CPS Strong

Our city is only as strong as our public schools. And our university is only as strong as its city. That’s why we’ve made a commitment to Cincinnati Public Schools, creating opportunities for CPS students that support college readiness, access and success.

Learn more about scholarships and grants available for CPS students:

What is CPS Strong?

CPS Strong is a university-wide strategic enrollment initiative that focuses on recruitment, persistence, retention, and graduation of former Cincinnati Public School students attending the University of Cincinnati. 

CPS Strong is a partnership across UC, Cincinnati Public Schools, and the broader Cincinnati community to support readiness, create access, and foster success for CPS students by aligning and co-designing programs and services in order to facilitate a more robust, system-wide ecosystem of support, with the student at the center.

How does CPS Strong work?

While sudents are still attending CPS, they are educated about college preparation and given the necessary resources to ensure a smooth transition into higher education.

CPS Strong focuses on three main factors:


CPS Strong starts in middle school (grades 6-9) to make sure students have everything they need to take their future into their own hands. Summer programs are available for high school sophomores and juniors, specific to academic disciplines they want to explore in college.


CPS Strong aims to remove barriers within the college application process and affordability. We provide resources that help with financial aid, scholarship information, campus tours, bearcat bootcamps, counselor breakfasts, and more.

Our main goal is to make attending college easier and more accessible for our community. 


Once a CPS student has become a student at the University of Cincinnati, CPS Strong coaches continue to provide institutional resources, encourage academic achievement, and make sure we are creating a robust experience-- not only academically, but experientially.

Of course, success (to us) looks like becoming a Bearcat, but beyond that, the success of CPS Strong means building a stronger and more inclusive Cincinnati.

Why was CPS Strong created?

As the major university in Cincinnati with a large footprint in our community, we believe it is morally imperative to encourage educational outcomes for our underrepresented minorites. We have a responsibility to support the work that’s happening in our city by increasing the number of minority, low-income and first-generation college-going students.

Our city is only as strong as our public school system. CPS Strong works to establish an institution-wide model to engage and empower Cincinnati Public School students. By aligning programs and services to ensure readiness, create access, and foster success, we can achieve educational transformation and positively impact the future of our university and our city.

CPS Strong 2023 Seed Grant Award Recipients

For the second year in a row, CPS Strong partners were invited to submit proposals for the 2023 CPS Strong Seed Grant Awards. Created by Jack Miner, Vice-Provost for Enrollment Management, these awards are designed to provide one-time funding to support the work of our partners engaged in transformative, student-centered projects, programs, and initiatives impacting one or more of our program pillars. Eleven proposals were selected and over $200,000 in seed grant awards were made. It is our hope that at the end of the award cycle, we can identify best practices and impactful projects to scale and implement more broadly across the university.

This free program is designed for incoming 9th-12th grade students who are looking to gain their high school advanced science credit in Physics and Chemistry. Project-based courses allow students to engage in hands-on activities to show the real-world application of physical science. The seed grant award will assist with purchasing additional instructional materials and transportation for participants.

Headshot of Paul Feldkamp

Paul Feldkamp

Project Lead, CEAS-Inclusive Excellence & Community Engagement

The goal of the Emerging Ethnic Engineers (E3) program is to educate, empower & encourage racially & ethnically diverse students, many of whom come from CPS. Funds would be used to strengthen the E3 program to curate positive experiences for students such as evening with industry events, Co-op preparation sessions, career fair readiness events and more. Funding will also help support strategic recruitment efforts in CPS High Schools by engaging in hands on engineering education experiences with students prior to 12th grade.

Headshot of Eunique Avery

Eunique Avery

Project Lead, CEAS-Inclusive Excellence & Community Engagement

The Research Experiences for Secondary Students (RESS) program supports active research participation by high school students. Funding will help support an interest in research for 11th and 12th grade students, provide an opportunity for students to engage in research that can positively impact their community, and create an additional pathway for CPS students into the University of Cincinnati CEAS and other colleges.

Headshot of Dr. Whitney Gaskins

Dr. Whitney Gaskins

Project Lead, CEAS-Inclusive Excellence & Community Engagement

This spring, forty Bearcats Academy high school students (grades 9-12) have a new opportunity to engage with the Magic of Cosmetics (offered by UC Pharmacy), a laboratory experience and Fortune 500 facility tour, to learn more about the STEM disciplines and the college paths that support career preparation. The seed grant award will help fund transportation and lunch for program participants.

Headshot of Dr. Tiffany Dolder-Holland

Dr. Tiffany Dolder-Holland

Project Lead, CECH: Office of Education Innovation & Community Partnerships, Center for Youth Futures

The UC Blue Ash College, Student Life Department received funding for several student support initiatives for CPS students attending UCBA, including funding to support students taking summer courses and engaged students participating in high impact learning practices such as leadership conferences, study abroad, spring break trips. Funding will also help support students experiencing financial hardships that could impact their ability to persist.

