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Startup Newspaper RISE Tackles Challenges in Cincinnati

Tracy Brumfield is no stranger to the challenges that incarcerated individuals face in the Cincinnati area, both during and after their time in prison. Dealing with incarceration, homelessness, and the struggle to get back on your feet can make it difficult to get reacquainted with the community. So how did someone go from being a heroin addict and feeling isolated from the community to making a bounding difference in the Cincinnati area?

                “After working for over two years at recovery, I began to volunteer and mentor women incarcerated in the Hamilton County Justice Center. I even got a new job working as an aide at the Center for Addiction Treatment. Between volunteering and working for a recovery center, I found that I had built a life of purpose, and I think that has been the key to keeping my disease in remission.”

The People’s Liberty Haile Fellowship, providing a year-long civic sabbatical for two highly-motivated Greater Cincinnati residents each year, was awarded to Tracy in 2017 to fund RISE, Re-enter Into Society Empower, a monthly newspaper circulated to inmates while they’re incarcerated that provides information about critical community resources as well as stories of hope and recovery.

The idea to create RISE came from Brumfield’s experiences as well as volunteering in the jail. Re-entering the community after incarceration can be a challenge, especially considering that services like safe affordable housing, job readiness, drug treatment and employment opportunities are not readily available to those currently incarcerated.

Six issues of RISE have been published since September 2017 and were completely funded by People’s Liberty Haile Fellowship. Each issue focuses on a different area of re-entering the community post-incarceration including recovery, housing, employment, stories of hope, healthcare, and community. Because of the funding stipulations, each issue was limited to four pages.

As the fellowship has wrapped up for Brumfield and RISE, considerations for the future are uncertain.

“We’re not sure which way we’re going to go in the future,” Brumfield said in an interview with WVXU. “We’re going to have to see who responds and which way would be the best for RISE.” The team may look to partner with nonprofits or be sponsored by a nonprofit in the future.

A ceremony to “pass the torch” of the fellowship along to the 2018 Haile Fellowship grantees was held on March 6th at People’s Liberty in celebration of a year full of success for the 2017 grantees. Brumfield’s powerful closing asking people to give of time, money, and positive feedback to help RISE continue assisted in bringing about a “new era” for RISE.

Issue 7, as RISE has informed Soapbox, is currently in publication and will be circulated in the coming weeks. 

For more information about RISE and the Haile Fellowship through People’s Liberty, head over to their Facebook page or visit https://www.peoplesliberty.org.

Smart Cincy Summit focuses on the Internet of Transportation

Venture Smarter, The City of Cincinnati, and Cintrifuse are presenting the second Smart Cincy Summit on April 26, 2018 at Union Hall focusing on the Internet of Transportation.

“Last year’s summit was a catalyzing event about what we wanted to do in the region,” said Venture Smarter founder Zack Huhn. “This year we’re shining a light on some projects that are actually in the works.”

A free public preview of the summit takes place April 25 followed by a VIP dinner event.

“We want everyone to feel like they are a part of these conversations and set the tone of the summit with a community roundtable,” said Huhn. “It’s an opportunity to learn what’s happening in the smart cities arena, and for residents to make suggestions based on what they are experiencing.”

The keynote speakers and other panelists will be announced in mid-March, including elected and public officials at the city, state and federal level as well as representatives from academia and the private sector. In addition to addressing the four pillars of smart cities – connectivity, mobility, security, and sustainability – presentations will highlight transit.

“We need to focus on smart and connected infrastructure, as well as the vehicles that operate on it,” said Huhn. “Smart traffic signals can improve flow and congestion. Autonomous vehicles could connect transit centers to parking. But we can only achieve connected and autonomous transit if we have a solid foundation.”

Smart cities technologies are also an opportunity to improve service delivery, quality of life for residents, and the visitor experience by addressing systemic urban challenges.

“When we look at problems facing Cincinnati and the region – pedestrian safety, air quality, poverty – there are technologies available that can offer solutions,” says Huhn. “The foundational pieces are in place, but we need to come together and craft a cohesive vision for the city and region.”

Since the 2017 summit, over a dozen pilot projects are underway and progress reports will be shared, including a Cincinnati Public Schools partnership to end the digital divide. The City of Cincinnati will give an update on the planned downtown fiber ring to improve traffic signals and provide free WiFi.

