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CSO and CCM team up for one-of-a-kind fellowship prograpm


The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati have just completed the first year of their innovative Diversity Fellows program.

“Orchestras across the country acknowledge that there are under-represented populations in the world of orchestral music and that the programs to improve representation haven’t worked,” says Christopher Pinelo, vice president of communications for the CSO.

Just as the first class of fellows began their academic and performance work last fall, The League of American Orchestras published a study evaluating orchestra fellowships.

“It’s almost as if this program was designed specifically to address the deficiencies in fellowship programs nationally,” Pinelo says.

“One of the issues identified as a flaw in most fellowship programs is the sense of isolation that fellows experience,” adds Ahmad Mayes, director of education and community engagement with the CSO. “Our program brings in five fellows in year one with an additional five in year two, with the hope that they connect with each other and create a feeling of being in it together. We are also working to ensure that they feel part of the entire orchestra.”

The partnership with CCM is also unique. Each fellow earns an Artist Diploma from CCM — the performance-based equivalent of a master’s degree — while they rehearse and perform with the CSO.

“At first, it was a bit much,” says Fellow Emilio Carlo. “You’re not just a student — you are part of the CSO and we need to keep a level of quality. But I found balance and it was helpful to have colleagues to go to who were in the same situation.”

Carlo’s other Fellows included Diana Flores, Blake-Anthony Johnson, Vijeta Sathyaraj and Maurice Todd. Four of the fellows will be returning to complete the second year of the program. Johnson will not be returning, as he secured a position with the New World Symphony as part of the auditions all fellows are required to participate in during the program.

“What measures success for us is if we are helping these fellows meet the next phase of their career,” says Pinelo. “We are trying to build a supportive environment for them to flourish. They perform with the CSO and Pops on a wide range of materials.”

Auditioning for a professional orchestra is an intense experience, one which the Fellows are more prepared for, thanks to the CSO and CCM.

“My mentor went above and beyond to help me get mentally and physically ready to audition,” says Carlo. “The musical growth I’ve seen in myself and the other Fellows has been fun to watch, and playing with the CSO has been the highest achievement I’ve had.”

The emphasis on real-world experience for the Fellows, rehearsing and performing with the CSO and participating in education and community engagement outreach is a critical part of the program.

“When Peter Landgren (Dean of CCM) came to us about starting a fellowship program, he was drawing on his own experience as a student when he substituted with CSO and the impact that had on his career,” says Mayes. “There is no other fellowship that pairs a degree with professional orchestra performance opportunities.”

As the program, which has been generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, enters its second year, orchestras from around the country are calling to find out how it started, how its working and how it could be replicated.

“The rest of the country is looking to Cincinnati to be a leader in this area,” Pinelo says.

And Cincinnati audiences will hear the benefit of this innovative program as nine Fellows take the stage with the CSO and Pops when they return to Music Hall later this year.
 


Five local artists will showcase their findings about segregation through art


Five artists immersed themselves within the Walnut Hills community to chat with residents and business owners about the issue of segregation and how it’s affecting their community.

The project was initiated by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and is inspired by renowned activist Carlton Turner and his vision of artists as researchers who take their findings to create art that prompts discussion and pursue social justice.

Community members are invited to Cincy Stories at 4 p.m. on June 30 to see the walking exhibit where they can see the interpretations by artists Alan Haley, Michael Ellison, Dyah Miller, Herschel Johnson and Benjamin Thomas.

There will be a break for dinner, and the WHRF encourages people to try the restaurants in the business district. At 7:15, there will be a panel at The Monastery with the artists and community leaders.

According to Johnson, the goal of the project is to empower residents to continue the conversation the artists began.

Here’s what the artists discovered:

“People said they see the kids hanging out with their own race at school,” says Thomas. “And Kroger — it should have been in a thriving place — but people weren’t feeling comfortable to come into a predominately black neighborhood to shop. Businesses close because of that.”

Thomas is using the mediums of aerosol and paint to create “We Are Cincinnati," a mural of four Walnut Hills residents — everyday people without privilege whose portraits will be iconic in nature. Those who attend next week’s event will have the opportunity to see a live demonstration, as Thomas will be working on the mural at the time.

