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For Good

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Former teacher founds nonprofit for students who go against the grain

A few years ago, Michael Farrell Jr. was living in Chicago, but he says he got the itch to move back home; so he packed his bags, returned to Cincinnati and began taking classes at Xavier University so he could become a teacher.
After graduating and securing his teaching license, Farrell Jr. landed a job at St. Francis Seraph in Over-the-Rhine, but he still hadn’t found his calling.
“Probably like most people who teach in inner city, I was all geared up to change the world,” Farrell Jr. says. “But when I got there, I quickly realized there were a lot more challenges there than I would ever be able to imagine in my life.”
Despite the circumstances, something stood out to Farrell Jr.
“I realized in every class at our school from eighth grade to kindergarten, there were always those one or two kids in every class who came from the same circumstances as the rest of the kids, but for various reasons and motivations, there were always the one or two who did everything you asked them to do,” Farrell Jr. says. “They did their homework every night, they studied for tests, participated in class, were respectful to the teachers, staff, their classmates.”
So Farrell Jr. founded Against the Grain Scholars, a nonprofit dedicated to building on the foundations already established in these students’ lives, while also introducing them to community networks and showing them the impact they can have in the lives of others.
“The kids were going against the grain of the popular culture of their peers,” Farrell Jr. says. “And I started to realize, most of the nonprofits are geared toward a mission that’s more aligned with ‘let’s take the bad kids and make them good,’ ‘let’s grease the squeakiest wheel,’ and the thing that drove me crazy was here you have this subset of kids who are doing everything you’re asking them to do despite their circumstances, and no one’s focusing on them.”
So Farrell Jr. inducted the first two ATGS in December 2012. Now there are five scholars, and Farrell Jr. hopes to add two more at the start of the next school year. He’s already had to purchase a special vehicle so there are enough seats and seatbelts for everyone to ride along to tutoring and volunteer opportunities, in addition to activities and dinners where they debrief.
“You hear all these stories about what’s going on at home and have newspaper evidence of situations, and some of it could be true, some could be rumors, but of the stuff I knew, I thought, ‘Here’s this kid who could probably use every excuse in the book to come in here and act like a total knucklehead,’” Farrell Jr. says.
“But he comes in every day with his homework as if he has the teacher’s manual in his lap, and you wonder how a kid like this goes home and even finds a place to do his homework, and he was just grinding it out, so I thought, ‘OK, there’s programs, but the commitments are too heavy,’ so I though there needs to be some sort of nonprofit, some sort of in-between to reinforce his behavior and help him along the path.” 

Do Good:

Support ATGS by donating.

• Check out ATGS' Calendar of Events, and contact Michael Farrel Jr. if you're interested in getting involved or attending an event with the group.

• Like ATGS on Facebook, and share the page with your friends.

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. 

CSO celebrates African American song with Classical Roots

About 150 voices from dozens of Tri-State churches will join together in song Friday evening in one of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s biggest community outreach initiatives of the year.
Classical Roots, which is an annual program that celebrates African American musical traditions, is focusing its efforts this year on the power of song.
“Each year we have a different theme,” says Paul Booth, chair of the CSO’s Diversity and Inclusion board committee. “And everyone you speak with that performs with the choir indicates it’s an absolutely awesome experience.”
Cincinnati Pops conductor John Morris Russell will lead the Community Mass Choir, who will perform with the Cincinnati Symphony’s full orchestra, in addition to special guest performers, like Grammy-Award winning Gospel leader and pastor Marvin Winans, who is headling the event.
“It’s unique in that persons from all walks of life, who perhaps just love to sing, but who also do have some ability to read music, can perform with a world-class orchestra and conductor,” Booth says.
Making classical music accessible to a wide range of audiences is one of the CSO’s goals, and reaching out to community members to make the symphony experience one that all can enjoy and learn from is something the organization does an excellent job with, Booth says.
“Our world is diverse, and certainly Cincinnati is a diverse city,” Booth says. “And I think any organization that’s going to be successful should be certain that they reach out and involve and appeal to all aspects and segments of the community.” 

Do Good:

• Purchase a ticket to attend Classical Roots, Friday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m., and spread the word about the event to your family and friends.

