News & Event
Owen Smith knows what it’s like to grow up without a father. “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.”
“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
Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) invites nonprofit organizations and schools to apply for grants to support innovative education programs that are enriching and fun for youth during the summer months and the school year — Summertime Kids and Learning Links, respectively. Funding requests for up to $1,000 will be accepted for both proposals.
Summertime Kids grants are available to nonprofit organizations, schools or churches working with young people in GCF’s eight-county community — Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren in Ohio; Boone, Campbell and Kenton in Kentucky; and Dearborn in Indiana. The grants provide support for programs that are enriching, fun and promote learning during the summer months and which take place between June 1 and August 31, 2019. Each organization may submit up to two applications, either for two different programs or the same program in two different locations. The funds may be used to support, expand or strengthen existing programs or launch new programs; funding will not be awarded to religious organizations that require religious activity for participation.
The deadline for Summertime Kids proposals is 5 p.m. Friday, March 15. This is a competitive process; an invitation to submit a proposal does not guarantee a grant award. Funding awards for Summertime Kids will be announced in May.
Learning Links grants are available to schools in GCF’s eight-county community for the purpose of providing opportunities for K-12 educators to bring creative and interesting projects or events to their classrooms or schools during the 2019-20 school year. Funding may be used to support, expand or strengthen existing projects or events or to launch new ones. It may also be used to support capital costs for equipment or supplies, which then become property of the school.
The deadline for Learning Links proposals is 5 p.m. Friday, April 12. This, too, is a competitive process, and an invitation to submit a proposal does not guarantee a grant award. Funding awards for Learning Links will be announced in July.
Both Grants for Kids programs are made possible through the generosity of GCF donors and continuing support from the Charles H. Dater Foundation. The maximum grant award for Summertime Kids and Learning Links projects is $1,000, but GCF also accepts grant requests for lower amounts. Grant submissions will be reviewed by a team of passionate donors and community volunteers.
A complete list of criteria, application instructions and the Request for Proposals (RFP) documents for Summertime Kids and Learning Links may be found at https://www.gcfdn.org/Grants/Grants-for-Kids.
A conversation about sports led to new careers for Gerry and Kate Greene.
“I was about to retire from my global job at Procter & Gamble,” Gerry recalled. “Kate asked a really insightful question: ‘What are you going to do when you retire? You just can’t play softball and golf all the time.’ I thought, ‘you know, why don’t I try law school?’ The first week of classes, I knew this was it. I loved it.”
As Gerry began classes at the University of Dayton School of Law at the age of 59, Kate accepted a position as an administrative assistant at the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati. The couple embarked on their new roles with great enthusiasm. Gerry helped Kate with the YWCA’s art openings by serving as bartender; she attended law school parties with his younger contemporaries. (His fellow students named their softball team Gerry’s Kids.)
“We joke that we both flunked retirement,” Gerry said.
Once he passed the bar, a neighbor suggested Gerry visit Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, which provides free legal service to economically challenged people. He told the organization he wanted to work part-time for free and there was only one caveat. He wanted to work with family law.
“I think it’s because of Kate’s job and what I’ve learned that I wanted to do family law,” he reflected. “In family law, a lot of our clients are victims of domestic violence.”
He recalls being moved by an exhibit Kate helped organize, “Empty Chairs, Painful Windows,” remembering 165 women killed in a ten-year-period due to domestic violence. “The entire exhibit got to me.”
The Greene’s new lives make for interesting dinner conversations. They share their day-to-day experiences and their computer technology learning curve with enthusiasm.
“The best part is Gerry and I have learned so much about the needs of the people of Cincinnati, especially women,” Kate said. “We understand what the other is doing.”
“Poverty, particularly with domestic violence, is a huge barrier,” Gerry said. “I always thought if your partner hits you, leave, but then you learn that economically, maybe they can’t. The batterer may bring in the only money in the family and insist that the other partner not work as a means of control. Well, if you are a victim of domestic violence and you have children and haven’t been working, the idea of leaving and going out on your own is intimidating.”
After 47 years of marriage, Gerry and Kate usually arrive at the same conclusion but take a different path.
“I describe it as, I get to ten by counting, one, two, three, four, five…Kate goes, one, eight, six, two, nine and ends up at ten,” Gerry laughed. “She’s the creative half and I’m the ‘to do’ half. She comes up with the idea and I implement it.”
Whether working for free, opening a donor advised fund at GCF, or supporting the people of the community they love, they make a united team.
“It’s a good thing to give back and we want to share that. It’s why we agreed to do this article,” Kate said. “When you really get into the community of Cincinnati and its challenges, you realize that there are opportunities there and you have to step up and help.”
Printed in the 2011 Annual Report
“Summer slide” isn’t a shiny metal conveyance into a swimming pool — it’s the academic regression, or learning loss, that students experience over their summer breaks from school. According to the Brookings Institute’s “faucet theory,” the flow of learning is available to all students during the school year, but that flow of resources can ebb dramatically during the summer months, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The loss of academic year learning — for the average student, a month per summer — can intensify subsequent achievement gaps.
Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF), in partnership with our generous donors and the longtime support of the Charles H. Dater Foundation, believes that all students should be able to make a sustained splash with opportunities for learning throughout the year. That’s the purpose of GCF’s Summertime Kids grants — grants of up to $1,000 to promote learning with enriching, fun programs for kids that run between June 1 and Aug. 31.
Nonprofit organizations may submit up to two applications, either for distinctly different programs or the same program in two locations. From new experiences that expand students’ horizons and create a lasting impact on youth with the greatest need to serving a diverse location or population and engaging parents or guardians, we’re seeking to support innovative programs that deliver a learning flow to effectively reduce “summer slide.”
That same immersion in impactful learning splashes over into the 2019-2020 school year with GCF’s Learning Links grants, which support creative projects envisioned by K-12 educators. We look to fund projects that inspire innovative, fun ideas that encourage student participation; promote diversity, multicultural or intergenerational events; have lasting impact on students and staff; engage parents/guardians and the community.
Here’s how you can help: Join us at the grantmaking table and help decide which summertime programs and which schools to fund. GCF partners with donor, nonprofit and community volunteers to review applications in small groups and make collective recommendations on which projects receive the grants. It is a great opportunity to take a rewarding, hands-on role and learn more about community needs and effective approaches to those needs. Or, if you’d prefer to financially support these grants to help us fund more programs and schools, you can recommend a grant from your GCF fund.
For the Summertime Kids grants, GCF will convene two lunchtime review meetings on April 9 and April 18; for Learning Links, lunchtime review meetings will be held on June 11 and June 21. For further information, and to volunteer, contact Laura S. Menge, GCF Philanthropic Advisor, at 513-768-6170 or email@example.com.
As we wrap up 2019, we look back at our very impactful year of moving forward on many fronts! As your community foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is grateful for the support of and partnerships with our donors, nonprofit partners and community stakeholders to bring about a more equitable future for everyone in our region.