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Women-centered soHza partners with YWCA Cincinnati to connect with women across globe

In an effort to expand its reach locally and globally, soHza recently partnered with YWCA Cincinnati to connect women in developing countries across the globe with local women in need through handmade jewelry.

Some of the jewelry is made from melted down bullet casings and weapons, others from upcycled tin and bull horn. Anyone can purchase jewelry and accessory items online, where they can also choose the local organization they’d like to support with their purchase. 
Co-founder Debbie Lupariello launched soHza in April 2013 with her sisters Melissa and Vicki with the philosophy that, when women are at the center of change, anything is possible.
“When women buy these pieces of jewelry, they become part of the change and connect the story,” Lupariello says. “I think that is where women’s power is. We have the ability to see through so many barriers and connect with one another. That’s what we’re about, that’s the point of soHza.”
Approximately 15 percent of purchases will support various organizations that help women. Proceeds also help create sustainable income for women in 11 different countries like Vietnam, Ecuador, Colombia and the Philippines.
The recent partnership with YWCA Cincinnati will continue to empower and support women here in the U.S. as well as also across the globe.
“The whole idea of soHza is to partner women with other women to change the world,” Lupariello says. “We’re the same no matter where we come from. The more we tell that story, the more we can make positive change in the world.”
Do Good:

• Learn more about soHza’s mission.

• Support women around the world by purchasing a piece of jewelry.

• Read a story about one of soHza's artisans.

Toss for Techs to raise money for Per Scholas IT training

Per Scholas is hosting its inaugural fundraiser in the form of a cornhole tournament, Toss for Techs, Oct. 27 at CityLink Center.

Per Scholas provides free IT job training for low-income or unemployed individuals. Applicants are given technology and professional development skills training needed to get a job, and approximately 90 percent of the jobs Per Scholas graduates are landing provide benefits like medical insurance and paid vacation time.

The fundraising event will help Per Scholas continue to provide job training and job placement.
“We want employers to know we are here as a resource,” says National Director of Communications Jessicah White. “But we also need community support to stay here.”
The fundraiser will feature light food, drinks and general play cornhole. Aaron Mingo, a Per Scholas graduate, will share his experience in the program — he worked in the restaurant industry for more than a decade before going through the program and is now working as a support analyst at The Christ Hospital. 
More than 100 individuals have graduated the Per Scholas program in Cincinnati, but there are hundreds of graduates who have moved through the pipeline at Per Scholas’ other locations in Columbus, New York, Dallas and Washington, D.C. Per Scholas has been nationally recognized in WIRED Magazine, The New York Times and by the White House
Although Per Scholas has been in Cincinnati for a few years, the organization gained more traction after moving into the CityLink Center earlier this year.
“This move was transformational for us and helped us become more united with the community,” White says. “CityLink provides a holistic community approach, and we want to be a part of it. We want to make the community better.”
Do Good:

• Purchase tickets to the Toss for Techs fundraiser, 5-8 p.m. Oct. 27 at CityLink Center, 800 Bank St., West End. Tickets are $50 for general admission or $75 to play in the cornhole tournament.

• Help Per Scholas by donating or volunteering your time. 

• Follow Per Scholas on Instagram to see student testimonials. 

Next round of Creative Community Grants are available for Covington projects

Anyone with a creative solution to challenges in Covington can receive up to $5,000 through the Creative Community Grant program.

The program, funded through the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington (CGN), debuted last year. Throughout the next three years, officials hope to accomplish six rounds of grant funding for several creative projects. Each round will address a different issue identified by surveys, focus groups and community groups.

The second round, focusing on celebrating the bicentennial, is winding down and will close sometime in December. The third round is now open to interested applicants and will focus on inclusion in any shape or form, ranging from accessibility and disability to racial and social inclusion.

“These projects have allowed us to tackle things in a different way than what we would traditionally do,” says CGN Program Manager of Community Development Kate Esarey. “These are unique strategies that we, as a community development corporation, might not even think of.”

The solution doesn’t have to be art in the traditional sense but instead can be a mural, performance or even culinary art. Some of the applicants don’t have a background in art but found a way to creatively engage the community.

Once the project proposals are submitted, a panel and community members choose which projects they would like to see move forward.
Applicants can be individuals, a group or a businesses. The only caveat is that the project does have to take place in Covington.
The grant money can be used to compensate the artists themselves, or they can use some of it to invite the community to celebrate their finished product.
“A lot of these artists are seeing the value of coordinating with the community and doing things that fit in the social fabric of Covington,” Esarey says.

Do Good:

• Take a look at previous projects that have won Creative Community Grants.

