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For Jack and Marilyn Osborn, a blind date plus four sons was a winning combination. The couple married and blended their families (two boys each). The age span of 12 years didn’t stop the boys from becoming brothers.
When one of the older boys was home from college, and they were sharing a bathroom, I’d remind him that ‘you might want to be careful with the hairdryer around your little brothers,’” Marilyn said. “And I’d be trying to keep the little ones from waking up the older ones and vice versa.”
“When I married Marilyn, I got two more sons,” Jack said.
Today their conversation around sons “one through four” and five grandchildren is mingled with amusement and love.
“I would tell them, ‘my job is to keep you from going to jail or dying,’” Marilyn said. “You protect them. Now they appreciate it.”
“Any parent thinks their family is spectacular,” Jack smiled.
Children aren’t the only project this couple has balanced together.
Volunteering for local arts organizations is a passion. The Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Cincinnati Ballet and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) are among favorites.
“It’s very rewarding. You always hear people say you get more than you give − it’s true. It’s wonderful just being around some of these outstanding organizations and learning how they work,” Marilyn said.
As a team, they’ve raised $30 million for the CSO’s endowment and recently chaired its New Year’s Eve Gala. They’ve even allowed local musicians to use their sound-friendly living room for a recording space.
The Osborns opened their donor advised fund with GCF in the early 1980s.
“It’s a seamless way to give,” said Marilyn, who is a senior portfolio manager at Bartlett & Co. “GCF keeps evolving and growing ideas that are beneficial for donors.”
“As you grow older, a family foundation sounds terrific, but it’s a lot of work,” Jack, the retired owner of a refrigeration company, said. “GCF makes it easy. We’ve convinced our friends to use GCF.”
A love for travel complements their passion for the arts. Jack laughs and shares when he was told a beautiful statue from Sicily couldn’t be mailed home, “I carried it home in my gym bag…”
Marilyn adds that the bag was stuffed with socks.
Probably well-matched pairs, just like the Osborns.
Originally published in the 2010 Annual Report to the Community
Ms. Johnson (her name has been changed to protect her privacy) and her two children live in Woodlawn. She’s employed full-time as a laboratory technician at a local hospital, has received several salary increases since earning her phlebotomy certificate and mentors new staff members.
Why are we telling you her story? Because she is one of 64 Hamilton County residents currently participating in Project LIFT — Lifting and Investing in Families Thriving. A unique public/private partnership launched in April as an initiative of the Child Poverty Collaborative. Project LIFT is designed to improve the economic self-sufficiency of families in poverty by removing significant financial barriers to their goals. By focusing on family-driven solutions and working with a pilot alliance of 19 nonprofit agencies, Project LIFT simultaneously leverages the maximum of federal/state/local public funds while tapping flexible private funds to fill in the gaps of services.
Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is administering the private funding for Project LIFT, and has pre-awarded a grant of $25,000 to each participating agency. To date, $750,000 in private funds has been raised through contributions from generous donors and organizations such as the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, TriHealth, Thomas J. Emery Memorial, The Kahila Kadosha Adath Israel congregation, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and a number of private donors. Project LIFT’s first-year goal is to serve 650 families.
“Project LIFT is a strategic partnership of public and private funding designed to remove pressing barriers for families working to achieve stability,” said Dora Anim, GCF Chief Operating Officer, who serves on the Project LIFT management team. “GCF is pleased to serve as a regional resource to help bring together and administer this vital work, which aligns with our mission to create equitable opportunities for all families that enable them to move forward out of poverty.”
The program includes five key components: employment/engagement, flexible service coordination, wraparound funding for both emergency and developmental needs, transportation solutions and community outreach/engagement. Outcomes, measured in six-month intervals, will include:
For Ms. Johnson, an early Project LIFT enrollee, coordination of funding provided federal assistance with a car repair and gas cards. She also had an unresolved Duke Energy balance that, due to her increased income, was ineligible for Ohio percentage of income (PIPP) funding. Ms. Johnson’s Project LIFT sponsor was able to resolve the debt with private funds and worked with her to create a balanced budget. The result? Ms. Johnson can fully focus on increasing her self-sufficiency by pursuing her goals of obtaining additional career certifications — including registered nurse — and purchasing a home.
