News & Event
Imagine a city where teens from the urban core graduate college and become brand managers, vice presidents of corporations, architects.
In Cincinnati, 52 percent of teens live in poverty. Many of these tremendously creative youth express themselves at Elementz, an arts center that focuses on the urban art forms of hip hop music, dance, DJing, graffiti art, spoken word, stepping, photography, music and video production.
Elementz opened its doors in 2001 as a response to Cincinnati’s civil unrest. Urban youth needed a safe space and Elementz founders provided it, using hip hop as a way to get them in the door.
Executive Director Tom Kent said The Greater Cincinnati Foundation has supported it every step of the way.
“The first grant was a risky investment,” said Tom. “It was a risky time for everyone after the riots, and Elementz was a chance to react in a positive way.”
As Cincinnati’s urban core has changed, Elementz leaders realized providing a safe spot was no longer the main focus. Using art, they could help youth have immediate and future successes.
GCF’s Helen Mattheis, program director of Thriving People, suggested they meet with Tom Lottman of Children, Inc. about how to best measure the impact of social and emotional learning. An intentional focus allows individuals to learn and apply skills and attitudes that will help them be successful in life.
With help from a Community Fund grant, this approach has been integrated into all the center’s programs. Instructors use art to help young people hone skills, complete tasks, and work with others. This could be writing a song, working with a dance team, completing a painting. Instructors measure emotional and social skills with each student.
“We have an ability to be more effective with the kids we are serving,” said Creative Director Abdullah Powell. “There is success in kids graduating (high school) and not getting in trouble and working jobs, but our biggest thing is that is not enough. We want our kids to be in high level jobs. Our discussions now with the community are that our kids are creative, and they could be lending to some of the creative companies as they are looking for diverse talent.”
Staff also work to widen the students’ support network. Most come in with an average of two adults in their lives. The center’s networks include instructors, local artists, and business people.
Each year, 250 youth are served. A recent Community Fund grant allowed the center to hire its first development staff member.
And every evening, the building on Race Street reverberates with energy as young people create art.
“We’ve never walked away from our original mission,” Tom Kent said. “We’re still a hip hop organization, we still work with low-income kids, and we’ve found a niche that works well for the community.”
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation and its donors have invested $659,525 in Elementz since 2004. In addition, GCF Private Foundations have invested $109,000. Donial Curry, Elementz manager of development and communications, is a New Faces of Fundraising graduate. New Faces works to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of individuals entering the field of nonprofit fundraising. GCF has invested $30,000 in this award-winning program since 2013.
Published in the 2015 Annual Report to the Community.
Greater Cincinnati Foundation teamed up with ArtWorks this past week to showcase its vibrant, culturally rich urban Mural Program. The donor event included a bus tour of current mural sites and 2019 project locations. Nearly 100 guests received an insider’s view with the fun and informative tour that celebrated the visual and cultural impact of the creative workforce development and job-training program.
Launched in 2007, ArtWorks’ Mural Program has transformed more than 175 plain walls into public art in 36 of Greater Cincinnati’s neighborhoods and nearby cities. More than 3,300 local youth apprentices have participated in the program, getting paid to work side-by-side with professional artists to bring the outsized masterpieces to life.
While the GCF tour’s focus was centered in Cincinnati’s urban core, we salute the fact that the murals, by design, share uniquely Cincinnati scenes and faces throughout our community in vivid tribute to our diversity. These public spaces welcome us, inspire us and bring us together in uplifting ways.
In celebration of an exciting upcoming 2019 mural season, GCF is proud to offer our support to the ArtWorks Mural Program by matching contributions to new murals up to a total of $10,000. If you feel inspired to join us in funding this summer’s programming, contact Phillip Lanham, Vice President-Donor and Private Foundation Services at 513-768-6155 or email@example.com.
“Can I get into college even though I have a felony on my record?” Brandon is 17 years old and began taking classes at CATC last fall after he was released from juvenile prison.
He is one of 300-plus Cincinnati Public School juniors and seniors at risk of not graduating. CATC teachers use fine arts to encourage students like Brandon, who have often experienced a lot of failure and think of themselves as nonachievers.
Brandon and Laura Greene-White, CATC Director of Education, recently reflected on his first week at CATC.
“Do you realize how brave it was of you to get up and ask that question?” Laura asked the teen. “You probably asked the question others were afraid to ask.”
Brandon smiled at this praise and said that when he was in juvenile prison, he was told that it was quite likely he would turn into a statistic and return.