• The deadline to apply for the next round is Nov. 16.

• For more information on the Center for Great Neighborhoods, visit its website.

ReSource, Phillips Edison launch "On the Rise" initiative to connect YPs with nonprofits

When ReSource isn’t helping area nonprofit organizations by distributing corporate donated furniture and office supplies, it's connecting them with talented young professionals.

ReSource’s new YP program, On the Rise, is the product of a partnership with Phillips Edison real estate investors.

Maybe a nonprofit needs help setting up its website or taking a closer look at its finances. Maybe it need someone who knows a little about marketing or event planning. On the Rise will pair those non-profit organizations with Cincinnati area young professionals who have experience in relevant subjects.

“This allows young professionals to help nonprofits in a meaningful way beyond just volunteering,” says ReSource Executive Director Christie Brown. “They might not have money early in their careers to support a cause, but they do have talents and skills.”

ReSource plans to host a series of networking events designed to pair its nonprofit members and their business needs with skilled young professionals, essentially playing matchmaker.

“We are excited about this partnership because it allows us to impact multiple organizations at the same time while also accessing a key talent base in the Cincinnati area that we will need to engage in order to support our growth as a company,” says Phillips Edison COO Bob Myers.

Do Good:

• Like ReSource on Facebook to learn more about how they serve the nonprofit community in Cincinnati.

• For more information about the On the Rise initiative, contact Christie Brown.

• ReSource is always looking for gently used donations to redistribute to nonprofits in need.

Rank & select area healthcare providers through new searchable databases at Your Health Matters

Area residents can make better choices about their healthcare, specifically when it comes to choosing a primary care physician or hospital, thanks to YourHealthMatters.org. The online rating tool was developed locally by the Health Collaborative based on patient experience data.
Results are calculated from a survey mailed to patients who have recently visited their doctor. To eliminate bias, patient responses are randomly sampled and compiled by an independent research company, which are then submitted to Your Health Matters. 
Practices are measured in four core areas: getting care when needed, how well doctors communicate, courteous and helpful office staff and overall rating of the doctor.
“Everyone needs a provider,” says Health Collaborative Director of Communications Shannan Schmitt. “Everyone wants to know who is doing well and who’s listening. This is exactly what we want Your Health Matters to be — a one-stop shop for finding the right doctor.” 
Your Health Matters also rates practices on diabetes care, cardiovascular health and colon cancer screenings.
Since its launch in 2010, YourHealthMatters.org has seen an overall improvement in doctor and hospital ratings, with Cincinnati ranking higher than the national average.  
"Your Health Matters has become a model of our region,” Schmitt says. “Not everyone has this platform. This is a model that can be replicated in other cities and is definitely something our community should be proud of.”
New ratings are set to be released later this month or in early October.
Do Good:

• See for yourself and compare ratings of area medical providers.

• Stay connected with Your Health Matters on Facebook.

• To learn more about YourHealthMatters.org, visit the website.

Cincinnati Zoo promotes Go Bananas! Challenge to recycle old cell phones

Cell phone users can recycle their old phones and save endangered gorilla habitats thanks to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

The zoo’s recycling program, Project Saving Species, is part of a national competition, the Go Bananas! Challenge. Coltan, a metallic ore used in cell phones, is mined in endangered habitats in Africa, which causes gorillas to be displaced or poached due to the destruction of their homes.

In an effort to reduce the need for coltan, the zoo is collaborating with The Gorilla Glue Company and Eco-Cell for the fourth year in a row to ask organizations, schools and community youth groups to create to collect and recycle cell phones to help save gorillas.

Cincinnati Zoo Project Manager Molly Szabo says the previous campaign recycled 8,096 devices and raised $5,848.60 between Aug. 1, 2014 and April 14, 2015.

The Go Bananas! Challenge is pretty simple: Collect old phones and turn them into the zoo. The school, business or scout group that collects the most phones wins $4,000. Once a group is registered, it will be provided cell phone collection bins and postage labels or pick-up service.

All phones must be received by April 3, 2016. The winner will be announced April 24, 2016, Szabo says.

Do Good:

• Join the Go Bananas! Challenge and register your group online. 

• Don’t want to participate but have an old phone to recycle? Take it to the Cincinnati Zoo or one of the specified partner drop-off locations.

• For more information on how you can help, contact Molly Szabo.

Clovernook Center's manufacturing prowess featured on "Home Factory" TV show

More than 5 million biodegradable and compostable cups were produced last year right here in Cincinnati at the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Two million of those cups went to the U.S. Navy, and the remaining 3 million were sold through third party sales at local stores like Target, Party City and Whole Foods.  
Clovernook was recently featured on an episode of "Home Factory," an FYI Network TV show that tours production facilities in North America and reveals how everyday household objects are made.
The cups are available in 10 oz. or 16 oz. sizes in various patterns and colors and can be custom printed.

