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Lighthouse Community School

Patrice Pennington, PROGRAM MANAGER

Public Allies Cincinnati

MildreD Fallen

BRIDGES for a Just Community/Freedom Center

Danielle Hase

Legal Aid

Kasey Hosp D’Vaughn House Ekundayo Igeleke Matthew Scott Yolanda Cottrell-Smith Josselyn Taylor Daphney Thomas Jennifer Tuell Karinne Turnbow Lisa Watkins

Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati St. Vincent de Paul Urban League ArtsWave Girl Scouts of Western Ohio Legal Aid Taft Museum of Art UC Student Enterprise Program (StEP) Envision Children Santa Maria Community Services


Organization Description


Project Description


Conversation Summaries


Essay Competition Youth Conversation Social Service Practitioner Conversation Parent Conversation What’s Race Got to do With It? LGBTQ Conversation Young Professional Conversation Parent Conversation II Call-to-Action


WHAT IS THE STRIVE PARTNERSHIP? Education is perhaps the most important engine of economic growth and individual success. There is little doubt that growing a stronger economy and lifting incomes will depend on getting better results in education, cradle to career. To achieve these results, for every child, every step of the way, from cradle to career, Greater Cincinnati leaders of the education, nonprofit, community, civic, and philanthropic sectors are working together to tackle some of our most pressing challenges, and to take advantage of some of our biggest opportunities.

“Bringing people together to improve results for every child, every step of the way, from cradle to career.” The Strive Partnership serves as a catalyst for working together, across sectors, and along the educational continuum, to drive better results in education, so that every child is Prepared for school, is Supported inside and outside of school, Succeeds in school, Enrolls in some form of postsecondary education, Graduates and enters a career. After three years of reporting on ten key student success indicators in the Partnership’s footprint (Cincinnati, Covington, and Newport), we are 4

Your’s Truly Cincinnati

now rallied around eight critical outcomes: 1) Kindergarten readiness 2) 4th grade reading proficiency 3) 8th grade math proficiency 4) High school graduation rates 5) ACT scores 6) Postsecondary enrollment 7) College retention 8) College completion. These eight outcomes drive the collective work of The Strive Partnership and helped to identify the following strategic priority areas: Early Childhood Education: Led by United Way of Greater Cincinnati and Success By 6 ®, partners are coming together to invest in what works to prepare children for kindergarten. Teacher and Principal Excellence: Organized by the Partnership, we are better aligning efforts to make our region the destination for

excellence in urban teaching and school leadership by improving educator preparation, induction, and career support. Linking Community Supports to Student Achievement: This “collective-impact” approach brings together nonprofits and school leaders to leverage nonprofit services to improve achievement. Postsecondary Access and Success: This collective effort is better leveraging local resources and building capacity to increase postsecondary access and success. Keys to the Partnership’s work, from early childhood success to postsecondary attainment, is a commitment to aligning advocacy and funding efforts across the Partnership along with promoting the effective use of data. Advocacy and Funding Alignment: Partners have developed a “cradle to career” state policy agenda, and have begun to coordinate advocacy efforts. Promoting Data-Informed DecisionMaking: To promote a shared commitment to data-informed decision-making, we track, publish, and post education results, offer continuous improvement training, and support the development of a regional data portal and the expansion of the Learning Partner Dashboard.

WHO ARE PUBLIC ALLIES CINCINNATI? Public Allies, a program of AmeriCorps, is a national movement grounded in the conviction that everyone leads. We believe that everyone can make a difference and can work to inspire more citizens to believe in themselves, step up, and act. Throughout our nation’s history, lasting social change has always resulted from the courageous acts of many, not just the inspiration of the few. Public Allies' mission is to advance new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation. Public Allies is changing the face and practice of leadership in communities across the country by demonstrating our conviction that everyone can lead, and that lasting social change results when citizens of all backgrounds step up, take responsibility, and work together. We reject the notion that the best ideas and expertise always lie

practicing values that engage others to work for common goals. Public Allies’ citizen-centered, values-based approach to leadership has created pathways for young people to engage in their communities, and has helped communities and organizations tap the energy, passion, and

perspectives of a new generation. Public Allies is the leadership and human capital solution our diverse communities needs. At Public Allies Cincinnati, we believe changing times call for a new kind of leadership. Since 1998,

