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He became a single parent when his son Dominque was 17 months old. Sam decided he wanted something different for him and looked to the Catholic school system.
“I wanted something special for Dominque,” he shared. “I understood the point of education, even though I didn’t have it myself.”
Sam gushes when he talks about Dominque’s school.
The eighth grader attends St. Francis Seraph, part of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, located on Liberty Street in Over-the-Rhine.
“Once I got to meet Principal Wanda Hill, I fell in love with her,” he said. “She’s truly concerned with inner-city kids and her staff reflects that.”
Despite working two jobs, Sam has little “wiggle room” for school tuition. He receives tuition assistance from the Catholic Inner-City Schools Education Fund (CISE).
Founded in 1980, CISE exists to raise funds to supplement the dollars which the Archdiocese of Cincinnati contributes annually to urban schools.
Funds raised provide tuition aid to parents and school operating expenses. There are seven CISE K-8 schools under the umbrella of the Archdiocese.
A staggering 82 percent of the students in CISE schools live at or below poverty level.
There were about 1,350 students in CISE schools this year and most of these children receive tuition assistance.
“CISE is what makes this school possible,” Principal Wanda Hill said. “The tuition assistance makes it possible for the neediest people to come here. I tell the people at CISE, you are giving people a choice to come here. When you give them a choice, you give them dignity.”
And it works.
The CISE schools, which welcome children of all faiths, have a high success rate – 96 percent attending Catholic high schools successfully graduate and many go on to college. The class of 2006 has an 88 percent college enrollment rate.
Volunteer Harry Santen said part of the success is the commitment of parents to contribute towards tuition; it demonstrates their own commitment to the value of education.
Harry isn’t your average volunteer – he’s been with CISE for 20 years and was chair for 15. He also teaches pottery classes to the students and supports CISE financially through a fund at GCF.
“We don’t have a lot of bells and whistles,” Harry said, “But it’s a terrific education.”
It’s this lack of bells and whistles that led Harry to work with the CISE principals and create a program that will allow top students to live up to their potential.
Together with Tracy Moore II, Harry is launching the Leadership Scholars Program. Students at local Catholic high schools will serve as mentors to the top CISE students, with a focus on leadership.
“I think mentorship/role modeling is very important for the African-American community as well as education,” said Tracy, himself a product of Catholic schools. “I think that it will also give the students something to look forward to, to aspire to, help them dream bigger, and know that they can overcome the obstacles in their lives.”
As a father, Sam dreams big for his son and works hard to overcome obstacles. For instance, Sam had reservations about Dominque walking to school, beginning in the sixth grade, but talked to him about being alert and paying attention.
“Where we live on Walnut there is a lot of drama, even though the police have recently cleaned it up around there,” he said. “I’d make pretend I was going back inside the house and watch him, keep my eye on him.”
The father/son team is a dynamic pair. They are just one example of why people like Harry Santen, Wanda Hill and Tracy Moore are dedicated to CISE students and parents.
Dominque’s education at St. Francis will culminate in success – he earned a scholarship to attend Roger Bacon High School this fall.
The soft-spoken, well-mannered 13-year-old hopes to play football next year but said, “I’m going to concentrate on my classes first.”
Spoken like someone who keeps his eye on the obstacles.
His father should be very proud.
Harry Santen established The Leadership Scholars Fund, a designated fund exclusively benefiting CISE, in 2003. Many other GCF donors show support for CISE by suggesting grants totaling more than $2.5 million since 1996 from donor advised funds and two other designated funds.
Originally published in the 2006 Annual Report
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation invests in a more vibrant and prosperous Greater Cincinnati where everyone can thrive. While GCF hasn’t traditionally been part of the election process, we felt it was necessary to show our support for both Issue 44 for the Cincinnati Public Schools and Preschool Promise and Issue 53 renewal of the Hamilton County Children’s Services Levy, as this election will affect the future of the children in our community.