For Ellison, the neighborhood scape has changed. The highway now inhabits his former home, and he rides his bicycle to Clifton to go grocery shopping. He and fellow photographer Miller will display their collection of portraits and places, and at the culmination of the project, will auction their photos off with 25 percent of the proceeds benefitting the Walnut Hills Little League.

Other projects include a documentary, a 3D shield and a partnership with St. Francis de Sales to offer students the opportunity to learn to sculpt. Each artist’s project includes a plan for community building and community betterment, both now and in the future.

“Segregation is a condition,” Thomas says. “It’s really a mentality that’s subconsciously or intentionally placed in the minds of folks because of money, greed, power — whatever it is — and I don’t want to point a finger, but I want to recondition the condition of segregation by introducing people to others and giving platforms to people who don’t have them.”
 


Nonprofit GreenLight Cincinnati focuses on unique philanthropy model to fight poverty


Venture philanthropy may be an unfamiliar concept to many, but that will change as the GreenLight Fund brings its model to Cincinnati and starts working to solve problems around poverty.

The GreenLight Fund formed in Boston over a decade ago to apply venture capital principals to the nonprofit sector. The idea: Find organizations that are generating impact and results for chronic issues and expand its work into new markets through investment and advising. The model has proven so successful that the organization has expanded into five other cities, including Cincinnati.

“Overall, our focus is on addressing the challenges of children, youth and families in high poverty neighborhoods,” says Tara Noland, GreenLight Cincinnati's executive director. “But the needs and resources vary by city, so we conduct a thorough assessment annually before selecting a focus. We are not interested in forcing a model on a community.” 

GreenLight Cincinnati and its advisory board of investors and experts review the local nonprofit landscape for the gaps in services related to poverty. Using the resources of its national network, GreenLight Cincinnati finds nonprofits already operating in multiple cities that offer a possible solution and are willing to expand to Cincinnati. Meanwhile, it raises an investment fund and identifies potential local partners to help bring that solution to the city.

“Our investments are structured to be paid out over four years, which gives the organization time to become part of the local nonprofit community, demonstrate results and find support that allows them to stay here long-term,” Noland says.

Although the terminology is different than that of traditional philanthropy, the investment GreenLight Fund makes in its portfolio of nonprofit organizations is in fact a grant. GreenLight Cincinnati itself is a nonprofit and raises its seed funding from a combination of grants and tax-deductible donations.

Duke Energy, a partner of GreenLight Charlotte, recently announced a multi-year funding commitment to GreenLight Cincinnati, joining other investors including P&G, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation.

“Last year, our focus was on returning citizens,” says Noland. “There are a lot of organizations working on pieces of the issue, but the need is so great and complex, we felt that was an area where we could help.”

GreenLight Cincinnati’s first investment will bring the Center for Employment Opportunities to Cincinnati. They provide transitional work and supportive services for recently incarcerated individuals, preparing them for a program like Cincinnati Works, one of its local partners.

“What is so great about the venture philanthropy model is that it identifies a need in the community and then finds a solution that is not duplicative and fills that niche,” says Noland. “Our community partners are often the most excited about our investment because they see what it can do for their clients.”

GreenLight Cincinnati will announce its second investment later this summer.
 


Unanswered questions to Cincinnati's effort to reduce useable waste


Almost three months into the orange bag recycling initiative, Cincinnatians are still unclear about the procedure. But overall, this initiative is good news for Cincinnati. As the city continues to grow and evolve, so must its practices.

When are the bags picked up? Where are the goods going? What prompted this initiative?

Soapbox connected with the Director of the Office of Environment and Sustainability, Larry Falkin, to gain some clarity.

Falkin says that so far, the initiative is going well. “More than 80,000 pounds of material have been rescued from the landfill and returned to the economy.”

But where are the donations going?

The collected goods are sorted at a facility to be sold to thrift stores and commodities markets. To date, three full tractor-trailer trucks have been sent to the sorting facility.

Residents claim missed pick-ups. Others are unsure when the bags are picked up.

The bags are to be picked up every two weeks on the resident’s regular recycling day. Falkin says that the beginning of every new program carries some start-up issues. When a missed pick-up occurs, residents should call the phone number on the orange bags and Simple Recycling will return, generally within 24 hours.

The City of Cincinnati has partnered with Simple Recycling, a for-profit organization that, according to its website, is "committed to offering residents the most simple and easy way to keep usable materials from the landfill.”