“...advance new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation.” outside of a community because we know that everyone has leadership potential and assets to contribute towards making a difference. "Everyone leads" means that we can all make a difference, and that leadership is about taking personal and social responsibility and

Our Allies change their lives and our community through a rigorous AmeriCorps program that combines full-time, paid apprenticeships in nonprofits with intensive skills training, active community-building projects, personalized coaching, and critical reflection. We provide all of this through a nationally recognized approach that’s rooted in a practice of values.

we have developed over 300 emerging leaders. Allies are young, diverse, and passionate social change makers who support community projects in partnership with hundreds of local nonprofit organizations.

“Public Allies Cincinnati does more than lend a helping hand: we are changing the face of leadership in the city.” Your’s Truly Cincinnati


100 BEST... WHAT IT MEANS The 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by ING is an annual competition, now in its sixth cycle, that rewards and recognizes communities making extraordinary efforts to reduce dropout rates and provide outstanding services and supports to their youth. These communities, while not without their own challenges to overcome, have demonstrated a significant and lasting commitment to their youth for which they deserve to be recognized and commended. The 100 Best Communities are intended to be representative of the nation as a whole. Each year, the winners vary dramatically in size, location, demographics, resources, and approaches to their unique challenges. Past winners have ranged from small towns, such as a mobile home community in Minnesota; to some of the nation’s largest cities, including New York City, Chicago and Houston; to counties and school districts. The 100 Best Communities application process is rigorous, and requires knowledge and research about community youth programs, services, and policy. Applications are often completed by educators, groups of individuals, local government representatives, businesses, and other sectors of the 6

Your’s Truly Cincinnati

community, including young people themselves. Applications include nine written essay-style entries, youth testimonial essays, and extensive data input. The 100 Best Communities for Young People were selected because they demonstrate outstanding success in supporting leadership and initiating programs that supply their youth with all of the 5 Promises.

THE FIVE PROMISES The Five Promises are those developmental resources — wrap-around supports — that young people need for success in life. Everything we do as America's Promise is built around the framework of ensuring that more young people experience more of the Promises. Children who receive at least four of the Five Promises are much more likely than those who experience only one or zero Promises to succeed academically, socially and civically.



All children and youth need and deserve support and guidance from caring adults in their families, schools and communities. These include ongoing, secure relationships with guardians, parents and other family members, as well as positive relationships with teachers, mentors, coaches and neighbors.


2 3 4

All children and youth need and deserve to be physically and emotionally safe wherever they are — in homes, schools, neighborhoods and communities as well as online. They need safe places that offer constructive use of time.


All children and youth need and deserve healthy bodies, healthy minds and healthful habits. These result from regular health care and needed treatment, good nutrition and exercise, health education and healthy role models.


All children and youth need and deserve the intellectual development, motivation and marketable skills that equip them for successful work and lifelong learning. These result from having quality learning environments, challenging expectations and consistent guidance and mentoring.



All children and youth need and deserve the chance to make a difference — in their families, schools, communities, nation and world — through having models of caring behavior, awareness of the needs of others, a sense of personal responsibility to contribute to the larger society, and opportunities for volunteering, leadership and service

PROJECT SUMMARY For the second year in a row, Cincinnati has been recognized as one of America’s 100 Best Communities for Young People by the America’s Promise Alliance. This award recognizes the hard work of many community members that have dedicated their time to making a difference in the lives of our young people. Being one of 100 Best means we are working together to keep kids in school and prepare them for the future. As part of these ongoing efforts, as well as to celebrate our achievement, a series of engagement opportunities for youth and adults will be held. An artist has been commissioned to create an inflatable sculpture that captures the spirit of the award. The inflatable will be used as a centerpiece to spark meaningful conversation. A team of Public Allies will provide leadership and project management around these engagement opportunities through community

improvement. To spread awareness about the award and gain more public insight in Cincinnati’s designation, the Public Ally service project team, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), hosted dialogues with the many communities that make up

etc.). This information can not only be used to gauge the public’s opinion of the opportunities that Cincinnati affords its youth, this information will also serve as a launching point for further investigation into the patterns and programs that a successful, thriving community requires. This community research is the first step of many in