Support the CSO and Pops by donating.

• Like the CSO on Facebook.

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. 

YWCA celebrates female leadership in workforce

Charlene Ventura, president and CEO of the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati was involved in the women’s movement in Cincinnati prior to beginning her career in 1974. 

“There were a lot of inequities,” Ventura says. 

“There were jobs that were not open to women in Cincinnati—people who would collect money from meters, elevator operators. The newspaper ads were stereotypical, with nursing, clerical jobs, cleaning—maybe a teacher—and all the others were male help wanted.” 

So Ventura worked with the YWCA as a collaborator to open city jobs to women and to change the advertising system so all jobs were open and weren’t categorized based on gender. 

During a time period when women were making 60 cents for every dollar a man made, Ventura says it was important to celebrate role models for women in the workplace. 

“There were no women astronauts, there was one woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, who got the title because her husband died, and there were no women on the Supreme Court,” Ventura says. “And we thought this was a pretty dismal scene, so YWCAs across the country were starting to look at women’s economic empowerment.” 

So the YWCA hosted its first Career Women of Achievement event to celebrate female leaders in the workplace, and now, 35 years later, women are making 74 cents for every dollar a man makes, there are 57 female astronauts, 22 who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and three who are on the Supreme Court. 

At this year’s May 14 event, eight women will be recognized, while scholarships will be awarded to promising future leaders. 

“These are unsung heroines, and oftentimes people haven’t heard of them,” Ventura says. “But it’s really important to present their accomplishments and leadership, so they can lift as they climb and help others say, ‘I can do that.’” 

Do Good:

Purchase a ticket for this year's luncheon.

Support the YWCA by volunteering or donating.

• If you are a woman seeking assistance or shelter, contact the YWCA by calling one of its hotlines. 

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. 

Step Forward promotes recovery with goal setting, physical fitness

For 35-year-old Aaron Sinica, crossing the finish line at last year’s Flying Pig Marathon signified more than the sense of accomplishment one feels after completing a 26.2-mile race.
It signified completing something—anything—for the first time in years.
“I was known for starting a lot of things in my addiction, but I had never really finished anything,” Sinica says. “I'd just get bored with it or would get discouraged and quit before I saw it all the way through.”
Sinica is a graduate of City Gospel Mission’s Exodus men’s recovery program and the first participant of Step Forward to ever complete an entire marathon.
Step Forward, which is a training program for men and women in City Gospel’s recovery programs, is designed to incorporate physical fitness and nutrition into participants’ lives, as those are integral parts of the recovery process.
“Since I’ve gotten involved with the Step Forward program, I don’t smoke or anything anymore,” Sinica says. “And to not feel tired all the time—I was always dragging before—but now there’s just that level of energy.”
Setting and reaching goals is now an important aspect of Sinica’s life, and it all started with going outside his comfort zone—running had never really been a part of his life.
“If nothing changes, nothing changes; so if you’re comfortable doing something, then you’re not really where you need to be,” Sinica says. “You need to step out of yourself and try these things that you never tried or never wanted to try. That’s been a big thing in helping me get through some hurdles in my life.” 

Do Good:

Volunteer with City Gospel Mission.

Support City Gospel Mission by donating.

• If you or someone you know needs help, learn about City Gospel Mission's offerings.

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. 

Illustrators collaborate with WordPlay students on exquisite corpse project

Some of Cincinnati’s best illustrators showcased their work this past weekend at the opening reception for STORY TELLING: The Fine Art of Illustration.
Brazee Street Studios and C|LINK, a website designed to connect local creatives with one another, are presenting the exhibition, which runs through April 4 and features collaborative pieces by eight illustrators and children at WordPlay.
“We had our very wonderful willing illustrators start off a drawing of a character, so they made a head or face, and we took them back to WordPlay and let the kids finish them,” says Leah Busch, gallery coordinator at Brazee.
WordPlay is a Northside-based nonprofit that provides free tutoring, literacy and creative writing programs for students; but it’s this kind of unique opportunity that sets it apart as an engaging place for an entire community.
Tara Calahan King, illustrator, muralist and public sculpture designer, says she was particularly excited to create something students at WordPlay could build on because she’s worked with children for about 20 years and has had the chance to witness many different reactions in response to illustrations.
“Usually it’s grand excitement,” she says. “I can only imagine when they first saw the character’s head—their expression—I’m sure there were big smiles on their faces, and just the excitement to complete that figure—the body—and to feel a part of something—to feel that connection between ourselves and them.” 
The project was inspiring for the children and the illustrators alike. Christina Wald, who drew a tiger in a top hat, liked her character so much, she’s going to incorporate it into her comics.
“How amazing for these kids to be showing with artists like Tara and Christina,” Busch says. “I think Brazee as a whole—that’s part of our mission—to just be really accessible.” 

