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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.”
 

kW Hydroelectric works to harness the future of hydroelectricity


Hamilton-based kW River Hydroelectric joined the water accelerator program Pipeline H2O to develop technology that could transform the future of hydroelectric power generation.

“Our module allows significant amounts of power to be extracted from the fall of water over a low-level dam,” says Paul R. Kling, chief operating officer. “This will have a significant worldwide impact in the energy industry, as well as substantial implications for humanitarian efforts supplying power to underdeveloped regions.”

At the center of the module is the Williams Cross-Flow Turbine, which was developed by retired Air Force officer Fred Williams. While working at Cintrifuse, Williams met Kling, who had recently retired from Duke Energy. Together they formed kW Hydroelectric to turn Williams’s invention into a system to generate electricity.

The turbine is designed specifically for low-head dams, weir-like structures that span the width of a river or stream, creating a drop of 1-15 feet in water level. Thousands of these dams were built in the 19th and 20th centuries to power mills, feed canals and improve municipal water supplies. Unfortunately, the dams also create dangerous currents for swimmers and boaters. In addition to generating electricity, the turbine also improves safety for recreational water users.

“The turbine is installed on the downstream side of the dam and the top of the device creates a slope from the top of the dam to the water surface,” Kling says. “The energy we’re taking out is the backflow that made the dams so dangerous. The water not going through the turbine flows over the top, allowing fish, debris and even canoes to travel safely downstream.”

Because most dams are owned by local, state or federal agencies, kW Hydroelectric has developed flexible models for deploying its system. The dam owner may purchase the equipment outright and install it themselves, or have kW Hydroelectric install the system. King and Williams are also working on agreements with dam owners where kW Hydroelectric builds, owns, operates and maintains the system directly. Each system is anticipated to last 30 years and generate enough revenue to cover costs within the first eight years.

This technology will require EPA approval, and less than a month into the Pipeline program, kW Hydroelectric has already started setting up those meetings, as well as meetings with the Department of Commerce and Small Business Administration.

“We need to get more exposure to State of Ohio officials to have them recognize how significant the development of our technology could be for the state as a renewable energy source and a source of new manufacturing jobs,” Kling says. “This is also a great example of academic and industry collaboration within the state, and can further put the state at the center of water resource development.”

kW Hydroelectric tested a laboratory-scale version of the turbine at Central State University and is completing computational fluid dynamics testing there as well. In the coming months, the team plans to implement a fully functional field test with the City of Hamilton.

“Pipeline will force a very high quality ‘investment grade’ focus as our business models and financial projections are further refined and developed,” Kling says. “We will get fantastic exposure to actual investors who will be able to assess the value of our companies using their rigorous tools and comparisons. It’s tough work, but in reality, it's exactly what needs to happen.”

Read profiles of other Pipeline members Searen and ANDalyze.
 

Chamber names new leadership director, starts Alumni Network


"If it's fun, it's never work. And if it isn't fun, it'll never work."

This quote by surfboard entrepreneur Hobie Alter appears in Amy Thompson’s email signature because she feels it accurately represents who she is and what she does. 

Thompson is the new leadership director for the Leadership Cincinnati and Leadership Action development programs within the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber's new Alumni Network is also under her purview, which aims to connect the more than 3,000 diverse alumni of Leadership Cincinnati, Leadership Action, WE Lead, WE Succeed, C-Change and Cincy Next.

Before the network existed, the Chamber had six premier leadership programs under three separate alumni boards. Each group provided great networking events, behind-the-scenes experiences and social outings, but there was a desire to take alumni engagement to a new level: collaborating as one collective.

Thompson participated in both Leadership Cincinnati and WE Lead. Upon leaving those programs, she was energized and motivated.

“There was a strong personal desire to continue learning and connecting with the community, to engage with my new network and to figure out how I could make a difference," Thompson says. “Knowing that many graduates share the desire to continue developing, connecting and engaging, I was thrilled to take on this opportunity to lead the Cincinnati Chamber’s new leadership Alumni Network.”

The Chamber is harnessing the program's momentum, energy and buzz to increase engagement where it’s needed most, providing opportunities in personal leadership development; connecting with leaders of all ages through multi-directional networking; encouraging engagement in community issues and aligning efforts toward our region's greatest challenges and assets.

The network provides the space and connections for meaningful conversations. It also helps promote intentional volunteering and helps further advance projects that come out of its highly successful leadership programs, such as Preschool Promise and Crayons to Computers.