"Cincinnati was looking for a way to recycle old clothing because it is one of the biggest components of residential trash," Falkin says.

The city published an RFI to find a partner for textile recycling, and Simple Recycling was chosen due to its success in other cities similar to Cincinnati like Austin.

So far, the program is looking good. The effort to reduce usable waste in landfills is beginning to succeed. While nonprofits should not be forgotten, the orange bags are an accessible option for Cincinnatians who cannot manually drop off donations at nonprofit facilities.

Local Northside resident Alistair Probst is excited about the program and feels that it could help people with limited transportation donate their usable goods.

The program has only just begun. While the first few months have showed success so far, Falkin says they are still fine tuning. “Operational procedures are constantly being reviewed to improve customer service and program efficiency.”

To find out more about what can and can't be recycled through the city's new textile program, click here.
 


Entrepreneur of the Year gala to highlight entrepreneurial spirit in Ohio Valley Region


The 2017 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year season is underway, and on Thursday, Cincinnati will honor about 30 Ohio Valley Region finalists for their innovation, financial performance and commitment to their businesses and communities.

Now in its 31st year, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year is considered to be the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, and it has grown to reach 25 U.S. cities and more than 60 countries around the globe. Regional winners are eligible for the Entrepreneur of the Year national program, which convenes Nov. 18 in Palm Springs, with a winner then selected to compete for World Entrepreneur of the Year in June 2018.

Nine of this year’s Ohio Valley Region finalists are making a difference right here in Cincinnati. Soapbox sat down with one of those nine — Mary Miller of JANCOA Janitorial Services — to discuss the honor and to learn more about how she’s changing the landscape of her business and of the community.

How do envision yourself and your role at JANCOA?
Being a family business, I wear many hats: CEO, wife, mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and chief Dream Manager! I have the best role in the company.

I get to let everyone know just how great our team is and create more opportunity for them and their families. I love each one and look for ways everyday to make the lives of our 600+ team members, their families and the community better for all the tomorrows to come. JANCOA has become an international example of what businesses can do to be successful and care about the people that make that happen.

Once I heard that Warren Buffet said the most important job a CEO has is to be the cheerleader for their team members — that was when I knew I was in the right job.

What is a Dream Manager, and how did the idea come about?
In the late '90s, JANCOA was an average “mom-and-pop” cleaning company with the average turnover of team members at about 400 percent. We decided (after being fired by a consultant) to stop being average and decided to become “the best in the world” at taking care of our people so they can take care of our customers. We used our entrepreneurial spirit to try a lot of ways that had never been tested previously, including creating our own transportation system to get employees to work. The program has evolved into an international model that changes the culture of the company, and that creates results of quality of service, retention of team members, employee engagement and profitability.

By nature we are a service business cleaning up after other people. Our work, though, is helping people build the courage to overcome obstacles and reach for their dreams of a bigger future. This is a model people can connect with and frequently believe is too good to be true. The best selling book The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly has popularized the programs we began years ago to build a business of value, and today we are focused on creating value for the people we work with everyday.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs wanting to make a difference?
There are a lot of resources available to entrepreneurs with best practices in many areas of business. I believe the true value entrepreneurs create is when they look at these practices and add their unique talent and natural gift to the mixture. This is when we are being true to ourselves and to the world. Trying to be what others tell us to be will always miss the mark of possibility. Being true to what we are made to be will create the difference the world is craving to receive and believe.

How does it feel to be selected for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program?
The EYEOY feels like the Oscars for entrepreneurs. I have been aware of the award for more than 20 years but never really put that down as something within my grasp. I think entrepreneurs have a drive within that pushes us constantly to make things better (in our business and everything we see), and being recognized by EYEOY builds a sense of confidence that I have done some things right and gives me energy to keep moving forward and go after those ideas I have that no one else seems to understand.

I would like to believe that seeing me recognized by EYEOY will encourage many other entrepreneurs to trust what they know to be true, without any proof, and go after the big opportunities even when no one understands what they are trying to do.

Click here to see the other Ohio Valley Region finalists.

Thursday's awards gala will be held at the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati, 151 W. Fifth St., downtown.
 