Smart Cincy Summit tickets are available, and organizers hope elected officials and civil servants, educators from K-12 as well as universities, business and industry representatives, along with residents and community groups will attend.

Local startup uses goodwill to fight cancer

"There’s a tremendous amount of untapped goodwill in the world," says Paolo Dominguez, CEO at Juble it!, a Cincinnati-based digital media startup that brings simplified crowdfunding tools to creators and organizations. "That goodwill remains trapped by all the digital friction making it too hard for people to support their favorite creators and organizations. I might want to support a non-profit like Wikipedia, but I'm less likely to do so if I have to immediately leave their website and spend 4 minutes or more making a donation via another website."

Dominguez and Elliott O'Hara, the Chief Technical Officer at Juble it! began with a simple idea: What if supporters could express their goodwill in a meaningful way as easily as a "like" or a "share" online? Juble itself comes from the word Jubilation. Supporters who "Juble" a creator or an organization are making an expression of joy or positivity.

With their crowdfunding tools, the Juble Button and Juble Link, Dominguez and O'Hara have built a streamlined system for online tips and donations by interacting with supporters at the moment they're motivated to give. Creators place a Juble Button on their website or create a Juble Link to use on social media or emails. Supporters then only need to click the button or the link to commit to making a contribution. Unlike other tools, Juble it! also reduces the minimum amount you can give to $1 and makes it simple and fast; supporters can make their first Juble in as little as three seconds.

Creators and organizations get paid as a supporter has paid their tab ... usually at the end of the month. Juble it! gives supporters a few weeks before sending them a reminder to pay. When they receive their reminder, they have the option to update, add to, or remove any Jubles they made during the month.

To commemorate their company’s debut at the 2018 Startup Grind Global Conference in Redwood City, the Juble it! team launched the ONE in THREE campaign in support of finding and funding cures for cancer in partnership with the Cancer Research Institute, a non-profit dedicated to controlling, curing and treating all cancers.

Elliott O'Hara was motivated to partner with the Cancer Research Institute after his friend and father-in-law Floyd Wayne “Paw Paw” Woodward was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and later passed. One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Now, O'Hara and Dominguez can celebrate the strength and spirit of “Paw Paw” with the ONE in THREE campaign in partnership with the Cancer Research Institute.

O'Hara and Dominguez will demo the Juble it! tools and promote the ONE in THREE campaign at SXSW 2018 in Austin, TX (March 9-18, 2018). Their message is simple: Take three seconds. Give one dollar.

Diversity Fellowship opens pathway to orchestras

According to the League of American Orchestras, classical music has a serious lack of diversity. Racial and ethnic minority players make up just 15% of orchestra musicians. In 2015, UC College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) established the joint Diversity Fellowship program to help level the playing field for students of diverse backgrounds. As Director of Marketing and Communications at CCM Curt Whitacre explained, “the goal is to change the face of the American orchestra.”

Musicians in the program receive full tuition scholarship thanks to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. allowing them to earn a two-year Master of Music (MM) or Artist Diploma (AD) through CCM, while also playing alongside the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra throughout their regular season. “Between resources available with the orchestra and the conservatory, we are removing barriers,” said Whitacre.  

First-year student Ian Saunders, a double bassist from Norfolk, Virginia, spoke with Soapbox to share insights about his experience with the program so far.

How did you get into playing classical music?

I started playing in the public school system. We had this wonderful conductor as part of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra who made it possible to rent a violin for free, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to...When I went to college they said we need a bass player, and I said “great, I need money” [laughs]. There are more scholarships for bass players and I haven’t looked back since.

How has your journey been different than other players?

Typically in any orchestral career you have to play summer festivals in Aspen and Tanglewood, which you have to pay for. You’d be hard pressed to not see that in someone’s background. I came from a family where I couldn’t afford not to work in the summers.

What attracted you to the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship program?

The big thing that makes it wonderful is that you typically have an hour lesson with your teacher, but it’s really unheard of to have a lesson and then play with that teacher in a concert. It’s an apprenticeship that’s like nothing else around here. You’re just gaining this information by being around it. I’ve learned so much more in just a few weeks than I did in a lot of years trying to imagine how it might be.