As membership grows, so will scholarships for future leaders who are in need of financial assistance for the Chamber's many programs.

To learn more about the Leadership Network and the Chamber’s leadership programs, click here.
 

ANDalyze analyzes water contaminants through portable unit


Pipeline H2O, a new water technology accelerator program based at The Hamilton Mill, welcomed its first class last week. The eight cohort members represent local and national companies, including Champaign, Ill.,-based ANDalyze.

“ANDalyze is always on the lookout for ways to build awareness of its technology and meet new customers and water industry VIPs,” says Marty Dugan, the company's chief marketing officer. “We found the application submission invitation online and thought Pipeline looked like something ANDalyze was a great fit for.”

The company grew from technology developed in the chemistry labs at the University of Illinois. Using DNA enzymes, ANDalyze devices can detect and measure water contaminants with portable testing units.

“Existing field test kits are notoriously inaccurate and difficult to use," Dugan says. "You really need to be a trained chemist to use the old-style kits. ANDalyze products are used by water quality professionals in a variety of industries, including municipal drinking water, industrial water processes, environmental water, mining and laboratory testing. The value to these customers is the speed and accuracy of the measurement of testing water on site and the cost savings as compared to testing in a laboratory.”

The U.S. EPA provided a testing and validation report for the portable meters and its sensors in 2014. Since then, ANDalyze has sold 200 meters and more than 100,000 sensors. They're hoping Pipeline will help them grow their existing product, as well as roll out a new product.

“In 2017, we will launch an automated system that can test for two metals concurrently and send test data through a network to warn cities and towns of unacceptable levels of heavy metals in their drinking water,” Dugan says. “Trials are taking place in school systems around the country.”
 
The automated system would be installed at a specific site and run water tests on a set schedule. The results of the tests would be reported through a computer network to the system owner, allowing for consistent monitoring of water safety.
 
“Small companies like ANDalyze always struggle to get noticed,” Dugan says. “We are hoping to learn ways to better use our limited resources to get exposure to customers and strategic partner companies from the Pipeline H2O experience. We are confident that after customers try our product, it will become an integral part of their water quality operations to identify heavy metals in their drinking water supply network and in school buildings.”
 
ANDalyze is also hoping Pipeline’s “region as lab” philosophy will help them find a partner municipality or industrial customer to test their new product.
 
“We hope to understand better the needs of the water utility market,” Dugan says. “We are also looking for insight on how to develop partnerships with larger water technology companies who may be interested in ANDalyze products to sell in their sales channels.”

Read last week's profile of Searen, another Pipeline cohort member, here.
 

UC to host three-day innovation event in March


Starting Thursday, March 2, University of Cincinnati will host a three-day NEXTLIVESHERE: Social Change Innovation Summit. The event, which is the second of its kind to date, will bring together more than 200 local and national thought leaders using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to gain a deeper understanding of the power of "backbone organizations" — groups that drive cross-sector, creative partnerships for collective impact.

NEXTLIVESHERE is unique among conferences. Instead of using the platform to simply disseminate information, the summit pools the collective knowledge of participants to showcase talents, align goals, spark imagination and shape social change.

The conference will break attendees into small groups to better understand what is working and what the contributing problems are in each community and organization. The revelations from these mini sessions will help discover new ways of thinking and involving people, then using those discoveries to design practical actions.

UC’s position in the community places it firmly as a unifier, able to engage existing partners and recruit new ones from a broad spectrum of innovators from the fields of business, industry, philanthropy and community organizations to solve pressing and complex social problems.

Community participants will include representatives from the United Way, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, P&G, Green Umbrella, Success by 6, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Skyward and Cincinnati Public Schools.

A $250,000 National Science Foundation Includes grant will help cover registration and meal costs for participants. Attendees will also receive free parking. For out of town attendees, a two-night stay at the hotel will also be provided.

For more information and to see the full three-day schedule, visit cech.uc.edu or call 513-556-5745. To request an NLH application, email Kaitlyn.Johnson@uc.edu.

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.
 

Searen develops new technology to remove waste and pollutants from water


Searen is no stranger to the #StartupCincy scene. A graduate of OCEAN’s inaugural class, Searen is now joining the first cohort of the Pipeline H2O water-tech accelerator program based at The Hamilton Mill.

“The OCEAN experience was amazing,” says Emmanuel Briquet, Searen's president and co-founder. “In addition to the extremely inspiring classes, they helped us to build Searen's spiritual identity. Since then, we’ve been busy building the business. Now with Pipeline, we’ll find the best path to market, plus make connections with other startups in our sector.”
 
