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Macy's Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival offers $1 zoo admission

Local residents can enjoy the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden for just $1 during the Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival this Wednesday. 

The summer festival, hosted by Learning Through Art (LTA), is returning for the ninth year in a row. LTA is an organization committed to increasing community participation in the arts and humanities as well as encouraging multicultural awareness and understanding. 

“We’re celebrating the mosaic beauty of those living in Cincinnati all day long,” says Kathy Wade, LTA co-founder and CEO. “We want to encourage people to meet their neighbors.” 

Performers this year range from DJ Pillo to Jesse Mooney-Bullock (puppeteer), Bing Yang Chinese Performing Arts Center, Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati and Robin Lacy and DeZydeco. Some performers, such as the Cincinnati Circus, Anaya Belly Dancing and Mariachi Band Zelaya, will be roaming and not on the main stage. 

LTA also has a new partner this year: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will introduce the Cincinnati Children’s Wellness Zone. The zone will feature hands-on activities and encourage children to experience the importance of health habits. 

Metro is offering 50 cents for a one-way bus trip or $1 round-trip bus fare from anywhere on Route 46, Wade says. 

Do Good:

•    Attend the festival and meet your neighbors. 

•    Check out the all-day event schedule

•    Follow LTA on Twitter for updates. 

Rothenberg rooftop garden will give OTR students new growth opportunities

Rothenberg Preparatory Academy will see the completion of its 8,500-square-foot rooftop teaching garden this year, thanks to many donations and supporters in the local community. 

Edwin “Pope” Coleman, rooftop project manager, has worked with the Over-The-Rhine Foundation for the past eight years to bring the rooftop garden to life

When Rothenberg was vacant and facing demolition, Coleman, as well as many residents of the community, approached Cincinnati Public Schools and asked for a renovation instead of a replacement.  

“[Rothenberg] was a flagship and point of pride for the neighborhood,” says Bryna Bass, full-time teacher and garden manager. “The community fought hard to prevent it from being torn down.” 

With the understanding that CPS wouldn’t be responsible for providing anything more than the space, the OTR Foundation took on fiscal responsibility and began restoring Rothenberg through Coleman’s vision. 

Fundraising for the rooftop garden began in late 2008, and more than $300,000 has been raised since then. The recent Midsummer Night’s Gala raised additional funding also need for construction and operation.

The teaching garden, which was once a playground, will allow students to explore science and nature. The developed curriculum uses garden-based lessons to deepen students' educational experience through hands-on problem-solving activities, Bass says.

The rooftop teaching garden educational program will launch at the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year. 

Do Good:
  • Visit Rothenberg and go on a tour of the garden. 
  • “Like” the rooftop garden progress on Facebook. 
  • Make a donation to the OTR Foundation

Taking Root offers $5 trees to home and land owners

The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD) has sold more than 43,000 trees to Hamilton County residents as a result of joining a local campaign, Taking Root.

Taking Root, which kicked off in September 2013, is a collaborative effort of eight counties in the tri-state area working to raise citizens’ awareness of our region’s tree canopy crisis. The campaign is educating the public on the value and need for trees and how to care for them with a goal of planting 2 million trees by 2020—one tree for each resident in the tri-state region. 

The program allows homeowners and landowners to purchase a tree for $5 in an effort to reduce the threat of the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle and bush honeysuckle as well as many other tree-destroying culprits. American Elm, Ohio Buckeye, Allegheny Serviceberry, Hardy Pecan, Black Gum and Swamp White Oak are the trees available to be purchased and planted.

The deadline to order trees is Sept. 25, 2014; trees will be available for pick-up in October. The district is also asking residents to send in a photo to make sure the trees are planted correctly and maintained. 

But it doesn’t stop with just buying and planting trees. John Nelson, HCSWCD public relations specialist, says there are also ways citizens can protect and maintain existing trees.

“It’s very important to make sure you’re not a victim of these invasive species,” Nelson says. “Inspecting your existing trees is a great way to prevent and control the problem before it worsens.”

Do Good:

•    Buy a tree from the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.