“How did that make you feel?” Laura asked.
“It put me low. I felt like I couldn’t do anything but get through high school,” he replied.
This interaction with Brandon is typical of Laura’s day. As she walks through the bright CATC classrooms in Longworth Hall, she knows all the students’ names and asks them specific questions about paperwork and plans.
For instance, a female student is considering transferring to another high school program. Laura asks her if she is aware that if she does this, she will no longer be eligible for some college scholarships and sends the student to visit the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative representative on staff who is there to help students with college access.
A student beams when Laura compliments his pottery. She reminds another boy to take off his hat. He obviously doesn’t want to but does it with a respectful smile and “yes ma’am.”
Laura explains that the CATC staff work on building up confidence as well as teaching students that in order to succeed in the real world, they need to understand the value of working hard.
“They don’t understand what the world requires of them – no one has taught them,” she said. “We look at their strengths first. To put effort into the work, you need to feel your efforts are positive. We tell them what’s right and then give them the tools to grow. Kids know when you’re trying to help elevate them and for these kids, art is the perfect vehicle.”
CATC was modeled after the successful Manchester Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh founded by Bill Strickland.
“Strickland’s concept is that if you provide children with high expectations, they will rise to meet them,” CATC Board Chairman Lee Carter said. “It’s CEO Linda Tresvant, Laura and all the other teachers that make this work. They are dedicated to these children.”
As for Brandon, he learned that he can go to college.
“I was hopeless, but now my goals in life can be accomplished,” he said. “It’s like art is my new life.”
Brandon still faces obstacles. The teen said there is a lot of gang activity where he lives with an aunt and cousin. He tries to keep his schedule packed by working two jobs and going to CATC.
Laura reinforced his choices. “Do you know how brilliant you are?” she asked him. “You are creating a schedule and a place to be so you’re not available for trouble.”
Brandon plans to go to college and study criminal justice. He and Laura discuss the possibility of him someday using art to help children in juvenile prison.
“I saw a lot of people with talent in jail,” he says. “I can help people who were in my shoes. You can’t reach everyone. If you reach one person – it’s all right.”
It’s hard to believe Brandon won’t reach more than one person.
CATC received $275,000 for start-up funding in 2003 from Better Together Cincinnati (BTC), a funders collaborative managed by GCF.
Educational attainment is one of three goals that BTC focuses on to develop lasting solutions to racial equity. In 2005, CATC received a $100,000 grant from GCF. It has also received support from donor advised funds and one of GCF’s Private Foundation Grantmaking Services clients.
When you set a table, the different elements — cutlery, plates, glasses, and, of course, the food — collectively create a welcoming experience. The same is true when you bring people together to make lasting change in our community.
GCF has created a table where we can help lead this change.
It’s called collective impact. Because of your generosity and commitment, Cincinnati has become a national leader, along with a special group of partners who are helping transform systems that will help change people’s lives for the better all across our region.
We have made multi-year investments in seven “backbone” organizations (see the list here), who serve as catalysts for change in various areas of civic life. These groups have agreed to work alongside and learn from each other, with shared goals and measures of success. We believe bringing all the elements of their experience together will nourish our community and help it grow.
Collective impact works because no single organization, program, or institution can bring about large-scale social change on its own. Individuals and groups work better when they work together, sharing visions and goals — at the same table you might say.
This commitment is a natural evolution of our other community investments to sustain important community change, for needs right now and long into the future. It builds on past efforts in our community that didn’t always have all the right ingredients to keep positive change going.
Change and community progress take a long time. GCF is proud that, thanks to generous donors past and present, we can commit to pulling our chair up to the table and staying there as long as it takes. And we’re thrilled that other communities are sitting up and taking note.
Agenda 360’s regional action plan aims to transform Greater Cincinnati into a leading metropolitan area for talent, jobs, and economic opportunity. Diverse by Design and other projects have grown through purposeful collaboration and aligning goals with other regional organizations.
Green Umbrella works to promote a more environmentally sustainable region, facilitating collaboration among more than 200 businesses and organizations. Communitywide projects like Paddlefest and Taking Root engage thousands, and coordination on planning and policies promotes sustainability for our region.
LISC Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky strengthens neighborhoods by mobilizing funding, providing technical and management help, and bringing awareness to public policy issues that affect neighborhoods. The “Place Matters” initiative has helped raise the level of housing, financial opportunity, and economic development in key Cincinnati neighborhoods.
