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Sewendipity Lounge shines as product of SCORE Cincinnati's minority-focused business coaching


The face of Cincinnati entrepreneurship is changing, and one local group is working to support that change.

SCORE Cincinnati has long provided free business coaching and other resources for existing and new businesses, and the organization is currently tightening its focus on female and minority entrepreneurs. Its goal is to provide one-on-one mentoring and access to legal and financial resources via experienced Cincinnati leaders from those underrepresented groups.

“Recently, SCORE increased the number of both women and minority mentors in our ranks to better reflect and serve our clients,” says executive director Betsy Newman. “Currently, 58 percent of our clients are women and 39 percent are minorities, so it makes sense for us to reach out to experienced female and minority businesspeople and recruit them as expert mentors.”

In addition, SCORE facilitates a Women’s CEO Roundtable group that consists of 12 female business owners from non-competing organizations. The newly launched group meets monthly to promote discussion and confidential feedback between female CEOs and business owners.

Karen Williams relied on SCORE’s programs and services in starting her own business, Sewendipity Lounge, which offers a wide range of sewing courses and supplies.

“SCORE gave me the confidence to do something I’ve never done before,” says Williams. “In my former job, I learned every day, but it was nothing like having your own business. What really helped me the most is having the support of other women.”

Sewendipity Lounge recently celebrated one year at its downtown location, which is roughly the same amount of time that Williams has been a member of SCORE’s Women’s CEO Roundtable.

“When you see other women doing amazing things, it gives you the confidence to try new things too,” says Williams. “Many of us share similar issues, so you don’t feel alone. I call the roundtable a ‘finishing school’ for woman business owners. You get a little hand-holding and the camaraderie of other women. It’s been a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it.”

SCORE’s partnerships with the UC Entrepreneurial Center, Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures), Cintrifuse, the Hamilton County Development Center, Morning Mentoring, Queen City Angels, MORTAR and The Hamilton Mill have resulted in making more than $500,000 in small business loans available to more than 600 female entrepreneurs since 2010.

Upcoming SCORE events include:

  • April Member Meeting, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 21
  • Small Business Dream to Reality (Part 1), 9 a.m. to noon, April 22
  • How to Build a Marketing Campaign to Meet Your Growth Objectives, 9 a.m. to noon, April 29
  • Small Business Dream to Reality (Part 2), 9 a.m. to noon, April 29
  • Your Nonprofit Dream to Reality - What It Takes, 8:30 a.m. to noon, May 6
  • Score Presents: The Business of Food, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 8

For more information about SCORE resources and events, or to volunteer as a mentor, call 513-684-2812 or visit greatercincinnati.score.org.
 


Women In Digital conference to feature Cincy's most influential female leaders


On April 6, professional association Women In Digital will host its first ever symposium, featuring some of Cincinnati’s most recognizable female marketers.

The day-long event will take place at Rhinegeist and, according to the group’s website, will feature talks and activities “meant to inspire, educate and empower women in digital media and marketing; leaving them with a powerful local network.”

Featured topics and speakers will include:

  • Welcome, Women In Digital founder Alaina Shearer, who also founded Columbus-based Cement Media
  • Building and Communicating Confidence, Kelsey Pytlik, co-founder and CEO, Gild Collective
  • Women in Leadership: You Have the Power to Make a Difference, Amy Vaughan, creative director, POSSIBLE

A panel entitled “The Future of Influence” will feature:

“Ultimately, we aim to create a network of women in digital across the country who are bound by a pledge to grant each other what we call ‘asks’ and ‘gives,’” says Shearer. “(These are) essentially favors all meant to improve each other's personal and professional lives. The power of learning to ask each other for help is transformative for our members and you can imagine the impact that has for each of them.”

Shearer says speakers and panelists for the event were selected through a combination of “good old-fashioned LinkedIn stalking” and organic outreach via WID’s extensive network. She hopes event attendees will leave feeling empowered to organize their own quarterly meetings and facilitate conversations on the critical issues facing women in marketing around the world.

WID currently extends membership exclusively to women; however, the group plans to extend a portion of tickets for programming later this year to male participants. Specifically, four percent of ticket sales will be reserved for men — a number that reflects the percentage of women nationally who occupy CEO positions with Fortune 500 companies.

Shearer adds, as a special note for Soapbox readers, that readers whose “male bosses will not purchase their tickets” to the event should contact Alaina@womenin.digital for assistance.
 


'Engaged' local orgs win big at Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit


Five Cincinnati grassroots organizations each received $10,000 in city grants to fund their innovative ideas at the 2017 Engage Cincy Grant Awards ceremony. The event took place last weekend at Xavier’s Cintas Center as part of the annual Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit.