What are some of the best things about the fellowship experience so far?

They’re very supportive, and they put a lot of time and resources behind us. The other thing about it is that the fellowship pays for auditions and things, which are really expensive. They provide audition support so we can just focus on practicing.

What do you hope the future holds after the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship wraps up?

The dream in general is to join a major orchestra, an A-tier orchestra like Chicago or Philadelphia. I feel like I’m now in a good place to compete for those.

Green Umbrella advancing environmental sustainability goals

In a continuance of their efforts to advance environmental sustainability goals in the region, Green Umbrella recently announced two new funding opportunities designed to advance sustainability goals related to local food, food waste reduction, fresh food access, and energy-efficiency.

Through these grants, Green Umbrella seeks to serve as a steward of environmental funding and accelerate progress on the Greater Cincinnati region’s 2020 sustainability goals.

The EPA and USDA have set joint national goals for 50% food waste reduction by 2030. The Greater Cincinnati Food Waste Action Plan was finalized in 2017, and the campaign was officially launched for Cincinnati to assist in the reduction of food waste on a local, regional, and national level.

Totaling $125,000, two funding opportunities are available to Green Umbrella members that are part of the local food system: the Cincy Save the Food Fund and the Energy-Efficient Refrigeration for Local Food System.

Cincy Save the Food Fund, totaling $50,000, is designed as an incentive for local food organizations and businesses to develop innovative and realistic food recovery efforts. The EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills each day than any other trash item. According to the 2016 ReFED Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste, 40% of all food is wasted, which translates to the U.S. spending “over $218 billion … growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten … totaling roughly 63 million tons of annual waste.” At least four groups will be funded in this effort. One of the key solutions, according to the Food Waste Action Plan, in reducing food waste in the area is to track it and determine how to minimize when and how food is being wasted and the dollar value behind it. In finding ways to scale down on the amount of food waste in the area, groups can also combat what Green Umbrella refers to as food insecurity, or local hunger. This fund targets members of the local food systems between Southwest Ohio, Southeast Indiana, and Northern Kentucky.  

Energy-Efficient Refrigeration for Local Food System, totaling $75,000, will be distributed to at least five groups. This funding opportunity is designed with refrigeration infrastructure in mind. Being able to distribute locally grown food/product on a wider scale, reducing the food waste from improper refrigeration infrastructure, and reducing operating costs all contribute to the eco—friendly nature behind reduction in food waste and conserving energy. This funding advances Green Umbrella goals for 2020 including doubling production of food and vegetables grown locally, reducing waste in landfills by 33 percent, and reducing energy consumption by 15 percent. With this particular fund, Green Umbrella is targeting Southwest Ohio companies that were Duke Energy rate payers between 2005 and 2008.

Several funders have entrusted Green Umbrella in this effort to reduce food waste and conserve energy in the local food system, including the Duke Class Benefit Fund and Partners for Places – a project of the Funders Network for Smart and Livable Communities, with local matching grants provided by Interact for Health, The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Applications are due January 26, 2018 and more information can be found at www.greenumbrella.org.

First-ever National Women's History Month Festival to be held in March

March is Women's History Month, and to celebrate, two Cincinnati organizations are bringing a one-of-a-kind event to town.

Women empowering women through art and lectures is the premise of the first annual National Women’s History Month Festival, which is happening from March 3-18. AlivenArts and MUSE are partnering up for two weeks to bring the festival — filled with art of all kinds — and conducted by women.

The hope is for this year's festival to be the first of many. Each year, AlivenArts will pick a local group to receive proceeds from the event, and this year, they chose MUSE Cincinnati Women’s Choir.

“There's still a place, there's still a reason and there's still a way and need to celebrate women, and what better way to tell the history than through the artistry,” says founder and former associate director and accompaniment for MUSE, Rachel Kramer. “Whether that's singing, theater, dance, film, literary — whatever it is — the story can be told and history can be told through the artistry.”

The inspiration for the festival started when Kramer attended Dayton LUNAFEST in 2017 as a guest. From there, it developed into booking other guests and eventually turned into a much larger festival.

One of the goals of the festival is to help bridge the gap between women who work from home and women who own businesses.

“Women have always had these cottage industries, like teaching piano in their home, crafting or book club,” says Kramer. “Then there's these women owning these huge businesses and they don't intersect. It's been a real eye opener.”

