News & Event
As we entered 2020, racial equity and justice were far from daily topics in the national newsfeed. Today they’re front and center worldwide.
Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) has focused on racial equity for decades. In recent years, we’ve focused more deeply. Our continuing commitment and work have brought national attention.
GCF was recently selected to participate in a two-year program to advance local progress in economic mobility, especially for people of color. Through the Gates funded Economic Mobility Action Network, GCF will join the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Foundation for Louisiana, The Chicago Community Trust, The San Francisco Foundation and Southwest Initiative Foundation of Minnesota to explore key practices in economic mobility, build leadership capacity and identify and implement solutions. The program will be managed and led by CFLeads, a national organization dedicated to advancing the leadership practices of community foundations.
“We are excited to be a part of this cohort,” said GCF President and CEO Ellen M. Katz. “I know that, like us, the other foundations are very focused on racial equity – and that will be a really important connective element to our work.”
GCF is familiar with CFLeads’ cohort process, having recently completed their second Equity Network cohort with a different group of community foundations.
This cohort team will include Katz; Chief Operating Officer Dora Anim; Senior Director, Community Strategies Rickell Howard Smith; Director, Special Initiatives Robert Killins, Jr.; Governing Board Member Ann M. Schwister; and Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio President and CEO Eddie Koen.
“GCF’s focus on African-American women as our target population leverage point is bold and unique,” explained Katz. “Improving their circumstances, including the relationships and circumstances that surround them, produces a ripple effect that benefits everyone.
“We selected Eddie Koen as a community partner in this effort, as Urban League’s mission is focused on building the black middle class, and we want to strengthen their work as well.”
The network’s economic mobility focus also aligns with the work of the Women’s Fund of GCF, Katz noted. Their focus on ensuring women’s economic self-sufficiency will help to inform the actions we effect through this opportunity.
“The timing of this is critical,” she said. “We are all connected, and the economic opportunities of the black and brown people in our community must be the driving force in how we reimagine and build our future as a community.”
CINCINNATI (August 14, 2017) —The Greenlight Fund, in partnership with The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, announced today a multi-million-dollar initiative to fight family poverty in our region. Together, they are investing $2.4 million to bring the Family Independence Initiative—and its innovative model of trusting and investing in family solutions—to Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. This includes a $1.8 million grant from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation and its donors, the single largest grant in the history of the Foundation.
“We know that thousands of families are struggling with poverty, and we need to rethink how we invest in families and their upward mobility,” said Tara Noland, Executive Director of GreenLight Cincinnati. “We are excited to have the Family Independence Initiative bring their model to our region and learn from their data on what Cincinnati families in our community need to escape poverty.”
“As our region’s community foundation, our role is to create a community where everyone can thrive,” said Ellen M. Katz, president and CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. “Our region is literally bursting with new energy and progress, yet we still have many in need. GCF and its donors are seeking new and innovative programs to help families in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky who have yet to benefit from that progress. FII is one such program and we’re excited to ensure we can rapidly deploy FII in our community.”
Founded in 2001, The Family Independence Initiative brings a new approach to fighting poverty by trusting and investing directly in low-income families across the nation so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity. Families that partner with FII set goals they want to achieve, such as purchasing a home or continuing their education, and work together to help each other meet those goals. FII provides them with the technology platform to track their progress and then gives them access to resources, including cash, to accelerate the solutions that they’ve discovered themselves.
With sites in seven cities across the country, FII has partnered with more than 2,000 families investing in their solutions to escaping poverty. On average, during two years of engagement with FII, families report: a 23 percent increase in monthly income, 60 percent decrease in subsidies such as TANF and SNAP, a doubling of their annual income and assets, and increased education outcomes from their children.
Over the next four years, FII will work with community based organizations and other partners to reach 500 families in multiple neighborhoods across Cincinnati. They will be convening a launch team to help identify the neighborhoods they should focus on as well as families they should recruit.
“All families across America should have access to the resources and opportunities needed to achieve their dreams and we look forward to doing just that right here in the region,” said Jesús Gerena, Chief Executive Officer of The Family Independence Initiative. “While our initial goal is to reach 500 families, we hope to find more partners to double or triple that goal. Cincinnati benefits when all its families are economically thriving.”
In addition to the multi-year investment made by the Greenlight Fund and The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, FII’s expansion to Cincinnati is also supported by contributions from The Mayerson Foundation and SC Ministry.
Learn more about GCF's investment in the Family Independence Initiative
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The GreenLight Fund transforms the lives of children, youth and families in high-poverty urban areas by creating local infrastructure and a consistent annual process to: identify critical needs; import innovative, entrepreneurial programs that have a significant, measurable impact; and galvanize local support to help programs reach and sustain impact in the new city. Working in Boston since 2003, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area since 2012, Cincinnati since 2015 and most recently Charlotte in 2017, GreenLight aims to grow a national network of GreenLight sites that learn and work collaboratively to find and spread proven nonprofit solutions that achieve meaningful and measurable impact in our communities on the issues that matter most. Founding investors in GreenLight Cincinnati include the Deaconess Associations Foundation, Bethesda Inc., the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, Interact for Health, Procter and Gamble, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s, Duke Energy Foundation, the Cincinnati Business Committee, Bank of America and a number of individual investors.