Whether it is universal, quality preschool for the city or safety nets for children in the county, both these issues strengthen the systems that surround our community’s next generation to ensure their futures are strong.
Our community has revitalized neighborhoods, sparkling modern buildings, new storefronts, amazing restaurants, and a streetcar that moves from our now park-filled riverfront to our ultra-hip urban core.
But we have to embrace our other reality that everyone is not thriving in this wonderful renaissance our community is experiencing.
Our region has the second highest childhood poverty rate in the nation. Unacceptable disparities continue to exist between blacks and whites
(Urban League). An August 2016 research report cites Cincinnati as “one of the least economically mobile cities in the nation,” meaning children born into poverty will likely stay in poverty (Human Impact Partners full report pdf).
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation believes a successful educational career for each child, beginning with quality preschool, can help level the playing field in the long term. We are proud to support collaborative efforts like Success by Six®, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, StrivePartnership and The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation which address these issues.
As the community’s philanthropic partner and the nation’s 35th largest community foundation, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation has been investing in quality educational and social services, but we cannot do it alone.
PolicyLink, a highly regarded national research and advocacy institute, shared the economic benefit to our region would be up to $6.3 billion a year if we could close the gap on income disparity.
Both Issue 44 and Issue 53 will create a strong future for our community’s children. With these levies, our community will blossom a true renaissance that benefits all in our community. We encourage you to vote on November 8 and to vote “yes” for both Issue 44 and Issue 53.
Find out more about why The Greater Cincinnati Foundation supports these issues:
Read The Women's Fund's PULSE Briefing on why teachers' wages are critical to quality preschool, as it outlines the many reasons why increased wages for childcare workers improves educational qualifications, improves staff stability and ultimately increases program quality.
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.
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
Maggie Moore’s attorney still gets requests from charities asking to renew his client’s gifts. This isn’t surprising. His memory of his client of 50-some years is, “she was a good soul.”
This good soul, who passed away in December 2007 at 97 years old, will always be remembered by the young people at her church. Maggie established the Moore-Ellis Family Scholarship Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation to help young people at the Allen Temple AME Church.
Maggie was a great believer that young people needed both a spiritual foundation along with a solid education. Why did Maggie, an employee of the EPA for 30 years, set up a scholarship fund? Perhaps because it fit into her belief that, “If the world has been good to you, it’s good to give something back.”
And she was a good soul.
Read more about GCF’s flexible giving options.
“I think there is a lot of stuff that could have been different if I had a male role model,” he said. “I don’t want my kids to be in the same situation.”
Owen is more than an active father; he’s a participant and volunteer with the Avondale/Every Child Succeeds (AVECS) father’s program, A Soldier (Avondale’s Strong Organized Leaders Delivering in Every Responsibility). The support group covers everything from taking care of babies, to finding employment, pursuing education, to just talking about what it’s like to be a dad.
One of the situations that Owen wishes he had avoided was going to the penitentiary for two years. At 31, he’s one of the older members of A Soldier and he often shares his story with younger dads.
“After that experience, I was like, ‘what am I doing?’” he said. “I tell that to everybody: go to school, get your education, go to college, do something positive with yourself because there isn’t anything out on the streets. I had to make a change within myself before I was even ready to have kids.”
A Soldier grew out of AVECS mom’s group, Moms on a Mission. Since 2006, AVECS has been providing services for first-time, at-risk moms. Participating mothers requested that the fathers have a similar program.
“It takes a village to raise a child” rings true in Avondale. Residents, churches, and businesses are all involved in AVECS programming. “We have taxi drivers; we have apartment managers who help with the referral process,” said Anita Brentley of Every Child Succeeds. A community liaison, Lafawnda Sanderson, refers moms.
“She lives in the community, rides the same bus, goes to the same grocery store, the same fashion store and they connect in that way.” You can see it in action on Wednesday mornings in the Carmel Presbyterian Church basement, where there is an atmosphere of productive chaos. Volunteers sort clothing donations; others prepare food for the evening meeting. Fathers, including Owen, paint bookshelves for AVECS children.