•    Sign the Taking Root pledge

•    Maintain existing trees in the community. 

Cincinnati Youth 2 Work recruits local teens

More than 600 local teens have been recruited and employed in various organizations throughout the city as part of the Youth 2 Work (Y2WK) program. Y2WK provides City departments and the local business community with an ongoing talent pool and improves workforce resources in our region.  

The program, which runs from June through August, employs youths between the ages of 14 and 18 (and up to 21) in part-time and full-time jobs for eight weeks throughout the summer. 

Seven partners in the area provide opportunities for participants to gain job experience as well as a paycheck. The paid positions start out at $7.85/hour and fall in a variety of roles, ranging from lifeguarding to lawn service.  

The program identifies and works with children who need jobs the most, based on income requirements. Most applicants come from situations where their families are asset poor. Nearly half of them are at the lowest level of poverty, with a total family income of $21,000 or less, says Yvette Simpson, Cincinnati City councilmember.

“It breaks your heart when you hear a 15-year-old say he is the only one in his family who is working,” Simpson says. “But what we do is meaningful. We’re watching these kids blossom, grow up and out of those situations.” 

The program doesn’t just provide a paycheck. Teens also receive training in financial literacy and college preparation. In addition to life skills training, Y2WK teaches teens about needs versus wants and how to save an emergency fund by encouraging them to sign a savings pledge.

“These kids have critical needs. They start to understand that if you want to eat, you work,” Simpson says. “And they feel the pride of when you work, you get paid.”

Graduation and an annual celebration of this summer’s program will take place July 24. 

Construction and design professionals go to camp

Construction and design firm professionals recently left their job sites for a day to join Stepping Stones’ day camp for children, teens and young adults with disabilities, as part of Construction Come Together Day.

Stepping Stones’ summer day camps serve more than 425 children, teens and young adults. On average, more than 175 are served on a daily basis. Stepping Stones, a United Way partner agency, runs programs at its locations in Indian Hill, Batavia and Norwood.

More than 30 volunteers came from six different companies: Jostin Construction in Walnut Hills, Dugan & Myers Construction in Blue Ash, Messer Construction in Bond Hill, Danis in Dayton, Ohio, and Valley Interior Systems and Turner Construction, both in downtown Cincinnati. 

“Whether it’s lending a steadying hand or helping engage in craft projects,” says Peggy Kreimer, communication and grants director, “our volunteers are an extra friend—a camp buddy—who make camp more safe and fun.”

Volunteers went boating and fishing with campers, danced, kicked and tossed huge balls, and created “monsters” with paint, glitter and colored paper.

Construction Come Together Day was sponsored by Jostin Construction as a result of Whitney Eckert, Jostin vice president of finance. Eckert was inspired by last summer’s impact when health care workers volunteered at United Way agencies in the Greater Cincinnati area.

“We are very much indebted to every volunteer who comes and helps the children,” Kreimer says. “We want to give each child a personal camp experience.”

Do Good:

•    Interested in volunteering? Call volunteer coordinator Beverly Fenton at 513-831-4660.

•    Donate to support Stepping Stones’ ongoing programs. 

•    Donate a much-needed item from Stepping Stones’ Wish List.

United Coalition for Animals opens new spay and neuter clinic

After outgrowing its downtown facility, The United Coalition for Animals (UCAN) recently opened a fully equipped spay and neuter clinic in Camp Washington. The 12,600-square-foot clinic, with more operating rooms and recovery areas, will serve the community’s high demand for affordable spay and neuter services.

UCAN’s relocation was made possible thanks to a grant from The Joanie Bernard Foundation (JBF), a private foundation established to decrease the death of cats in shelters. 

“[JBF] looks to fulfill the mission of creating a no-kill cat nation,” says Deborah Cribbs, chair of JBF board. “Our primary focus is to give access to low-cost spay and neuter services to the community at large.”

The new facility, which is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will provide low-cost spay/neuter services to the community to prevent the over burdening of shelters and unnecessary cat and dog deaths. 

UCAN purchased the new facility, as well as new surgery tables, and will add of one or two more veterinarians, resulting in more surgeries, says Melanie Corwin, UCAN executive director.