The annual Neighborhood Summit is presented by Invest in Neighborhoods, in partnership with the City of Cincinnati, the Community Building Institute, LISC and the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati. Hundreds of community leaders, volunteers, city officials and nonprofit professionals were on hand for day-long discussions focused on helping groups work more effectively to improve the quality of life across Greater Cincinnati.

More than 120 applicants submitted proposals for this year’s Engage Cincy grants. The field was then narrowed down to 10 finalists by a selection committee. City Manager Harry Black reviewed the committee’s recommendations before awarding grants of $10,000 each to the following projects:

Healthy Food for All Northsiders
Project leads: Churches Active in Northside (CAIN), Apple Street Market Cooperative Grocery Story and the Northside Farmers Market
This group’s mission is to build community through food-sharing by offering quarterly community meals and cooking demonstrations based on healthy, affordable recipes that use ingredients from community gardens and farmers’ markets.

Just Hire Me
Project lead: Lawrence Jones
This staffing platform offers a website and mobile app that works to connect neighborhood teens with businesses that are looking for employees. Participating teens age 14-18 can take part in a four-week job-readiness “boot camp” that helps them effectively interview, establish their own bank account and secure employment in the community.

Physi
Project lead: Marty Boyer
Physi’s state-of-the-art activity platform uses artificial intelligence to promote active lifestyles by connecting like-minded residents based on activities, interests, physical proximity and availability. Physi is available via mobile app and online.

Bridgeable
Project lead: Dani Isaacsohn
Bridgeable organizers collect community data and feedback and alert leaders to the conversations going on in their communities, thereby enabling conversations that lead to healthier relationships, better decisions and stronger communities.

Faces of Homelessness
Project leads: ArtWorks and Strategies to End Homelessness
This public art, public education and community engagement program was designed to encourage empathy and understanding by engaging local agencies and shelters with the populations they serve. The program pairs paid youth apprentices with professional artists on a variety of art and community-building projects that will include a permanent public art mural on Vine Street, in partnership with the Over-the-Rhine Community Housing’s Recovery Hotel.

“Every year it seems that the submissions become more creative in the ways they want to go about making our neighborhoods more engaging places to live,” says City Manager Black, who received unanimous support from the Mayor and City Council for the awards program. “We want that trend to continue for years to come.”

For photos from the event and more information about the Neighborhood Summit, check out the event’s Facebook page.
 


AIGA supports future female leaders with March 31 gallery event


Cincinnati AIGA, the local chapter of a national group that supports female leaders, will extend its message to school-age girls with a Spicefire gallery event later this month.

For the second year, AIGA Cincinnati will honor Women’s History Month by presenting a “Words of Wisdom” gallery show in collaboration with the organization’s 18-month-old WomanUp initiative, which was created to address the challenges women face in obtaining creative leadership positions both locally and nationwide.

“Nationally, women only make up 11 percent of creative director jobs, despite the fact that the majority of designers, marketers and advertisers are female professionals,” says AIGA Cincinnati president and WomanUp co-founder Autumn Heisler. “We’re still having trouble getting women into that highest leadership level.”

“Words of Wisdom” will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on March 31 at Spicefire art gallery in Over-the-Rhine. The exhibit will feature work from established local artists and designers, as well as work by young women from area schools. That portion of the artwork will be presented by Girls with Pearls Cincinnati, a local chapter of the national nonprofit that focuses on empowering underserved girls who are facing challenging situations.

Girls with Pearls was founded locally by Tamie Sullivan. It started at Rockdale Academy in 2016, providing elementary and junior high school girls with a safe space to talk about and work through issues like self-esteem, their bodies and body image, sexuality and healthy relationships. 

"I could not be more excited about this new partnership with WomanUp ‘Words of Wisdom’ and the opportunity to expose girls in our program to professional women in creative fields,” Sullivan says. “These African-American girls are often forced to grow up faster than their counterparts in more affluent communities. They face more difficult life circumstances and increased responsibilities, so allowing them to just be girls and dream about their futures is what it’s all about." 

Sullivan says that she and other GWP organizers are extremely invested in the success of young women in the program. “One of the girls told me she had just been elected class president,” Sullivan says. “I was so proud and excited for her, almost like she were my own daughter.”

The free AIGA “Words of Wisdom” event is open to the public, but make sure to register ahead of time. Artists and designers interested in submitting work for the show should click here for more info.
 


Thrive Impact Sourcing's disruptive methods impact local employment rates


Since Thrive Impact Sourcing started in January 2016, the company has connected 35 unemployed and underemployed local residents with high-quality IT careers.
 