We invite you to join with GCF in funding Project LIFT’s collaborative efforts to improve the economic self-sufficiency of families in our community. For further information, please contact your GCF philanthropic advisor.
(August 17, 2017)—The Greater Cincinnati Foundation recently made the largest grant in its 54-year history to the Family Independence Initiative (FII) for $1.8 million. GCF and its partner, the GreenLight Fund, held a press conference with FII to announce this investment.
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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 an accredited 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.
“This is exciting work that aligns with and informs our racial equity focus, and our participation is extremely timely,” said GCF Director, Community Strategies Rickell Howard Smith. “The groups all have similar questions and challenges, and it’s a perfect environment to share lessons learned. We left the meeting with a list of ideas and practicaltools that GCF can use to help further our equity work and more effectively implement our racial equity strategy.”
As we announced previously, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is one of six foundations selected for the CFLeads’ second nationwide Community Foundation Equity Network cohort this year. CFLeads is a community foundation network that helps build strong communities by advancing effective practices, sharing knowledge and galvanizing action on critical issues.
GCF’s CFLeads team — President/CEO Ellen M. Katz, Governing Board Co-Chair Delores Hargrove-Young, Vice President, Community Strategies Harold D. Brown, Director, Community Strategies Rickell Howard Smith, J.D. and Executive Director, Women’s Fund Meghan Cummings — participated in the first of three cohort sessions in May in St. Paul, Minnesota.
They joined fellow cohort members — Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Jackson (Michigan) Community Foundation, Rochester Area Community Foundation, Seattle Foundation and Waco Foundation — for a two-day, peer-to-peer approach that dives deep into discerning and implementing policies to accelerate equity both internally and in their respective communities.
That first meeting helped build a baseline understanding of the equity contexts in which community foundations work, in such categories as donor engagement, grantmaking, community leadership and impact investing.
“This is exciting work that aligns with and informs our racial equity focus, and our participation is extremely timely,” said Howard Smith. “The groups all have similar questions and challenges, and it’s a perfect environment to share lessons learned. We left the meeting with a list of ideas and practical tools that GCF can use to help further our equity work and more effectively implement our racial equity strategy.”
Key topics covered in the first meeting include:
The cohort will meet twice more through early 2020, and the GCF team is looking forward to sharing — and acting upon — the insights of this collaboration with our community.
In honor of the giving season, we asked our co-workers to share stories of the best gifts they’ve ever received — or given:
“Dancing with the Stars has been my mom’s favorite since its inception. We have watched the show together for the past 28 seasons! The first year that they had a live show that traveled from city to city, I bought my mom and I tickets for her Christmas present. (I’ve since taken her many times.) I put together a whole packet that she opened on Christmas. Pictures of the cast, poem I wrote, a scroll with the announcement. She was overwhelmed. She was crying she was so happy. And when we attended, it was one of the best evenings ever!” — Lori Beiler, Senior Grants Manager
“The best gift I ever got was a metal yardstick. This was back when I was a residence hall director at Miami. Jason and I had been dating a few months at the time. I had gotten a free wooden yard stick from a hardware store but I had left it in Michigan. I mentioned something off-handed while I was talking to Jason on the phone about wishing I had my yard stick so I could measure the paper I needed for the bulletin board. That weekend, Jason showed up with a really nice, metal, cork-backed yardstick. I still have it! I use it all the time. It really is the best gift I ever got, because it showed he was paying attention to me and put some effort into picking out a really nice one.” — Christine Mulvin, HealthPath Senior Program Officer
“The best gift I ever gave was to my dad for his birthday in 2018. My parents finally bought their dream home and my dad got the bar he always wanted in the basement. I bought him a sign that says “Coyt’s Bar” and it was the first thing he hung in the basement. I still hear him tell his friends and our family that I bought the gift for him. My dad isn’t one to rave about gifts and he’s not easy to shop for but I can tell this is something he really liked.” — Paige Goodin, Marketing Coordinator
“The best gift I ever received was my childhood dog, Annabelle. Santa brought her a couple of days before Christmas and left her on my front porch. She was the best dog and throughout my childhood, she was always there when I needed her! She lived for 13 years before she passed away, but she is such a special member of our family.” — Samantha Molony, Women’s Fund Applied Research Manager
