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Serving a role in his family's foundation was a natural progression for Andrew MacAoidh Jergens. His late father, Andrew Nicholas Jergens, established The Andrew Jergens Foundation in 1962 and he become involved soon after.
In contrast, Andrew's wife, Linda Busken Jergens married into the foundation. A former clinical social worker in New York City, she said becoming a trustee provided her an additional means of making a difference in the lives of children.
"There are great needs in this city that have to do with children and here I was being invited to address them from another angle, helping envision and support possibilities,” Linda said.
The Andrew Jergens Foundation focuses on organizations that benefit the health, education, social welfare and cultural experiences of children. It is Andrew and Linda's belief that it is more effective to encourage the development of a child rather than rehabilitate an adult.
"I have a particular interest in supporting the arts for children because so much has been taken away from the public schools," Linda said. "Enhancing creativity helps children realize who they are."
Linda was eager for several reasons to become a trustee in the late 1970s, particularly because there were not many women involved in Cincinnati's nonprofit boards.
"Boards need a balance of males and females," she said. "I noticed the near absence of women's voices on these boards and this angered me."
"It is a privilege and a responsibility to have a voice and make decisions with the other trustees that we hope make a difference in the lives of our community's children," she added.
Several years ago, Andrew began to think about the future of The Andrew Jergens Foundation.
"Provisions for the future had to be made,” he said. "The average age of four of our family trustees is 68 (there are 11 trustees)."
Linda agreed, saying she is committed to the survival of small foundations.
"I feel strongly that in a city like Cincinnati when small foundations go out of business, dissolve, the community loses: a piece of its energy is gone, a part of its life-giving breath is extinguished," she said.
"When the foundation makes possible a roof for a school or a play-safe playground, puppet theatre performances or excursions to a museum, I have to believe a child's life is enhanced."
Beginning in 2004, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation began offering its expertise to family and private foundations.
Private foundations can take advantage of GCF's extensive community knowledge and its grantmaking services. GCF's staff help identify grantmaking priorities, process grant requests and conduct reviews, monitor and evaluate grant recipients and administer all grantmaking activity, including board meeting management.
With GCF's help, The Andrew Jergens Foundation will continue its good work for Cincinnati's children.
"I find it a great relief to have GCF involved," Andrew said. "As the chair of this foundation, I take great comfort in knowing that the good work and the important legacy of The Andrew Jergens Foundation will continue in some manner into the future."
“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.
CINCINNATI (May 3, 2016) — Procter & Gamble (P&G) announced today that the company has delivered its 10 billionth liter of clean drinking water through the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program.
To mark the occasion, P&G is offering a 10-1 donation match. For every U.S. $1 donated to the program by consumers from May 3, 2016 – May 31, 2016, the company will donate U.S. $10, up to a total P&G contribution of $1 million, to the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Fund, which is a charitable fund managed by The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Read more about this initiative from P&G.
Children's Safe Drinking Water started in 2004, works with more than 150 partners and organizations to provide clean drinking water to those who lack access to clean water.
The 10 billionth liter was shared with Margarita, Gabriel and their children Alejandro and Lorena who are part of a World Vision community project near Oaxaca, Mexico.
It only takes $7.50 to provide a year’s worth of clean water to a child and $30 to share a year’s worth of clean water with a family of five. You can donate now and have P&G multiply your donation by ten.
For more information, visit csdw.org.
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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 2015, GCF had net assets of $533 million.
DeMountez, a sophomore at Elder High School, shares that he lives on the “worst street” in Price Hill. He says attending a Catholic school with a small African-American population has cost him friends. This doesn’t deter him from the right choices for himself - making honor roll, playing football, being on student council and looking forward to college. He credits much of his success to a mentor.
Demarco, an honor roll student and freshman at Riverview East Academy echoes the sentiment. Without a mentor, he’s certain he would be in trouble and unable to deal with his anger issues stemming from the fact that he doesn’t know his mother or his father. (He lives with his grandparents.)
Both boys have been mentored for more than 10 years through the LifePoint Solutions Positive Future Youth Program. Children are paired with a paid mentor from first through twelfth grades. These are children who live in decaying neighborhoods and often go home to families where family members have experienced early pregnancy, been involved with the criminal justice system, and are abusing drugs and alcohol. Mentors work with the children on social and academic issues and prepare them for life after high school.
In January 2010, the program became a victim of the recession and lost most of its funding. The five full-time mentors were let go and the program struggled to survive. It was a tough adjustment for the kids who lost someone they depended on.
“I felt lost when my mentor left,” said Demarco. “But as time went on I got used to my new mentor. (Cliff Green) Mr. Green helps me with my problems at home and school. He’s always there for me and I know he always will be. I’m thankful for the program; it’s been a life-changing journey.”
Today, just two part-time mentors run the program that is making a huge difference in lives.
“Mr. Green talks to me about making choices,” DeMountez said. “I have a scholarship to Elder and he made me realize it’s my obligation to hold up my end of the bargain for the people paying my scholarship.”
Alexis, a sophomore at Schroder Paideia High School follows her mentor’s advice and shares it with her friends.
“I tell them what Kristy (Barrows) tells me, ‘you can take my advice or not, it’s up to you.’”
“I want to break the cycle and show everyone it doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from you can do well,” adds Demarco.
The Positive Future Youth Program received a Weathering the Economic Storm fund grant in 2010. Funds were used to cover a portion of expenses such as staff salaries and program activities.
Volunteers are needed to help with programming on teen night. Help teens with life skills: how to open a checking account, prepare for a job interview, prepare for the college application process or search for college scholarships. Call 513-354-5619.