Do Good:

• View the exhibition at gallery One One.

Support WordPlay by donating or volunteering.

Join C|LINK.

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.

Shared gifts, knowledge at Local Learning Labs

Price Hill is the most recent and third Cincinnati community to offer citizens monthly meet-ups and free classes at its Local Learning Lab.
Local Learning Labs, which are also offered in Northside and Silverton, are environments designed to engage community members in teaching and learning.
“Anyone can come, and all are invited,” says Danyetta Najoli, co-host of Price Hill’s Learning Lab and community coordinator at Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati.
Price Hill’s Local Learning Lab kicked off in January, and since its inception, individuals have come together to learn about things like aromatherapy, gardening, and African and Brazilian dance.
Sarah Buffie, community connector at Starfire—the local nonprofit that hosts the Local Learning Labs—says the gatherings provide an outlet for community members to share gifts without the exchange of money. All sessions are completely free.
“Community members can see themselves as access points to one another. We’re in a society where a lot of communication happens through the internet, and being able to get together and see one another as gifted and talented people, versus neighbors we never talk to—it starts to break down some of those social barriers we might have,” Buffie says.
“It’s bringing back that borrow-a-cup-of-sugar mentality. Why go out of your community when you can get it right there?” 

Do Good:

Attend the Price Hill location's Local Learning Lab March 11. 

Get connected with your community at another Starfire-hosted event, including Local Learning Labs in Silverton and Northside. 

• Contact Danyetta or Sarah if you're interested in bringing a Local Learning Lab to your own community.

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. 

More than 200 boys will join in song at free boychoir fest

The third annual Cincinnati Boychoir Festival will bring upwards of 200 boys from more than 80 different schools together Saturday to sing at Memorial Hall.

Most boys will see the music for the first time Saturday morning, but for those involved with Cincinnati Sings!, it’s a culminating performance and a chance for students to showcase their efforts from the past six weeks.

“It had become primarily a suburban institution, but we wanted to make sure we were reaching boys of all parts of the city, of all economic levels, of all talent levels,” says KellyAnn Nelson, festival director.

Nelson directs Cincinnati Sings!, which is a volunteer choir for elementary school students in five Cincinnati Public Schools.

“We’re getting feedback from their teachers and finding out it’s something they look forward to each week,” Nelson says.

In fact, the biggest problem the choir has, Nelson says, is singing too loud—they have passion.

The festival is a way to give a one-day experience to any boy from around the city.

“We have boys coming from Mason, we have boys who have never sang in a choir in their life, we have boys who are black, Hispanic, white—all together, singing together for a day, wearing the same T-shirt, eating the same pizza and singing the same music,” Nelson says. “The boys are really in love with it.”

Do Good:

• Attend the free concert at 1 p.m. Saturday.

• Check out the full events schedule, and attend a Cincinnati Boychoir concert.

•  Support the Cincinnati Boychoir.

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.

Creative writing workshop will build community through storytelling

Everyone has a story to tell.

A Community of Stories, which is a two-day creative writing workshop, will bring individuals from all walks of life together so they can share those stories with otherwise unlikely recipients.

“Through the power of our words, we have the ability to change the world, and when people agree to come together like this, it creates an impact,” says Wendy Braun, head of creative writing at the School for Creative & Performing Arts and founder of the workshop.

“So many people are silenced here—you’ll hear one story, and it’s like it’s the only story, or the only voice.”

At the two-day workshop, high school students, teachers, professional writers, community members and guests from local organizations like City Gospel Mission, Our Daily Bread and Tender Mercies will join together to engage in flash fiction, poetry, spoken word and other forms of writing.