“...Challenge Cincinnati’s own accountability as one of America’s 100 best communities for young people.” Cincinnati. The goal was to collect raw data from community conversations that will not only capture the youth’s perspective of the award, but also their experiences living, studying, and growing up in Cincinnati. The project team not only wanted to inform the public about the award, but also challenge Cincinnati’s own accountability as one of America’s 100 Best Communities.

developing a vision for ensuring the success of young people in Cincinnati and possibly other cities around the nation.

In an attempt to gain many different perspectives and provide the most diverse community data, each

“To spread awareness about the award and gain more public insight in Cincinnati’s designation...” conversations as well as conduct outreach to local communities, lead discussions and gather/analyze qualitative data on what worked in our community programs for youth and adults and what needs

community dialogue was arranged to take place in a different section of the city; gearing the conversation toward different communities of people throughout Cincinnati (Youth, Service Workers, Parents, LGBTQ, Your’s Truly Cincinnati


Capturing the Voice Voice of Cincinnati’s Youth CONTEST DETAILS Target Audience: Cincinnati Public School Students Competition Categories: High School Middle School Awards: 1st - Amazon Kindle Fire 2nd - Pentax Digital Camera 3rd - iPod Shuffle

this city and how one has triumphed over his/her hardships. Various opinions were captured through this contest, and great insight into the real lives of Cincinnati’s youth was learned. The following exerpts are pulled from the essay written by Jayna (19); one of the many essays submitted for the contest.

“The good thing about Cincinnati is that most of our young people are learning from their mistakes. For example, I had my son right when I turned 18, and believe me, it was not easy. I was also a high school drop-out. Then, I felt like there were things I could not do, but now I'm back in school trying to set a good example for someone else that may feel the same way.”

Essay Excerpts

“I believe that Cincinnati is safe. To me, it's just as safe as anywhere else on Earth; [Community members] have to realize that things happen everywhere

“...Things could be changed if youth could finish school and graduate. Young people should open their eyes to see that their choices are not always right and to realize what we put our parents through.”

CONTEST SUMMARY As an additional method for gauging public opinion towards Cincinnati’s designation of one of America’s best 100 communities for young people, we established an essay competition that would provide youth attending Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) a chance to share their perspective of growing up in this city. Dividing contest participants in two age groups, middle school and high school, we prompted the students to write about their experiences while living in Cincinnati. We asked students to share any opportunities that Cincinnati affords its youth, struggles of associated with living in this city, personal testimonies, ideas that could improve the quality of life in the city, or stories that relate to their experiences living in this community.

“...Share opportunities, struggles, personal testimonies, ideas, opinions” We received a wide variety of stories that encompassed many great opportunities that make growing up in Cincinnati unique and stories about the hard times students have faced while living in 8 Your’s Truly Cincinnati

Notable Comments

Capturing the Voice Voice of Cincinnati’s Youth EVENT DETAILS Target Audience: Teenage Population Location: Elementz Hip-Hop Youth Arts Center (West End) Cincinnati, OH Date: February 15, 2012 Number of Attendees: 45

EVENT SUMMARY Our series of community conversations was kicked off at the Elementz Hip-Hop Youth Arts Center where our team hosted a community dialogue focused on the youths’ experiences growing up in Cincinnati. The feedback that we received was very diverse, encompassing issues that had a positive impact to those issues that had negative effects on the lives of those residing in Cincinnati. One of the many questions posed to the group was, “What are your favorite things about living in Cincinnati?” After several small group discussions, a common theme

including relationships between teachers and students; community members and youth; police officers and young adults. It is necessary to emphasize the importance of the relationship

“It is challenging to overcome obstacles while others around you assume you don’t have any obstacles to face.” began to emerge through the profuse feedback. We found that the value of strong, loving relationships was of upmost importance to many of the community members, and that these relationships go far beyond that between parent and child. Strong, loving relationships need to encompass all parts of a child’s life

between police officers and young adults. This connection arose from many of the conversations on multiple occasions through issues of intimidation and abuses of power.