Searen’s origins go back to when Briquet was stymied by the constant need to remove algae and other pollutants from the water at the fish farm he operated.
 
“In the wild, the density of fish is low and the ecosystem auto regulates itself as water flows,” Briquet says. “In a fish farm, they eat, breathe and excrete in the same water. So you have to keep the water clean so they can thrive.
 
His solution to the problem of waste removal and re-oxygenation evolved into VAL, or the Vacuum AirLift. This technology developed by Searen provides low-energy, low-maintenance water treatment. The device uses vacuums and air pressure to remove particles and toxins from water. There are no filters, no moving parts and no chemicals.
 
“The VAL is a brand new technology, and is one of the rare cases when a more advanced technology is simpler than any of its predecessors,” Briquet says. “Our purely physical and multifunctional technology harnesses the power of nature, making obsolete the use of chemicals, replacing complicated tools, simplifying industrial processes and saving both energy and cost.”
 
The system is ideal for the fish farm and microalgae industries because with one device, users can circulate water, remove particles and carbon dioxide while adding oxygen back into the water.
 
“The VAL has different modes for different applications,” Briquet explains. “The slow mode is used for particle extraction and can process up to two million gallons a day. The fast mode provides gas stripping and insertion and can handle up to seven million gallons a day. These are both mono-tube systems. In the future with a multi-tube system, we believe we will be able to treat 100 million gallons a day.”
 
Briquet, along with co-founder and CFO John Brooks and investor Tom Andrews, developed a multi-pronged approach to advancing the company.
 
“Our first focus is on getting VAL into aquaculture throughout North America,” Bruiquet says. “As a former owner of a fish farming company, I know the concerns and I also know I have the solutions.”
 
Searen’s second area of development is cultivating relationships with companies in the Cincinnati region that rely on significant water usage for their business.
 
“If we come across an industry that has a need that we may be able to fulfill, we will work to develop a solution or to partner with another company to integrate our equipment into their solution,” Briquet says.
 
Searen has partnered with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati on a trial project with the VAL at their test beds. They are also collaborating with WEL Enterprise, another Pipeline member, on the treatment of brewery wastewater.

“As an entrepreneur, I’m trying to push the limits,” Briquet says. “We are focusing on what we know we can achieve.
 

Brand builders Dooley Media launch Show & Tell marketing series


In this digital age, it seems that everyone uses social media — but very few use it well. For owners of a brand, especially, the endless catalog of social media practices and faux pas can fast become overwhelming.
 
That’s the issue local marketing gurus at Dooley Media hope to tackle with their new Show & Tell event series, which is designed to showcase the people and projects in Cincinnati that are using social media to effectively tell their brand's story.
 
The series format features three timed topics fielded by five Cincinnati thought leaders — as well as complimentary refreshments. Planners say that going forward, crowd participation will be a major focus, with planned topics that include visual storytelling, community building and customer acquisition.
 
"Social media is still considered pretty new for a lot of companies," says Dooley Media spokesperson Autumn Heisler. "We organized Show & Tell to get back to the roots of researching in a more collaborative space. That’s what social media is all about. We think it’s still best done face to face, and we want to bring together people who have lots of experience sharing ideas in an organic way."
 
The first event in the series took place last December at Cintrifuse's Union Hall and featured an open forum and panel made up of members of marketing teams for Crossroads Church, Rhinegeist and Procter & Gamble.
 
Panelist Jeremy K Smith from P&G kicked off the last session by describing a social media marketing "fail" that got a lot of negative attention last year.
 
“Red Lobster got a shout-out in Beyonce’s newest album, and everyone thought they’d respond to it right away,” Smith explained. “But they waited and came out with a cheesy joke, which led to an unsuccessful social media opportunity. Don’t be a cornball and don’t try too hard. Always be authentic with the content you’re publishing.”
 
Heisler says the idea outcome for the Show & Tell series is sharing resources and best practices. "If people who are smaller entrepreneurs or startups are feeling like, 'Oh, I can’t participate in social media because I’m not a copywriter or I’m not a graphic designer,' then we want them to know there are a lot of ways they can create content that matters to the people they’re trying to reach. The hope is that this series will empower them to take risks and create some different new things."
 
Show & Tell continues from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 27 at Union Hall, with speakers Levi Bethune from local fashion startup Cladwell, Christina Duccilli from Rookwood Pottery and others. General admission is $20; student tickets are available for $10. Click here to RSVP.
 