It’s a chance, Braun say, for people to get to know each other and break down barriers.

“One thing I noticed about writing workshops and events is they tend to be closed off to people who have a CV or resume that proves they’re a writer,” Braun says. “At SCPA, some of my kids have money, some don’t at all. But I was able to get enough people together who literally out of the goodness of their heart thought that this was a good cause.”

Do Good:

Register for the event, which takes place March 22-23. Participants must register by February 21.

Contact Clare Blankemeyer if you're a writer interested in participating, or if you're willing to donate snacks or bottles of water for workshop participants.

• Spread the word about the upcoming workshop, and encourage your friends to attend.

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. 


Free haircuts facilitate father-son bonding

Beech Acres Parenting Center, which is a nonprofit that’s serviced Cincinnati families since 1849, will participate in the Fatherhood Buzz Barbershop Initiative this Saturday.

“Everyone’s discovering it’s important to have a father in your child’s lives,” says Nate Lett, program director for Beech Acres’ Building Strong Families and Relationships program.

“Statistics prove if you have two parents working together in good communication to raise a child, they’re less likely to be incarcerated, less likely to have children out of wedlock, more likely to graduate and they do better—not only economically, but health-wise—the children are a lot better off in healthy relationships.”

To help facilitate that father-son relationship, two local barbershops will offer free haircuts to any child who comes in for a haircut Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

As part of the National Fatherhood Initiative, literature will be sent out to participating barbershops so fathers can learn about things like national health and parenting techniques.

“A lot of fathers feel comfortable at barber shops —they open up, bond with other men, share their information about things in the barber shop—so that’s a very good avenue to get out information,” Lett says.

“That’s one little step to initiating that contact between a father and a son—in a barber shop with other men and their children. Men keep their barber shop appointments, and many go in to socialize, so we felt that this was a safe environment.”

Do Good:

• Take your son to Mpressions in Forest Park, or Nati Stylz in North College Hill Saturday for a free haircut.

Support Beech Acres by donating.

• Learn about Beech Acres' programs and services.

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.

Fidelity employees engage in virtual mentorship

Fidelity celebrated National Mentoring Month at the end of January by kicking off its innovative new program, which allows its employees to engage in a year-long virtual partnership with 40 students from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati.

“The students will actually be talking with their mentors about some specific topics that coordinate with the Diplomas to Degrees program, which each month highlights a different topic—one month might be college access, one might be financial literacy,” says Niki Gordon, Fidelity’s manager of community relations and program mentor.

The virtual mentorship program is the result of a partnership organized by Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, whose mission is to “empower vulnerable children,” says Danielle Gentry-Barth, CYC chief development officer.

For Fidelity call center employees, it’s a way to engage with others in a meaningful way, without the stresses of coordinating schedules that require employees to leave the office during lunch or in between commutes.

“We have about 4,000 employees here, and we have a lot of folks on the phone and a lot of folks that are required to travel for their jobs as well,” Gordon says.

“When we were looking for mentoring opportunities, a lot required them to take a day out of their week to go visit the student at their school, so when you’re looking at someone with a day job and they have a family, a couple hours a week ends up taking a lot of time realistically out of their day, so we wanted to make it convenient for the mentor and the mentee.”

Do Good:

• Be a mentor.

Support the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati.

Contact CYC if you'd like to specialize a mentor program with your own company.

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.

Creativity and cuisine will collide at The Carnegie's Art of Food

Visual artists and some of the finest chefs in the Tri-State will join together at the end of this month for the opening reception of The Carnegie’s annual exhibition The Art of Food.
“This is the seventh year we’ve been doing it, and it’s really great,” says Katie Brass, executive director at The Carnegie. “There’s a lot of stuff you can build on, whether it’s cookware or utensils or wine glasses. We’ve had some amazing art come out of this. “
In addition to cookware and utensils, edible designs and creative dishes will fill all six of The Carnegie’s galleries, with creations from chefs ranging in specialties represented.
Seasonal foods from Eat Well and hand-crafted delights from Chocolats Latour are just a couple of the local eateries to be showcased at the culinary art show.
For Brass, though, The Art of Food is more than a display of unique art forms. It’s a community experience.
“Our gallery opening—just like when you sit down and eat—you’re with friends, and you sit down at the table, and you’re having this wonderful time,” Brass says. “And it all revolves around food—and that was the basis for this.”
The Art of Food opens February 28 at 6 p.m. and runs through March 16. 