Some of the women to be featured at this year’s festival include Xavier University adjunct professor Dr. Brenda Portman, who will present an organ recital; Miami University’s Dr. Tammy Kernodle, who will conduct a lecture on women’s rights; the LUNAFEST Film Festival; and many more.

The National Women's History Month Festival will be held various places throughout Cincinnati, including the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Walnut Hills and St. Michael’s Street Sanctuary in Price Hill.

Passes for the festival are $40, which includes one ticket to each of the main events. For single day passes, prices vary, depending on how many events a person chooses. 

GCRA targets reinvestment in Evanston's housing market

Expanding on the continued improvements, redevelopment, renovation and business and housing boom in Cincinnati, the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority has targeted investment strategies to repurpose neighborhood real estate and return property to productive use.

Since 2012, GCRA has rehabbed and sold 19 formerly vacant homes in Evanston through Rehab Across Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and more are underway. In 2018, GCRA will begin work on affordable housing through its management of the Homesteading and Urban Redevelopment Corporation.

What exactly is GCRA’s Target Neighborhood Strategy?

According to GCRA, the plan focuses on engagement with neighborhood organizations as the proverbial eyes and ears on the ground; the identification of a small, defined priority area for residential and commercial redevelopment; and the use of a phased approach to revitalization.

Since 2012, the 19 homes that have been rehabbed and sold in Evanston through REACH are located on Ruth, Blair and Woodburn avenues. Currently, two homes are on the market on St. Leger Place, and several other homes on Blair and St. Leger are under construction.

Aside from REACH, several other partnerships/sponsorships have been integral to the overall success of the project. HURC received $300,000 in 2017 as part of NOFA-funded projects in Cincinnati neighborhoods; the rehab of six properties located on Wold, Jonathan and Woodburn avenues are expected to begin this spring.

Other notable projects under the GCRA plan include a 6,000-square-foot commercial space on Montgomery Road, the Findlay Market farmstand on Hewitt Avenue in Evanston and two other commercial properties are on the market at Gilbert Avenue and Montgomery.

Several organizations have partnered with GCRA since the inception of the Target Neighborhood Strategy in Evanston. Lawn Life has been responsible for the cleaning up and maintenance of more than 30 homes in Evanston and employs 11 youth directly from the community. Building Value took the project on digitally and featured one of the deconstructed homes in their video series.

GCRA has found huge success in the revival of the housing market in Evanston, with over 130 properties in their jurisdiction. The organization boasts an impressive investment in the neighborhood, including six lot-to-yard, five single-family home developments, one local government sale, 20 commercial/multi-unit properties, 19 REACH homes and one HURC home.

Click here for more information on the revival of Evanston's housing market, GCRA, REACH and similar neighborhood projects in Greater Cincinnati.

Film tour highlights issues surrounding the death penalty


On Jan. 16, 2004, the state of Ohio executed Dennis McGuire using an untested cocktail of lethal injection drugs. The result was an execution that lasted nearly 30 minutes and left witnesses aghast at what they had seen.

That execution and the litigation surrounding it is one of the storylines featured in a new documentary film, The Penalty, directed by Will Francome and Mark Pizzey. Recently, Francome and a team of activists traveled around Ohio to screen the film — with three stops in Cincinnati, including one at Xavier University last Wednesday evening.

“Ohio plays such a big part in the film,” says Francome. “We really wanted to bring it here to show the people of the state the unknown story of the litigation around lethal injection.”

The tour was co-hosted by two nonprofits, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center and Ohioans to Stop Executions. IJPC is committed to end local and global systems of injustice; OTSE is a statewide nonprofit group with a mission to reduce the use of capital punishment in Ohio, and eventually repeal it completely.

The Penalty not only focuses on the many problems with lethal injection, but also dives into issues of innocence and the difficulties faced by the families of murder victims. The film centers on three narratives: the story of a man trying to put his life back together after being freed from death row; a murder victim's family’s journey through the legal process; and the efforts of an Ohio attorney to keep his client alive, which ultimately culminated in the botched execution of Dennis McGuire.

“We filmed other stories as part of the film and these stories demanded to be the main focus," says Francome. "They were very compelling, and what makes this film good is that these characters are fighters that really go through something.”

