News & Event
Last summer, Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) was able to secure laptop devices for each student needing a way to connect to upcoming remote learning. Connecting those devices for remote learning proved another issue.
CPS set to work with Cincinnati Bell and Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) to develop a program that would do just that. Connect Our Students has ensured roughly 7,000 CPS students access to a Wi-Fi connection, allowing them to participate in virtual classes and access online materials during the 2020-21 school year.
“It is an incredible example of how a public-private partnership can make things happen – and quickly,” shared GCF Chief Philanthropy Officer Phillip Lanham. “There was no way we weren’t going to figure this out for students facing the most inequities in our systems.”
This program, supported by a collaborative of local funders and individuals, serves 90% students of color. The Wi-Fi connectivity ensured access to a collective 480,000 days of instruction in the first semester alone.
The rapid, initial rollout of the program came with its own challenges.
Robert Killins, GCF’s Director of Special Initiatives, says stable housing plays a key role in students’ academic success.
“Connecting those students who might be staying with different relatives for a few weeks at a time, until their family can get back on its feet, needed its own unique solution,” shared Killins.
Connect Our Students initially registered the Wi-Fi access to a specific address for each family of students. As those children facing housing instability shifted from relative to relative, the internet hookup did not follow them. That is, until CPS identified the issue and Cincinnati Bell shifted from modems to hotspots for those students affected.
“A lot of the issues we’re facing as a community aren’t new,” shared Killins. “The pandemic is just shining a light on where we need to shift our attention.”
Want to support more initiatives that ensure stable housing and educational success for youth in our region? Join others to amplify the impact of the Affordable Housing Impact Investment Pool or upcoming Educational Success grants. Connect with GCF Staff today.
2018 Supporting Educational Success Grantees
The purposes of these grants is to support in and out of school educational efforts that reduce disparities in educational attainment for students of color and/or those of low socioeconomic status; or that increases social emotional learning and health. This funding could also be used to improve educational outcomes in math and science for at-risk students in grades 1-12 through increased access to STEM learning opportunities. Thanks to our generous donors we amplified this gift to the community by $45,000 through a recent giving circle and an additional $7,500 of support from GCF donor advised funds.
Bellevue Board of Education
$15,000 for T.H.E. Space
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati
$25,000 for Site‐Based Mentoring To Bridge the Education Gap
Brighton Center, Inc.
$25,000 for Youth Leadership Development and Case Management
Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio
$25,000 for Vacaciones Útiles (Productive Vacations)
Catholic Schools Office
$25,000 for the Price Hill Summer Learning Camp
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
$25,000 for Parents on Point: Supporting the Healthy Socioemotional and Behavioral Development of Young Children
Cincinnati Museum Center
$10,000 for Engaging Girls in STEM
Cincinnati Union Bethel
$25,000 for Early Childhood Education (ECE)
Dohn Community High School
$25,000 for the Remedial Road to Enrichment
Girl Scouts of Kentucky's Wilderness Road
$10,000 for the Girl Scout STEM Program
$10,000 for STEM programs for low income K‐12 students
Kenton County Public Schools
$15,000 for the Kenton County Schools PreK‐5 STEM Plan
Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati
$25,000 for the Children's Literacy Services Program
Madisonville Education and Assistance Center
$25,000 for the Expanded Early Literacy Program
Mount St. Joseph University
$17,000 for Project Ready: An Early Learning Program to Close the Readiness Gap for Children Living in Poverty
Notre Dame Urban Education Center
$15,000 for Notre Dame Urban Education Center Programming
Redwood School & Rehabilitation Center, Inc.
$25,000 for the Early Care and Education Program
Rothenberg Rooftop Garden
$20,000 for the Rothenberg Rooftop Garden
School for Creative and Performing Arts
$25,000 for Private Music Lessons for SCPA Students (Access and Equity for Economically Disadvantaged Students)
The Gaskins Foundation
$20,000 for STEMulation Zones: STEMulating Underrepresented Students in the Greater Cincinnati Area
University of Cincinnati Foundation – Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative
$25,000 for Mathletics (Fun, hands and heads‐on, after‐school STEM activities with math emphasis)
$25,000 for UpSpring Summer 360°: Cincinnati
We sat down with Dr. Monica Mitchell, Thriving People Advisory Committee co-chair, to talk about our new Community Investment framework rolled out in 2012. GCF’s volunteers and Community Investment staff worked closely on its development. Dr. Mitchell works on community engagement and research, program evaluation, and health and wellness promotion at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
I think it gives us priorities to guide our work and allows us to communicate to the broader community – “here’s what GCF sees as community priorities and here’s an opportunity for you to align with our work.” GCF is also aligning with other funders that have the same priorities. (For example, United Way, The Strive Partnership, Agenda 360, Vision 2015.) It’s a very smart way to leverage the funds GCF has. GCF can invest its money along with other partners and have a greater impact beyond the Foundation’s resources.
