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UC announces Bicentennial grant recipients

Community engagement grants celebrate UC's commitment to urban impact

The University of Cincinnati will partner with 15 Greater Cincinnati nonprofit organizations in the coming years to celebrate and extend UC’s commitment to urban impact in Greater Cincinnati.

UC President Neville Pinto announced the recipients of the UC Bicentennial Community Engagement Grants Tuesday, Jan. 15, at an opening reception kicking off the university’s Bicentennial year.

“Every day the University of Cincinnati provides a positive impact by working with our local community. In honor of our 200th birthday, we created a special way to demonstrate our pledge to help create a better future,” Pinto said. “These projects are prime examples of the passion and hard work already present in Cincinnati — we are honored to support and partner with these organizations in the years ahead.”

The community engagement grants program awarded a total of $100,000 in grants ranging in amount from $2,525 to $10,000. Funded projects are wide-ranging, focusing on one of the following engagement areas:

  1. Student achievement and service to local schools
  2. Housing and housing access
  3. Environmental quality
  4. Public health
  5. Community futures (i.e. a project that helps to enrich or sustain existing urban Cincinnati communities)

After announcing the grant program in 2018, UC received more than 150 proposals, which underwent multiple rounds of review by students, faculty, staff and volunteers. 

“The Bicentennial Community Engagement Grants are built on a long-established institutional investment in service and experience-based learning here at UC.”

Gigi Escoe Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Interim Dean of the Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education.

“While thousands of our students have integrated service-learning into their First-Year Experience, this project has incorporated them throughout the selection process and will allow multiple years of first-year students to volunteer as a part of each project. We were excited to ask students to apply their critical thinking, communication, and information literacy skills in the selection process, and we’re excited to see what they can accomplish with our amazing community partners over the upcoming three years.”

As early as Spring Semester 2019, first-year students at UC will start volunteering with partner organizations, continuing every spring until 2021, when projects should culminate.

Between these and additional volunteer opportunities supported over this time period, UC Service Learning estimates that more than 2,000 students may volunteer as a part of their first-year experience to help solve challenging problems in the greater Cincinnati area.

“Keep Cincinnati Beautiful is delighted to receive a UC Bicentennial Community Engagement Grant for our Vacant Lots: Occupied project. The sweat equity and scholarly work of student volunteers will help transform neglected spaces into sources of community pride, activating vacant lots through green infrastructure, creative placemaking and environmental education,” said Katie Davis, arts program manager at Keep Cincinnati Beautiful.

“St. Vincent de Paul could not respond to the needs of our neighbors without the generosity and involvement of partners like UC,” said Claire Luby, director of development at St. Vincent de Paul, one of the grant recipient organizations. “This grant will help our neighbors access fresh produce in their community and learn how to select, prepare and eat foods that will improve their health. Not only will our neighbors receive the nourishment they need today, they will also be empowered to sustain a healthier future.”

Learn more about the Bicentennial at

Bicentennial grant recipients

Breakthrough Cincinnati Inc. - “Academic Scholars School-Year Program” aims to develop a curricular content for two “Super Saturday” learning lessons for BTC middle school students. The purpose is to infuse students with energy and learning, to provide continued exposure to positive experiences in a college environments-and to expose students to a diverse cohort of college students as mentors.

Give Like a Mother - Clothing Cincinnati’s Children Distribution Days” will assist in equipping children with clothing, shoes and seasonal wear that they need in order to stay safe and comfortable. This program plans to take place twice during the year, once in fall and once in the spring. The program will also equip older children and adults in the community with clothing during one fall and one spring event. 

God's Favor Mobile Meals Ministry - “Dine on a Dime:” a six-week course to teach families how to prepare healthy meals on a limited budget. The classes will be once a week and the families will receive everything they need to duplicate the meals at home. The project will also continue to deliver healthy meals to individuals in homeless camps.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati - “Rock the Block:” a one-day event that is held twice a year to benefit a specific Tri-State community, bringing collaborative community revitalization to a neighborhood where Habitat is actively building.

Hughes STEM High School -“Hughes STEM Intersession 2018-19” will offer students innovation instruction in STEM areas integrating other academic subjects such as language arts, social studies, music, art-and physical education. Students will develop a project that integrates the learning activities and reflects the experiences of the intersession, through cooperating professionals and real world contexts.

Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati (IHNGC) - “Pet Support Program for Homeless Individuals/Families” wants to extend the IHNGC services to four-legged members of families with the Pet Support Program. This will allow those entering local homeless shelters to have a safe space for their pets and be reunited once they have stable housing. The program includes pet owner training, pet deposits, veterinarian care, and advocacy for affordable, pet-friendly housing.

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful - “Vacant Lots: Occupied:” a comprehensive community-driven project to help neighborhoods strategically restore and enhance vacant lots into socially, culturally and environmentally responsible spaces.

Lockland Local Schools - “Lockland Literacy Lab:” a volunteer-based program that offers tutoring opportunities for Kindergarten through third grade.

N.E.R.D.S Nurturing Educational Readiness and Development - “STEM NERDS” aims to increase student college-readiness through ACT prep, academic tutoring, and college information sessions for middle and high school students in the West End.

Sidestreams - “Design, Plan, and Build a Garden Feature:” This program includes designing, planning and building a garden. In the two vacant lots owned by Sidestreams, a teaching garden will be built on one and a Peace Garden on the other. 

St. Francis Seraph Ministries - “Cooking for the Family:” a five-week culinary program where participantsexperiencing poverty learn eight basic cooking skills and techniques in utilizing fresh and healthy ingredients to increase their knowledge about healthy food options.

St. Vincent de Paul - Cincinnati- “Nutrition for our Neighbors in Need” will unite the goals of the organization's Charitable Pharmacy and Food Pantry. The Food Pantry provides food at no cost to neighbors in need and St. Vincent de Paul is developing a vegetable garden to ensure there is a consistent supply of produce available to visitors. The Charitable Pharmacy fills prescriptions at no cost to those who cannot afford their medications. The clinical services offer medication reviews, health screenings, and helps neighbors achieve greater health outcomes.

Super Seeds - “Option’s Day” takes at-risk youth between the ages of 12-17 on a tour to show them real-life consequences of behavior. Students tour local hospitals to learn about drugs, gun violence, and interview patients who are victims of gun violence, as well as interacting college students and fellow peers. 

Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank - “Diaper Distribution Program Expansion” addresses period poverty in the Greater Cincinnati area. SCDB will relieve the burden of period poverty for many in the Greater Cincinnati area through raising awareness of period poverty and securing volunteers to aid in period product packaging and distribution.

UC Early Learning Center - “Building Community One Book at a Time” seeks to build community and help children develop a love for reading and learning by assembling, distributing and maintaining Little Free Libraries in the surrounding UC community. 

Featured image at top: Representatives of the organizations receiving UC Bicentennial Community Engagement Grants. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative.


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Tue, August 13, 2019

CINCINNATI—Stay curious. Remain humble. Never forget that wearing the White Coat is a privilege. A wise sage offered this advice to new medical students during the 24th annual White Coat Ceremony held by the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine Aug. 9 at Aronoff Center in downtown Cincinnati. “I highly recommend pursuing what makes you curious,” said Tiffiny Diers, MD, associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine. “Whether it is in what you are studying, in a patient story or career opportunities that come your way, curiosity and exploration yield discovery.” “The expansion of your own knowledge, what you can bring to your patients, and ultimately to our field, these are also antidotes to burnout in a challenging profession helping you to maintain a sense of meaning and engagement in your work,” said Diers. Diers, associate program director for the UC Internal Medicine Residency Program and a UC Health physician, offered the keynote address at the White Coat Ceremony. Her message was aimed at one of UC’s largest medical classes in recent years, and the most racially and ethnically diverse ever. The College of Medicine welcomed 185 newly admitted medical students during the ceremony. Each member of the class of 2023 was presented with a white coat symbolizing entry into the medical profession. UC College of Medicine alumni, faculty and staff provided the coats as a gift. The white coat is also a symbol of the patients the students will treat and the compassion, honesty and caring to which the students should always aspire. College of Medicine Interim Dean Andrew Filak Jr., MD, and UC President Neville Pinto also offered welcoming remarks to the class. “President Pinto has dubbed the university’s strategic direction ‘Next Lives Here’,” explained Filak. “Powered by knowledge, ideas and minds, Next Lives Here amplifies our core missions of teaching, research and service—from preparing faculty to teach tomorrow to pioneering the next cure to solving human-centered problems in the far corners of the globe. It is a culture that is owned, not rented and it is changing the way we live, work and learn. You are what is ‘Next’ for the College of Medicine. Our next class, our next generation of physicians, our next medical leaders who will impact the world.”

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