“The biggest challenge about living in Cincinnati are the disconnected neighborhoods.” “Strive needs to continue engaging with the community in conversations to learn what the community wants.” “...A place that is big enough to have everything but small enough to have the ability to get involved with anything.” “Cincinnati has an amazing art community and night life.”

Notable Comments

“The best way to make a difference in Cincinnati is to become a mentor.”

“...They just give us things that feed into our growing stereotypes.”

“There needs to be more parental involvement in the schools...” Your’s Truly Cincinnati


Capturing the Voice Voice of Cincinnati’s Youth EVENT DETAILS Target Audience: Social Service Practitioners Location: Children’s Hospital Medical Center Corryville, Cincinnati Date: March 12, 2012 Number of Attendees: 20

EVENT SUMMARY The second community conversation took place at the Cincinnati Children Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) where we focused on capturing the voice of Cincinnati’s social service practitioners. We defined social service workers as those who serve the community, for instance: teachers, social workers, police officers, and healthcare workers. To spark conversation around Cincinnati’s designation as one of 100 Best Communities for

“It is necessary to emphasize the importance of the relationships.” Young People, we invited Dr. Victor Garcia M.D., a pediatric surgeon at CCHMC, to be a keynote speaker at the start of the conversation. Through his experiences as the founding director of trama services, hespoke about core cultural changes that need to take place, and that such changes could not be made by a select few. Rather, these changes needed to be addressed by each and every person in the community to make lasting improvements in 10 Your’s Truly Cincinnati

Cincinnati. Dr. Garcia’s speech evoked rich conversation that focused on education.

“Our youth [are] continually exposed to violence, so it’s no doubt that they will turn to violence through life.”

In the eyes of the parents, the Cincinnati Public School system has not excelled at applying new and innovative education models, especially when compared to many cities across the country. Attendees did, however, agree that a child’s success can not solely be reliant on the school system, rather, a child’s success relies on each and every member of a community.

“Change cannot come from the actions of few. To truly change a community, everyone has to participate.”

Notable Comments “Police officers need to establish a better relationship with youth.”

“Adults in the community need to be role models for the children.” “...The violence has to stop.” “The youth needs to be taught that there are other options to resorting to violence.” “Civic leaders need to start being held accountable for the struggles and hardships present in the community.”

Capturing the Voice Voice of Cincinnati’s Youth EVENT DETAILS Target Audience: Parent’s of CPS Students Location: Main Public Library (Downtown) Cincinnati, OH Date: March 17, 2012 Number of Attendees: 16

EVENT SUMMARY The third community conversation took place at the Cincinnati Main Public Library where our focus for this conversation was the voice of parents who have children attending Cincinnati Public Schools. In an intimate setting, we discussed the myriad of issues surrounding the opportunities afforded to young people in Cincinnati’s public education system. One of the overarching observations was the under-appreciation of teachers, not just in Cincinnati, but in the country as a whole. We heard that due to teachers being

The community members did acknowledge that there are some resources available to youth in Cincinnati, such as community

“Teachers need to have more control over what they want to teach; rather than teaching to a strict general test.”. expected to take on more tasks and teach to increasingly standardized testing, they have lost the personal care and attention that they used to be able to give to each individual student. In present times, teachers are not invested in their student’s lives or their successes after graduation much less after they move on to the next grade.

learning centers, to help alleviate the shortcomings of the school system, however, these centers often times fall short of public demand and participation in classes and opportunities. Many of the centers do not teach life skills courses or offer parenting classes.

“CPS seems like it lacks a child focused mission; many decisions are influenced by politics and self advancement.” “There needs to be more allowance of citizen input about school functions.” “There is a strong need for more life skills courses to be offered in the public school system.” “To be effective, mentoring programs need to be supported with more money.”

Notable Comments

“There needs to be a stronger connection between parents and teachers especially when praise for the child is needed.”

“PTO’s tend to be clicky.”