Marcus Murray is one of these fathers.
“I think the program is special because there aren’t too many that help fathers,” he said. “Nowadays, it’s rare that the father is in the house as much as the mother is, so this piece was important to help soon-to-be fathers and men that are already fathers to learn how to accept responsibility for their kids and be happy and teach them how to engage with kids in a loving, caring, cultivating way.”
“A lot of times, especially in the black community, young men don’t know how to articulate feelings and emotions and this teaches them how,” he added. “This also teaches us how to support one another as men in this community. I’m glad I’m part of it, I see participation increasing and I’m glad to be a part of everything it has to offer.”
Sounds like Marcus is a true soldier. And that’s something worth rounding up the troops for.
About Every Child Succeeds
Every Child Succeeds (ECS) was founded by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency and United Way of Greater Cincinnati. The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is a long-time supporter of ECS. It received a Weathering the Economic Storm grant of $30,000 in 2010.
Originally published in the 2010 Annual Report to the Community
Harold Brown, Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Vice President, Community Strategies, lives in Springdale with his adorable wife Gwendolyn (supervisor at Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio), son Christopher (sophomore at St. Xavier High School) and Bentley (goldendoodle). He also has three adult stepchildren and five granddaughters, who affectionately call him “Pa-Pa.”
Harold is a graduate of Harvard University, and brings to his role at GCF nearly three decades of experience working primarily on education reform issues at influential nonprofit organizations.
I experienced two almost completely separate life tracks as a child. I was born in Hamilton but grew up on “the mean streets of Oxford” (chuckle, chuckle). The fifth of six children in a working-class family, my dad was a laborer who died when I was 14, and my mother was a laborer until she became too ill (multiple sclerosis) to work. We were one of probably a couple of hundred black families in town back then, a good number of which were my relatives, and so my life outside of school was dominated by church activities, family get-togethers and hanging out on those “mean streets” (chuckle, chuckle) with a handful of other black kids.
However, my school-based life was very different. Despite almost always being the only black student in every class (I think there were seven of us in my eventual high school graduating class), I was a standout student from the get-go. Consequently, my friends were almost exclusively college professors’ kids, who lived in a different part of town, and I had very little interaction with them outside of school activities.
Something like 65 percent of all college-going kids from Oxford Talawanda High School attend college at Miami University primarily because their parents work there and tuition is free. For different reasons, I was pretty sure I would attend Miami, too. My mom’s health was declining, my younger sister was still at home and we didn’t have much money, so I figured I could even live at home to save some money. But a strange thing happened on the way to Miami . . .
Somehow, I had become very good friends with a Jewish kid named Ken, whose dad was a Miami professor and whose sister — two years older than us — was a Harvard student. One day while at my house, Ken, who ultimately graduated from Syracuse, saw all of those the college admission packets I had received and said I needed to think bigger than Miami. After some serious arm twisting, I agreed — practically on a dare — to apply to Harvard.
It’s important to note that I was a 3.9 GPA student, senior class president and a star athlete, but when I told my guidance counselor about my intention to apply to Harvard, he said, “Don’t even bother. You probably can’t get in. And even if you did get in, you probably can’t afford it. Just go to Miami or Central State.” I’ll never forget that as long as I live.
Well, that following April, a letter from Harvard arrived in the mail. Not only was I offered admission, but also scholarships and grants covering all but about $2,000 of the then dirt-cheap cost of around $17,000! My Mom didn’t know much about colleges, but she knew the Harvard name and said, “You’re going!”
I give great credit to Ken for urging me to apply to Harvard. He and his family lived in California for many years, then returned to this area and we rekindled our friendship. In a fascinating twist, we later discovered another connection. When we were kids, before we even knew each other, Ken’s dad was director of the campus Hillel Center. He actually hired my dad (and me, in effect!) to clean that center a couple of nights a week over many years! I have not-so-fond memories of sweeping, mopping, operating a buffer machine, etc., in that center when I was about 9 or 10 years old!