Kelly Dolan and Michael Kroeger started the company to address three realities in our region:
 
  1. Greater Cincinnati has a shortage of IT professionals; there are 3,000 unfilled positions at any given time. Many organizations have looked to offshore IT services or bring offshore resources onshore to fill this IT talent gap. 
  2. This creates a number of challenges in itself, and the challenges are likely to grow exponentially with policies being discussed under the new presidential administration.
  3. Cincinnati has an alarming poverty rate, with one in four residents living in poverty due to unemployment or underemployment.  
Dolan explains that when you look at these three factors combined: “Creating a business to be used as a force for good in being part of the solution is a no-brainer.”
 
Last year, Soapbox explained the disruptive “urban impact sourcing” model that Thrive uses to create high-quality opportunities in low-employment, urban areas. Thrive partners with nonprofit IT trainers Per Scholas — which has 20 years of experience — to give individuals free training they couldn’t receive anywhere else, as well as ongoing mentorship from senior IT professionals.
 
Using this model, Thrive brings a competitive and competent pool of IT talent to the marketplace.
 
“Thrive is fortunate to have mission-aligned, client partners who were early adopters of this disruptive business model,” says Dolan. “Our services also met a real need for their growing organizations.” CareSource and Crossroads are two area employers that have partnered with Thrive in its first year of business.
 
Dolan points to personal stories from Per Scholas graduates as evidence that the program, one of only two of its kind in the nation, is working to transform lives.
 
“I was living my dream as a stay-at-home mom when I found myself widowed at 31 with five young children to raise,” says Thrive software QA analyst and Per Scholas graduate Kelly K. “I had a few part-time jobs paying around $10 per hour and was getting increasingly distressed because I didn’t have any marketable skills to find a job that pays a sustainable wage. The Per Scholas software testing course was my ‘hail Mary,’ and now that I’m working at Thrive, I have a bright future and my family’s lives are changed.”
 

2017 Neighborhood Summit will feature how-to workshops that prompt big ideas


Greater Cincinnati's distinctive neighborhoods are growing at a remarkable pace, and it's thanks in part to events like the upcoming Neighborhood Summit.

The 15th annual Neighborhood Summit, which will take place March 11 at Xavier's Cintas Center, is presented by Invest in Neighborhoods, in partnership with the City of Cincinnati, the Community Building Institute, LISC and the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati.

The event attracts hundreds of community leaders and volunteers, city officials and nonprofit professionals for a day of discussions focused on helping groups work more effectively to improve the quality of life across Greater Cincinnati. The summit also features grants and awards for community members whose projects and efforts are making a difference or bringing a neighborhood together in a new way.
 
Last year’s Neighborhood Summit drew more than 600 attendees, with the theme of “Making Your Place” that highlighted community gardens, arts festivals, neighborhood beautification projects and other placemaking initiatives.
 
According to Summit chair Elizabeth Bartley, event planners send out a community survey each year in late summer to gauge what is topically important. A steering committee made up of various Cincinnati leaders then compiles that feedback into guideposts for selecting speakers and sessions.
 
“Like everything else, the Summit evolves and changes to fit what’s going on in our city,” Bartley says. “When it was first started, many neighborhoods simply did not know how the city worked and what was available to them.”
 
Bartley says the Summit has evolved to feature a series of how-to workshops where participants can learn about everything from grantwriting and applying for city services to getting insurance. Breakout sessions are subdivided into seven key areas: health, housing, economy, transportation, education, infrastructure and safety. Click here for more information on this year’s workshops.
 
“Anyone can join in at any time to any topic, roll up their sleeves and work in small groups toward brainstorming ideas and identifying actions that can be taken, whether large or small,” Bartley says.
 
Bartley thinks that level of knowledge sharing among leaders is what makes the Summit impactful. “I have heard many exclamations of, ‘I didn’t know you were doing that! What a great idea!’ and that’s the spark that builds collaboration,” she says.

The Summit is free to attend, however registration is encouraged. Click here to RSVP. Anyone wishing to attend the kickoff dinner Friday, March 10 can purchase tickets here
 
Vendor tables are available to non-profits, city departments, and community organizations for $135.
 

Nonprofits to pitch goals and strategies to the public at SVP's Fast Pitch


On March 1, 10 area nonprofits will compete for $30,000 in award money at Social Venture Partners’ fourth annual Fast Pitch competition. Much like startup pitch nights and Demo Days, the event will pit the organizations against each other in three-minute presentations.

You can read about last year's winners here.
 
SVP is part of an international network of 3,500 partners that invest their time, talent and grant money in innovative ways to help strengthen local nonprofits. The organization’s goal is to enable its investees to make the region a stronger and more vibrant community.
 
The event helps the public learn about different nonprofits and what the innovative work they’re doing in the community. The Fast Pitch program begins with 25 local nonprofits, which were chosen from a total of 45 applicants. After three and a half weeks of practicing their pitches, the nonprofits competed in the semi-finals, and 10 nonprofits were left standing.
 