“Classrooms reflect carelessness.” Your’s Truly Cincinnati 11

Capturing the Voice of Cincinnati’s Youth EVENT DETAILS Target Audience: Community Stakeholders Location: Woodward Technical High School (Roselawn) Cincinnati, OH Date: April 5, 2012 Number of Attendees: 33

EVENT SUMMARY Our fourth community conversation took place at the Woodward Career technical High School and was a unique event in our series. Rather than focus our conversation on a particular segment of the population, we decided to focus the conversation on the recent event of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida. Partnering with BRIDGES for a Just Community, we examined the educational, cultural, and social disparities stemming from issues of race and class, and how these issues inhibit or contribute to a child’s ability to succeed. Such prompts include, “How do you define violence?” and, “Why do our

people to the effect that they, many times, fear calling for help and therefore, resort to violence by fixing their own problems. A “Meet-theOfficer” event, where young people can meet and share experiences with police officers, could be a

"When asking whether or not Cincinnati has safe places, your answer depends on who you ask, what you look like, and where you live." youth perpetuate violence as normalcy?” Much like the first conversation in our series, the theme of the conversation focused on the complicated relationship between police officers and the youth. Cincinnati police officers often times are feared by young 12 Your’s Truly Cincinnati

viable solution to beginning to repair the tarnished relationship between officers and young community members. The conversation also contributed to the increase in violence displayed by movies in Hollywood. Movies like the Hunger Games, show endless amounts of youth violence that easily translates

from the screen to the real lives of the population’s youth. Youth are also witnessing large amounts of violence from the adults in communities. Everywhere youth turn, they are exposed to violence; when they see violence over and over, it becomes natural and easy to mock.

Notable Comments “When kids see their parents act in violent ways, they become desensitized.” “Movies like the Hunger Games show endless amounts of violence that easily translates to real life.” “Parents need to be held responsible...”

Capturing the Voice Voice of Cincinnati’s Youth EVENT DETAILS Target Audience: LGBTQ Community Location: Clifton Cultural Arts Center (Clifton) Cincinnati, OH Date: April 7, 2012 Number of Attendees: 10

EVENT SUMMARY The fifth community conversation was hosted at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center where we sought to capture the voices and experiences of young people in the LGBTQ community of Cincinnati. This conversation largely entailed the lack of safety the youth feel while living and going to school in the city. Many times, kids are picked-on at school about their sexual orientation, then go home to hostile parents who do not fully understand their identity. Many of the attendees say that they are forced to live in fear; they aren’t safe at home, school, or the public.

Notable Comments “Some schools excel academically and in the arts; they have the resources to help students.”

“Concrete coping strategies need to be taught to LGBTQ youth in the public schools.”. The reasons for this lack of safety can be contributed mostly to the adults in the youth’s lives being under-educated on LGBTQ issues. One suggestion offered to easily resolve these issues are classes provided to train educators and other school staff on how to understand and relate to youth identifying as LGBTQ.

“Police need to support the safety of the LGBTQ community. Many officers discredit the fears of many in this community.” “More teachers need to stand up for students and align with the LGBTQ community.” “Develop lesson plans to educate students about LGBTQ issues.”

“Education for adults in our community should be available to show them that the LGBTQ label is an identity, not a choice.” “High school is a battleground...” “More [Gay Straight Alliances] need to be present in schools.” “Cincinnati is particular about who it wants to serve.” “Schools must provide classes that train educators on how to understand and relate to youth identifying as LGBTQ.” “Cincinnati tends to focus on white, middle/upper class, straight community enhancements.” Your’s Truly Cincinnati 13

Capturing the Voice Voice of Cincinnati’s Youth EVENT DETAILS Target Audience: Young Professionals Location: Miami University Center for Community Engagement Date: April 27, 2012 Number of Attendees: 70

EVENT SUMMARY The sixth conversation in our series was hosted at Miami University’s Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine where we focused on the experiences of young professionals (who are on the upper end of Strive’s cradle-tocareer focus). Since we held this event in conjunction with the pre-existing event Final Friday, we edited our conversation format to allow individuals freedom to walk in and out of the center and engage in several small group discussions with members of the Public Ally team.