Vintage travel trailers offer chance to camp in a piece of history


Founded in 2014, Route Fifty Campers offers outdoor enthusiasts a unique twist on your typical camping experience. Owner and operator Debbie Immesoete rents refurbished vintage travel trailers to those who want to camp simply, yet with style.

Immesoete says the idea for Route Fifty came from two places: She lives in a small house and wishes she had an extra bedroom for visiting family. This practical consideration, combined with her attraction to retro style travel trailers, fit well. “I fell in love with these lovely trailers from the past,” she says.

Immesoete knew that her business would have to start small, and after saving money, she purchased her first trailer. To help her understand the business world, Immesoete took two classes at Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures).

The classes not only taught Immesoete the basics of what it means to run a business but connected her to mentors, insurance agents, lawyers and other small business owners.

Route Fifty now boasts a fleet of four vintage trailers. Immesoete says that her campers are easy to use but it still feels like you’re camping.

“People tell me they’re done sleeping on the ground,” she says. “They want something simple but they want a bed. These are perfect for that.”

None of the travel trailers have TVs or hot water, but all of them include air conditioning, board games and colorful interiors. Her travel trailer options include:

  • 14’ 1958 FAN: The compact silver trailer can sleep up to four people and includes an adorable yellow kitchenette. Immesoete says this is the only trailer without a water holding tank.
  • 15’ 1964 Winnebago: With the signature Winnebago ‘W’ streak across the side, four or five people can enjoy a sleep comfortably inside.This is the only Route Fifty travel trailer with a Laveo Dry Toilet — the rest don’t have interior bathroom facilities.
  • 15’ 1969 Aristocrat Lo-Liner: Up to five people can camp in this trailer’s bright blue interior.
  • 13’ 1985 Scamp: What the Scamp may lack in size, it makes up for in character. A family of four will fit comfortably in this blue travel trailer.
Renting the campers is a simple process and can be done either online or by phone. Immesoete says that there’s no time limit on rentals, if the calendar permits. She says campers can take the trailers anywhere except the 1958 FAN, which she prefers to keep local. Otherwise, as long as her customers can safely tow the trailers, they’re free to roam in retro style.

To rent a travel trailer for your next camping trip or for more information about Route Fifty, click here.
 

ArtWorks now accepting applications for 2017 Big Pitch business grant competition


ArtWorks is seeking Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky-based creative business owners and entrepreneurs to apply for its fourth annual Big Pitch, a mentorship program and pitch competition for established creative businesses in the area.

The program, designed for businesses with at least a two-year history and located within 30 miles of the ArtWorks office in downtown Cincinnati, selects eight finalists to participate in a 10-week mentorship program. In addition to valuable exposure, each finalist will receive business coaching and help with next steps for reaching their full potential.

The program culminates in a public pitch event to be held in late September where finalists will have the opportunity to compete for both the Grand Prize ($15,000) and and Audience Choice Grant ($5,000).

“This program gives small businesses the chance to take the next step in reaching their dreams,” says Tamara Harkavy, ArtWorks' CEO. “We thank U.S. Bank for again offering its expertise this year to this important project.”

2016 winners James Avant (OCD Cakes) and Scott Beseler (The Lodge KY) took home $15,000 and $5,000, respectively. Avant launched Bakeology classes in January and has maintained a 60 percent fill rate. Monthly social potlucks have also helped OCD Cakes to draw in community members to the unique and creative nature of both food and the business.

Avant was also awarded the OTR Chamber "Entrepreneur of the Year" Award, and is now building relationships with local community groups to tackle access to food disparities and ways to make the cooking/baking experience more accessible to a larger number of families in our city.

Avant attributes much of his recent success to ArtWorks’ dedication to local businesses.

“Besides the cash prize, each finalist walked away with hours dedicated to the intentional growth and sustainability of their business, a community of entrepreneurs and friends who want to see the other thrive in their respective businesses, a network of mentors who always want to see you succeed and exposure many people and businesses would pay to have access to,” says Avant. “I'm incredibly thankful to ArtWorks and U.S. Bank for creating a platform to give creative entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their business, expanded community outreach and actively contribute to the city's ecosystem.”

Beseler is continuing to work on his project, The Lodge. Located in Dayton, Ky., The Lodge is a one-stop-shop for musicians — there's a recording studio, graphic designer, screenprinter and photographer in-house, and it seems that Beseler is adding other amenities every day.