Headshot of Hannah Thompson

Hannah Thompson

Project Lead, UCBA College Department of Student Life

Headshot of Sarah Wolfe

Sarah Wolfe

Project Lead, UCBA College Department of Student Life

The UB goal is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education. The Beyond Bound courses will give students the chance to learn skills not offered in a typical school setting (financial literacy, entrepreneurial exposure, social/communication, personal branding/leadership, teamwork, intro to different trades, negotiation, and advocacy). Funding will help support collaboration with several local businesses for career exploration for site visits. The overall impact will help around 100 CPS students who are a part of Upward Bound.

Headshot of Orville McDonald

Orville McDonald

Project Lead, University of Cincinnati Upward Bound Program

Funding will support CAHS’s efforts in connecting Cincinnati Public High Schools with health pathway programs to CAHS. The CAHS DEI team coordinated high school visits with CPS high schools with health pathway programs this past fall semester. These visits illuminated the need for more outreach and education on the possibilities students have in pursuing a health major and career. The CPS Health Pathway schools in conjunction with the Office of Admissions will be bringing students to campus this spring to help spark interest in students earlier in their academic journey.

Headshot of Larisa Wright

Larisa Wright

Project Lead, College of Allied Health Sciences & CPS

Headshot of Dr. Ebony Speakes-Hall

Dr. Ebony Speakes-Hall

Project Lead, College of Allied Health Sciences & CPS

The University of Cincinnati has partnered with ModernStates.org to empower students to earn college credit for free. The UC Fast Start program enables students who will be attending UC with the opportunity to earn college credit before their first semester begins! Funding will enable Cincinnati Pride Support Services to hire a graduate assistant or part-time staff to monitor and facilitate sessions in the school to provide supplemental support so students can receive a passing test score and receive college credit after having classroom instruction and supplemental instruction online in the classroom during their junior or senior year.

Headshot of Dr. Cheri Westmoreland

Dr. Cheri Westmoreland

Project Lead, Cincinnati Pride Grant Support Services/Student Affairs - AESS

Funding will help support this initiative, aimed at decreasing summer melt from newly admitted CPS students. The goal is to ensure there are supports in place for them so that every student coming from CPS feels a sense of belonging. To aid in this effort, select counselors from CPS will be paid to assist students transitioning to the Blue Ash and Uptown campuses. Students will receive assistance with some or all of the following: confirming admission, signing up for orientation, finishing placement testing, navigating campus and next steps, understanding financial aid packages, understanding CPG, etc.

Headshot of Alexis Monore

Alexis Monore

Project Lead, UCBA, UC Admissions, CPS Strong, CPS

The Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), Woodward Career Tech, Pharmacy Technician, Career Technical Program provides a rigorous curriculum paired with hands-on work-based learning experiences. The goal of the program is to prepare Woodward Career Tech students for employment as certified pharmacy technicians through the Pharmacy Tech Certification Board and create lasting connections with the University of Cincinnati’s College of Pharmacy as well as the Kroger Company. Funding will assist in providing paid internships for 5 high school students.

Headshot of Pat Achoe

Pat Achoe

Project Lead, UC College of Pharmacy, The Kroger Co.

Headshot of Sarah Woodward

Sarah Woodward

Project Lead, CPS

Funding will support the College of A&S partnership with CPS high school students in creating a relationship with A&S faculty, staff, and students known as “partners.” Win, Win, Win is a pilot program that will meet weekly for a six-week program with a local CPS high school. Each week students will be led by UC A&S Faculty, Staff, CPS A&S Alumni, and current A&S Bearcat students in various exercises and workshops, which culminate with a cultural institution tour grounded in learning about being an “Upstander” for human rights.

Headshot of Carol Tonge Mack

Carol Tonge Mack

Project Lead, College of Arts & Sciences

Headshot of Kristen Walker

Kristen Walker

Project Lead, College of Arts & Sciences

Headshot of Lori L. Wright, Ed.D

Lori L. Wright, Ed.D

Director, CPS Strong


CPS Strong Stories


Cincinnati Business Courier: UC, CPS partner on College...

April 22, 2024

The University of Cincinnati has partnered with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) to broaden access to higher education for CPS students by creating the College Innovation Pathway. It allows high school students to earn credits for an associate degree while completing their high school diploma. Launch UC is helping move this initiative forward.


Fox19: UC uses fossils to teach kids about environment

March 7, 2024

Fox19 highlights a field trip that fifth and sixth graders from the Clifton Area Neighborhood School took to UC for a visit with geosciences faculty to learn about the environment. The science day was sponsored by UC's Center for Public Engagement with Science.

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