People's Liberty marks Valentine's Day with storefront launch and public brainstorming session


Today, People's Liberty launched a new storefront space, called the D.O.I.T.: The Department of Implementing Things, and invited the community to share resources, connections and brainpower with others.

The idea was to showcase the relationships and partnerships that make Cincinnati great. The launch goes beyond the projects and people who have benefited from People's Liberty funds in the past to include residents, entrepreneurs and the Greater Cincinnati public at large.

The purpose of the event was two-fold: organizers invited local residents and entrepreneurs to celebrate the new storefront and offered an opportunity for residents to share ideas, ask questions and connect with resources available through People’s Liberty’s powerful network of givers.

D.O.I.T. will also help People's Liberty reach further than just its grantees and fellows. For example, the nonprofit plans to launch a magazine later this year that will showcase the people who are moving Cincinnati forward. Those people don't have to be former grantees, and in most cases, won't be. 

The storefront is also a way for People's Liberty to continue activating a space along Elm Street. It used to house the Play Library, and now, it will be up to the community to decide what it will be used for. 
 
 

P&G brings new focus to its brands with entrepreneurial retail shop in OTR


One of the unique aspects of Cincinnati’s startup ecosystem is the deep involvement of big companies in mentoring, developing and supporting new companies. P&G’s Tide division has taken that commitment to a new level with the opening of Preneur, its new retail space on Walnut Street in Over-the-Rhine that will sell products developed or manufactured by local entrepreneurs.

“While it is unusual, it makes sense,” says store manager Stephanie Bohanon. “P&G is a company started by entrepreneurs in Cincinnati. Now a department of that company is celebrating the very essence of innovation in Cincinnati through small businesses. Tide benefits by displaying some of its newer products to sell and receive feedback as well.”
 
Preneur will feature regional small businesses and entrepreneurs that are looking for a space to showcase and sell their products. The store also boasts a commissioned graffiti piece by Max Thomas of the Midwest artist collective Often Seen Rarely Spoken.
 
Ten local businesses are currently featured at Preneur:
  • Arkadiance is an integrated skin care collection that includes traditional lotions and creams, as well as nutraceuticals and teas.
  • Craftastically Made is an Etsy shop that creates fashion items, including hair accessories and baby items.
  • Funky Artsy uses natural stones in one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.
  • Handzy designs colorful stationery items, including greeting cards, art prints, invitations and gift wrap.
  • Jumper Threads rebooted the basic men’s undershirt with a comfortable, well-made and fitted design.
  • Kaya Leather features unisex leather bracelets, cuffs and earrings, featuring unique stained colors and patterns.
  • Koch Sporting Goods offers a range of sports apparel, specifically an FC Cincinnati line.
  • Native Brand produces casual clothing with Cincinnati-centric themes.
  • Rhinomed developed nasal technology products to improve athletic performance and reduce snoring.
  • Urban Blooms is a social enterprise that produces living wall features that make an artistic statement while improving indoor air quality.
The products currently for sale at Preneur are an eclectic mix. Going forward, the store intends to keep a wide range of goods but is considering organizing the featured businesses around themes.
 
“We will be rotating our partners on a one- to two-month basis, with potential to come back at a later time,” says Bohanon. “Moving forward, I'm reaching out to different companies to partner with us.”
 
In addition to the guest companies, Tide is also featuring some of its new products at Preneur, including Tide Studio detergents. The product line is formulated to clean specific fabrics including denim, activewear, prints and delicates.
 
“These are concentrated formulas for your one-off pieces that need a little extra attention,” says Bohanon. “One cap full per piece does the job. We also have mytide.com, where you can log on, take a survey and create your own bottle of Tide detergent. Questions range from fabric type to boosters, to custom scent and labeling the bottle as well. The detergent is then shipped to your house.”
 
Preneur, located at 1333 Walnut, is open Tuesday-Sunday.
 

Hyperloop UC team advances in final round of SpaceX competition


University of Cincinnati students were on one of 29 teams to compete in the Official SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition, the first of its kind anywhere in the world. The competition was held on Jan. 29 in Hawthorne, Cali., just outside of the SpaceX headquarters.
 
The team ultimately ran out of time, along with 25 other finalists, to pass final testing to be approved for the mile-long Hypertube Competition. Only three teams managed to pass all final approval testing: Delft University from the Netherlands, Technical University from Munich and M.I.T.
 
"It is great to reach so far in the competition," says Hyperloop UC president Dhaval Shiyani. "When we started the project, we never imagined to get the phenomenal support and attention that we have gotten. That keeps us motivated to achieve more and pushes us to make our supporters and the community proud."