After graduating from Harvard and following a three-year stint at WGBH-TV in Boston, I moved back to Cincinnati in 1992 to be closer to my mom, who by then was struggling to live alone in her own home. My first full-time job back home was Chief of Staff to the Vice President of Student Affairs at Miami — Dr. Myrtis Powell, the first African-American Vice President in the University’s history. Eventually, I also became director of multicultural student enrollment and retention. I was responsible for attracting and enrolling increasing numbers of multicultural students, a formidable task. We were able to spike those numbers up to an all-time high of 10 percent minority students in a couple of years. My time at Miami cultivated a passion for education that continues to this day.
I carried that passion forward in 2000 when I joined KnowledgeWorks Foundation, a then new organization committed to fostering equitable education for all students. Early in my tenure there, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation chose KnowledgeWorks to be their intermediary for major high school reform work in Ohio. So, with about $50 million from the Gateses and millions more from other grants, I became the director of our school improvement work and ultimately a vice president. After the grant money ran out, we decided to continue the work on a fee-for-service basis, and I founded EDWorks as a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Eventually we focused on “early-college high schools,” helping set up high schools on college campuses where students could take college and high school classes at the same time. It has become a national movement — very powerful work because it targets average or below average students and exposes them to college success while still in high school. All of my education work was focused on equity goals, a focus I continue to embrace here at GCF.
Over the past nearly 20 years, I’ve been very active in the community, serving or having served on advisory or governing boards for the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (CYC), Cincinnati Police Chief, GreenLight Cincinnati, Leadership Cincinnati, AchievePoint Career Academies, and St. Xavier High School’s Mission and Promotion Committee. In addition, my wife and I have served and worshipped in the same large inner-city church, Christ Emmanuel Christian Fellowship, for about 25 years. I have also been on the national stage with a lot of my college access education work, including leadership roles with the National College Access Network.
As I mentioned earlier, my father died when I was 14. Cuthbert (Bert) Grimes, a longtime AK Steel worker, was introduced to my mother by an uncle a few years after my father died. She never wanted to remarry but she and Bert became life partners and he became like a second father to me.
Bert had been in the Coast Guard and attended Columbia University. He was a phenomenal man, he took wonderful care of my mother and he was really a model for how to treat everybody with dignity, family or not. He was the most unselfish man I’ve ever known. He’s always been my inspiration, and helped shape my commitment to family and our entire community, which is reflected every day in my work at GCF.
I just love the people. From day one I’ve been made to feel welcome and wanted, and everybody’s been cooperative and helpful. That’s really the hallmark of any great organization, the quality of the people, the care and concern they have for one another. I’ve always been fortunate to work for mission-driven organizations. That’s really important to me and this place exemplifies that. We are committed to the mission and to each other. I can hardly wait until Community Strategies is fully staffed — we'll really soar!
From our long work in this community, we’ve gained perspective on the many initiatives created to preserve our assets and address regional challenges. As you decide how best to deploy your charitable resources, we hope to be a helpful and trusted resource for you.
Because many of you seek our assistance on effective local grantmaking, we present a new way to partner and support your philanthropy. By combining your grants with ours, together we can help meet more funding requests in the areas about which you’re most passionate.
Co-investment is an opportunity for you and GCF to make a transformational grant that fully aligns with your interests in our community. It will never be an obligation. Interested donors will be invited to join GCF staff for site visits and have the chance to explore local organizations and GCF grantmaking in depth.
Last spring, Jackie and Roy Sweeney generously co-invested to support the Clifton Cultural Arts Center and renovations of its Auditorium. Their co-investment made that grant possible, and it secured funding for the Clifton neighborhood where Roy grew up.
“GCF brings giving opportunities that we would not have known about,” explained the Sweeneys.
As GCF launches this initiative, we’d like to know your thoughts. Would you consider co-investing? Please contact your Giving Strategies team at 513-288-2880 to learn more about the ways in which we can be generous together or to inquire about current opportunities.
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