The film's release and the subsequent tour is timely for a Cincinnati man, Raymond Tibbetts, who is scheduled to be executed on Feb. 13. Tibbetts is currently seeking clemency from Governor Kasich, an effort that’s being promoted by OTSE via an online petition.

“It’s an important time to show the film — I just hope that people think about the death penalty and consider what’s being done here,” Francome says.

Abe Bonowitz, an organizer for OTSE, wants Cincinnati to pay attention to this issue and hopes The Penalty will start the discussion in the city. “The state is carrying out the ultimate authority of life in all of our names, and whether we agree with it or not, everybody wants to be sure the system is both fair and accurate. You can’t look at how the system functions and believe that it is either.”

Cincinnati Opera teaming up with OIP to broaden audience awareness

Wrongful convictions occur far too often in our criminal justice system, so the Ohio Innocence Project is teaming up with the Cincinnati Opera and the Young Professionals Choral Collective to collaborate on a new project.

The opera Blind Injustice, named after UC Law Professor and OIP Director Mark Godsey’s book by the same name, will debut in June 2019. It will detail the stories and range of emotions experienced by six men and women — all of whom were wrongly convicted and later exonerated as a result of OIP’s dedication to the truth.

“The stories of these six exonerees are powerful tales of perseverance and forgiveness after going through an ordeal most of us can’t even imagine,” Godsey says.

The stories included are: Rickey Jackson, who spent 40 years in prison and was sentenced to death prior to being exonerated for a murder he did not commit; Clarence Elkins, who spent 7.5 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of rape and murder; Nancy Smith, who was in prison for 15 years as a result of invalid molestation charges; and the East Cleveland 3 — Derrick Wheatt, Laurese Glover and Eugene Johnson — who each spent 20 years in prison prior to a key eyewitness’ recanting of testimony.

According to Marcus Küchle, director of artistic operations and new work development for the Opera, opera is an ideal medium to convey the exonerees’ powerful emotions. “The general public is likely not aware of the extent of this problem. And if they are aware that wrongful convictions occur with not insignificant frequency, then it may be compartmentalized as ‘cost of doing business’ or ‘unfortunate collateral damage’ in the process of keeping society safe. But there is a steep human cost to it. It comes with feelings of being terrified for one’s life, an indescribable feeling of love and longing for family and friends who are literally out of reach and unable to help.”

The OIP will also be represented in Blind Injustice through the lens of two characters — one of which represents Godsey in the early days of his career as a prosecutor and now as an innocence lawyer, and another that will represent OIP law students.

“Cincinnati Opera is looking for innovative ways to collaborate with nontraditional partner organizations in an authentic way to tell current stories of societal importance,” says Küchle. “We are keenly interested in breaking through the stereotypes of what opera is in the 21st century, and this project is a perfect example of the type of new works Cincinnati Opera will pursue in future seasons.”

Flywheel's second cohort to present at Demo Day on Feb. 7

The second cohort of Flywheel’s Elevator social enterprise accelerator program will pitch their companies at a demo day on Feb. 7.

The event, which is open to the public, will feature alumni from the first Elevator program; Tamaya Dennard, who was on the leadership team; and former cohort member Katie Nzekwu of Village, as well as a conversation with Joe DeLoss, the social entrepreneur behind Columbus-based Hot Chicken Takeover.

“If you’ve never attended a demo day, it will be an opportunity for a ‘Shark Tank’ look at four companies,” says Bill Tucker, Flywheel's executive director. “If you’ve attended a demo day for another accelerator, it’s an opportunity to learn about the social enterprise space.”

The four members of Elevator’s second cohort are:

  • Dental Access for All works with under-served communities to provide access to dental care
  • Journey to Hope offers affordable coaching and support groups to individuals
  • urbanHive connects employers with potential hires through a skills-based online platform
  • Workforce Connections provides in-house training, coaching and counseling for entry-level employees

Tucker hopes Elevator Demo Day will attract a diverse audience to learn about these companies and get involved with the program.

“Demo Day is for the business leader who wants to improve both her company’s financial ROI and her care for her employees by becoming a customer of one of our companies; the marketing professional at a bigco that can leverage their marketing talent for the benefit of the companies; the high net-worth individual who is reframing his philanthropy as an investment; and individuals who are interested in making our community stronger, ensuring a thriving economy and sustainability for our families,” Tucker says.

