Bridging the Racial Divide

On April 7, 2001, Timothy Thomas—19 and unarmed—became the 15th African American to die at the hands of the Cincinnati police in a span of six years. In the days that followed, Cincinnati made international headlines as protests turned to civil unrest, leaving hundreds injured, hundreds arrested and nearly $1 million of damage to 140 businesses.

In 2003, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation took aim at the long-term, systemic challenges to equity brought to light in the aftermath of 2001 by launching Better Together Cincinnati. The innovative funding collaborative built upon existing grassroots and institutional efforts developed by Cincinnati Community Action Now (C-CAN).

Led by GCF, 14 corporations and foundations pledged to build the Better Together Cincinnati initiative. They funded key equity-focused projects, beginning with the critical work of improving police-community relations.

Better Together Cincinnati continued for 8 years and resulted in nearly $6.5 million of targeted local grants to between 2003 and 2011. Lasting impact continues through three initiatives launched thanks to BTC—together, they champion equity in criminal justice, business development, community development and education.

Community Police Partnering Center—approx. $4.9 million

  • develops strategies to reduce crime and increase trust between police and residents
  • implemented plans to improve community police relations through citizen-led problem-solving initiatives, consistent with the Collaborative Agreement that was forged between the City and plaintiffs in wake of 2001 protests
  • located in the same space and under fiscal sponsorship of the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati

Minority Business Accelerator—approx. $650,000


  • promotes the development of larger minority-owned businesses to boost regional economic growth
  • increases opportunities for larger minority-led businesses, including African American and Latinx owned) to be suppliers to businesses and corporations in the with organizations such as Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, African-American Chamber of Commerce, the Cincinnati Business Committee and the South Central Ohio Minority Business Development Council

Cincinnati Arts & Technology Studios—approx. $180,000

  • innovative creative and digital arts program that keeps under-resourced youth in school and increases graduation rates (95 percent of participants graduate high school on time)
  • supports thousands of local high-school students working toward graduation every year by providing credit-granting courses in Fine Arts and electives
  • embedded with Cincinnati Public Schools initially, success sparked partnerships with additional districts

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