Applications for the Big Pitch are due by June 23 and require a $25 application fee. Finalists will be notified of selection by July 14 and must accept by July 17.

The 10-week mentorship program runs from July 21-Sept. 28. For more information on the Big Pitch, last year’s winners and more, visit www.artworkscincinnati.org.
 


Patty Brisben Foundation teams up with area nonprofits and doctors to promote women's sexual health


The Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health is working to promote the wellbeing of women in a variety of ways — namely by enhancing available resources and by increasing its focus on education-related events.

PBF recently announced its 2017 grant recipients, The Topsy Foundation and Cancer Support Community. Both nonprofits offer programming aimed at enhancing women’s sexual health.

“The Board of Directors that reviewed the 2017 applications felt these two organizations were using funds to truly make a difference in the lives of women within two focus areas that are tied to our mission — vulvovaginal pain disorders and the intimacy-related sexual dysfunction following cancer treatments,” says Amanda Dixon, PBF’s events and development specialist. “Both recipients have successful programs in place, and are using our support to enhance their offerings and increase their outreach.”

Since PBF’s inception in 2006, the nonprofit has awarded more than $2.5 million to nearly 20 organizations locally and nationally.

For Dixon, it’s important to help women “break the silence,” and outreach and education are two of the first places to start.

Most healthcare providers receive very little training when it comes to sexuality, and even less in the area of female sexual difficulties; while the fact is that nearly half of all women experience sexual difficulties at some point in their lives,” she says.

PBF is exploring new ways it can reach women — for example, an event with UC Health that highlights the ways in which yoga therapy can enhance sexual health.

And next week, PBF is partnering with Somi Javaid M.D. & Associates to host Women’s Sexual Health Night. The event is at 6:30 p.m. on June 14 at 7813 Ted Gregory Lane in Olde Montgomery. Dr. Javaid will speak about the importance of women's sexual health.

“Women’s sexual health impacts everyone,” Dixon says. “We hope that our mission encourages women to talk to their friends, family and physicians in order to find the right information they need to live a healthy and fulfilled life.”
 


Calling all entrepreneurs: Apply now for UpTech's sixth cohort


The Covington-based UpTech entrepreneurial accelerator is now accepting applications for its sixth class of data-driven startups ready to take their ideas to market.

As Greater Cincinnati’s premier tech accelerator, UpTech offers a six-month program that prepares burgeoning tech companies to scale by providing one-on-one weekly advising, free co-working space, dedicated legal and accounting services and valuable early-stage feedback through its extensive investor network.

"We are now entering our sixth year of UpTech and we’re never satisfied with the status quo; we are a startup among startups,” says program director JB Woodruff.

UpTech leadership is implementing two major changes this year: a focus on health tech via a partnership with St. Elizabeth and an overhaul of its investable startup curriculum.

“We believe UpTech is an important part of our community, and St. Elizabeth appreciates collaborations with partners who also want to make our community better,” says St. Elizabeth spokesperson Matt Hollenkamp. “We’re excited to see where this leads. Innovation, entrepreneurship and technology advancements are all keys to the future of healthcare."

Each of the 10 companies that are selected will receive $50,000 in seed funding, as well as access to staff resources for graphic design, entrepreneurial speaker series, mentorship, student intern grant funding and gigabit internet.

UpTech strives to invest in data-driven, tech-enabled startups offering scalable B2B/B2G solutions in large markets. For more information on what UpTech looks for in a team and company, click here.

Entrepreneurs interested in applying to the UpTech program should schedule a one-on-one appointment. Visit uptechideas.org to learn more about UpTech, or click here for scheduling info.
 


TEDxCincinnati returns for its fifth year with a new format and location


TEDxCincinnati returns for the fifth year on June 17, but this time to a newly renovated Memorial Hall. The 2017 Main Stage Event not only features a change of venue, but also a new, innovative program format.

“We had a great turn out for our Thursday night Main Stage Events, but moving to Saturday opens up the event to an entirely new crowd,” says Jami Edelheit, director of TEDxCincinnati. “This year, we’re offering the Main Stage twice, which lets attendees make it part of a whole night out, grabbing dinner before or after the show.”

The 2017 Main Stage Event will feature a mix of local and national speakers and performers who will give their TED Talks at both shows.