Those 10 groups have been working on their pitches with D. Lynn Meyers, the Cincinnati Ensemble Theatre’s producing artistic director, and Jay Shatz, an Emmy-award winning report.
 
The nonprofits that will present at the Fast Pitch finals at Duke Energy Convention Center are:
 
Adopt-a-Class, Price Hill: A group mentoring experience that connects businesses and civic groups with students, inspiring a corporate culture of teamwork and philanthropy while giving hope and a vision of what is possible for the youth of the future
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Over-the-Rhine: Each year, its education program sees 50,000 students from 200 schools in three states.
Cincinnati Union Cooperative, OTR: Partners with individuals and organizations to create worker-owned businesses that sustain families and communities.
Circle Tail, Pleasant Plain, Ohio: Provides service and hearing dogs for people with disabilities, at no cost.
Crayons to Computers, Norwood: Serves the educational and imaginative needs of kids in Greater Cincinnati by providing donated items from businesses and the community to teachers for use in their classrooms.
Drug Free Clubs of America, Glendale: A voluntary program where high school students, with parental permission, submit to voluntary drug testing.
Faith Community Pharmacy, Florence: Provides necessary medications and pharmaceutical care to those who are unable to pay for it.
Per Scholas, OTR: Opens doors to technology careers for people from often-overlooked communities.
Women’s Crisis Center Green Dot, Northern Kentucky: Focused on preventing power-based personal violence.
Wordplay Cincinnati, Northside: A community of experts, artists, volunteers and donors who strive to equip K-12th graders with learning programs that focus on reading, writing and communicating.
 
Since its inception, the Fast Pitch finals has grown from 100 attendees to 550 last year; this year, they expect about 750 people to come. With that growth, there will be something new at this year’s event: the audience will get to vote for an Audience Choice Award.  
 
Tickets are $45-60 and can be purchased online; doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the event starts at 6:30 p.m. There will be a cash bar, small bites and an after-party for everyone who attends.
 

Sustainability advocate Rob Richardson joins Cincinnati mayoral race


Amidst a period of unprecedented growth for downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Cincinnati as a whole, sustainability advocate Rob Richardson, Jr. recently announced that he will join the 2017 mayoral race. His "One Cincinnati" platform emphasizes innovation, inclusion and a personal belief in the city motto of “Juncta Juvant” (Strength in Unity).
 
“Rob’s ultimate goal,” says campaign manager Daniel O’Connor, “is to leverage the expansive variety of talent and resources our city offers to provide and expand opportunities to all people that live here, regardless of race, gender or neighborhood.”
 
As chairman of the Board of Trustees for UC — the second-largest university in the state and the city’s largest employer — Richardson has forged relationships with leading sectors that include business, education, local startups, technology, community activism and more. It's an integrative approach that has allowed him to move outside the political realm, and one that he feels will enable him to leverage Cincinnati’s ever-growing pool of talent.
 
A teacher once told a 13-year-old Richardson that he was not intelligent enough to go to college. In response, his mother instilled in him the belief that limited expectations don't matter, reminding him at every turn that, “You define yourself, for yourself, by yourself.”

How does Richardson define himself? As an innovator and a person who actively pushes back against the status quo to find unique and effective solutions to any problem.
 
Richardson reinforced that conviction at the press conference where he announced his decision to run. He said that the election is not about the streetcar, west side vs. east side or a battle between political parties, genders or races. Instead, Richardson said, the election is about the type of city that we want Cincinnati to be, now and in the future.
 
To learn more about Richardson — the person and the candidate — visit www.robforcincinnati.com or his campaign’s Facebook page.
 

Creative App Project and Future Leaders of OTR partner to create app and community


The new “Treasures of OTR” Android app that leads users on a scavenger hunt to find Over-the-Rhine community landmarks comes with a surprise backstory: It was created by 12 young people in the Future Leaders of Over-the-Rhine program with the assistance of the Creative App Project.

For the students, the experience turned out to be about much more than the technical side of building a smartphone app.
 
Creative App Project, the People’s Liberty-funded endeavor of Mark Mussman, has been around for over a year now and had some success with its adult class, where individuals created apps ranging from biking calendars to historic preservation platforms to selfie tools.
 
The class as a group also created Upz in collaboration with the Safe and Supported program to help connect LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness with resources and services. The app was presented at the True Colors Summit in Houston last year, an iOS version is currently in development and more than 100 people have downloaded it to their devices, which pleases Mussman.
 
“The idea is that as many people have it on their phones as possible so that then if you or someone you know is in a crisis, you have that information readily available,” he says.
 