“The best gift I received was for my 40th birthday from my wife. She asked people in my life (past and present) to write down one word to describe me. She then created a word cloud and framed it. It’s displayed proudly in my office. The top three words are: Loyal, Genuine and Authentic.” — Phillip P. Lanham, Vice President, Donor and Private Foundation Services
“I received the Barbie Dreamhouse. It had three levels and an elevator that you pulled up and down using strings. Another gift that stands out was my Cricket Doll. She had a cassette tape that went in her back. I played with her and did her hair so much, she was bald by the time I was done with her!!!” — Adrienne Taylor, Women’s Fund Senior Development Officer
“My best gift was a letter from my son, which he hand wrote to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago. In it he talked about how I had influenced him and what he saw of me in himself ... as I read it I realized that he had written me a love letter.” — Ellen M. Katz, President/CEO
“I am an obsessive vacuumer. Last Christmas, my wife finally gifted me a fancy new Dyson that I had wanted (was waiting for my old vacuum cleaners to die but they just wouldn’t). Upon opening the gift box, my eyes watered and I hugged the Dyson like it was a long-lost relative!” — Harold Brown, Vice President, Community Strategies
“The best gift I’ve ever received was my charm bracelet. It is a tradition passed down for generations. My grandmother and my mother both shared their stories with me and when I was 10 years old I received my very own that I have treasured since. It is a representation of the experiences in my life, with charms symbolizing big moments to celebrate and challenging times. It has captured my world travels. I have a charm that represents the moment I became a wife and a mom. What I love most about it is how it creates an intentional focus to find the absolutely perfect charm to capture each experience. I have been blessed with three beautiful daughters and I cannot wait to carry on the tradition with them, create memories together, and keep the tradition alive.” — Jaclyn Sablosky, Director, Marketing
“Flying Lessons! On my 30th birthday my wife put me in the car blindfolded. Drove me somewhere (ended up being the airport), I had my first flying lesson that day! Went on to solo and become a private pilot.” — Eric DeWald, HealthPath Executive Director and President
“The best gift that I ever received was the birth of my daughter two weeks before my mom passed away, so she got to meet her first grandchild.” — Will Woodward, Chief Financial Officer
“My best Christmas gift came on Christmas Eve, and it was her due date (my daughter, Micha).” — Mary R. Pitcairn, Philanthropic Advisor
“My all-time favorite gift was a stuffed Curious George monkey, which I received when I was 8 years old. I was surprised and delighted to receive this monkey – I had never indicated (or even thought) I wanted him, but once I held him — he was a perfect, cuddly friend. Actually, and this is where things get weird, he became my pretend baby. My little sister Maurine received a Honey Bunch doll that year, that became her pretend baby (a whole lot more believable than Curious George, but you work with what you have). Maurine also received a four-foot-tall standing Smokey the Bear, who promptly became her ‘husband,’ who she set outside our bedroom door every morning to go to work. She let him back in our room after ‘work.’ Apparently, I was a single mother. However, Maurine and I and our babies had thousands of hours of fun, while her ‘husband’ worked fighting fires. I still have Curious George.” — Lisa Davis Roberts, Senior Program Officer, Private Foundation Services
“My parents were young and on a tight budget, and my dad was putting himself through night school to get an accounting degree. At 7, I was oblivious to financial pressures, and had asked for a Barbie Dream House (the original cardboard version!). My dad received an unexpected bonus and, without telling my mom, bought the Dream House for me, a battery-operated dog for my little brother and a necklace for my mom — no one was more surprised than she was, and I think he had her half believing in Santa Claus! The best part of that gift was to hear the story of his ‘Secret Santa’ exploit when I was old enough to appreciate it.” — Connie Yeager Winternitz, Copywriter
“My husband isn’t a planner, to say the very least. So when it comes to our day-to-day lives or fun family activities I am usually the one who plans and organizes things. Last year at Christmas it was my turn to open up my present. When I unwrapped it, I was blown away. It was a window box with a picture of the sunset as the background that I took in Clearwater Beach on the Pirate Cruise from a previous vacation. The box had sand laid out like the beach and sea shells scattered along the sand from our trip that year as well. On the back of the window box was a postcard from Clearwater Beach that said, “Can’t wait to see you next year!” with the dates of our next vacation planned. My husband knows this is where I find peace each year and planned the entire trip and made the window box on his own. It was absolutely the most thoughtful gift I have received.” — Angie Williams, Senior HR Manager
“I was given a second chance at life after going into cardiac arrest here at work on July 12, 2019. My best gift yet.” — Venita Turner, Administrative Associate
“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.
