GCF enters an exciting chapter of transformation

Our recent brand launch celebration marked an exciting chapter of transformation for the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and for the community.

For 55 years, GCF has been leading the way toward a brighter future. In 1963, a group of Cincinnati business leaders was intrigued by the success of community foundations in other cities and wanted to establish one in this region. At the same time, a group of women who had been generously filling a need in their community realized their mission had become outdated. The two groups got together, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation was created.

Over the past five and a half decades, GCF has made great strides as a responsive and connected leader in our community, and had incredible impact over the years.

Some of these milestones include:

  • In 1973, Charles Sawyer partnered with GCF to challenge the community to create a riverfront park out of a junkyard with a million dollars in matching funds. When Bicentennial Commons became a reality in the late 1980s, the community received a wonderful gift and catalyzed the revitalization that now includes Smale Riverfront Park.
  • GCF also answered the call to lead after the racial unrest in 2001. The Greater Cincinnati Foundation convened Better Together Cincinnati, a group of 15 foundations and corporations that pooled nearly $7 million to support some of the most challenging initiatives inspired by the CAN Commission – Cincinnati Community Action Network. This effort launched or aligned with many community-changing programs, including the Community Police Partnering Center, Cincinnati Public Schools’ Community Learning Centers, the Minority Business Accelerator, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, The Strive Partnership, Place Matters and Success by 6®.
  • When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, GCF convened 26 local funders who abandoned their normal funding practices in order to quickly support a variety of critical community needs. Weathering the Economic Storm granted more than $4.5 million to 127 organizations, reaching 95,000 individuals and leveraged $5.5 million from federal & state sources.
  • In 2014, GCF, along with The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, co-convened the Cultural Facilities Task Force, which produced a comprehensive renovation and funding plan for Cincinnati’s Union Terminal and Music Hall known as Save Our Icons. Since 2014, GCF’s investment in Music Hall totals $11 million in grants and loans and directed $4.4M to the Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • This past year, GCF made its first deep, concentrated investment in the region with a $1.8 million grant to the Family Independence Initiative. FII is actively working with more than 70 families to empower them to lift themselves out of poverty with a 4-year goal of empowering 500 families.

The work of GCF is vital to the success of the region and are going for it when it comes to racial equity. Today, the foundation is leading the charge toward a more vibrant Greater Cincinnati for everyone—now, and for generations to come.

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is proud of the work of All-In Cincinnati, a coalition that engages our community in frank, meaningful conversations about what is needed for everyone to more fully participate in Greater Cincinnati’s economy.

GCF is inspired to build on its history for the future, and is in transformation mode.

The energy is high, the direction is clear, and new ways of working within our walls and in the community are daily fare.

The culture and strategy of GCF is centered on connecting people with purpose. That is the promise. Give through or partner with GCF, and everyone will experience that GCF is centered on making and leveraging connections for the best possible future for our region.

This brand promise is only possible given all that’s learned and experienced over 55 years. The heart and soul of the new brand the people. Change happens when generous people come together. The new brand reflects GCF’s ability to amplify the power and potential of giving in our community by connecting people with purpose and who share our passion for driving our region forward.

In a nutshell, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation puts people at the center of the region’s most pivotal developments, and GCF leverages connections and resources for greater impact.

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We are also home to two powerhouses enacting meaningful change – The Women’s Fund and The HealthPath Foundation. Their brands are evolving along with GCF’s.

The Women’s Fund is building a movement of supporters who want to create a community where all women can participate, prosper and reach their full potential. HealthPath is working to ensure all Ohioians, regardless of status, wealth, or circumstances, have the ongoing opportunity to achieve their fullest health potential.

GCF, Women’s Fund and HealthPath are stronger together, and collaboration is propelling all organizations forward in excellence and innovation.

Over the last two years, GCF has been asking a lot of questions, and spent a long time listening and internalizing what had been learned.

GCF listened to their donors and nonprofit partners, and listened to the community’s changemakers, leaders and staff members. And what was heard was GCF needed to be more focused and nimble when it came to addressing community needs. Continuous improvement is an important value and GCF keeps and will continue improving on our grant process so they can best serve the region.

In fact, GCF just concluded a grant cycle for Providing a Safety Net for Individuals and Families. These grants will provide the support of food, shelter and behavioral health services for the community’s most vulnerable.

This region has sizable disparities; where many neighbors struggle to make ends meet. When basic needs go unmet, it affects everyone and the community is unable to truly thrive. From homeless shelter beds, to food pantry access, to emergency services for at-risk seniors and at-risk youth, the community needs are great, and the requests for funding were numerous.

GCF was excited to announce that for this grant cycle, thanks to generous donors, GCF awarded 36 total grants of $1.1 million to 27 Greater Cincinnati-based and 9 Northern Kentucky-based nonprofits for the community’s safety net services.

GCF couldn’t have awarded these dollars without living the brand of connecting people with purpose. Every single grant in this cycle is available because of the generosity of the donors.

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation may be 55 years old, but it has just begun. GCF’s current strategy is bearing fruit for the region.

Later this spring, GCF will be releasing an in-depth community study conducted by PolicyLink, a national research and action institute, that recommends strategies for creating sustainable communities of opportunity that allow everyone to participate and prosper. The All-In Cincinnati Coalition, convened by GCF, will lead our community in advancing this work.

GCF will also be releasing “Giving Black: Cincinnati,” a study of the power of black philanthropy in the region. GCF is studying giving patterns, behaviors and attitudes of giving black in the community and will chronicle the legacy African American donors have left through their unique passions and incredible generosity.

And GCF’s concentrated investment with the Family Independence Initiative is continuing to flourish. This spring, families and investors will gather in Madisonville to understand the progress and inspire greater giving to this groundbreaking model for lifting families out of poverty.

The goal of GCF is to build and attract more resources for this region, and remain the go-to partner.

There’s no doubt that generosity can change the future. The real question is—what do you want your impact to be? GCF can help make it happen.

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is transforming into the organization that this region needs – a catalyst for change so that every single person in this community has an even brighter future.

Published April 11, 2018