Cincy Sundaes combines micro-grant funding and delicious sundae making

While they may not be the first, Erika Fiola and Kristine Frech may be the most recent duo to put the “fun” back in funding. The two enterprising young women have begun a new program in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area called Cincy Sundaes, which combines an ice cream social event with a forum to present, listen to and award micro-grants for innovative ideas from the local community.
The premise and structure is purposely simple. Cincy Sundaes is a series of ice cream socials that take place from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, with the first taking place Sunday, April 13 at Rhinegeist Brewery in Over-the-Rhine. The events are open to the public, cost $5 to attend and feature four presenters with innovative ideas intended to improve the Greater Cincinnati area. Each attendee receives one sundae, featuring Dojo Gelato, and one vote. After the presentations, attendees vote for their favorite idea and 100% of the money collected at the door goes directly to the idea that receives the most votes.
“I’ve spent most of my life living in Cincinnati and much of my adult career working in Northern Kentucky,” Frech says. “They are both incredible places to be, but in both areas we noticed that there were people who wanted to be civically engaged but don’t know how. We wanted to create something fun, easy and accessible that can have a real impact.”
The idea for Cincy Sundaes came after taking a trip to Detroit in the fall of 2013 curated by Eric Avner of The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. Fiola and French, who both were part of the trip, were inspired by much of what they saw and in particular latched on to a similar program called Detroit Soup.
“We want Cincy Sundaes to be a place where people and organizations can come to get involved and democratically engage with ideas,” Fiola says. “It can be difficult to get funding sometimes, especially if you’re not registered as a 501c3, but we want this to be something simple.”
Fiola and Frech have partnered with several organizations along the way. HYPE, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's young professional organization, has signed on to be the “toppings” sponsor. Legacy, Northern Kentucky’s young professional organization, is the “spoon” sponsor. And as of this past week, Cincy Sundaes will receive a one-to-one match from the Big Idea Challenge of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, so each winner will receive double the prize money.
To learn more about Cincy Sundaes, visit

By Mike Sarason
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