The second Elevator cohort experienced a revamped program that included consumer marketing, business development and branding.

“We really ramped up the curriculum, expanded the length of the program from eight weeks to 12 weeks and increased the ‘bench strength’ of mentors,” says Tucker. “We set higher standards for the participating companies, one of the reasons why the cohort is smaller this year. These are not just business ideas, they are businesses with revenue or pilots in place.”

Unlike other accelerator programs, there won’t be a pitch competition or prizes.

“The ‘winner’ is the company that is still standing years from now,” says Tucker. “We’re proud of the fact that five of the seven companies in our first accelerator are still standing."

Although Demo Day is free, registration is required for the event.

SEED Ohio pilot allows orgs, individuals to donate to saving the planet

SEED Ohio, a pilot program to help raise funds for Ohio environmental nonprofits, will wrap up its inaugural campaign at the end of this month.

“Only three percent of all philanthropic giving goes to environmental causes,” says Jon Cocina, COO of 1% for the Planet, a global network of businesses, nonprofits and individuals working together for a healthy planet. “With this pilot, we wanted to increase impact and innovate to tackle environmental issues in a bigger way."

1% for the Planet not only targets Ohio residents, but also shares the SEED Ohio campaign on its global platform, which provides visibility and awareness of Ohio causes to its members and social media channels.

“SEED Ohio targets people who might not be familiar with environmental organizations so they would be hesitant to pick one nonprofit or one issue to support," Cocina explains. "We created a mobile-friendly, engaging donation platform, and are working with organizations that provide knowledge around their issues that we can share with the donors.”

Donations to the SEED program are split evenly between six Ohio environmental organizations, each one addressing 1% for the Planet’s key issue areas: land, water, climate, food, pollution and wildlife.

The six Ohio organizations include Cuyahoga River Restoration and Western Reserve Land Conservancy in Cleveland; Clean Fuels Ohio and Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association in Columbus; and Building Value and Ohio River Foundation in Cincinnati.

“The SEED partners were already working with 1% for the Planet and doing great, innovative work,” says Cocina. “Each participant will provide metrics on how the donations were used and every donor will receive an impact report.”

1% for the Planet began in 2012 with the idea that companies would donate one percent of their sales to environmental causes. “All businesses take from the environment in some way,” says Cocina. “1% for the Planet offers a way for businesses to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”

1% for the Planet has over 1,200 business members and recently launched an individual membership program for people to commit one percent of their salary to support environmental nonprofit organizations.

“We realized that not everyone is ready or able to give one percent of their sales or salary,” says Cocina. “This pilot is a new platform and engagement opportunity for individuals to give. SEED Ohio lets anyone be part of the movement.”

SEED Ohio will accept donations through Dec. 31. 1% for the Planet will be evaluating the six-month pilot and planning next steps in 2018.

Game-changing $50 million pledge spurs $25 million more for Lindner Center for Hope

Over lunch with his nephew, lawyer and entrepreneur Harry Fath learned that insurance reimbursement rates are poor for mental health treatment in Cincinnati. His nephew, Dr. Brian Dowling, a psychiatrist at the Lindner Center for Hope, says that the Lindner Center’s expenses are on par with general hospitals in the Cincinnati region, but the mental health hospital gets just 30-70 percent of what other fields receive in reimbursement.

Fath and his wife Linda were determined that there was something they could do that would be a game changer for the Center. In stepping up with a $50 million pledge to the Lindner Center, the Faths want to encourage matching contributions on a sustaining basis from across our region.

S. Craig Lindner, co-CEO of American Financial Group, and his wife Frances, who serves on the Lindner Center board, joined the Faths pledge and made the first match — of $25 million. Including the Lindner match, the $75 million total is the largest amount ever received by the Lindner Center.

The Lindner Center opened in 2008 in Mason and is affiliated with UC Health. The Center draws patients from throughout the country and treats about 6,700 patients annually. The Lindner Center offers comprehensive programs and innovative options for treatment and support.

This transformational gift will allow the Center to continue treatment for psychiatric disorders; attract and retain the best doctors; serve patients who need financial assistance; and increase understanding and awareness that effective world class treatment exists locally for psychological problems, behavioral health issues and addiction.