The team was placed in the top half of the competition based on scoring and will continue to refine the design and go forward.

"The company at the competition was an icing on the cake," Shiyani continues. "When people from such esteemed backgrounds praise your work, it is definitely a morale booster. We exchanged ideas on what the Hyperloop can be and we hope to keep doing that moving forward. The competition was a great celebration in how great technology can work toward improving human lives."
 
The Hyperloop UC team is in the process of examining the information it has collected thus far in Competition I, and preparing an entry for Competition II this summer.

"We will keep working toward refining our prototype and bringing a strong design to Competition II," Shiyani says. "The team is excited about our future prospects and the experiences of Competition I will go a long way to streamline our Competition II design."
 
In 2013, renowned engineer and inventor Elon Musk introduced the concept for a high-speed transport unit that would connect cities within a 900-mile radius in a matter of minutes — using this technology, the trip from Cincinnati to Chicago, for example, could be made in just 30 minutes.
 
The Hyperloop soon gained attention from technology manufacturer SpaceX, and the resulting competition drew applicants from more than 1,200 universities, high schools and companies around the world.
 
Due to overwhelming interest, Musk has announced that there will be numerous Hyperloop competitions.
 
The competitions are designed to engage the world’s foremost engineering talent to create a mode of everyday transportation that is safer, faster, cheaper, more convenient, more sustainable and less susceptible to weather than today’s options.

"Hyperloop is closer to reality than anyone would imagine," Shiyani says. "The SpaceX competition generated a lot of attention around the idea and it only goes to highlight that a lot of smart people are working actively toward making Hyperloop a reality."
 

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.
 

Center for Great Neighborhoods awards $22K for community projects


Last week, Covington’s Center for Great Neighborhoods awarded five grants to local creatives, totaling $22,000 in the fifth round of its Creative Community Grant program.
 
The program awards grants of up to $5,000 to creatives who presented projects focused on small business growth, entrepreneurship, workforce development and creative placemaking.
 
CGN has completed five cycles of Creative Community Grants over the program's three-year period, with the sixth and final round to be announced this spring. Each round of funding addresses a different community issue, as determined by The Center's neighborhood focus group surveys, resident-led community groups and existing neighborhood plans.
 
Below is a snapshot of fifth-round recipients and their projects:
  • Local design firm Eye Candy will provide brand management resources for a new, existing or pop-up organization located on Covington’s Westside.
     
  • Owners Joe and Suzanne Fessler, along with residents, patrons and local artist Bret Schulte, will create a mural depicting the history of Herb & Thelma’s Tavern, which dates back to 1939.
     
  • The Kenton County Public Library will create Forge, a community makerspace and embedded library within The Center's Hellmann Creative Center. The space will provide free access to digital library content, technology, instruction, mentoring and collaborative projects.
     
  • Community & Restorative Justice volunteers will introduce Covington ESP, a creative therapeutic project designed to help unemployed residents find a healing path to employment.
     
  • Printmakers from around the region will be able to sell prints and demonstrate their medium at PRINTER: FAIRE, an artists event produced by grant recipients Art Machine, Inc. The event will be held at Hellmann Creative Center and will feature printmaking using a steamroller on the street outside. Details TBA. 
"Every round I think our applicants and their projects get better and better," says program manager Shannon Ratterman. "As people become more familiar with the program and see what other projects have gotten awards before them, they learn what we're looking for and how to put together a really great project. We want projects that aren't just great works of art and aren't just cool or fun, but that truly engage on a deep level and collectively transform the community."

Stay tuned to The Center and project social media channels, and visit greatneighborhoods.org to learn more about the Creative Community Grant program.
 

84.51 to host Women in Analytics storytelling workshop on Feb. 2


When it comes to effective storytelling, how do you decide what information is indispensable and what can be discarded as irrelevant? How do you hone your message for maximum impact?
 
Female analytics professionals from consumer-insights giant 84.51 will explore these questions and more during their Women in Analytics event on Thursday at their offices at Fifth and Race streets downtown.
 
Women in Analytics was created by the Advertising Research Foundation with a particular focus on supporting women in the traditionally male-dominated field of analytics. The event is expected to draw more than 100 attendees locally and regionally — both men and women in the field of analytics — and will feature expert speakers and an interactive workshop.