UCAN, founded in 2001, has completed more than 60,000 surgeries since its inception. A large part of why people don’t spay or neuter their pets is because of the cost, or they don’t have access to services. Unwanted or unexpected births result in abused, neglected and homeless pets, which increases shelter intake and usually results in euthanasia. 

Do Good:

•    “Like” UCAN on Facebook.

•    Follow Scooter the Neutered Cat on Twitter. 

•    Make a tax-deducible donation to UCAN.

I CAN SWIM! teaches swimming lessons, promotes water safety

Local children and adults have been learning the importance of water safety and being able to swim as part of the “I CAN SWIM!” project. 

More than 10 people die every single day from unintentional drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Cincinnati Recreation Commission, along with many city officials, is hoping to lower that number and decrease the number of water-related deaths and injuries through “I CAN SWIM!”

“I CAN SWIM!” started in dedication to Bryce and Cameron Jeff, ages 8 and 10, who drowned in a neighbor's backyard pool in June 2011.

The series of lessons are instructed by The American Red Cross and help swimmers develop and refine their swimming skills as well as teaching them water safety.

Councilmember Yvette Simpson, who never learned to swim, began the second round of this summer’s swim lessons this week at Lincoln Pool. Simpson will continue her lessons on Monday and Wednesday nights from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. until the end of the month.

“We’re committed to raising awareness and making people feel comfortable,” Simpson says. “If we can learn to swim together and move the dial on that number, it’s going to feel worth it.”

The “I CAN SWIM!” project concludes the week of July 28, with the last swim lesson on July 30. But Simpson still urges citizens of all ages to make the commitment any time of year and reduce the risk of drowning.

“You never know when you’re going to need it,” Simpson says. “If you don’t understand the fundamentals, you can’t save yourself [or others].”

Do Good: 

•    Follow Yvette’s experience on Twitter using #swimwithsimpson

•    Take a swim lesson at one of the CRC pools.

•    Inquire about volunteer opportunities

Cradle Cincinnati receives funding, battles infant mortality

Cradle Cincinnati received more than $1 million in funding in an effort to reduce the infant mortality rate in Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  

Cradle Cincinnati, which recently celebrated it’s one year anniversary, is a collective impact collaborative made up of political, hospital, health and community leaders who have a vision that every child born in Hamilton County will live to see his or her first birthday. 

Funding for Cradle Cincinnati came from various organizations in the community: UC Health, Hamilton County, The City of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s, TriHealth, The Christ Hospital, Interact for Health, United Way, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Elise Brown Family Foundation and Eat Play Give

Hamilton County lost 543 babies during the past five years, and the city of Cincinnati’s infant mortality rate during these five years was two times higher than the national average. However, Cradle Cincinnati has a plan to reduce that number moving forward by focusing on women’s health in general, in hopes that pregnancy health and infant health will also improve.  

There are many indicators that affect infant mortality, but Cradle Cincinnati has a strategic plan to battle infant mortality through three of them: spacing, smoking and sleep. The collective aims to encourage more spacing time between pregnancies and reduce tobacco use to decrease premature birth while also reminding women about safer sleep practices for infants.

“There is no silver bullet when it comes to infant mortality,” says Elizabeth Kelly, MD, co-founder and physician lead. “These are the three indicators that can have the greatest impact in a shorter amount of time.”

Do Good:
•    Send your love. Write a letter to a mom in the city. 

•    Join in the citywide fight against infant mortality by educating yourself and friends about spacing, smoking and sleep.

•    Share Cradle Cincinnati’s story with a friend. Let them know the state of our community. 

United Way joins national network to fight poverty

United Way of Greater Cincinnati was recently chosen to join the Aspen Institute Ascend Network, a group of leading organizations seeking to lift struggling families out of poverty through a two-generational approach. 

UWGC will receive a $25,000 grant and work through Partners for a Competitive Workforce to develop a program targeted to increase the number of women working in advanced manufacturing careers and involve their children in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning. 