While psychiatric disorders affect about one in four adults, there remains a stigma attached to seeking treatment. The National Institute of Mental Health states that mental disorders are common in the U.S. and internationally — an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year.

In the last 25 years, the understanding of mental illness and the way the brain functions has expanded tremendously, resulting in new programs, services and treatment options that better match patient’s individual needs.

With their generous gifts, the Faths and the Lindners hope to encourage a wider community to join friends and family members who have been impacted by mental health issues to contribute to the Lindner Center — be it a one-time gift or $10, $100 or $1,000+ per year for the next five years.

To learn more about the Lindner Center for Hope, visit lindnercenterofhope.org.

Innovative grantmaking program to help transform the region's health

Today, Bethesda Inc., a major funder of health transformation and cosponsor of TriHealth, announced the launch of bi3, a dedicated grantmaking initiative meant to transform health in the region. bi3 will invest in ideas, with the potential to start and scale health innovation. This will result in better overall health for all of Greater Cincinnati's residents.

“bi3 is the evolution of Bethesda Inc.’s grantmaking work, which builds on our rich history of health-related innovations,” says Mark Holcomb, chairman of Bethesda Inc. “The bi3 initiative better positions us to invest in collaborations and partnerships that lead to breakthrough change in health and healthcare.”

The letters "bi" honor the Bethesda Inc. heritage; the number "3" recognizes that the initiative is built on three core elements — ideas, investments and innovation. It's not a foundation or a hospital, but the result of a philanthropic investor that wants to help transform the health of the region.

As a cosponsor of TriHealth, Bethesda Inc. and bi3 will be able to create and fund collaborations between TriHealth and community-based organizations. As a result, bi3 will have the ability to scale programs more rapidly, setting it apart from other health-related grants.

The initiative will build upon Bethesda Inc.'s learnings and past successes by focusing on four funding priorities, which represent the top health needs in the community: maternal and infant health; behavioral health; palliative and hospice care; and health innovation that are enabled by new technology or accelerate the integration of care.

Overall, bi3 is particularly interested in efforts that achieve health equity by addressing the social determinants of health and health disparities for underserved populations. In the coming months, bi3 will be flexible in its approach to funding in order to best respond to new opportunities and changes within the community.

As part of the launch, bi3 also announced $3.8 million in funding to TriHealth and local nonprofit organizations. Recipients and program info are below:

  • TriHealth in partnership with Hospice of Cincinnati will receive $3.35 million in grant money over three years to launch the first health system-sponsored community-based palliative care program in the region. Once established, the program will relieve physical suffering, manage symptoms, address social needs and support care choices for vulnerable and seriously ill patients and their families. The program, PalliaCare Cincinnati, is expected to provide better care for patients, better health by addressing emotional and phsyical suffering and lower costs from decreased use of acute healthcare services.
  • The Center for Addiction Treatment received a $100,000 grant to provide seed money for the start of a primary care clinic and medical resident training program, specifically designed to treat patients suffering from addiction. The clinic will also serve as a training site for TriHealth residents and others in family practices and internal medicine, so residents can learn evidence-based practices for treating addiction as a disease.
  • Thanks to a $50,000 grant, TriHealth Behavioral Health will define and deploy a Substance Use Disorder Program that will provide clinical training and patient education on comprehensive treatment options. The program will initially focus on patients facing opioid addiction, and will include links to outpatient treatment upon discharge to help prevent further admissions. This program is in the pilot stage at Good Samaritan Hospital.
  • Spry Labs received a $45,000 grant to create a benefit tracker designed for mobile apps, in collaboration with TriHealth. This will allow health system employees a quick, intuitive and convenient way to track time and activities related to delivering community benefit programs. The tracker will also better enable healthcare systems to measure community impact.
  • A $100,000 grant will allow St. Vincent DePaul-Cincinnati to complete a consult agreement with Good Samaritan Free Health Center in Price Hill in order to allow immediate patient care services like modifying current drug therapy, starting new therapy, ordering labs and/or physical assessment of patients. The agreement will have the added benefit of providing insight into this community healthcare model and will offer a breakthrough in safety-net healthcare for patients without insurance.