“I started my presentation by asking them, ‘Tell me about yourself and your child.’ I noticed going around the table that their faces shined more when they talked about their children,” Garrette said.
“When it got back to me, my comment was, ‘I know you want the best for your children. What better way to do that than to prepare them before they actually get to school by giving them the tools they need to understand reading and writing?’”
Garrette was at the American Red Cross to teach these mothers the shared reading technique, part of United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Success by 6® initiative. Its vision is that by age six, all children in the region are safe, healthy and prepared to succeed.
Research confirms that what happens to children before the age of three affects the way their brains develop and if they are wired for learning or not.
Success by 6® grew out of initiatives proposed by Cincinnati CAN in 2003 and adopted by Better Together Cincinnati (BTC), a group of funders managed by GCF. It was a strong national model that could recommend strategies that help children get ready for school by working with parents, early childhood professionals and policymakers who can make a difference in a child’s success.
Research shows that more than half of children entering kindergarten within Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) are not on track for school readiness in early literacy and language development.
“We know kids are going into CPS less prepared,” said Success by 6® Executive Director Stephanie Byrd. “This creates an achievement gap over time. Research shows that kids that start behind never catch up.”
But shared reading can result in substantial changes in preschool children’s language skills.
Supported by this knowledge, Success by 6®, in collaboration with The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, trained a group of librarians in shared reading.
The librarians in turn trained child care providers, parents and agency workers.
Garrette, a former children’s librarian (now a library acquisitions manager) and mother of two, also uses shared reading with her three-year-old son Garrison.
“Shared reading, in a nutshell, is taking the lead of the child and letting them tell the story,” she said.
Shared reading is a conversation that uses three simple steps: comment and wait; ask questions and wait; respond by adding a little more.
“For example, my son Garrison is really into football,” Garrette explained. “If we were looking at a book with Rudi Johnson, I might say, ‘He has a helmet just like you,’ and I’ll spark that conversation.
“Or you could say, ‘That is a big helmet – it is humongous,’” she said. “I’ve learned through shared reading that children repeat
after you. They might say, ‘Humongous?’ They’ll make the effort to say the word they’ve just been introduced to.”
“I might say, ‘That is a beautiful butterfly,’ and I’ll sit and wait and my child might say, ‘Oh, flowers,’” Garrette said. “So then you start your questioning off with what they are interested in. I might think that butterflies are great to talk about but my son might think flowers are great.”
Shared reading has made such a difference with Garrison that he may enter preschool early, Garrette said.
As for the women she met at the Red Cross, she believes she empowered them to use shared reading, whether they could read or not.
“There is a fear in parents who can’t read or write that they can’t help their child,” Garrette said. “This is the perfect thing for them.
“Just because they don’t have a good economic situation doesn’t mean parents don’t care and don’t want the best for their children.”
In a nutshell, that’s what Success by 6® is all about – wanting the best for our children.
Better preparing them for kindergarten gives them a fair shot at success as they progress through school.
Every child in our community deserves that opportunity.
Success by 6® received $500,000 from GCF in 2002. This support was a result of GCF’s Future Directions II “community listening” process held to identify priority community issues in its six grantmaking areas. More than 300 community leaders and volunteers participated. As a result of these conversations, GCF committed $2.2 million over five years to four new initiatives, including Success by 6®.
Originally published in the 2006 Annual Report to the Community
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