secure Cincinnati’s designation as one 100 best Communities for

“Those in attendance tended to be much more aware of the resources that Cincinnati offers to young people than those at previous conversations. However, many of them acknowledged that these resources alone were not enough to secure Cincinnati’s designation.” Since there were multiple one-on-one and group conversations, the topics varied widely. Those in attendance tended to be much more aware of the resources that Cincinnati offers to young people than those at previous conversations. However, many acknowledged that these resources alone were not enough to 14

Your’s Truly Cincinnati

Young People. Conversation participants, on several occasions, stated that it appears that many of the community-based organizations are acting as individuals, rather than working together to pool resources. Community-based organizations could partner together to offer youth programs and other services that impact a much larger

percent of the population. This partnership could also aid in marketing efforts, to ensure that awareness of such programs reach everyone in the community.

Notable Comments “We desperately need to begin to ask the [youth] what they need to succeed.” “Capacity is always a difficulty. Yes, there are folks working hard to provide safe spaces, but clearly not enough.” “Creating a Youth Service Council could help create service opportunities...” “Many great things happen in this city, [I] would love to see them come together.”

Capturing the Voice Voice of Cincinnati’s Youth EVENT DETAILS Target Audience: Parents of CPS Children Location: Santa Maria Community Services (Price Hill) Cincinnati, OH Date: April 28, 2012 Number of Attendees: 8

EVENT SUMMARY The seventh and final community conversation was held in conjunction with Santa Maria Community Services at the Price Hill Financial Opportunity Center. Following the great feedback that we received from our first parent event, held at the Main Public Library, we decided to focus again on the parents of youth who attend school in the Cincinnati Public School system. A major theme that surfaced in this conversation focused on the fact

“There isn’t enough visibility for the few service opportunities that exist.” that Cincinnati parents need better support systems and education on how to actively and positively parent their children. The parents suggested the city provide more parenting classes at community centers centrally located in the community (easing transportation issues that some parents face). Another challenge identified in the city was the lack of communication and sharing of resources/after

school classes between different schools in the public school system. Due to location or times, some students are unable to attend the after school activities at their school and are prohibited from taking advantage of another, more convenient school because he or she does not live in a particular district. Public schools have the potential to be more effective, if the city can figure out a way to allow schools to share resources and share opportunities for all children regardless of where they live.

“It would be nice if there was one place to find info on the numerous service opportunities.”

Notable Comments

“An effective education requires art!”

“Cincinnati needs more service learning opportunities for its youth.”

“Youth also need to be willing to serve their community...”

“I grew up in CPS and had awful teachers but I also accumulated teachers who mentored me, loved me and are still in my life…I’m 28.” “I think our schools aren’t safe when it comes to non-conforming youth.” “CPS should incorporate more programs that focus on the learning styles of culture.”

Your’s Truly Cincinnati 15

CONCLUSION In our research through nine community driven conversations, the public with whom we engaged in dialogue, did not feel collectively that Cincinnati deserved the 100 Best Communities for Young People Award due to the many challenges both youth and their parents face in this city. As a tangible product of this series, we have developed this summary to shed light on actions that need to be taken in order to ensure that this award is true for all Cincinnati young people, and to make certain perpetuated success for such young people will be placed for years to come. After carefully analyzing the data collected, five main themes were identified as expressed most commonly throughout our conversations:

politics and self-advancement.” This notion, as recognized by multiple participants of our community discussions, obstructs the success of children in this school system and has lead to consistent drawbacks in many schools’ resources. A decrease in the provision of teacher aides is one example of an action that has derived from funding cuts. This action taken by many schools in order to adhere to budget

Education Many community members feel that their children are underserved in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) due to the misallocation of funding by state and local governments. One

“CPS lacks a child-focused mission; many decisions are influenced by politics and self-advancement.” participant stated, “CPS seems like it lacks a child-focused mission; many decisions are influenced by 16 Your’s Truly Cincinnati

demands, has led to lower student performance by shifting academic focus to standardized test results, and has even increased the teacher-to-student ratio. Many parents noted that their children have not benefited from such an unbalanced and inefficient learning environment. Others shared times in which their child’s academic

success was limited due to a common action by teachers who prematurely advance students to a higher grade level.

