News & Event
She provided a voice for the voiceless.
In her short life, Dr. Erin Talbot McNeill accomplished much for women. As a doctor in reproductive endocrinology, she developed programming, policy and research for women’s health rights around the world.
“Erin was passionate about the rights of women and her responsibility as a scientist and scholar to be an advocate for all women, particularly for those who had no voice,” writes Erin’s sister, Sarah. “My husband, Frank, calls her a shooting star, burning harder and more brightly than most. Somehow that description fits her well; she was so full of passion and fire.”
Her family shares that Erin was always filled with that passion. She was the only student to take the equivalent of four years of honors classes in three at The Seven Hills School. But she was intent on graduating early and moving forward with her studies in order to help women.
After earning her Ph.D., Erin went on to work for the United States Agency for International Development and Family Health International. She traveled to Kenya, Thailand, Ghana, French Guiana and Nigeria to work on reducing mother/infant mortality rates. Sadly, Erin passed away at age 36 in 2003 of a malignant brain tumor. She left behind her husband, Carn Gibson of Scotland, and their two daughters, Zoe and Ninian.
Erin’s parents, Redmond (Red) and Leslie (Les) McNeill, of Hyde Park, honored Erin’s life and work by making a $75,000 donation to The Women’s Fund of GCF. This donation was designated for The Women’s Fund’s Voices of Leadership Campaign, named in the spirit of Erin’s work and passion.
“Erin had an amazing commitment to women and girls,” said Les, also a founder of The Women’s Fund. “She always had a sense of the value of women and girls in the community. If they are whole and happy, the community is better. Her focus was global but it makes sense for us to focus locally.
“Who knows? A local girl could be helped through The Women’s Fund and there may be another Erin,” she added.
Read more about The Women’s Fund of GCF.
Ziegler is known today as a professional and civic leader, but he began work as a farmhand, golf caddy and delivery boy before graduating from Covington Latin School. While studying at Thomas More College and the University of Cincinnati College of Law, he waited tables along Dixie Highway and was a third-shift dock worker at Wiedeman Brewery and a law clerk. Now at a law firm that bears his name, and having just this month celebrated 60 years of law practice, Ziegler serves on the board of trustees of Thomas More College and is on the UC College of Law board of visitors.
As someone who has seen first-hand the importance of education, Ziegler seeks to support students who exhibit a strong work ethic but need financial assistance.
The depth of his and his late wife Helen’s generosity and investment is reflected by the Wilbert L. and Helen R. Ziegler Charitable Fund, an endowment that will be established at GCF through an estate plan to provide everlasting support to student scholarships at local schools, as well as area organizations serving the disabled.
“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” — Flora Edwards
Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) believes that connecting people with purpose changes the lives of everyone involved. Giving circles — creative, interactive means of achieving that impact — bring like-minded people together to pool their resources, explore together how to best support causes they care about and, as a group, decide how to allocate their combined resources. GCF is increasing these hands-on opportunities for our donors with a variety of giving circles this year and will provide a match to each circle.
Participating in a giving circle can spur a sense of civic pride and energy, by fostering a heightened familiarity with the many — often unseen — organizations and people that are moving our region forward every day.
“This process, for me, was a chance to understand even deeper what is going on in the community and how to best support it,” NKY Giving Circle Chair Rebekah Gensler told Northern Kentucky Thrives.
Since 2017, GCF has convened three giving circles — focused on arts and culture, STEM education and Northern Kentucky youth — which engaged 34 donors and contributed more than $250,000 to 21 regional nonprofit organizations.
Our 2019 Giving Circles are forming now, and members will have the opportunity to determine the funding focus within the set topic of each circle. The opportunities include:
“Each giving circle is unique — reflective of its members’ perspectives and priorities,” said Phillip Lanham, GCF Vice President, Donor and Private Foundation Services. “The process generates new, creative connections to organizations and between members, who take away from the group experience a pride of place and a deepened sense of ownership in the progress of our community.”