Partners for a Competitive Workforce focuses on meeting employer demand by growing the skills of current and future workers. More than 150 partners have worked together to better align educational opportunities, improve work readiness, and connect qualified workers to employers.
The Strive Partnership is transforming education in Greater Cincinnati’s urban core. Shared priorities, data-driven continuous improvement, and aligned leadership and funding have helped create positive trends in kindergarten readiness, reading achievement, and college retention.
Success by Six® is the driving force that all children will be prepared to succeed in kindergarten. A focus on quality early learning, parent engagement, better support at school, and kindergarten readiness are key to continuing improvement that’s already been tracked for local kids.
Vision 2015 is a vision for the future and a plan to make Northern Kentucky the place of choice for families, businesses, and visitors. Vision 2015 now has close to 25 active projects involving 40+ partners.
This story appeared in GCF's 2013 Annual Report.
CINCINNATI (June 23, 2015) – The Greater Cincinnati Foundation's Governing Board recently approved $2 million in grants in its second quarter.
Thanks to the Foundation’s generous donors, it is able to support needs identified by the region’s nonprofit sector and support thriving people and vibrant places.
Last year, the Foundation awarded more than $77 million in grants.
Here are some of the highlights from GCF’s recent grants in its seven community investment focus areas:
GCF also made a number of small grants. This included a $30,000 grant to the Withrow Dental Center, a grant partnership with donors.
"We were excited to partner with GCF to help with start-up funds for the Withrow Dental Center,” said GCF donors Flip and Shelia Cohen. “The center represents an impressive collaboration between the City of Cincinnati, Withrow High School and multiple corporate and donor supporters. Most importantly, the clinic serves a huge need in providing first-time access to dental services. It educates the students on preventive care and helps them advocate for themselves. In this new state of the art dental clinic teeth are being cleaned and repaired, as well as creating student confidence."
"We decided to partner with GCF to support Withrow Dental Center because it is an innovative healthcare solution that has been proven successful, and clearly will have a positive impact on the health and well-being of Withrow students and the surrounding community, who are also permitted to use the clinic," said donors Jeff and Heather Spanbauer.
Thank you to the volunteers of our Community Investment Committee for all your hard work.
For a complete list of grants, visit our website at gcfdn.org/grants
About The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation helps people make the most of their giving to build a better community. We believe in the power of philanthropy to change the lives of people and communities. As a community foundation, GCF creates a prosperous Greater Cincinnati by investing in thriving people and vibrant places. An effective steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1963, the Foundation inspires philanthropy in eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.
CINCINNATI (March 3, 2018)—Eleven members of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s (GCF) Arts and Culture Giving Circle recently granted $80,000 to 10 local nonprofits.
This was the first time GCF has convened a giving circle, which brings together the resources of donors with the resources of the Foundation. In 2017, GCF and its donors together granted $9 million to arts organizations.
“Many of our donors care deeply about the arts,” said Ellen M. Katz, president/CEO. “We wanted to follow their lead, as they selected worthy programs for funding. These organizations are doing inspiring work, and we are thrilled to deepen our connection to the regional arts community.”
Members selected the projects that best increased the number of individuals who have the opportunity to experience the power of the arts through programs that will promote and enhance personal development, art appreciation and quality of life.
“This giving circle was a great opportunity for us to advance the arts in the community,” said Patti Heldman, co-chair. “The arts speak to everybody.”
“I feel honored to have read all the applications and to work with the nonprofits who applied,” said Linda Greenberg, co-chair of the giving circle.
Art Opportunities received $5,000 for Saturday Hoops Creative Placemaking, which is an ArtWorks collaboration with Saturday Hoops that empowers 12 youth to share the transformative power of art with their peers, a community of at-risk youth.
Cedar Village received $5,000 for In the Footlights: An Art & Music Therapy Program for Seniors, which engages nursing home residents in art and music therapy through an original musical production, under the co-direction of music and art therapists.
Clifton Cultural Arts Center received $5,000 for the Art Education for All, which provides scholarships and subsidies the program enables more children and adults in Uptown Cincinnati’s five core neighborhoods (Avondale, Clifton, Corryville, University Heights and Mt. Auburn) to engage in the arts.
Creative Again received $10,000 for the Arts Programming for Seniors program, which brings professional arts and humanities programs to facilities that serve seniors, such as nursing homes, assisted and independent living, senior centers, day programs.