I think in terms of outcomes, you have a chance to make a greater impact. It allows those applying for grants to be more clear. “While we may have three or four priorities, we’re coming to GCF with our health and wellness priority because that’s the one place where we most clearly align with what you’re doing.” Everyone can focus on win-wins and common agendas.
It makes me think of communities and neighborhoods that are moving forward. In spite of economic conditions, or limitations, wherever that community is, it’s moving in the right direction.
I think it’s one that holds a bright future in terms of economics, especially for those who are up and coming, college graduates, those just finishing high school. Prosperous sounds futuristic, something that is hopeful for the future. It’s also a very hopeful term, something you are planning to happen as a next step. I think all these things are true in Cincinnati. You know when I first moved here, I was hesitant to call it home because I was thinking I would move back to the South. But now, there is nowhere else I’d rather live. When I moved here I saw Cincinnati as being very conservative but I think Cincinnati is one of the most progressive cities there is in terms of how we think about making change and impact. I think that GCF and its partners have a lot to do with that.
Our two top things are that we want people and places to thrive. I think the grantmaking framework speaks for itself. If we do all this, Cincinnati will thrive and we will have a better region.
I think it helps donors direct their funds more strategically according to their own interests and philosophies.
I think the framework will be refined over time as we learn and I think the community will also evolve to better align to the priorities. GCF really invested in this process and we had great facilitators and good templates to work from. It’s clear this is a high priority for the Foundation, not just to do it but to get it right and ultimately result in better grantmaking and positive impact for the community.
Printed in the 2011 Annual Report
For 55 years, GCF has been leading the way toward a brighter future.
In 1963, a group of Cincinnati business leaders was intrigued by the success of community foundations in other cities and wanted to establish one in this region. At the same time, a group of women who had been generously filling a need in their community realized their mission had become outdated. The two groups got together, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation was created.
Over the past five and a half decades, GCF has made great strides as a responsive and connected leader in our community, and had incredible impact over the years.
Some of these milestones include:
The work of GCF is vital to the success of the region and are going for it when it comes to racial equity. Today, the foundation is leading the charge toward a more vibrant Greater Cincinnati for everyone—now, and for generations to come.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is proud of the work of All-In Cincinnati, a coalition that engages our community in frank, meaningful conversations about what is needed for everyone to more fully participate in Greater Cincinnati’s economy.
The energy is high, the direction is clear, and new ways of working within our walls and in the community are daily fare.
The culture and strategy of GCF is centered on connecting people with purpose. That is the promise. Give through or partner with GCF, and everyone will experience that GCF is centered on making and leveraging connections for the best possible future for our region.
This brand promise is only possible given all that’s learned and experienced over 55 years.
The heart and soul of the new brand the people. Change happens when generous people come together. The new brand reflects GCF’s ability to amplify the power and potential of giving in our community by connecting people with purpose and who share our passion for driving our region forward.
In a nutshell, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation puts people at the center of the region’s most pivotal developments, and GCF leverages connections and resources for greater impact.
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We are also home to two powerhouses enacting meaningful change – The Women’s Fund and The HealthPath Foundation. Their brands are evolving along with GCF’s.
The Women’s Fund is building a movement of supporters who want to create a community where all women can participate, prosper and reach their full potential. HealthPath is working to ensure all Ohioians, regardless of status, wealth, or circumstances, have the ongoing opportunity to achieve their fullest health potential.
GCF, Women’s Fund and HealthPath are stronger together, and collaboration is propelling all organizations forward in excellence and innovation.
GCF listened to their donors and nonprofit partners, and listened to the community’s changemakers, leaders and staff members. And what was heard was GCF needed to be more focused and nimble when it came to addressing community needs. Continuous improvement is an important value and GCF keeps and will continue improving on our grant process so they can best serve the region.
In fact, GCF just concluded a grant cycle for Providing a Safety Net for Individuals and Families. These
grants will provide the support of food, shelter and behavioral health services for the community’s
This region has sizable disparities; where many neighbors struggle to make ends meet. When basic needs go unmet, it affects everyone and the community is unable to truly thrive. From homeless shelter beds, to food pantry access, to emergency services for at-risk seniors and at-risk youth, the community needs are great, and the requests for funding were numerous.
