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News & Events

News & Event

Children Shine at New School

Millvale/South Cumminsville has a high foreclosure rate and widespread poverty. But it also has a beautiful new school, the Ethel M. Taylor Academy, where staff and community members are striving for change with the creation of a community learning center.

Ethel Taylor AcademyAn article several years ago in the Cincinnati Enquirer painted a bleak image of the Millvale/South Cumminsville neighborhood. 

“There’s not much reason to come here,” a reporter wrote. The article describes a neighborhood without essentials – no bank, pharmacy, or grocery store. One thing Millvale/South Cumminsville does have is a high foreclosure rate and widespread poverty.

But it also has a beautiful new school, the Ethel M. Taylor Academy, where staff and community members are striving for change with the creation of a community learning center (CLC).

CLCs are more than just school buildings. They offer academic programs, enrichment activities and support for students, families and community members – before and after school, during the evening and on weekends. Partnerships with businesses, community organizations, public agencies, the arts community and faith-based organizations bring these services and resources to the school.

When The Greater Cincinnati Foundation staff member, Helen Mattheis, visited Ethel M. Taylor Academy, she experienced how this CLC is turning on the light of opportunity for its children and families.

“I learned that children were arriving at school hungry and many were going home on weekends to houses without enough food,” she shared. “As a result, local volunteers now send students home on Friday afternoons with two peanut butter sandwiches, two pieces of fruit and two granola bars.”

Helen witnessed this hunger first hand and saw that the problem isn’t limited to the neighborhood’s children.

“The afternoon I was there, a little girl, about six, came in with her mother to the resource coordinator if she could get her sandwiches. The mother humbly asked if she could have a bag of food too,” Helen said.

The Academy also provides a free breakfast and lunch to all students and has collaborated with the Freestore Foodbank’s Kids Café to provide children with dinner Monday through Thursday.

Helen also met a six-year-old boy who had acted out in class.

“After spending time with the school’s mental health professional, it was found that he had issues going on at home,” Helen said. “Instead of this being dealt with as a behavioral incident, it was dealt with appropriately and the little boy received the assistance he needed.”

Helen’s visit ended with a little girl who came skipping out of the library and came right over to her and Annie.

“She had just finished her guitar lesson and was so excited to play and sing it for us. She played and sang several verses of ‘This little light of mine.’ She had the sweetest voice and was so proud of herself. She just belted it out.

“When I read the negative story in the paper about the neighborhood, I thought of this little girl singing her song. I really felt that this beautiful facility was the light in the community for the children who go to school there.”

This school is just one example of the wide range of community support a CLC can provide to meet the needs of each community it serves. The Greater Cincinnati Foundation committed $1 million over four years to community learning centers in 2006.

Read more about Cincinnati Public Schools’ community learning centers.

May 2010



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