“One of the principles of the Ascend Network is to create an environment where family self-sufficiency becomes tradition,” says Janice Urbanik, Partners for a Competitive Workforce executive director. “The focus they’re taking is to help provide services to both the parent and child instead of having more focus on one than the other.” 

Only 35 percent of Americans would encourage their children to pursue careers in manufacturing, despite the benefits, according to surveys by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. Also, just 20 percent of women who work in manufacturing think enough is being done to promote work to women and girls, particularly K-12.

UWGC is looking to build awareness for mothers and expand their skill sets to be eligible for better-paying jobs in the manufacturing industry by giving them basic career awareness where they can learn about the types of skills needed to be successful. Mothers can then go through a series of assessments that identifies their cognitive skills in math and reading. If they meet the minimum criteria, they can enroll in a nationally recognized certified technician program and pursue a job upon completion. 

Children will be educated on the pathways they can take and experience Gateway programs and partnerships. Students will see what the manufacturing industry is like and experience the possibilities of a career in that field, and there are a series of camps that will engage students in hands-on, authentic programs. UWGC plans to test whether a child’s interest and participation in STEM-related programs are affected by their mother’s career in that field. 

“The ability for children to witness their parents engaging in new learning impacts their ability to connect and learn,” says Melissa Sommer, the Brighton Center’s workforce development director. “The impact of [the two-generational approach] is far-reaching and one of the best opportunities they have to change their family tree.”

UWGC, along with more than 50 other organizations, plans to assist both generations to move forward and break the poverty cycle.

“What we’re working to do is create experiences where the community comes together to create and support the type of education we need,” says Kathie Maynard, Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative co-convener.

Do Good:

•    ‘Like’ UWGC on Facebook.
•    Follow Ascend at the Aspen Institute on Twitter. 
•    See the complete list of Ascend Network members.

World's best pianists compete in Cincinnati

Cincinnati welcomes 22 of the world’s greatest pianists to compete in the World Piano Competition (WPC) this week. The annual competition has featured top performers from across the globe for the past 58 years.

The WPC promotes and celebrates classical piano as an artistic form by providing exposure for artists and building new audiences, ranging from children to senior citizens. The WPC expanded this year to collaborate with the world-renowned Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).

After many months of rehearsing and practicing, WPC competitors traveled from seven different countries—including China, Poland, South Korea, Russia, Macedonia, Canada and the United States—to compete for more than $45,000 in prize money as well as a debut recital in New York. 

“Of course there is a competitive aspect, and people want to win,” says Awadagin Pratt, WPC’s artistic director. “But, for the audience, it’s a great thing to watch emerging young talent make a really strong connection to the audience.”

The competition will take place at Corbett Auditorium in CCM Village on UC’s campus. The preliminary rounds, which take place June 23 and 24, will determine the six semifinalists. During the semifinalist rounds, June 25 and 26, those six semifinalists will perform a 60-minute solo of their choosing. The semifinalists will then be cut down to three.

Those three will rehearse with the CSO in preparation for the final round, in which they will perform a full concerto under conductor William Eddins to compete for first, second and third prize. The 2014 WPC winner will be announced during an awards ceremony following the final performances.

“The judges are looking for the best pianist,” Pratt says. “We're hoping it's someone with a great connection to the composers they play and who is passionate about communicating that to the audience."

Do Good:

•    Purchase tickets by visiting the CSO website or calling the CSO box office at 513-381-3300.
•    Donate to the WPC.
•    For volunteer opportunities, contact Mary Jo Barnett.

NKU students learn by giving

Northern Kentucky University students have helped award nearly $825,000 to more than 300 agencies in the past 14 years through the NKU Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project. Students awarded $22,000 to local nonprofits in just this year alone and will be awarding more funds this fall.

The project started at NKU in 2000 as way to teach students about philanthropy and nonprofits with the hope that graduates would be lifelong stewards of their communities. Since then, approximately 3,000 NKU students have taken courses as part of the philanthropy project. During Spring 2014 semester, there were 14 classes in eight different academic disciplines. 