Do Good:

Purchase a ticket to attend the opening reception of The Art of Food, February 28 from 6-9 p.m.

• Check out the exhibition during Gallery Hours, which are Wednesday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m. 

• Like The Carnegie on Facebook.

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. 

Downtown lawyer recruits 22 new tutors for Be The Change

When Andy Kaplan, a partner at Vorys law firm, first heard about Be The Change—a collaborative tutor recruitment program that serves students within the Cincinnati Public Schools district—signing up wasn’t a question.
“I always liked working with kids,” Kaplan says. “And my wife is an English teacher, and I have a son who did Teach for America, who is now teaching in the elementary school grades, so I knew I had some great resources for helping kids learn to read.”
After making a phone call, Kaplan found himself at Hays Porter Elementary School in the West End. Within a close proximity to his firm, Kaplan was able to begin tutoring during his lunch break once a week.
Now in his third year of tutoring, Kaplan has since recruited 22 other lawyers—more than 25 percent of Vorys’ lawyers in Cincinnati—to join in the effort.
“I thought, ‘We’ve got like 80 lawyers in our Cincinnati office,’ and figured there had to be a number of people who would find this attractive,” Kaplan says. “So I publicized it and called a meeting for people who had any interest.”
For Kaplan, tutoring is a special experience not only because he’s helping children succeed, but also because of the bond he’s able to form with students through literacy sponsorship.
“Virtually every single time I went to tutor, I’d come home with some moment that really kind of affected me—sort of an unexpected moment,” Kaplan says. “Like when my student last year would say to me, ‘Me and my daddy read that magazine you gave me over the weekend together,’ which is just what you’re hoping for.” 

Do Good:

Sign up as a Be The Change tutor. 

• Learn more about the need for tutors, and tell a friend. 

• Support your local school districts. 

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. 


My Furry Valentine event strives to find homes for more than 550 adoptable pets

More than 33,000 homeless pets are euthanized each year in Greater Cincinnati alone.
But for Carolyn Evans, My Furry Valentine founder and PhoDographer pet photographer, there’s a potential silver lining.
“There are more than 30,000 people in the area who will bring an animal into their home each year but just aren’t adopting,” Evans says. “So if we can get some of those people to adopt instead of buying from a breeder, we wouldn’t be euthanizing these animals.”
Evans has volunteered with animal rescue groups for years and had the idea for My Furry Valentine upon realizing a collaborative effort was needed.
“I used to take photos of the shelter and rescue animals—death row dogs and cats—just one last-ditch effort to try to promote and save them,” Evans says. “But what was happening was I’d just get so many requests from people and there just wasn’t enough time in the day to help all of them, so I wanted to do something big where everyone would be involved.”
Now in its third year, My Furry Valentine will bring adoptable animals from about 50 local rescue groups and shelters together for a two-day event. More than 30 organizations participating from satellite locations will join the mega-adoption event with a combined goal of finding homes for more than 550 animals.
Evans says she realizes not everyone wants to find a pet through adoption, but she hopes to make individuals aware of the many different groups involved in animal rescues throughout the area, in addition to the different types of opportunities there are to adopt or even foster an animal.
“People don’t realize that in Cincinnati alone, we have 60 to 80 different rescue groups out there saving animals that have adoption events all the time,” Evans says. “One day they’re at PetSmart, one day they’re at Petco—there’s no consistency. A lot of people just aren’t aware of these ways to find animals, so what My Furry Valentine is trying to do is open their eyes to all these opportunities.” 

Do Good:

• Learn about the event details and plan to attend My Furry Valentine February 15-16.

• Register to volunteer at My Furry Valentine.

• Support My Furry Valentine by spreading the word or making a donation.

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. 