Elementz received $10,000 for relocation and program expansion. Looking at the community need in the arts space, Elementz focuses on using art to encourage and nurture creative skills in teens that for various reasons are not able to access other arts programming in their school or neighborhood, or the programming offered does not seem relevant to them.
Ensemble Theatre received $5,000 for the Hunter Heartbeat Program, which uses Shakespearean text and theatre games to teach social skills to students with autism.
Kennedy Heights Community Arts Center received $10,000 for the Expanding Arts Experiences for Youth program, which provide arts and cultural programs for racially and economically diverse youth ages 5-17 at KHAC and in partnership with public schools, libraries and a social service organization.
Stepping Stones received $5,000 for the Arts Sampler for Adults with Disabilities, which exposes clients to a variety of hands-on arts workshops and classes over a 10-week period. The clients identify their own areas of interest and, in collaboration with local arts organizations, and pursue their varied interests -- from drama to visual arts to music to dance.
West End Art Gallery received $5,000 for Artlet Workshops. Through partnerships with West End Art Gallery, Q Kids Dance Group, Cincinnati Film Society, Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses and West End YMCA, art workshops and programming will be made available to provide much needed Artlet to the West End, an undeserved neighborhood in Cincinnati.
Special thanks to Giving Circle co-chairs Linda Greenberg and Patti Heldman and members Mary Bonansinga, Sheila Cohen, Beverly Erschell, Bruce Hager, Karen Meyer, Barbara Sferra, Ron and Michael Stibich and Nancy Virgulak.
One of the nation’s leading community foundations, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation helps people make the most of their giving to build a better community. We believe in the power of philanthropy to change the lives of people and communities. As a community foundation, GCF creates a prosperous Greater Cincinnati by investing in thriving people and vibrant places. An effective steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1963, the Foundation inspires philanthropy in eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. At the end of 2017, GCF had net assets of $636 million.
The day before Thanksgiving Al and Pat Harmann embarked on a family tradition. They gave their three adult children and their spouses a gift.
Each couple was told they could grant out $5,000 from The Harmann Family Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
“We are passing on the baton,” Al said. “We suggested they not use this for their churches or other pet charities but to broaden their scope and find out more about what is going on in their communities.”
Jim and Carolyn Harmann reside in Cincinnati; John and Laila Harmann in Chicago; and Edwin and Pam Page in Columbus, Georgia.
While the Harmann children were delighted with the opportunity presented by their parents, none were surprised.
“We’ve been raised to give and we plan to raise our kids the same way,” Pam said. “You only need so much and lots of other people have needs.”
Jim echoed his sister’s sentiment. “We’ve always been in a role of giving our time,” he said. “What was different and unique about this was that while the money isn’t ours, we were able to find ways to give it away.”
Jim and Carolyn felt they needed more information before they made their grants. “Unless you have a personal connection, you may not know about all the charities out there,” Jim said. “You are inclined to only give to the big, well-known ones.”
Enter GCF. Staff members Amy Cheney and Ellen Gilligan talked to the couple about their interests and directed them to several nonprofits that have been assessed by the Foundation. “GCF was the matchmaker between us and other organizations,” Jim said.
The couple’s first year of grantmaking included local gifts to Art Links, Elementz: The Hip Hop Youth Arts Center, Accountability and Credibility Together, Cincinnati Arts and Technology Center and Jobs Plus Employment Network.
Amy and Ellen helped the out-of-town children with their giving by connecting them with their local community foundations and making specific suggestions for organizations benefiting education and the arts.
Al and Pat were pleased with this first family meeting.
“Having all the flexibility was great. We had one meeting and boom, GCF made it happen,” Al said.
“I was surprised by how easy it was to make grants to organizations in cities outside Cincinnati,” Pat said.
When Al and Pat set up their donor advised fund in 2004, they had three objectives in mind. “First, we wanted to provide an additional vehicle for tax-efficient charitable giving for ourselves and our family, particularly our children, but eventually our grandchildren,” Al said.
“Second, we wanted to get our children more involved in charitable giving at an earlier age than we had been. Third, some of the money came from my mother and it was a way to carry on the family name.”
The Harmanns, their children and seven grandchildren are close, spending holidays and yearly vacations together.
“Look forward 30 or 40 years and our seven grandchildren may be in several cities, giving gifts from The Harmann Family Fund,” Al said.
And their parents can tell them this family tradition started around the holiday where one gives thanks.
From the 2014 Annual Report to the Community
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