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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.
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.
Chief Financial Officer Will Woodward is a two-time graduate of Miami University, with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA in finance. A Cincinnati native, he lives in Loveland with his wife and three young children.
Share details of your personal and professional background that helped to guide your path to Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF).
My mom was a philosophy professor at the University of Cincinnati; my sister followed Mom and went into teaching. My dad was an accountant for the IRS for over 30 years, and I ended up following in his footsteps by going into the accounting field. I’ve always been a math-type person, so it was natural for me. My first job out of college was working for Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms here in Cincinnati, which provided me with a strong foundation in the accounting side of the house. But my passion was more in finance, so after five years at Deloitte I had the opportunity to take a position in operational finance with Mercy Health. Initially I was the head of finance for Mercy Anderson Hospital, and six months later they added Mercy Clermont Hospital. I got to work inside the walls of a hospital, which really gave me my first taste of what it’s like to lead finance for an organization. I had an opportunity to look at a wide array of budgets, and we put together many financial projections including the new $80 million tower at Mercy Anderson Hospital.
Then I was recruited to the start-up company RushCard, the largest privately-held pre-paid debit card company in the US, which was then located in Blue Ash. It was co-founded by Russell Simmons (rap music producer and co-founder of Def Jam Recordings). They created the first-ever Visa pre-paid debit card, but by the time I got there it was a pretty large organization. My role was the entire financial purview — accounting, finance and HR, which really gave me a taste of how to grow an organization. We doubled the size of my team in the time I was with the organization. We operated as the “bank” for many of our customers, most of whom tended to live below the poverty line.
We were in the process of selling the business when I got a call about GCF. It was a great natural progression in terms of my next step. I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason. During the interview process I had an opportunity to meet a lot of our board members, and they were looking for someone who had a for-profit mindset in terms of the skills and capabilities that would help bring to GCF. Ellen and Dora have been in the nonprofit world for a long time, and so it was a great fit of our different backgrounds to be able to facilitate growth in making an impact. When I came Ellen had been here about two years — it was really exciting time, and I think we have an amazing board.
What are your professional and community affiliations, and how do they inform your role at GCF?
On the professional side, I am a CPA, so I’m a member of the Ohio Society of CPAs and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. I’m a Charter Global Management Accountant as well. Because I have young children (three kids four and under to be specific) I’m mindful of prioritizing my time. I recently concluded about 10 years of service with the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati, a cause that has always been a passion for our family. My wife and I are also in a number of groups affiliated with our church.
Who or what is your inspiration, and in what ways has that driven your passion for GCF’s mission?
Probably my biggest source of inspiration is my parents, for different reasons. My dad was the coach, a person who was always the provider for our family. My mom had an incredible life — she was a college professor until she got sick when I was a young child and had to give that up. Later she went back to graduate school and became a social worker at Talbert House working with people who had drug and alcohol addictions; after that she did prison ministry, mentoring women at local prisons and helping them get their GEDs. She instilled in me a sense of giving back, of making sure that I am leaving our community in a better place than I inherited it. I’ve always tried to carry that forward and that’s what led to my through-line of mission-based jobs that ultimately led me to GCF. On the professional side, I’ve had really good mentors. The people I’ve appreciated the most are those who have taught me something and I’ve tried to carry that forward, making sure that I’m teaching and giving back as much as I possibly can.
What are three things about you that most people don’t know?
One of my passions is that I’ve always loved the idea of an entrepreneurial-type business. My wife and I got into real estate back in 2011 and 7 years later we’ve flipped five houses and have 12 rental properties. I love being able to offer nice houses that people can feel comfortable living in and seeing the transformation when they are complete. It’s another aspect that ties in with the mission of this organization. At GCF we’re looking at how can we do some really big things in the affordable housing space, and I hope that I can add some value in ways that could impact a lot of lives.
I love playing poker. I love the strategy behind it and I have played for a long time in a number of poker leagues. I’ve come within inches, twice, to making the (World Series of Poker) Main Event — the largest poker tournament in the world.
I’ve had the benefit of meeting two of the greatest individuals of all time in their respective sports. I grew up in Roselawn, and Muhammad Ali’s brother lived across the street. One day Muhammad Ali pulled up in a big RV, and the whole street got to come out and meet him. I also met Secretariat — my parents took me down to a horse farm in Lexington to meet him. I also had the chance to play against a grand master in chess in New Orleans.
What do you like most about working at GCF?
What I’ve enjoyed the most is the people, both inside and outside the walls of this great organization, that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. At GCF we tend to come across a wide spectrum of people. We’ve got great employees, and we’re also interacting with fantastic donors, professional advisors and a lot of really important nonprofits. The greatest thing, for me — which I said coming in the door and I say it now — is that I really want to be at an organization about which I can tell my kids one day, “Daddy was helping to make Greater Cincinnati better.”
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