private nooks with expansive views of downtown, smaller breakout rooms for 2-4 people and “scrum rooms” for larger meetings.



In addition to the unique workspaces, there are approximately 45 traditional standing and sitting desks.

“To be innovative, you have to be edgier,” says Crawford. “On this floor, we’re purposely buying more furniture so people can put their feet up. It’s all designed to conform around you rather than you around the space.”

ONE67 features various “stimuli” throughout the office like mini corn-hole, a sandbox and a foosball table. The stimuli encourage play, teamwork and creativity throughout the day.



“You don’t see people playing for hours on end, but you do see people play foosball for 20 minutes,” Crawford says.



“We’re the only part of the building experimenting with no assigned seating,” Crawford says. While employees don’t have their own desks, everyone has a locker to store personal belongings.



“Having communal places like this where teams can come together and break bread is really important,” Crawford says.



“We’re also using this space to pilot new technology,” says Crawford. “We’re working with some startups in Cincinnati, as well as some large tech firms to say, ‘What will the office of the future be like?’”



ONE67’s library is a dimly lit, quiet area with a more down-tempo atmosphere than the rest of the space. “People can come here to think,” says Crawford. “It has a lot less stimuli and is more devoid of color so it’s supposed to be calmer.”

Though ONE67 is limited to Fifth Third employees for now, Crawford says the company hopes to expand its use in the future. “The vision is to be a space for our partners to come in and co-create with us.”

Photos by Allison Smith Cohen; others provided by Fifth Third.
 


Ohio Innocence Project works with UC law students to exonerate those wrongly convicted


The Ohio Innocence Project, based at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, marked International Wrongful Conviction Day on Oct. 2 with a week of events across the state.

The expansion of programming comes on the heels of an announcement that Ohio Representative Bill Seitz introduced legislation to provide compensation to individuals wrongly convicted due to prosecutors withholding evidence.

“This will have a tremendous impact on the lives of some of our exonerees who were released from prison with nothing and with no hope for compensation for the several years of their lives lost to wrongful imprisonment,” says Rashida Manuel, outreach manager.

Among the nearly 70 organizations that make up the Innocence Network, which is a collective of projects around the country working to exonerate wrongfully convicted men and women, OIP is unique for several programs.

“While many projects use law students to help investigate their cases, OIP’s one-year fellowship allows students to have a more in-depth view of innocence work and gain substantial hands-on experience,” Manuel says.

OIP is also the only program in the country to work with undergraduate students.

“We introduced OIP-u, a program for undergraduate students, two years ago,” says Manuel. “A core group of students from six universities in Ohio — UC, Xavier, the University of Dayton, OSU, OU and John Carrol University — work closely with us to host events on their campuses aimed at raising awareness about wrongful conviction.”

One of the UC events is the annual Dash and Bash and Freedom Walk. The race raises awareness of wrongful convictions, with exonerees participating in the Freedom Walk, as well as funds for OIP’s work.

Although focused on overturning wrongful convictions in Ohio, OIP works with organizations in Europe and Asia to start their own innocence projects through its Center for the Global Study of Wrongful Conviction and the European Innocence Network conference.

In September, OIP director Mark Godsey released a book, Blind Injustice, about his transition from prosecutor to innocence attorney and the causes of wrongful convictions. The Mercantile Library will host Godsey and several OIP exonerees for a reading and talk on Nov. 8.

“A central tenet of our mission is to inform the public of criminal justice system flaws, and our hope is that as communities become more educated on wrongful conviction, substantial change can be made,” Manuel says.

As OIP approaches its 15th anniversary next year, it is celebrating its work in freeing 25 Ohioans who were wrongfully convicted, and anticipate more exonerees in the future.
 

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