The classes are designed to teach students a “learn by giving” approach. Professors combine philanthropy with learning outcomes—students identify a need in the community, such as drug treatment, tutoring, hunger, AIDS awareness and homeless shelters, and determine which nonprofits in the area are working to fulfill that need. Students award between $1,000 and $2,000 to the nonprofits after analyzing which agencies are likely to have the maximum impact. 

“These classes reflect NKU’s commitment to community engagement and especially to our efforts to connect classroom learning to real-world experiences that deepen stewardship immediately and after graduation,” says Mark Neikirk, Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement executive director.

The classes deliver funding to the community, and each one focuses on a different skill set needed for social engagement. A communication class, for example, might emphasize the power of persuasion, while an English class might focus on honing language skills. The kind of class also influences which needs are addressed. A social work class is more likely to look at social service agencies while a theater class is more likely to consider community arts agencies for funding.

NKU partnered with The Manuel D. & Rhoda Mayerson Foundation of Cincinnati at the inception of the program to make the project possible, and since then, funding has also come from ArtsWave, Citi, Vision 2015 and the Scripps Howard Foundation as well as other various donors in the community.

“We want students to be great in their chosen fields, whether that’s biology, English, history, nursing, marketing or any of the other disciplines,” Neikirk says. “But we also want to graduate students who care about their community’s needs and are prepared to help address those needs.”

Do Good:

•    Check out the student philanthropy handbook if you're interested in starting a similar program at your institution.  

•    Give a Buck to Mayerson Student Philanthropy.

•    Instead of giving away money, gave away your time by volunteering at a local nonprofit. 

Here is a list of the classes and the nonprofits chosen for funding by classes in the Spring 2014 semester:

Strategies of Persuasion, Professor Jeff Fox
Free Store Food Bank , $1,000
Elementz , $1,000
Music Resource, $1,000

Social Work Practice: Community Organization, Professor Jessica Averitt Taylor
Redwood , $1,000
Health Resource Center of Cincinnati, $1,000

Leadership for Peace & Sustainability, Professor Whitney McIntyre Miller
Community Shares, $1,000
KAEE, $1,000

Race, Gender and Theatre, Professor Daryl Harris
Cincinnati Men’s Chorus, $2,000

Honors Writing , Professor Jon Cullick
Center for Chemical Addictions Treatment, $1,000
Faces without Places, $1,000

Racism & Sexism in Educational Institutions, Professor Brandelyn Tosolt
Talbert House, $1,000
Northern Kentucky Hunger Relief - $1,000

Community and Public Health Nursing, Professor Adele Dean
WMATA, $2,000

Spanish Civilization and Culture, Professor Kajsa Larson
Covington Partners, $2,000

Grant Writing, Professor Janel Bloch
Covington Partners, $1,000
NKY Education Council One to One Reading Program, $1,000

Social Work in the Community, Professor Willie Elliot
Benchmark, $1,000

Multiculturalism, Professor Willie Elliot
Family Promise, $1,000
Emergency Shelter of NKY, $1,000

Time Warner Cable donates $80,000 to Cincinnati Museum Center

Time Warner Cable recently donated $80,000 to the Cincinnati Museum Center as an extension of its Connect a Million Minds project, a five-year initiative to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming in communities across the country.  

TWC is committed to inspiring young students to pursue a STEM-related education and careers. The program, along with President Barack Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign, launched in November 2009 and addresses the growing need for a STEM-skilled workforce. 

TWC’s donation to the Museum Center will serve as an educational resource for students to learn about STEM and develop related skills through the Museum Center’s various programs, particularly the Girls in Real Life Sciences (GIRLS) program. GIRLS is a series of hands-on activities that addresses girls’ (and boys’) confidence and interest in STEM programming. 

Women make up 47 percent of the overall workforce; however, fewer than 30 percent hold STEM workforce positions, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Museum Center is hoping to bridge that gap.

“[STEM] programs are an integral part of youth education,” says Lindsay Riehl, the Cincinnati Museum Center director of corporate relations. “We want girls to learn, explore and find out how [STEM] translates into other things they might be interested in.”
Explorer's University, another STEM-focused program, is a series of family workshops for children between the ages of 9 and 15. The program features interactive workshops where children can learn about biology and anatomy through dissecting a marine organism or learn how astronomers explore space. 