GCF couldn’t have awarded these dollars without living the brand of connecting people with purpose. Every single grant in this cycle is available because of the generosity of the donors.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation may be 55 years old, but it has just begun. GCF’s current strategy is bearing fruit for the region.
Later this spring, GCF will be releasing an in-depth community study conducted by PolicyLink, a national research and action institute, that recommends strategies for creating sustainable communities of opportunity that allow everyone to participate and prosper. The All-In Cincinnati Coalition, convened by GCF, will lead our community in advancing this work.
GCF will also be releasing “Giving Black: Cincinnati,” a study of the power of black philanthropy in the region. GCF is studying giving patterns, behaviors and attitudes of giving black in the community and will chronicle the legacy African American donors have left through their unique passions and incredible generosity.
And GCF’s concentrated investment with the Family Independence Initiative is continuing to flourish. This spring, families and investors will gather in Madisonville to understand the progress and inspire greater giving to this groundbreaking model for lifting families out of poverty.
The goal of GCF is to build and attract more resources for this region, and remain the go-to partner.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is transforming into the organization that this region needs – a catalyst for change so that every single person in this community has an even brighter future.
Published April 11, 2018
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“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” — Flora Edwards
Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) believes that connecting people with purpose changes the lives of everyone involved. Giving circles — creative, interactive means of achieving that impact — bring like-minded people together to pool their resources, explore together how to best support causes they care about and, as a group, decide how to allocate their combined resources. GCF is increasing these hands-on opportunities for our donors with a variety of giving circles this year and will provide a match to each circle.
Participating in a giving circle can spur a sense of civic pride and energy, by fostering a heightened familiarity with the many — often unseen — organizations and people that are moving our region forward every day.
“This process, for me, was a chance to understand even deeper what is going on in the community and how to best support it,” NKY Giving Circle Chair Rebekah Gensler told Northern Kentucky Thrives.
Since 2017, GCF has convened three giving circles — focused on arts and culture, STEM education and Northern Kentucky youth — which engaged 34 donors and contributed more than $250,000 to 21 regional nonprofit organizations.
Our 2019 Giving Circles are forming now, and members will have the opportunity to determine the funding focus within the set topic of each circle. The opportunities include:
“Each giving circle is unique — reflective of its members’ perspectives and priorities,” said Phillip Lanham, GCF Vice President, Donor and Private Foundation Services. “The process generates new, creative connections to organizations and between members, who take away from the group experience a pride of place and a deepened sense of ownership in the progress of our community.”
To learn more about participating in a GCF giving circle, please contact Colleen McCarthy Blair, Director, Donors Services, at 513-768-6134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2017, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) adopted a new grantmaking schedule that aligns with our strategic We Rise Together focus on racial and gender equity. Our Request for Proposal (RFP) process targets diverse community needs on a quarterly basis throughout each year. We look forward to connecting donors with the purpose that drives their passions while supporting Greater Cincinnati nonprofit organizations that are moving the needle forward, creating a more vibrant community for all of us.
For 2020, GCF is expanding the window for applying for targeted grants, beginning with the Safety Net RFP. The submission deadline will be in January, but it will be launched in early December.
For 2020, GCF’s targeted RFPs will include:
GCF will again, in partnership with our generous donors and the continuing support of the Charles H. Dater Foundation, fund Summertime Kids and Learning Links grant programs in 2020:
Additionally, GCF will host Giving Circles in 2020.
Please watch our website for news on all of our 2020 RFPs and Giving Circles. For more information about GCF’s grant cycle, contact GCF Grants Associate Rosie Polter at 513-241-2880 or email@example.com. For more information about co-investing alongside GCF, contact your GCF philanthropic advisor.
In keeping with our mission of connecting people with purpose, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) ramped up our commitment to offering Giving Circle opportunities this year. It’s an interactive game plan that brings like-minded people together to pool their resources, explore together how to support the causes they care about and, as a group, decide how to allocate their combined contributions with amplified impact.
GCF’s 2019 Giving Circles included:
The NEXT and Giving Black: Cincinnati Giving Circles will return next year. Stay tuned for updates on our 2020 Giving Circle opportunities.
Also, in a partnership with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, GCF has created a “Giving Challenge” for the 50 members of the Leadership NKY Class of 2020 with a $25,000 contribution. Members are also donating to the challenge to further amplify the grants they’ll collectively award to Northern Kentucky nonprofit organizations.
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