Law Enforcement The relationship between Cincinnati Police Officers and community residents, particularly Cincinnati’s youth, is an area for improvement most prevalently heard throughout this community conversation series. On many occasions, it was expressed by community members that violence quickly gets out of hand because police officers often times present themselves as intimidators, leading to youth who are too scared to call for assistance when needed. One parent stated, “[Members of our community] are more afraid of the police than they are made to feel safe, due to intimidation.” Racial profiling and abuse of power are two key issues identified by conversation participants that led to such copious feelings of intimidation. Despite the largely negative feelings toward the relationships between police and residents, it is important to note that many members of the community stated that not every police officer in Cincinnati conducts him or herself with such intimidation. The Cincinnati Police Officers who participated in our conversations were applauded for diligent actions taken in the community to ensure its safety and for a willingness

to be a part of the solution. Initiatives, like those in Cincinnati’s District One Police Station, have bridged the gap between police officers and community members, providing them with a better understanding of the mutuality needed for a balanced community.

Access to Resources Throughout the neighborhoods of Cincinnati, a large amount of community resources exist to address a wide range of challenges for those who live in this city. Visitors of our discussions highlighted multiple resources available to, specifically, youth in this city. Though many aspects of this city lend themselves to the success of young people, it was also noted that such resources are concentrated in more financially affluent neighborhoods disconnected from public transit. Resources, such as: community convening spaces, parent-teacher associations, and fine arts programs, are limited in number and funding, often under-serving its communities. Many also felt that economic incentives for a healthy economy are catered to seemingly unneeded projects, for example, the Horseshoe Casino and The Cincinnati Streetcar. During candid conversation with community members who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer (LGBTQ), the discussion focused on the lack of public resources surrounding the education of several social issues, including: bullying within our schools, marriage equality, and other protections under the law, etc.

Safe Places Another overarching theme throughout our series of community conversations was that Cincinnati offers a lot of interactive, fun, and safe places for youth in which to engage and supplement their education after school. However, these agencies and community spaces are not easily accessible for

students whose parents do not have transportation. News coverage has shed light on Cincinnati Public Schools’ (CPS) initiative to bridge the divide between community resource centers and schools, for the purpose of offering children and their families a safe place to convene. Many of those who attended our events were unaware of this move by many schools, and felt as though poor advertising was a major barrier.

The formation of more groups like Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) is one opinion, from an individual who attended our event, that CPS could use to increase the provision of safe spaces for youth attending high school. Highlighted frequently, many participants suggested a broadening in the amount of awareness surrounding various issues for students, their teachers, and parents.

Diversity and Inclusion

After more than 6 months of community exploration through countless conversations with Cincinnati residents, we have found that a large majority of community members either had no idea of the award or did not feel that Cincinnati was deserving of its designation as one of America’s 100 best communities for young people. A pattern of responses had emerged in that community members who live closer to the inner city typically express greater negative feelings toward this award versus those who live near the peripheral boundaries of the city. Although a large number of community members displayed disapproval toward the award, addressing some of the issues stated above would not only change the public’s perspective of the award, but would better the life and opportunities for young people in Cincinnati. Through our work as Public Allies, we promise to continue to be leaders in our communities, to engage with community members, and discovering what a healthy, vibrant community needs to succeed. We challenge you to become leaders in your very own community; to continue conversations like ours to discover the, oftentimes, undetected problems that exist in Cincinnati to ensure that this award stands true for years to come. Take action!

In response to Cincinnati’s history as a city with issues surrounding diversity and inclusion, a resident expressed, “Cincinnati tends to focus on white, upper-middle class, straight community enhancements.” Many of those who shared this sentiment, highlighted a trend in Cincinnati’s development that caters to one particular demographic and away from vulnerable populations including: those of minority populations, youth, and those of limiting socio-economic status, etc. The formation of more groups like Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) is one action that CPS could take to increase awareness and understanding of these minority populations. This broadened education and awareness for students and their teachers could lead to a stronger sense of safety. Your’s Truly Cincinnati


A Project of Public Allies Cincinnati and Strive Partnership - 2012

Yours Truly, Cincinnati; A Conversation Series  

For the second year in a row, Cincinnati was recognized as one of America's 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by America's Pro...