A collaborative film project to showcase what makes Walnut Hills unique, special

Communities around Cincinnati are experiencing a renaissance — new businesses are recognizing the beautiful bones of our neighborhoods and growing into these interesting spaces.

Walnut Hills is one of those neighborhoods. Its proximity to downtown, historic Art Deco architecture and greenspaces have made it a highly-coveted community for businesses looking to establish themselves.

Yet some residents are concerned about losing the spirit of their neighborhood to the so-called renaissance.

That’s why a new artistic collaboration called “Here. Now. This.” seeks to preserve the character of the neighborhood and make the argument to keep Walnut Hills a little "weird."

“Here. Now. This” is a documentary film that includes footage and still shots by photographer Michael Wilson that capture the eclectic beauty of Walnut Hills. The film is the result of a collaboration between Wilson, musician Ric Hordinksi and the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, along with funding from ArtsWave.

“I hope ‘Here. Now. This.’ preserves the beauty of what Walnut Hills is now," says Betty Waite, CFO for the WHRF. “The beauty is going to change. It’s like the high school graduation picture, preserving the beauty before the big makeover.”

The documentary is scored by Hordinksi, who has been a resident of Walnut Hills since 1992. He says that the stories and sights of his community inspire him every day.

“I’m constantly running into interesting characters. I really love the physicality of the neighborhood; the architecture of the neighborhood.”

Hordinski says he hopes the project can unify redevelopment efforts with the diverse population of Walnut Hills. “When a neighborhood starts to have a renaissance, the things that make the neighborhood unique tend to get washed out,” he says. “I’ve been here for 25 years and we’ve worked hard to preserve the parts of the neighborhood that are amazing and unique.”

“Here. Now. This.” is still being developed with an eye toward completion in early 2018. The collaborators plan to host screenings in Walnut Hills, while also making the film available online.

“It’s important because I want to do my part to give back,” says Hordinksi. “I’ve been enriched by the neighborhood and my neighbors. I just want to share that with other people.”

New restaurant pop-up program to activate downtown space, provide opportunities for biz owners

During a time of great business and economic growth downtown, Downtown Cincinnati Inc. has created a new pop-up program for chefs and potential restaurant owners who want to try their hand at opening a restaurant, rent-free. Bringing together entrepreneurs, artists, makers, small businesses and local property owners to fill vacant spaces and activate downtown will benefit residents, existing businesses and visitors alike.

The City of Cincinnati’s Department of Community and Economic Development, in partnership with DCI, released a Retail Action Plan in 2016 for the Central Business District. The Pop Shop Program is a vital part of implementing the plan. It will help create opportunities for future business owners who have had trouble finding accessible, affordable and flexible spaces, and in turn allow them to create, expand and nurture their small business with relatively low risk.

The term “pop-up” typically refers to a retail, restaurant, event or other business that opens for a short period of time in a vacant space. In downtown Cincinnati, DCI wants to provide business owners an affordable way to test their concepts in a brick-and-mortar location, as well as generate brand awareness and create a new stream of revenue.

The Pop Shop Program was created with the goal of creating a more vibrant street-level environment. According to retail recruiter for DCI, Andrew Naab, the desire is to make downtown an "experience" that can't be replicated in a mall, and is a place for everyone.

“For our restaurant pop shop, done in partnership with Towne Properties, we are looking for those individuals or teams that have experience in the food industry (food trucks, caterers, those that work out of incubation spaces like the Findlay Kitchen) and are interested in taking their concept to the next level,” Naab says.

As for what this will bring to Cincinnati? Naab believes this will give entrepreneurs the drive to continue their business ventures.

“Starting a business is hard, and expensive," he says. "DCI and the City of Cincinnati want to make it as easy as possible to get started, as our small business community provides character, sense of place and quality of life to all in the area.”

The space, 700 Elm St., has almost everything a vendor would need, down to the cookware, plates and utensils. It is over 3,000 square feet, and could be operated collaboratively with two food vendors. Those chosen for the Pop Shop restaurant will receive free rent, but will be responsible for utilities in the space.

The goal is to have each tenant in the space for about a month, starting in January.

Applications are currently being accepted for the program, and people are encouraged to visit DCI's website or contact Naab directly at andrew@downtowncincinnati.com for more information.

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