The success of Upz and the first class pushed the Creative App Project to expand in new directions, including moving into teen education this summer. Although Mussman originally envisioned CAP as primarily adult education, two 17-year-olds participated in his 2015 class, which opened his eyes to the need for technology skills education for youth.
 
Mussman points out that just because young “digital natives” grow up using technology doesn’t mean they have the skills to build it.
 
“Not all kids have technology skills,” he says. “The fact of the matter is they’re going to be consumers rather than producers.”
 
Mussman saw an opportunity for collaboration between CAP and OTR Future Leaders, the nonprofit program for young people ages 13-17 who either live or go to school in Over-the-Rhine. The program focuses on social and personal development, community engagement and being guided by the interests of the youth participants.
 
Mussman and CAP facilitator Key Beck took these goals to heart when working with the Future Leaders. The class met just four times but packed a lot into those few sessions, using the process of creating an app as a lens for exploring themselves and their community.
 
“We asked them ‘What is the make up of their community? What are they grateful for? What are the stories of their community?’” Mussman says. “They responded with ‘We love our neighborhood, we want to show it off in some way.’ In one of the early brainstorms, one of them said ‘What if we did a scavenger hunt?’”
 
The students were divided into teams based on their strengths and interests to work on different elements of the app: art and design, storytelling and programming.
 
“Future Leaders are always so excited and enthusiastic about doing stuff, we have to say ‘You can’t do everything,’” Mussman says.
 
They came up with the concept of using fragments of pictures combined with clues to direct app users to each stop on the scavenger hunt. Once the user gets there, he/she must check in using the GPS on their phone. (Mussman points out that the app was developed before Pokemon Go was released.)
 
As the students selected the stops that would be featured, more questions about the nature of their community emerged.
 
“We talked about places in their community and they would say, ‘I’ve never been in there,’” Future Leaders Youth Program Director Renáe Banks says. “When we talk about being inclusive, there are kids who have lived in their community all 12 or 14 years of their life and these new businesses are popping up and they’ve never been inside.”
 
Once the stops were chosen and the prototype created, the Future Leaders class got the first opportunity to test their own app.
 
“It was neat to see them play the game and get excited about it, seeing the little circle and saying, ‘I know where that is!’” Mussman says.
 
Banks agrees, saying, “They had a blast!”
 
For the students, it was an opportunity to see their ideas come to life.
 
“I can’t believe it was so easy to put our ideas to real life,” Leonate Moore says.
 
“The process was easy, all we had to do is put our ideas together to make it for people to download,” Dionne Parker says in agreement.
 
Banks encourages the public to download “Treasures of OTR,” both to experience Future Leaders’ vision of their community and as inspiration for more technology. She wants to see more apps designed by and for local communities.
 
“Downloading the app gives them tangible evidence that people care about what they do, that they have an impact on the community,” Banks says. “We need more apps like this! I want people not only to say, ‘Look what the youth did,’ but to see it as a foundation they can build upon.”
 
“One of the things we saw come out of the first class was that lots of the ideas had something to do with Cincinnati,” says Mussman, who plans to continue building CAP classes. “It’s something we really need in our community. We need to have more technology education accessible to everyone.”
 

Learning to treat nonprofits as more than charity cases


The U.S. nonprofit sector has been set up to fail, Dan Pallotta says. A centuries-old Puritanical approach casts all nonprofits as charities in Americans’ eyes, making it difficult or impossible for organizations to reinvest money in themselves and thus create stronger and more effective operations.

Nonprofits are usually forced to forego the kinds of basic business tools that for-profit businesses invest in every day — from new computers and basic building repairs to employee training and marketing — to ensure that “overhead” remains low. The organizations might save themselves from the “temptation” of overspending, but at what cost?
 
“Why have our breast cancer charities not come close to finding a cure for breast cancer or our homeless charities not come close to ending homelessness in any major city,” author and advocate Pallotta asks in a 2013 TED Talk. “Why has poverty remain stuck at 12 percent of the U.S. population for 40 years? The things we’ve been taught to think about giving and about charity and about the nonprofit sector are actually undermining the causes we love and our profound yearning to change the world.”

Pallotta’s books Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential and Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up For Itself and Really Change the World lay out the basic framework for his latest endeavor, the Charity Defense Council. Tom Callinan, former Cincinnati Enquirer editor, serves on its advisory board.

After retiring from journalism, Callinan threw himself into working with local nonprofits like Charitable Words, which he founded and still directs, and Social Venture Partners. Those efforts have connected him with dozens of other local and national nonprofits.

“I never knew how hard it would be,” Callinan says. “Especially raising money.”
 
Since Pallotta began aggressively agitating on behalf of the nonprofit sector, Callinan says he’s begun to see a slow shift on how nonprofits and their funders approach their work and giving.