Jaclyn Sablosky, Marketing Director at Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF), is a westside Cincinnati native and graduate of Oak Hills High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in communications and MBA in marketing from the University of Cincinnati. Jaclyn lives in Mason with her husband, Kevin, and their three daughters Emma (7), Kate (2) and Kara (1).
Share details of your personal and professional background that helped to guide your path to GCF.
I enjoy rewarding, mission-driven work. I realized this when I was the marketing director at the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center. We focused on training teachers on how to integrate personal finance into their core curriculum with programs for all ages to provide for students that needed it most. The StEP program for elementary students gave them a sense of purpose, and it was rewarding to see their sense of pride in earning money through incentives such as turning in homework on time. Middle schoolers played an interactive stock market game that taught them fundamental strategies, competing with schools throughout the region. The winners got to go to NYC to visit Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, which gave them a chance to travel and experience the world in a new way. It was at the Center that I had my first connections with GCF and the Women’s Fund of GCF, through their work on economic impact studies. I volunteered for the Women’s Fund to review grant proposals years ago and was inspired by the mission.
In 2015, I went to Luxottica, which gave me the opportunity to utilize my MBA providing global brand strategy for Sunglass Hut. It was interesting work but not as rewarding as working for an organization committed to making a difference. Joining GCF allowed me to resume the work I’m most passionate about, which is impacting the lives of people in our community who need it most. I’m a connector and I love helping others find their passions.
What are your professional and community affiliations, and how do they inform your role at GCF?
I found my passion for philanthropy when I became a committee chair for Impact 100. It was my first opportunity to understand how collective giving can make transformational change for an organization that is doing amazing work in our community. It was the year that I started at the Economic Center — their StEP program was one of the finalists for the Impact 100 grant and won! I was so inspired by this group of strong and generous women committed to change.
I also enjoy volunteering, which led me to volunteer at Cincinnati Children’s. Over the next seven years, those Wednesday nights were the highlight of my week. My role was simply to bring a moment of joy in the patient’s day during some of the most challenging times of their lives. This was my most rewarding volunteer experience to date.
Who or what is your inspiration, and in what ways has that driven your passion for GCF’s mission?
Strong women. I surround myself with a network of strong women and amazing mothers who I aspire to be every day. My grandmother and my mother are two great examples of strong women in my life. Every day, my grandmother woke up thinking “today is a new day,” regardless of whatever challenges she was facing. She was incredibly sweet and optimistic – always saw the best in everyone. I learned this from her and try to always see the positive in people and any situation.
My mom is the most loving, giving and dedicated person I know. I grew up in a westside neighborhood and our family struggled financially. She always worked two jobs, ensuring that we had everything we ever needed and always putting others before herself. I’m so proud to say that since raising her family she has taken time for herself and pursued a career in audiology. She now owns two practices with an amazing team of doctors and staff. It’s incredible what a driven mindset, hard work, optimism and determination can do for you.
If someday my daughters look up to me even half as much as I have admired these two amazing women all my life, I will feel very fortunate.
What are three things about you that most people don’t know?
What do you like most about working at GCF?
Our mission for connecting people with purpose, and my colleagues, team and our Governing Board who carry out that work with incredible impact every day. It’s so inspiring to work with some of the most visionary, intelligent and passionate leaders in our community, and to guide others to support their passions as well. I’m proud of our commitment to racial equity and economic mobility, and our track record of responding to the community’s greatest needs – the recent COVID-19 Regional Response Fund raised and deployed $7.3 million in just seven weeks is a great example of this work.
Kelly Birkenhauer works full-time as a geologist, has a young son, and spends more than 16 hours a week working to improve the lives of Greater Cincinnati’s refugees. The chair of the Junior League of Cincinnati’s (JLC) RefugeeConnect Committee said her motivation is that the refugees themselves are nothing short of amazing.
“A refugee is someone who is persecuted because of their politics or religion, or there was genocide or warfare in their country,” Kelly explained. “It’s really easy to want to work with them because you think, ‘if they can survive all these things, my problems are so trivial.’ They are really inspiring to work with.”
Refugees are forced to leave their countries, flee to refugee camps where they can spend years, and then move to a country where they don’t know the language or the culture.
There are 11,000 refugees living in Greater Cincinnati and include the Chin people of Burma/Myanmar, the Burundians of Africa, and the Bhutanese of Asia. “One of the Burundian families shared a story that had us all in tears,” Kelly said. “Their daughters grew up in hiding.”
Refugees usually receive help from resettlement agencies for three months and then they are on their own. The JLC has been working on RefugeeConnect for three years with the goal of making the lives of refugees easier, promoting community acceptance, and building a support system. A piece of this is providing accessible English classes to help the refugees adapt to the culture and be able to secure employment.
The English class segment received more than $10,000 in prize money as part of GCF’s Big Idea Challenge last year. The Big Idea Challenge was created to celebrate the Foundation’s 50th Anniversary and asked citizens to submit ideas that would make the community better.
English classes are just the beginning of what Kelly and the JLC are working on. The long-term plan is to best serve this part of the community by connecting all of the many agencies and volunteers that serve the refugee population.
“How could you not want to help?” asked Kelly.
This story appeared in GCF's 2013 Annual Report.
“The students’ mother has been able to give us some parent-like experiences, like freshman orientation,” Julie said. “It was wonderful.”
Chuck retired from Great American Insurance Group, and Julie from social work. They are so busy with charitable work, including Chuck being on the governing board of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, that he calls it a “rewirement.”
Covington and its students hold a special place in their hearts.
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