To learn more about participating in a GCF giving circle, please contact Colleen McCarthy Blair, Director, Donors Services, at 513-768-6134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Philanthropies that have come to recognize the roles of race and ethnicity are using research to become better informed about their role in social and economic disparities. These organizations are actively building into their lexicons and strategies an emphasis on historical inequality, racial equity and racial justice in their grantmaking, programs and services.” — Giving Black: Cincinnati report, December 2018
Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s (GCF) Giving Black: Cincinnati report, released in December in collaboration with New England Blacks in Philanthropy (NEBiP), provides a wealth of information into the largely unrecognized legacy of black philanthropy and current giving priorities of Cincinnati’s African American residents. It’s a data-rich document that resonates with insights that can amplify the significant gifts they bring to the funding table.
“Black philanthropy matters — it is a form of black leadership,” Bithiah Carter, NEBiP President, told attendees at the Giving Black: Cincinnati report release event. “Our children need to see us as philanthropists and leaders, and this report is proof that we are.” Giving Black: Cincinnati also celebrates the deep legacy of black stewardship in Cincinnati that dates back to the early 19th century. It’s a force that has driven civil rights, social justice and equity issues — often without noticeable recognition. That lack of acknowledgement, which Giving Black: Cincinnati seeks to dispel, persists today.
It prevails even among the 300 black respondents to the Giving Black surveys, interviews and focus groups. Across the board, they reported finding it difficult to see their charitable efforts as “philanthropy.” They also noted that they often weren’t included in the “ask” for mainstream philanthropic efforts.
While the respondents varied greatly in age, education and salary — from baby boomers to millennials, male and female, married and single, less than a high school education to PhDs, from under $80,000 in household income to more than $250,000 — their feedback identified philanthropy as the realm of wealthy white people. That’s despite the fact that, according to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, African American families give larger shares of their income, volunteer their time and donate other non-financial resources to charity more than any other racial or ethnic group.
The study found that a majority of black donors base their philanthropic decisions upon the value of “giving back to support the community.” That translates into an emphasis on Cornerstone and Kinship donor practices, defined as “general betterment of society” and “empowering the black community or a subset of the black community,” respectively.
Cornerstone donors are more likely to direct their giving to organizations that address needs of the black community such as education, the economy and social justice. Those themes resonate in Kinship giving practices as well; the perspective of Kinship donors is frequently driven by the belief that their personal outcomes are bound up with the broader fate of the black community.
Across gender and all income levels, black donors reported giving most heavily to churches/religious institutions (34 percent) and to family/friends in need (24 percent). That religious-based philanthropy comprises the third major donor practice, Sanctified giving, or “living out my faith.” Several Sanctified donors cited their giving to churches as result of first learning about the concept of giving from those institutions — a tendency retained regardless of their current church attendance.
Overall discretionary giving categories, after church/religious institution and family/friends in need, included educational institutions (11 percent), direct services agencies (11 percent), arts and culture organizations (7 percent), electoral campaigns (4 percent) and advocacy/policy research (3 percent).
According to the report, “black donors have the most confidence in nonprofit and affinity organizations that solve or remediate local, regional and national problems that grossly impact people of African descent.” Overall, they reported donating within the past 12 months to two civil rights organizations that have historically been cornerstones of the black community: the NAACP (29 percent) and the Urban League (30 percent).
In addition to financial support, 91 percent of the survey respondents reported giving of their time and talents to volunteer opportunities in the community, citing “making a difference” as their main motivation.
Check out the entire Giving Black: Cincinnati report here. For further information, please contact Robert Killins, Jr., GCF Director of Special Initiatives, at email@example.com.
As you plan your holiday and year-end giving, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is proud to assist and be your philanthropic partner.
Your new fund can be established quickly. Call to discuss your charitable goals with a member of GCF’s Giving Strategies Group and decide which type of fund is best for you and your family. The date of the gift transfer to GCF is most important - it will determine whether your gift qualifies for a 2017 tax deduction.
To ensure your grants are received by the charitable organizations you support before December 31, please submit your recommendations to GCF before Tuesday, December 26, 2017. Find out more about how to add assets to your fund.
GCF will be working throughout the holiday season to facilitate your charitable giving. Our office is open from 8:30
a.m.-5:00 p.m. on weekdays with the exception of December 25, 2017, and January 1, 2018.