“You hear more and more discussion about impact now, not overhead,” he says. “The whole industry is starting to get that now, and Dan has certainly been a catalyst for that.”
 
Pallotta points out that nonprofits often lose their effectiveness when they don’t invest in basic business tools, making it nearly impossible for them to actually accomplish the lofty goals they seek. The misguided “overhead myth” creates insurmountable obstacles to moving the needle on causes we hold most dear — poverty, homelessness, curing cancer, treating AIDS and so on.
 
“These social problems are massive in scale, and our organizations are tiny up against them,” Pallotta says in his TED Talk. “And we have a belief system that keeps them tiny. (But) which makes more sense: Go out and find the most innovative researcher in the world and give her $350,000 for research, or give her a fundraising department and use the $350,000 to multiply it into $194 million for her breast cancer research?”

Pallotta says the current “overhead myth” view of nonprofits stems from a concept created 400 years ago when the Puritans ventured to the New World to escape persecution and make their fortunes. They considered the very practice of making money to be sinful, requiring penance, which they turned into charitable giving. Their 5 percent tithe to charitable causes (in those days more direct contribution to poor individuals than to social service organizations) created the moralistic framework that still guides our thinking about giving to this day.
 
Pallotta experienced the “overhead myth” firsthand through his own nonprofit, Pallotta TeamWorks, which he founded in 1994 to raise money via multi-day biking and walking events. He raised funds to benefit AIDS and breast cancer charities, and the hugely successful events netted $305 million (after all expenses) in nine years.
 
Suddenly, in 2002, major sponsors began to abandon TeamWorks. There had been a lot of negative press around his organization, specifically regarding its overhead expenses — in his case, a full 40 percent of all revenue was being used to provide better customer service and create magic experiences at the events while investing heavily in marketing and fundraising.
 
In short order, press attacks shuttered the TeamWorks doors, 400 jobs evaporated overnight and AIDS and breast cancer charities lost some of their biggest annual fundraising events. Assuming that Pallotta’s success would have continued otherwise, those same causes have cumulatively lost hundreds of millions dollars in the years since.
 
Callinan recalls the first time he heard Pallotta speak while in California for a conference.

“He talked about the media and how the public does not understand these ideas (of the overhead myth),” Callinan says. “I walked up to him afterwards and said, 'You have just changed the way I think about this issue after 35 years in the media business.’”
 
He says he then began to wonder, “How much damage have I done by not understanding these ideas? How many times (while at The Enquirer) did I order a little graphic showing 'overhead’ to print alongside a story about a nonprofit?”
 
Callinan points out that local organizations such as People’s Liberty and ArtsWave have funding models that look more at impact than at how every dollar is spent. They recognize that training, buildings and computers are important tools and that, without them, nonprofits might be less effective.
 
Pallotta established the Charity Defense Council to combat our counterproductive approach to and perceptions about charitable giving. It’s currently collecting feedback on an initiative called Rethinking Charity, which asks people to watch Pallotta’s TED Talk and take a short survey to collect their impressions. Watch the talk here and take the five-minute survey via a link on the page.

Director of Mobilization Jason Lynch says that survey results so far have already helped to create a stronger framework for the Council’s mission and recruit interested individuals to the cause, and he’s hoping that the data will eventually help make the case for additional funding for the Council.
 

Skube founder benefits from local entrepreneurial programs, gives back to other startups


For local entrepreneur Monica Kohler, a simple idea has become a growing business thanks in part to Cincinnati’s startup ecosystem and range of support programs for entrepreneurs.
 
Like many businesses, Skube began with a need that led to an idea.
 
Kohler and many of her female friends and family members were fitting exercise into busy schedules and didn’t always have time to change out of leggings or athletic clothing after a workout and before going out to eat or to pick up a child from school. Kohler wanted an article of clothing that covered from the waist to the knees and transformed workout clothes into fun and expressive casual attire. She had some sewing skills, so after years of talking about the idea with friends she created a skirt in the form of a tube — the first skube.
 
The prototype Kohler created and wore got so much interest from her own circles that she began to wonder if she might actually be onto something. After nearly a year of wearing her skubes and making them for friends and family, she enrolled in ArtWorks’ Co-Starters program to explore turning the idea into a business.
 
That exploration proved to be the first step on a new path for Kohler.
 
“I had no idea Cincinnati had such a deep, rich pool of entrepreneurs and programs to help someone move into that space,” she says. “I wasn’t aware there were so many people willing to share their wisdom.”
 
With a background as a nurse practitioner and years of experience in healthcare management, making and selling skubes was a completely different direction for Kohler, but after developing her business idea through Co-Starters she took the leap. She started working more on designs, creating simple reversible tube skirts with a variety of bright, expressive colors and patterns and selling them at street fairs and festivals.
 