"There is a significant community of professionals in the area of analytics in our region, but no major organized event to bring this group together," says 84.51's VP of Insights Sandy Stieger. "84.51 and the ARF brainstormed on potential topics that would be meaningful to potential attendees. Storytelling is a theme that is fairly broad, but in terms of analytics, is vital to understanding how to telegraph an impactful narrative using data insights."
 
The focus of the event is on storytelling, with the agenda as follows:
  • 1 to 1:30 p.m. — Arrival & Registration, followed by opening remarks
  • 1:40 to 2:10 p.m. — Keynote: How Do You Craft a Story?
    Learn key pointers on how to consolidate research materials and craft a “sticky” story from WatersonGarner LLC's co-founder Katie Waterson.
  • 2:10 to 3 p.m. — Storytellers in Action
    Industry leaders Angie Ficek (Twitter), Michelle Tower (Procter & Gamble) and Julie Pahutski (Empower MediaMarketing) will share storytelling successes and their key learning moments.
  • 3:20 to 3:40 p.m. — Storyteller Panel
    Best practices and specific takeaways from those on the front lines. (Brand relationship expert Elle Morris will moderate.)
  • 3:40 – 4 p.m. — Table Discussions
    Small, moderated groups will explore how to apply insights learned to your next presentation.
  • 4 – 4:20 p.m. — Speed Round
    Table moderators will synthesize and report back on discussions.
The event will close with a cocktail reception and networking opportunity.
    
To learn more about ARF's Women in Analytics event, click here.
 

Pipeline H2O announces first class of water tech companies


Pipeline H2O, the region’s first water technology accelerator program, recently announced the members of its first cohort, which will begin work in February at The Hamilton Mill.
 
“We received 66 applications from 14 countries on five continents,” says Rahul Bawa, board chairman of Pipeline H2O and The Hamilton Mill. “Our selection committee chose companies where we could really make an impact and that represented a cross section of the water technology sector.”
 
The eight members of the inaugural cohort are:
  • Champaign, Ill.-based, ANDalyze, which offers products for testing heavy metal levels in water using DNA technology.
  • AguaClara — from Cornell University — provides gravity-driven, large-scale surface water treatment technologies to underserved communities.
  • Hamilton's own kW River Hydroelectric, which is working to further develop and commercialize the Williams Cross-Flow Turbine. 
  • PowerTech Water out of Lexington offers a new low-cost low-waste water treatment technology that removes salts, minerals and toxic metals.
  • Searen uses sustainable technologies to create water treatment solutions right here in Greater Cincinnati.
  • Slipstream ZLD from Albuquerque manufactures a crystallization system that eliminates wastewater for low-volume manufacturing facilities and metal finishing shops.
  • Waterstep, which is based in Louisville, developed a rapid-response mini-water treatment plant that can be used in disasters and for system safety redundancies.
  • WEL Enterprise, also from Hamilton, created a platform that handles both treatment and reclamation of wastewater. It can currently be seen in action at Municiple Brew Works.
The members of the first Pipeline class are all well beyond the ideation stage, with either functioning prototypes or pilot projects. The program, which runs from February-May, includes an intensive week each month that mixes curriculum from the Village Capital model and project-specific field work. The remaining weeks of each month will be devoted to mentoring, homework and continuing to test and improve products.
 
“The city-as-lab model at The Hamilton Mill has grown to the region-as-lab thanks to support from city and county municipalities,” Bawa says. “Pipeline participants will access pilots, customers and revenue, while leveraging local expertise in the water sector. We will adapt the Mill’s concierge-level mentoring to create a targeted experience that fits the needs of each member of the class. We are still building a mentor network with help from The Brandery, Cintrifuse and Confluence.”
 
Regulation of water technology is one area where all cohort members are seeking guidance. The complicated interactions of federal, state and local regulations can be daunting for a startup wanting to enter the water sector.
 
“We are fortunate the EPA has a water research and development facility in Cincinnati,” Bawa says. “The state and federal EPA staff and our partners at Confluence will help the class understand the specific categories of water technology regulation and how to navigate the process.”
 
Pipeline’s first cohort will be featured in a pitch competition during the first week of the program, as part of the OVALS Water Technologies: The Wave of the Future program at the University of Cincinnati on Feb. 16. The two-day conference will feature presentations by University and industry experts, and is organized by Indiana University, Ohio University, The Ohio State University, UC, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. For those unable to attend the OVALS pitch competition, Pipeline’s end-of-program Demo Day in May will be open to the public.
 
“The projects in development by our first Pipeline class can make a real difference in the world,” Bawa says. “Our region has the expertise to be a leader in the water technology sector.”
 
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