“People have seen these cups and don’t even realize they were made right here in North College Hill,” says Coral Dill, manager of communications & development.  

Clovernook, whose mission is to provide life-enriching opportunities to people who are blind and visually impaired, employed approximately 70 blind or visually impaired employees last year.

“A lot of people underestimate the power of people who are blind or visually impaired,” Dill says, “but the sense of community here is the most fulfilling. There’s such a sense of comraderie and self-empowerment.”

Clovernook is also one of the top two largest braille printing houses in the U.S., producing 40 million pages on an annual basis.

Do Good:

• Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is always looking for volunteers.

• Help support Clovernook's mission by giving.

• “Like” Clovernook on Facebook and stay up to date on fundraisers and events. 

Funke pottery studio encourages individual empowerment

Whether you’re looking to hone your ceramic skills or just starting out, Funke Fired Arts is a place where anyone can be an artist.
Funke’s instructors teach every level of a smorgasbord of classes: wheel throwing, handbuilding and sculpture. 
“People always say, ‘I don’t have a creative bone in my body,’” says Ben Clark, director of instruction. “But if you get them to take just one class, it opens a part of them they didn’t know they had. Creating something new makes people feel great. You realize how many talents you have beyond your day-to-day job.”
Funke is one of the largest clay studios in the country. The facility has multiple kilns and more than 50 spinning wheels. There are other studios, a gallery and a children’s education center as well.

But what makes Funke unique is its full-retail service shop, which sells clay, glaze, raw materials, tools, wheels, kilns, bricks, etc. They have formed several relationships with art teachers in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas in order to expand their reach. The money that comes in from art product purchases can be used to invest in education for local communities, Clark says. 

The studio is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m-5 p.m. Friday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Do Good:

• Get your hands dirty and register for a class at Funke Fired Arts, 3130 Wasson Road, Hyde Park.

• Become friends with Funke on Facebook.

• Support Funke by buying local art products.

UC Economics Center honors those who promote financial literacy

UC’s Economics Center hosted its eighth annual awards luncheon two weeks ago to honor students, educators and sponsors making a difference in society’s understanding and implementation of financial literacy. More than 700 business leaders and educators joined together for the event, in which General Electric’s Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt addressed economic empowerment and “The Next Industrial Era.”
“I learned there are four things that competitive societies focus on: education, small business, the infrastructure and more competitiveness from government,” Immelt said. “We see those things in the state of Ohio.”
Because of support from local businesses and individuals who value the mission of the Economics Center, it’s able to offer programming and resources to schools and teachers who can empower students with the knowledge needed to be successful in a changing economy.
The Center, for example, works with schools to implement the Student Enterprise Program (StEP), in which students earn currency — for things like turning in homework or arriving to school on time — which they can later spend at the StEP store. It fosters critical thinking and an awareness of entrepreneurship, spending and saving. (See the StEP video shown at the awards event here.)
Immelt, who grew up in Cincinnati, is a model for success and what one can attain when knowledgeable about economics, and said he’s determined to make sure our youth “have the hunger, the discipline and the skills to continue to go out and face the world with confidence.”
“We need great people to help them do that,” Immelt said at the March 16 event. “That’s our job — to teach the next generation how to compete, how to make a difference in the world, the value of economic strength and how to be focused on innovation and humility, accountability and purpose. When we do well we win together, and that’s what’s happening here.”

Do Good:

• Make a difference by giving to the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati.

• Make a difference by volunteering.

• If you're interested in becoming a corporate sponsor, contact the Center.

Cincinnati native launches Queen City Crowdfunding to tap into the region's generosity

