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News & Events

News & Event

Greater Equity: What is the role of philanthropy in racial equity?

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation believes progress in reducing racial disparities is critical to the community's future and that philanthropy can have a unique and important role to play.

Greater EquityThe Greater Cincinnati Foundation believes progress in reducing racial disparities is critical to the community's future and that philanthropy can have a unique and important role to play. Since April 2001 when Cincinnati erupted in civic unrest, GCF has played an increasing leadership role advancing racial equity with a number of partner organizations that share our values. As we reach our 50th Anniversary, it is appropriate to look back at this important work. 

A New Lens on Leadership

In 1992, GCF provided start-up operating support to the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati’s African American Leadership Development Program (AALDP). A second grant in 2008 helped AALDP expand to support a fulltime director. The Foundation also provided funding in 2006-2008 to help launch the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati's Rising Star Board Leadership Program which emphasizes racial awareness and justice.

Putting More People to Work

In 2008, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, the former Greater Cincinnati Workforce Network, was convened by GCF to help fill jobs that are in demand and help adults get the training they need to do these jobs. GCF has awarded grants of more than $600,000 to help close the employment gap in our region.

Timely Response

Soon after the 2001 civil unrest, Cincinnati's mayor announced plans to create the Cincinnati CAN commission to work on the underlying causes of racial disparities. GCF provided financial support and office space for CAN's operations, and committed $250,000 to help launch high-priority initiatives arising from CAN's community work.

The Great Equalizer: Education

In 2006, The Strive Partnership started as a collective effort guided by a cradle-to-career continuum to improve academic success for students in the region's urban core. GCF's President/CEO Kathy Merchant served as the Partnership's chair for several years. GCF also approved a $1 million grant that year to help Cincinnati Public Schools create Community Learning Centers, and since then has added another $1 million to continue the initiative through 2015. Other significant education initiatives include:

  • In 2002, GCF awarded a five-year $500,000 grant to help launch United Way of Greater Cincinnati's
    Success by 6®. In total, GCF has contributed more than $1 million to this regional effort to prepare children for kindergarten. 
  • In 2003, Cincinnati Arts and Technology Center received start-up funding from Better Together Cincinnati to improve high school graduation and college access rates. Since 2006, CATC has received an additional $425,000 from GCF to expand its programming.

Finding Solutions Together 

In 2003, Better Together Cincinnati (BTC) was formed to help implement CAN's recommendations. With GCF's leadership and a commitment of $500,000, a group of local funders provided more than $7 million in grants over a period of eight years to key initiatives in police/community relations, education and jobs to achieve greater equity in our community. The collaboration and lessons learned through BTC continue through the work of the Community Police Partnering Center, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, The Strive Partnership, Place Matters and United Way of Greater Cincinnati's Success by 6®.  

Police & Community Relations 

The Community Police Partnering Center (CPPC) grew out of the work of Cincinnati CAN. Through Better Together Cincinnati, GCF provided start-up and multi-year operating support for CPPC, and was part of the community team that tapped the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati as the permanent home for CPPC. In total, $2.25 million was invested by the BTC funders over more than a decade to improve police and community relations. 

Growing Businesses and Jobs 

Since 2004, the Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) has helped more than 35 businesses more than double the size of their workforce. An initiative of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, the MBA helps minority-owned businesses grow strategically and access supply chain opportunities. A start-up grant from Better Together Cincinnati got the MBA up and running for its first three years of operations. In 2012, GCF provided additional grants and a loan to help launch The L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund which will provide "patient" capital to grow MBA portfolio businesses and jobs. 

"The leadership role played by GCF in the 2001 civil unrest helped to calm the community and to bring about positive change embracing and celebrating our differences as well as our shared dreams for this great place we all call home."  

-Karen Hoeb GCF's former President/CEO 

Published in The Greater Cincinnati Foundation's 2012 Annual Report