The response she got from consumers inspired her to continue building the business.
 
“I was encouraged to take the next step, which for me was Bad Girl Ventures,” Kohler says.
 
She is now a graduate of BGV’s first “Launch” class, designed to help newly established women entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level. For Kohler, this intense, focused class was helpful for answering the question, “I have a product that seems to be in demand, now what do I do?”
 
The class, along with mentorship from Jim Cunningham of Queen City Angels, helped Kohler lay out the next steps for Skube.
 
Then, just before graduating Launch, Kohler went to a Small Business Association mixer at Rhinegeist and met John Spencer of First Batch. Skube is the kind of product First Batch looks for — a manufactured product that’s been tested by the market and is ready to scale up production.
 
Skube was accepted into the current 20-week First Batch accelerator program, where Kohler will find ways to produce more skubes and begin selling them online through a newly re-designed website (currently under construction).
 
“I’m a believer in hard work and being where you need to be, but I’m also sort of a believer in serendipity,” Kohler says. “It was always in my mind how much help I received, and I wanted to not lose that.”
 
Kohler feels she’s received the help of Cincinnati’s innovation ecosystem at every step in her journey, and along the way she’s committed to giving back as well.
 
“Strong women can help young girls become strong women,” she says.
 
Kohler helps by giving back and sponsoring programs when she can for organizations like Girls on the Run and Mortar, making possible for others the same support and mentorship that have helped her grow her passion into a business.
 

People's Liberty hosts Globe Grant info session, accepting applications for 2017


People’s Liberty hosted “Globe in the Dark” June 24 to introduce Julia Fischer’s Play Library, the second of three winners of its 2016 Globe Grants that award exhibition projects $15,000 and six weeks in its Globe Gallery storefront across from Findlay Market.
 
Fischer’s Play Library is exactly what it sounds like, a “library” that loans toys and games instead of books. Through donations, memberships and the help of volunteers, the project aims to make a variety of toys and games accessible to people of all ages to encourage the benefits of creative play.
 
For visitors who might be inspired by Play Library’s opening to ask themselves what they’d do with the gallery space, Globe in the Dark came at a perfect time — the 2017 Globe Grant application process is now open.
 
“We are extremely excited about the next round of Globe Grants,” says Jake Hodesh, People’s Liberty Vice President of Operations. “We have high hopes for 2017, and we think the applications will be as strong as ever.”
 
For applicants who want to learn more about Globe Grants, People’s Liberty is hosting an information session at 6 p.m. June 28 at its Over-the-Rhine headquarters. Like all People’s Liberty grants, winning projects should be fun and engaging but also have a lasting impact on the community.
 
“The best applications to date have given the public a reason to come back to the Globe storefront again and again,” Hodesh says. “We’re looking for individuals in the Greater Cincinnati area who have exciting ideas to transform the storefront. This isn’t just an opportunity to hang artwork — this is a chance for someone or a small group of folks to create a one-of-a-kind unique experience.”
 
People’s Liberty staff members are available for one-on-one informational meetings with potential applicants July 5-19. The final deadline to apply for a 2017 Globe Grant is July 20.
 

SE Cincy launches Elevator program to accelerate social enterprises


Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub and its Social Enterprise Cincy program continue to make big strides and take local social entrepreneurs with them. Now the organizations have added another tool for supporting and growing nonprofits and businesses with a “double bottom line” that aim to do good and earn revenue at the same time.
 
Flywheel moved into Cintrifuse’s Union Hall building on Vine Street several months ago, linking the organization even closer to the #StartupCincy community.
 
Flywheel Executive Director Bill Tucker and staff have been able to see first-hand how programs like The Brandery, Ocean and UpTech make a substantial impact on local startups. These accelerator and incubator programs inspired SE Cincy to start a similar resource and support program for social enterprises dubbed Elevator.
 
“Our move to Union Hall in March really helped accelerate that because we were immersed in the community and those organizations are interested in what we’re doing,” Tucker says.
 
According to Tucker, many social enterprises face similar challenges as new for-profit startups, and it made sense that they could benefit from a similar program.
 
With collaborators and inspiration from Design Impact, United Way and elsewhere, SE Cincy is currently taking applications for its new program, dubbed an “elevator” to set it apart from accelerators and incubators. Like an accelerator or incubator, the program will provide social enterprises with classes, resources and mentorship to help them get their footing and raise capital.
 
“Unlike the other accelerators, we don’t have a financial reward at the end,” Tucker says. “Our focus is on getting people in front of impact investors and ready to be investable.”
 
Using this “teach a man to fish” model, SE Cincy Elevator will use curriculum and mentorship to position participants in front of funders who see their return on investment as both financial and having social value.
 