There are also programs available for children who aren’t able to visit the Museum Center. Programs-on-Wheels brings authentic learning opportunities and hands-on projects to the classroom of local schools. There are a variety of programs to choose from, including natural history, social studies and science, all of which align with Ohio and national curriculum standards. 

Do Good:    

St. Rita School for the Deaf exceeds campaign goal

St. Rita School for the Deaf raised more than $100,000 in its first-ever all-digital Community Challenge this year. 

Every dollar donated to St. Rita goes to tuition assistance — more than 40 percent of its students live below the poverty line, but 100 percent of them need help in some way. 

“We never turn a child away because of a family’s inability to pay,” says Julie O’Meara, director of advancement. “Every child receives the quality education they deserve.”

So the school sought to raise as much money as possible to help students in need and their families. 

Local businessman Rob Hollaender initially donated $32,500, the equivalent of one year’s tuition for one student, to the campaign and asked the community to match his contribution.  

More than $100,000 was collected in response to the school’s campaign. Individual donors contributed a total of $20,902, while an additional $80,000 was received from two anonymous donors, one from the local Cincinnati area and one from out-of-state, for general operating costs. 

St. Rita is one of only a few schools in the country to provide assistance for the deaf and hard of hearing while also offering enhanced educational programs to help children who have communication challenges like Autism, Apraxia and Down Syndrome.

Do Good:

•    Give a gift. Donate money for tuition assistance.

•    Like St. Rita on Facebook.

•    Visit St. Rita School and learn more about what goes on there.

Colliers employees give back to community

Employees of Colliers International in Ohio recently volunteered their time at hospices and senior centers across the state of Ohio as part of their Building Up Communities program, a quarterly volunteer event that allows them to give back to local communities and charitable organizations.

Colliers is heralded as the second-most recognized commerical real-estate firm in the world and has more than 485 offices in 63 countries, but busy schedules don't keep employees from giving back and keeping their communities healthy. 

More than 50 volunteers from the the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton offices helped their local communities by cleaning facilities, landscaping, setting up for meals and spending one-on-one time with residents. More than 15 volunteers from the Cincinnati office served lunch and played bingo with the residents of the Lincoln Heights Senior Center.
Colliers employees have previously volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House and foodbanks across the state.
Colliers provides its employees with the tools to be the change in their community and goes a step further by surveying which organizations are important to them.

“Community is one of our core values,” says Laura Day, Colliers' communications & PR manager for Ohio. “It’s something we hold near and dear to our hearts. We like to give employees the opportunity to give back.”

Do Good:

•    Submit an organization suggestion for the Building Up Communities program.

•    Follow Colliers on Twitter.

•    Encourage your fellow employees to engage in community service.

Gold Star Chili continues partnership with The Cure Starts Now

Cans for the Cure originated as a tribute to local 6-year-old Elena Desserich and her fight against brain cancer. The Cure Starts Now, which is in its third year, launched the campaign as a partnership with Gold Star Chili, which donates a portion of canned chili sales to benefit pediatric brain cancer research.

More than $32,000 has been raised through the Cans for the Cure campaign since its inception, and The Cure Starts Now has funded more than $2 million in the past seven years for research and awareness. 

Part of Gold Star’s overall mission is to care about its neighbors and communities, and to actively participate in events and causes that are important to the company. Gold Star Chili plans to donate $18,000 to The Cure Starts Now in the coming weeks to continue the Cans for the Cure campaign. 

The Cure Starts Now has been recognized by Good Morning America, The Today Show, People Magazine, CNN, and Inside Edition for its efforts.

“There are so many different causes to give to,” says Jen Gault, The Cure Starts Now's public relations and marketing coordinator. “But by doing something as little as eating—something you do every day—you can help raise money for cancer research.”

Do Good:

•    Buy a can of chili at any particpating Kroger or Gold Star location.

•    ‘Like’ The Cure Starts now on Facebook. 

•    Inquire about volunteer opportunities with The Cure Starts Now.
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