For Jim Cunningham, primary founder, funder and general manager of Queen City Crowdfunding, improving the Greater Cincinnati region is a primary aim.
“My family and my wife’s (family) have lived here almost since the Civil War, and both of our children have stayed here, so we are totally committed to this region,” Cunningham says. “Fortunately it’s one of the best and most affordable places in the world to live. The people here are generous, as shown by the large United Way and other charitable and arts-related support.”
Because of that generosity, it’s important to raise awareness about crowdfunding as an asset for both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, Cunningham says.
Cunningham managed operations at Queen City Angels, the startup investor group, and following his recent retirement he launched QCC, a free service that allows entrepreneurs to create or publicize their already-live campaigns.
Many people are familiar with global platforms like Kickstarter, for example, but QCC will highlight all local ventures, attracting contributors who are perhaps outside the circles of those launching campaigns.
“A lot of the campaigns we support are for-profit businesses that create jobs and enrich the local business community and consumers’ choices,” Cunningham says. “But The Gallery Project is a nonprofit that I found especially appealing because it is in an urban area, on Woodburn Avenue (in Walnut Hills), that will benefit from this arts incubator for its youth. It can enrich the lives of people through exposure to the arts and hands-on mentoring in a field that is not the focus of schools.”
The Gallery Project raised $2,865 during its two-month long campaign, and though it didn’t reach its goal of $10,000 Cunningham says a few thousand dollars can certainly help it move forward.
“It’s a worthy social venture in a part of town that would not normally attract a lot of funding, but it could advertise itself to the broad Cincinnati community,” Cunningham says. “Increasing the entire region’s awareness of crowdfunding is a long-term project, and we’re in this for the long haul.” 

Do Good:

• Explore local campaigns at Queen City Crowdfunding and consider contributing.

• Join QCC and publicize your own crowdfunding campaign. It's completely free.

• Learn more about how QCC works and help the site launch by sharing it with your friends.

ChangingGears, LawnLife win big at SVP Fast Pitch

Social Venture Partners' Fast Pitch 2015 was a rousing success last week, presenting 11 different awards and seeing four of the eight finalists — ChangingGears, LawnLife, the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative (HEMI) and Healthy Visions — each coming away with at least $5,000. Just in its second year, Fast Pitch hosted 537 attendees to celebrate the awarding of $30,000 in unrestricted grants, scholarship and marketing support to local nonprofits.
ChangingGears won the $10,000 Innovation That Matters Grand Award and will use the funds to purchase tools and equipment needed to add a third service bay to its garage, which will allow the nonprofit to enable more individuals to take advantage of interest-free loans to become vehicle owners.
"It will increase our capacity to process donated cars, so we will be able to get more cars ready for clients," says Joel Bokelman, ChangingGears president. "Our capacity will also be increased to perform maintenance and repairs for clients that have purchased vehicles."
For Joan Kaup, executive director of SVP Cincinnati, the event's success shows how much interest there is in nonprofit innovation in Cincinnati.
"Our attendance and awards more than tripled this year over last year," Kaup says. "But we won't stop here. We are already thinking about how to make Fast Pitch even bigger and better in 2016."
LawnLife, whose mission is to "provide disconnected youth with an opportunity to gain real world experience and transferable skills," came away with $8,500 and the chance to represent Greater Cincinnati at the Philanthropitch International Competition in Austin, Tex., where more than $100,000 will be awarded.
"Tim Arnold, executive director of LawnLife, is a passionate, persuasive speaker. His story is personal and compelling," Kaup says. "LawnLife will be a good choice for Philanthropitch International, because the issue of homelessness and hopelessness of young men is pervasive. LawnLife is a innovative solution for this critical social problem that is transferable. Any city can adopt the model."

See the full list of Fast Pitch 2015 winners from Feb. 11 event at Memorial Hall.
Do Good:

Support Social Venture Partners Cincinnati by donating.

• Become a Social Venture Partner yourself.

• Connect with SVP Cincinnati on Facebook.

Cincinnati mom's inventiveness leads to small biz, charity partnership

When Cincinnati native and mom Shelby Mckee wanted to be comfortable and wear flats to a Bengals game on a cool October day, she wasn’t willing to sacrifice her warmth by wearing no-show socks or “footies,” so she got creative.
“I grabbed my husband’s dress socks and cut a hole in the top of them, and that’s where the journey began,” Mckee says.
Three years later, in August 2012, she and her two sisters, Christy and Stefanie, launched Keysocks—the first-ever no-show knee high socks to reach the market.
“Coming together with my sisters and having a business together has been amazing,” says Christy Parry.
But perhaps more amazing, Perry says, is that the company, after just two years of existence, is now able to partner with a charitable organization.
“My sister Stefanie is a cancer survivor, so last year, we had donated Keysocks to Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research’s gala,” Mckee says. “They reached out to us again because they loved the socks so much that they wanted to partner with us, so we ended up putting their angel logo on the back of the socks, and 100 percent net proceeds go to their foundation.”
The partnership kicked off last month and will continue through Sept. 1, 2015. The goal is to sell at least 15,000 pairs to directly fund blood cancer research.
“To have a foundation we could partner with and be able to give back to means so much,” Parry says. “And Keysocks—we just couldn’t have a better connection with it being to cancer, with my sister”—(Gabrielle was also one of three sisters)—“and being able to give back in the early stages of such a small startup.”