SE Cincy Elevator will differ from other accelerators and incubators in a few other ways as well. To tailor the program to social entrepreneurs, SE Cincy has formatted it to fit the schedules of individuals working full time — meaning much of the 20-hour-per-week, eight-week-long commitment will take place on evenings, with options for online curriculum.
 
Applications are open until July 4 for the program’s first round, and only five social enterprises will be chosen for this pilot run. SE Cincy is looking for enterprises that are market-tested (either through market research or taking the solution to market), can have a substantial impact on the Cincinnati region and are viable, scalable and ready to grow. Incorporating technology would be helpful but isn’t a requirement.
 
Tucker says that the most important requirement of any applicant is a team of dedicated, passionate people willing to work hard for eight weeks in preparation for Demo Day at the Social Enterprise Cincinnati Summit on Oct. 3.
 

Bad Girl Ventures graduates first "Launch" class of women entrepreneurs


Bad Girl Ventures will hold a graduation event for its first “Launch” class at New Riff Distilling on Wednesday, June 15. The eight graduating businesses have just completed the “Launch” segment of BGV’s revamped “Explore, Launch, Grow” program, meaning they’re women entrepreneurs already somewhat established in their businesses and ready to take them to the next level.
 
BGV Executive Director Nancy Aichholz explains that the new format of Launch classes provide participants with a smaller, more intimate and more focused experience than they would have gotten in BGV’s previous class formats.
 
“We saw extreme growth from the day they started in Launch,” Aichholz says. “We were so impressed. This group was very supportive of each other, but they were all business. There was no messing around — these women were serious.”
 
The graduation event will give attendees a chance to learn about the companies, both through conversational networking and short 30-second pitches given by each business. The event will also feature tours of New Riff Distillery in Bellevue, refreshments and the presentation of a $25,000 investment loan award to the winning participant’s company.
 
Although BGV doesn’t directly fund all the participants of its classes, it does set them up to fundraise for capital on their own. The organization is also trying a new peer-to-peer fundraising platform on its Facebook page to encourage individuals to fundraise and become funders.
 
In addition to the pitches and awards, the event’s keynote speaker will be Kenton County Judge Executive Kris Knochelmann, speaking about the innovation and entrepreneurship boom in Northern Kentucky. The choice of speaker is particularly appropriate as BGV is preparing to move into its new permanent facility in downtown Covington in about a month.
 
“We really want it to be a resource center for all female entrepreneurs,” Aichholz says of the new Pike Street space. “I think it’s going to be very exciting.”
 
Aichholz says the space will allow BGV to continue to expand, including fully kick-starting its “Grow” workshops in the fall. Those workshops, the final puzzle piece of the “Explore, Launch, Grow” system, will offer la carte classes and discussions of issues of interest to women entrepreneurs but, unlike most of BGV programming, will also be open to men.
 

TEDx Cincinnati Main Stage event aims to open minds and share ideas


TEDx Cincinnati’s seventh annual Main Stage event will take place June 16 at the Cincinnati Masonic Center downtown. The theme is “LEAP,” inspired by the fact that 2016 is a leap year.
 
“It’s really about what are the big leaps in the future,” says organizer Jami Edelheit. “How do we advance? How do we grow? As a community, as a people, as technologies?”
 
These themes are evident in the signature element of any TED or TEDx (independently organized) event — the series of short talks given by people passionate about a wide variety of ideas. This year’s speakers include a mixture of local names and national personalities, and the topics they’ll cover range from virtual reality to stem cell medical technologies to music and acrobatic movement, just to name a few.
 
But Edelheit emphasizes that the Main Stage event is about more than the individual speakers. It’s an entire experience created by combining speakers and the earlier Innovation Alley happy hour prior and the conversations sparked by both.
 
“We try to have a bunch of different themes that are kind of like a puzzle when you’re putting it together,” she says. “These are all short talks, and it’s all woven together into a production. I just find it fascinating.”
 
The production begins with the interactive Innovation Alley at 5 p.m. (registration begins at 4:30), curated with the help of Xavier University’s Center for Innovation, where attendees will be able to see and learn about a variety of innovations and ideas. The happy hour event will include food and drink and serve as the venue for the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association to present its GCVA Recognizes awards.
 
Following Innovation Alley, 15 speakers will present in the theater. For Edelheit, though, this doesn’t mean stopping the evening’s participation, only changing it. She hope the talks will spark new ideas in Cincinnati makers, doers and thinkers and encourages audience members to be present, engage with the ideas and talk with each other.
 
“The main thing is to be open, just be open,” she says. “You’re not coming to get lectured at. Have fun and meet new people who are thinkers and doers.”
 
Tickets to the Main Stage event are available here.
 
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