“TEDxCincinnati had a big audition night in March and two of those speakers will be on the Main Stage,” says Edelheit. “We had great submissions and it was really hard to narrow them down.”

The first Main Stage Event will run from 5 to 7 p.m., and the second will be from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. In between the two shows, attendees will be able to network with each other and meet the speakers. The complete list of speakers and performers will be revealed next week; however, all previous TEDxCincinnati Main Stage Events have been sold out prior to speakers being announced.

“TEDxCincinnati is an experience,” says Edelheit. “There are some wonderful stories and ideas, but this is not about looking at a list of speaker's names and deciding to attend based on that. TEDx spurs conversations you might not otherwise have. It creates energy, excitement and engagement.”

The theme for the 2017 Main Stage Event, “Connected,” will be addressed by speakers that range from a retired member of the Special Forces, a 13-year-old working on artificial intelligence and Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco.

“This is one of the best themes we’ve had,” Edelheit says. “It’s about being human and all the ways we connect in the world through personal interactions, medicine and technology. And it’s central to our mission to live consciously, be authentic and empower others. We are right there in the word: connecTED.”

This year, TEDxCincinnati is also making an effort to connect with local organizations and businesses through its new Community Partners program.

“We want to feature what others are doing by bringing the community together to share ideas,” Edelheit explains. “TEDx is a neutral platform that builds relationships and connects people. We are always looking for new partners and ideas.”

Tickets for the Main Stage Event are on sale now. A limited number of bundle tickets are available, which includes two tickets for a reduced price of $99. All tickets include admission to the between-show reception.
 


Drone research lab provides wide-ranging solutions for American companies


Drones have officially landed in Cincinnati with the opening of Tata Consultancy Services' first U.S.-based Drones Research Lab at its Seven Hills Park Innovation Center earlier this month.

“In 2008, we established the Innovation Center to provide advanced technology solutions and niche capabilities for our North American customers,” says Greg Asher, TCS Delivery Center Head. “We have 20 labs globally and we wanted to bring the best in innovation to Cincinnati to serve as a showcase and provide pure research on topics that have traction and markets.”

Although drones are just one of the research areas at TCS’s Innovation Center, the multi-disciplinary nature of those devices has applications for a wide range of technologies and industries. The Drones Research Lab will explore IOT, machine learning, computer vision systems and sensor systems to create custom solutions for TCS customers.

“The U.S. market is the best place to launch these innovations,” says Asher. “America is on the forefront of technology and drone regulatory guidance. When solutions hit the market, U.S. companies will lead the charge.”

TCS’s drone research focuses on finding autonomous flight and data collection solutions to existing challenges that businesses face.

“Supply chain problems are an area where drones can help,” Asher says. “To do a physical inventory of a warehouse, a company has to shut down for at least a day. Drones could count automatically as they fly up and down the aisles, improving efficiency, accuracy and speed to market.”

At the Drones Research Lab, TCS staff build prototypes and establish proof of concept that they work. Drones are flown in large indoor spaces that replicate warehouse environments and soon will be tested outdoors on the 223-acre campus by on-staff FAA certified drone pilots.

“Although corporate applications are our first focus, we are building relationships with academic institutions as well,” says Deepak Sharma, Business Unit Head for TCS Cincinnati. “Cincinnati stands out for the local universities already excelling in research.”

Asher adds: “What’s going on in Cincinnati is very exciting for us. We are well connected with the startup community in town. Our job is to see what’s relevant and what we can apply now.”

TCS uses a co-innovation network model framework to collaborate with startups around the world. Innovations and technologies developed by partner startup companies are included in solutions that TCS can commercialize and produce for their customers.

As TCS expands globally, Asher and Sharma see continued growth opportunities for the Cincinnati facility.

“The secret sauce at TCS is our people,” Asher says. “Our rapid growth is one of the reasons our Innovation Center is here. Cincinnati has phenomenal talent attracted here by opportunities and produced by regional universities.”
 


POSSIBLE brings innovative ideas to the advertising industry


In Cincinnati, the presence of business partnerships between large and small businesses is furthering growth and bringing more innovative practices to what used to be a simple advertising build.

