BY BRITTNEY MILES
The Cincinnati Project’s 2018 initiative, made possible through support from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, centers women of color. The Cincinnati Project pairs University of Cincinnati researchers, both faculty and students, with local organizations that work for social change in the greater Cincinnati area. These research partnerships are done independently, as part of classes, and as teams across disciplines. One exciting class is working on multiple public relations campaigns to support local organizations as part of The Cincinnati Project 2018 Women of Color Initiative.
Dr. Suzanne Boys is teaching an upper level Public Relations Campaigns class where her students develop projects to support local non-profits and small businesses. Her students are serving Strong Cincinnati, The Child Poverty Collaborative, Wesley Education Center, and RISE. Each of these organizations have their own goals and needs, and students are creating unique projects accordingly. Students have done extensive research on the organization, their needs, their target demographics, and effective strategies to accomplish their goals.
While some of the partner organizations have very specific goals, such as fundraising, others have more ambiguous but equally fruitful ones. The Child Poverty Collaborative is hoping to expand their efforts to include spreading awareness of poverty and tackling the stigma associated with it. Students are beginning to make sense of their personal experiences with poverty, having to reflect on their own judgments about people living in poverty, and question assumptions about what poverty looks like. Students will be creating surveys and conducting interviews to engage business managers and community members about their perceptions of poverty. Poverty is a sensitive topic that touches more lives than people are often aware. This class is supporting this organization in bringing an important issue to the forefront of dialogue for all people, regardless of their economic status.
Students are enthusiastic about working with actual clients who bring a high level of passion around their topics. Students working with Strong Cincinnati was struck by their emphasis on empowerment and engagement for neighborhoods and are helping them by developing and distributing a survey to people about community involvement. The hope is that this survey will provide data from opinion leaders and neighborhood councils so that Strong Cincinnati can continue its mission. Much of the work Strong Cincinnati does is about uplifting neighborhoods and local organization, with an emphasis on strengths.
Another group of students in Dr. Boys’ class is working with a local staple that has uplifted the community through education for 98 years – the Wesley Education Center in Avondale. They are an infant and early childcare center who also provides additional programming to support families. With such an extensive history serving the community, students in the PR are able to assist them in strategizing about their future growth.
While students are providing support towards the further expansion of these community partners, they can improve their skills and training. While The Cincinnati Project centers the work of the organization, it is important to note the positive impact the work on student researchers. Students in this class are able to situate themselves in the greater Cincinnati community, prepare for potential careers, and learn about positive efforts towards social change in Cincinnati.
Look for more updates about the Women of Color Initiative in the coming weeks!