To talk about arrangements for your year-end giving and grantmaking, please call our Giving Strategies Group at
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 2016, GCF had net assets of $563 million.
Updated Nov. 17, 2017
Giving Circles bring together individuals who pool their charitable dollars and collectively decide which projects and nonprofits will be the recipients of the funds. GCF will match members’ contributions to make an even bigger impact.
GCF convened its first Giving Circle, for Vibrant Arts and Culture, in 2017. The 11 members — drawn by a common passion for the arts scene which enriches life in our community — met to evaluate applications for funding and determine the grantees. Combined with a match of GCF funds, their contributions enabled awards totaling $80,000 to 10 local nonprofits, including the Kennedy Heights Arts Center and Stepping Stones, Inc.
“I feel honored to have read all the applications and to work with the nonprofits who applied,” said Patti Heldman, co-chair of the Vibrant Arts and Culture Giving Circle.
This year GCF is offering two Giving Circle opportunities :
Both Giving Circles will convene this fall. To join with GCF and other donors sharing your goals to support these impactful initiatives, and for further information, please contact Laura Menge, Philanthropic Advisor, at 513-768-6170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In December, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) hosted the release of Giving Black: Cincinnati, A Legacy of Black Resistance and Stewardship. The often-overlooked history of black philanthropy is an integral thread in the fabric of American generosity. African Americans created and established their own social services, educational programs and charitable organizations when they were excluded from mainstream participation.
The study, a GCF collaboration with New England Blacks in Philanthropy (NEBiP) co-funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, explores both that rich history of black philanthropic giving in Greater Cincinnati, along with the giving perspectives and priorities of African American Cincinnatians today.
Those viewpoints came from a survey completed by more than 300 Greater Cincinnatians in 2018, along with interviews and focus groups convened to gather quantitative and qualitative data. They provide a powerful testament to the current vitality of black philanthropy and offer insightful outlooks that are essential to transforming our communities.
Survey respondents live in mostly middle-class and upper-middle-class neighborhoods, from Clifton to Sharonville, Paddock Hills to Hyde Park. They range in age from Millennials (16 percent), Generation Xers and Baby Boomers (38 percent each) to the pre-Boomer generation (eight percent). The majority are employed full-time (60 percent) or self-employed (14 percent), female (62 percent) and married (57 percent). They’re highly educated, with 91 percent having attained a bachelor’s degree or higher. They report incomes ranging from less than $80,000 (31 percent), $80,000 to $160,000 (30 percent), $160,000 to $250,000 (22 percent) and over $250,000 (17 percent).
When asked what social policy issues mattered most to them, black donors across all age, gender, education, income and zip code groupings ranked economic equity as the most important, although donors earning less than $80,000 ranked it slightly lower. A mere 11 percent believe that Cincinnati — which is 44 percent black — is a place of economic opportunity for blacks to thrive.
Higher-income respondents (income of $120,000 or more) ranked economic and segregation/race issues as critically important to African Americans in Cincinnati. For those with household incomes below $80,000, education and employment were viewed as key issues. The study found that “black donors have the most confidence in nonprofit and affinity organizations that develop programs that solve or remediate local, regional and national problems that grossly impact people of African descent.”
Giving Black: Cincinnati lends significant weight to redefining the narrative of black philanthropy, celebrating its assets and power through resistance, resilience and renewal.
“This shines a light on the new landscape for giving,” affirmed Bithiah Carter, NEBiP President, in remarks at the Giving Black: Cincinnati presentation. “This report of resistance and stewardship is a legacy to us; it is the insight we need to fuel social equality.”
It’s also imperative to our collective future. “Ultimately, the goal is to help everyone grow,” said Carter. “Our communities are interdependent and socially responsible to one another. We need to use this to democratize philanthropy. We’re fighting for the sake of the entire community.
“Black philanthropy matters. It is a form of black leadership.”
Read more about the Giving Black: Cincinnati study here. For further information, please contact Robert Killins, Jr., GCF Director of Special Initiatives, at email@example.com.
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