Local firm POSSIBLE dares to take on new approaches to more traditional advertising mechanisms. It has more than 1,500 employees around the globe with an innovative vision. Its ideas evolve with the ever-changing digital landscape to provide the full-service advertising experience from strategic planning and e-commerce to web development and analytics.

Among one of its most recent projects, POSSIBLE Cincinnati has taken on an iconic P&G brand for the launch of the ‘Febreze Song Ads.’

The creativity within POSSIBLE’s employee base shines through in these advertisements, which aren’t actually ads at all, but instead, a unique campaign that capitalizes on the growing popularity of streaming music services such as Spotify and Pandora by creating 30-second song ads for the air freshener brand.

The team at POSSIBLE worked with music industry icons to write, compose and produce original songs that make Febreze sound more like a band than a brand. The ‘advertisements’ blend in with the ebb and flow of listeners’ lives by using popular genres like rap and R&B.

The first #FebrezeSong video was released on Youtube in Aug. 2015 — to date, it has received over 300,000 hits. (Check out the Febreze commercials and jingles.

At the conclusion of the campaign, the Febreze song ads had been played more than 180 million times, and listeners sought the songs out on YouTube more than 1 million times. The campaign also generated a 56 percent higher tap-through rate compared to other ads on streaming music platforms, making it one of the most successful and innovative P&G campaigns thus far.

POSSIBLE is now being recognized for its hard work and creative thinking. The #FebrezeSong ads received special recognition from the 2017 WEBBY Awards, and the campaign recently won “Judge’s Choice” and gold in two categories at the American Advertising Federation’s District 5 ADDY Awards earlier this year.

In June, the campaign will head to the national ADDY Awards, where it has the chance to be named one of the best advertising campaigns of the year.

Other companies and brands that POSSIBLE has worked extensively with include Coca-Cola, other P&G brands like Pringles, Starwood Hotels, Heinken, the MLS app, the Better Homes and Gardens app, Amazon and many more.

To keep up with more projects and innovative ideas from POSSIBLE, visit its website or Facebook page.

 


Aviatra Accelerators' Flight Night celebrates LAUNCH finalists


Stephanie Tieman of CoreStrong Fitness took home the big prize — $25,000 in low-interest startup loans — at Wednesday’s Aviatra Accelerators pitch event.

The event, which capped off a nine-week entrepreneurial support program, featured live pitches from Tieman and four other female-led startups representing this year’s LAUNCH class.

A crowd of around 150 attendees gathered at New Riff Distillery in Newport for the event, which kicked off with keynote messages from former LAUNCH winner Allison Chaney (who went on to found Bare Knuckle Media), and celebrity mixologist and businessperson Molly Wellmann.

“I knew I had something good that not a lot of people were doing at the time,” says Wellmann, who got her start serving signature craft cocktails at local venues.

Wellmann's Brands now includes an ever-expanding bevy of popular local watering holes. “You all are very fortunate to have a resource like Aviatra, where you can turn for advice and support to make your ideas come to life,” Wellmann told attendees.

In addition to LAUNCH winner Tieman’s female-centric fitness center, this year’s class of LAUNCH startups included:

  • Your Stylist LLC, a Cincinnati-based wardrobe consulting and personal shopping service focused on helping women look and feel their best. Principal: Jackie Neville
  • Allie's Walkabout, an off-leash dog care facility in Northern Kentucky that offers services from boarding and daycare to grooming. Principals: Allie, Audrey and Mary Clegg
  • Black Career Women's Network, a career empowerment and professional development resource for African-American women. Principal: Sherry Sims
  • The Healing Kitchen, purveyor of healthy foods free from gluten, soy and dairy sources from local farms. Principal: Tiffany Wise

Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures) is a nonprofit organization committed to helping female entrepreneurs achieve success and positive community impact. Headquartered in Covington, the organization also maintains offices in Cincinnati and Cleveland, serving women throughout the Tristate area.

Since launching in 2010, Aviatra Accelerators has educated and assisted more than 1,100 female entrepreneurs and awarded more than $850,000 in low-interest startup loans.
 


Studio C helps nonprofits tackle Cincy poverty issues


With just a few weeks remaining, Studio C participants are delving deep into their projects as they work toward finding solutions that empower families to break generational cycles of poverty.

After stepping outside the walls of their respective nonprofits, teams continue to experiment with new approaches that are inspired by design thinking and intended to move communities forward.