Do Good:

•    Support cancer research by purchasing a special edition pair of Keysocks.

•    Support Gabrielle's Angel Foundation for Cancer Research by donating.

•    Connect with Keysocks and Gabrielle's Angel Foundation on Facebook.

Unique shopping model benefits nonprofits

Six local nonprofits will benefit from purchases made at Treasures 4 Charity, an upscale resale shop located in East Walnut Hills.
Store owner Valerie Duplain, a retiree who says she’s always been involved with charities, operates the shop five days a week on a completely volunteer basis so that 70 percent of an item’s selling price goes directly toward funds for the the six partners: Caracole, Faces Without Places, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, Prospect House, Freestore Foodbank and the Walnut Hills Kitchen.
“The theory kind of is, if you go to Caracole and say you have a chair, they can’t do anything with it, but if you bring it here, I can sell it,” Duplain says. “Even if you get $100 dollars a month to some of these charities, it’s a huge thing for them.”
Duplain, who lives in the neighborhood, says she opened the shop because she saw it as the perfect opportunity to not only do something fun, but to also give back to small nonprofits who she says are having a difficult time, particularly now.

Her goal for 2015 is to provide each nonprofit with $5,000 dollars. 
“In this economy, it really is a good thing if you can help,” Duplain says. “And it’s a fun shop—95 percent of people who come in are repeat customers—and you don’t find something every time you come in, but you can look around and really see some unique things.” 

Do Good:

•    Support one of the six nonprofits on your own. 

•    Donate items to the shop, and go check out what's available. 

•    Contact Valerie if you're interested in volunteering.

Fifth Third Bank offers free job toolkit

With so many means of finding employment, job seekers are apt to get overwhelmed. Fifth Third Bank is offering a free online toolkit to assist in the struggle of job hunting as part of its Reemployment campaign. It’s free for everyone, not just Fifth Third customers.

"The campaign makes online job training modules available to any job seeker who wants to freshen up their job search skills," says Maria Veltre, Fifth Third Bank's chief marketing officer. "The 'Job Seekers Toolkit' from NextJob, which is typically reserved for Fifth Third customers, includes useful resume, job search and interview preparation tips for job seekers."

This campaign highlights three different individuals who have a common goal: finding work.

"Through our Reemployment campaign," Veltre adds, "we are working with three real-life unemployed job seekers who are willing to put themselves really out there,­ in hopes of shedding light on what unemployment is really like."

The videos feature Katrina Holmes, Elba Pena and Bill Laakkonen.

"Every time one of their stories is shared via social media, their virtual network will expand, Veltre says. Additionally, "retweets to reemploy" will also help fund one-on-one coaching for other unemployed job seekers. "For every 53 retweets, Fifth Third and Next Job will fund a scholarship for the one-on-one job coaching for one deserving individual, up to 53 total scholarships."

For more information on Fifth Third Bank's and NextJob's Reemployment campaign visit http://reemploy.53.com/about-nextjob-campaign.

NKU students use grafitti as vehicle to fund nonprofits

For students like Jason Hulett, community-building events are invaluable when it comes to presenting ideas, raising awareness, sparking conversations and making a difference in the lives of others.
GraffitiFest, which took place last week, constitutes one of those events, says Hulett, a Northern Kentucky University senior entrepreneurship major and GraffitiFest lead organizer.
“I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could have graffiti on campus? And then, wouldn’t it be cool if we could provide graffiti to people on campus? And if we’re going to hold an event, we might as well do it for a good cause,'” Hulett says.
So likeminded students from an event planning class came together to bring graffiti artists, local musicians, vendors, teams of entrepreneurship students and the general public together to raise awareness and funds for nonprofits who provide relief to others.
“We wanted to show graffiti in a positive light because it gets a bad rep with vandalism and all that. But if we were going to raise money, we wanted to do it for social good and not just personal gain,” Hulett says. “So it goes toward artists and nonprofits—no CEOs—the university makes no money off this. So that was important to us.”
Proceeds from the event, in which graffiti artists’ work from the day was auctioned off, totaled about $1,500 dollars, which will be split down the middle to benefit artists as well as charities.
“It was a celebration of an artform that we think is underutilized and underappreciated, and it created an opportunity for something different to shine in a light that’s more positive,” Hulett says. “Some of the causes of the nonprofit—especially Revive the Heart with human trafficking—people don’t want to hear about that. But if you present it in that kind of format, you get a better response because people are more willing to participate.” 

Do Good:

• Like GraffitiFest's Facebook page, as the students plan to make this at least an annual event. 

• Follow GraffitiFest on Twitter.

• Support local artists and nonprofits you're passionate about.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

71 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All
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