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 an accredited 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 2016, GCF had net assets of $563 million.
In 2017, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, together with its generous donors, made the single largest investment in its history: $1.8 million to partner with the Greenlight Fund to bring the Family Independence Initiative (FII) to Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The commitment is a reflection of GCF’s new focus on building a more equitable community and connecting people with purpose. GCF believes in the innovative FII model because it trusts and empowers families to determine their goals to move themselves out of poverty, individually and collectively through cohort groups. Cincinnati is the eighth U.S. city to participate in the FII program. Its two-year, data-driven process, backed by technology that tracks results, produces significant — even life-changing — outcomes.
A year after FII’s launching here, GCF’s deep, concentrated stake is paying powerful financial and social dividends. To date, more than 179 families — from Middletown to Alexandria, and Northgate to Bethel — have enrolled in FII, exceeding the program’s first-year goal.
FII - Cincinnati families are reporting that during the first six months of engagement, on average:
In addition to financial progress, the cohort groups harness the value of social capital exchanges — help they give to and receive from friends, family and neighbors through such activities as child care, preparing meals and providing transportation. To date, Cincinnati-FII families have exchanged an estimated $34,000 in such social capital exchanges; that figure increases as their community engagement and relationship building grow.
Marcia Worsham and Carla Belcher, two single mothers enrolled in FII here, have made tremendous strides. “The fire inside of me has been reignited since I have been setting my goals in my monthly journal,” said Marcia. Completing those goals — including paying off debt, building emergency savings, enrolling her two children in gymnastics and obtaining a life insurance policy — has been empowering. “That just makes you want to move on to the next goal and continue to chip away at the things that seemed like mountains before.”
Carla, an artist, was inspired by her participation at the PolicyLink Equity Summit in Chicago, especially its Mobilizing Arts and Culture in the Equity Movement workshop. “I had always wanted to start my own business, not just to sell my work but to spark social change in North College Hill,” she said. “Bouncing ideas off of other workshop attendees taught me that equity can begin with subtle changes. I was inspired to go home and make my dream a reality.”
GCF’s initial investment accelerated the original commitment from 200 to 500 families. FII Cincinnati's new goal, thanks to GCF's substantial commitment along with its generous donors, is to partner with 1,000 families over four years.
Here are ways to join GCF in advancing the transformative success of FII-Cincinnati:
Andy Brunsman was on the path to medical school.
That was until he started working at Our Daily Bread as a service learning project as a Mount Saint Joseph University student.
It changed his life.
“I fell in love with the volunteers and the clients,” Andy said. “The fact that all these different kinds of people put aside everything to fight hunger and help people in need inspired me.”
“I found what I wanted to do forever.”
Today, Andy is the Executive Director of Be Concerned in Covington. It provides food, has a clothing and housewares store, and provides other services. It feeds 200 families a week in Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties.
His path could have been different. If it hadn’t been for a grant from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation to Our Daily Bread, his position there would not have existed.
The generosity of others not only set Andy on his career path, he said he continues to be inspired daily.
“Besides the clients and volunteers, I’ve met the most generous people in the area,” he said. “The people I’ve met give of their time, talent, and treasure.”
GCF donors have invested $93,000 in Be Concerned since its inception.
Touring Be Concerned with Andy is a treat. The facilities are simple but the care of those working is evident. Produce is unpacked for clients, clothes are sorted, and volunteers show up for meal time.
“It’s one of the most basic acts of human kindness—feeding people,” he said.
His enthusiasm about the difference Be Concerned makes is contagious.
“When you don’t have anything, cheap is too expensive,” he said when explaining the extremely low prices in Be Concerned’s Thrift Store.
The nonprofit accepts furniture donations. Once a homeless family finds housing, they still don’t have any belongings with which to furnish it.
“Four walls do not make a home,” Andy said.
Learn more about Be Concerned at beconcerned.org.
As the region’s leading community foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation connects people with purpose in an eight-county region in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. GCF is leading the charge toward a more vibrant Greater Cincinnati for everyone – now, and for generations to come. As of 2017, GCF is the 35th largest U.S. community foundation with net assets of $649 million.
(August 17, 2017)—The Greater Cincinnati Foundation recently made the largest grant in its 54-year history to the Family Independence Initiative (FII) for $1.8 million. GCF and its partner, the GreenLight Fund, held a press conference with FII to announce this investment.
What began in 2009 as an urgent response to a national economic meltdown grew into a three-year initiative to help the Greater Cincinnati region weather the worst of what was ultimately a cataclysmic economic storm. The Weathering the Economic Storm (WTES) initiative brought together
As we bring WTES to a close we are proud to report that this initiative has touched the lives of nearly 95,000 children, adults and seniors. $4.5 million in grants was awarded to 127 nonprofit organizations in the areas of safety net services, housing stability, early childhood education, organization stabilization. In addition, an investment of $99,000 has already leveraged more than $5.5 million from federal and state sources.
GCF’s overall investment of $1.7 million leveraged an additional $2.75 million from other local funders and individual contributors.
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