The eight participating teams include the following: Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, Children Inc., Churches Active in Northside, Cincinnati Works, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, NKCAC Head Start, Starfire Council and Women Helping Women.

For Design Impact’s Sarah Corlett, co-facilitator for Studio C, the process has been rewarding in that it’s inspired collaboration and new ideas that possess a timely relevance.

Cincinnati Works

Cincinnati Works is collaborating with Villedge — a social enterprise that “provides Cincinnati youth the opportunity to develop their mind, body and spirit within a community context.”

“Cincinnati Works does a lot with the adult population, while Villedge serves young people between the ages of 16-24,” Corlett says. “So they’re bringing youth expertise into their team. They see an opportunity to build life skills in a nontraditional way — through collaboration rather than implementing another program.”

Its goal: to teach young people how to do things Corlett says are typically taken for granted — balancing a checkbook, cooking and shopping, among other things — so that they’re better prepared to budget and set financial priorities as they move forward in life.

CAIN

For MiMi Chamberlin, executive director of CAIN, Studio C has created a space to listen and learn. “It provided tools and a process to help connect as partners and co-creators of services and opportunities. We want to further develop as a neighborhood service and community engagement hub.”

CAIN’s collaborative efforts include gathering together 28 nonprofits that serve Northside — WordPlay and Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Allied Health, for example, are key players — to “start a conversation about being more intentionally unified in our efforts.”

The impetus comes from CAIN’s interviews and research, in which Chamberlin says she discovered the great work nonprofits are doing when it comes to serving Northside’s low-income population, but also the difficulty residents have when it comes to being able to access resources and information.

More specifically, when it concerns basic needs like mental health and employment.

Cincinnati Youth Collaborative

Cincinnati Youth Collaborative is exploring the following question: “How might we enhance our youth services with family-centered partnerships and principles to break generational poverty for youth?”

While the nonprofit’s focus is on youth, with what team member Kayla Ritter Rickles, CYC College & Career Success Manager, says is through an education and social-emotional learning lens, the organization recognizes it can do a better job of working comprehensively with families.

“Our focused efforts are looking at family engagement,” she says. “This includes how we define ‘family’ through the lens of our students and their families, how we engage family through our programs and services and who our partners are or should be in this endeavor.”

Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio

Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio is focusing its efforts on Cincinnati’s immigrant population and how to best support them.

“When I think about what is happening in our world and with the current administration — with Cincinnati just being designated as a sanctuary city,” Corlett says, “I can’t help but recognize that Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio is a strong team. It’s a small team that’s focused on something really relevant.”

This concludes our Studio C coverage. Keep up with the individual nonprofits to see how they continue to change the landscape of Cincinnati by taking strides when it comes to tackling the problem of generational poverty.
 


More Cincinnatians going solar thanks to regional energy assistance program


The benefits of solar home energy are many: It’s better for the planet; it can increase property value; and perhaps most appealingly, it can drastically reduce or even eliminate monthly household electric bills.

Cincinnati currently leads Ohio in solar installations and regional leaders are taking steps to keep it that way, thanks to a partnership between the City of Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance.

Solarize Cincy, created in response to increasing demand and decreasing installation cost, is helping make solar power a realistic — and affordable — option for families throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Residents who take advantage of the program prior to June 30 can receive assistance with out-of-pocket installation costs.

Through the Solarize Cincy program and tax credits, residents can go solar for around $8,000 and meet most of their electricity needs without a monthly bill. Solar panel production has also evolved; panels have become sleeker, more durable and customizable to unique roofs.

“With competitive pricing and federal tax incentives, this is a golden opportunity for anyone thinking about going solar,” says city sustainability coordinator Ollie Kroner.

The GCEA is a nonprofit development agency that promotes investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the region. The organization provides education, project management and innovative financing solutions, with more than $40 million in projects completed. The GCEA, as part of the National Energy Alliance, receives funding from local foundations and governments, including the U.S. Department of Energy.

“The program was a huge success with residents last year,” says GCEA CEO Jerry Schmits. “This year, we’ve put together an even more compelling program. Through Solarize Cincy, we are looking to keep Cincinnati number one in Ohio for solar installations.”

For more information, visit SolarizeCincy.org or call 513-621-4232, ext. 2.
 

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