Local man works to create sustainable fire service in Africa

After graduating from Northern Kentucky University in 2006, Dave Moore became fire chief of Glendale; but his life changed after visiting Nairobi, Kenya, on a mission trip in 2012.
“They run schools in the slums of Nairobi, and they had asked me to come and help with issues of fire safety because they had had some fires and welcome any sort of fire prevention there,” Moore says.
With three fire engines and 156 firefighters for a city of roughly 5 million people, Nairobi’s fire stations are underequipped and understaffed.
“We did basic training with the school staff—how to conduct a fire drill,” Moore says. “We taught some of the basics. They had never heard of stop drop and roll—that was a new concept for them.”
Moore says one thing the school asked was that he try to build a connection with the Nairobi fire department prior to returning to the United States, so he met the chief and was able to get some of the firefighters to also join in on the training sessions at the school.
“Then, as we were getting ready to head home, the fire chief asked if there was a way we could help the fire department in addition to the schools. I was expecting them to say, ‘We need money, fire trucks—big things,” Moore says. “But what won me over was when he said, ‘We need knowledge.'”
That comment stuck with Moore, and when he returned to Cincinnati, he left his job as fire chief and founded Africa Fire Mission—a local nonprofit dedicated to “building and increasing the sustainable capacity of fire departments across Africa.”
Since that time, Moore has organized an effort to ship 200 sets of bunker gear and training materials to Nairobi; and this past November, he returned to the city with two other Cincinnati firefighters to provide a week of training to about 75 of Nairobi’s firefighters.
“One of the other benefits we could never have realized through the donations was bringing fire service to the forefront of the attention of the governor there,” Moore says. “He found out the fire department had been trying to buy fire trucks for years, and on the day of our donation, he signed a contract to buy nearly 30 fire trucks for Nairobi, which will be delivered by the end of 2014.”
Nairobi’s fire service is improving, but Moore says he’s not going to leave them behind.
“We’re working to create sustainable fire departments,” Moore says. “Not one-time gifts where the support then goes away.”

Do Good:

• Support Africa Fire Mission by making a donation. The next set of donations and training materials will be sent to two cities in Zambia, and the cost to ship one container is $10,000 dollars.

Contact Dave if you'd like to volunteer with Africa Fire Mission in any capacity, or if you would be willing to allow Africa Fire Mission to speak about the organization at your community group, church, etc. 

• Support the organization by purchasing a Nairobi Fire Service t-shirt.

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. 


SVP Cincinnati coaches nonprofits for Fast Pitch speeches

For the past four weeks, eight nonprofits—all of which are working to transform the lives of at-risk children through education—have been training with Social Venture Partners Cincinnati coaches to perfect their elevator speeches for Fast Pitch.
SVP Cincinnati, the local chapter of an international group of philanthropists, is composed of 40 partners who do more than just fund nonprofits. Members give of their time, expertise and passion as they use their knowledge and skills to collaborate with local organizations to help them better fulfill their missions.
And on February 12, SVP Cincinnati will host 120 individuals involved in and supportive of the local nonprofit community at its inaugural Fast Pitch event at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where organizations will have three minutes to hit on their key goals and accomplishments as they compete for one of three grants, ranging from $1,000-$5,000 dollars.
“Fast Pitch is known in the venture community, and we’re learning how to apply it to nonprofits,” says Melisse May, SVP partner and event chair. “And we’re filling a void as we get that training more established and broadened, because every nonprofit needs their elevator speech, and that’s where they struggle the most.”
While three nonprofits will receive a grant, all organizations competing will receive two hours of consulting on a topic of their choice; and according to May, the coaching is more valuable than the money to many of the nonprofits.
“In the case of Fast Pitch, it’s like Mark Twain said: ‘I apologize for the length of this letter, but I didn’t have time to make it shorter,’” May says. “It takes a lot of thought, a lot of crafting, and you have to really know the essence of your organization to have a good, short pitch.”  

Do Good:

Purchase tickets for Fast Pitch, where you'll hear from Tom + Chee founders—who certainly know how to pitch—and listen to competing nonprofits' speeches, then vote for your favorite. Tickets are $20 and include food from Tom + Chee, in addition to one drink ticket. 

• Join SVP Cincinnati by becoming a partner.

• Like SVP Cincinnati on Facebook, and if you're a nonprofit, connect with them and apply for a grant. 

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. 

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