WOC Initiative Project Highlight – Public Relations Campaigns Class with Suzanne Boys

WOC Initiative Project Highlight – Public Relations Campaigns Class with Suzanne Boys

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!

jmalatWOC Initiative Project Highlight – Public Relations Campaigns Class with Suzanne Boys
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The 4th Annual TCP Symposium, from behind the curtain

The 4th Annual TCP Symposium, from behind the curtain

BY CURTIS WEBB

About a month ago, we held our 4th annual TCP Symposium. I was asked to reflect on the TCP Symposium from the perspective of the Project Coordinator, a role that also includes organizing the symposium. Normally, I decline sharing my reflections from the event because I am primarily concerned about others’ experiences. I am invested in our attendees understanding the importance of community-partnered research, and gaining knowledge on how to get involved in community-partnered research, and why organizations like The Cincinnati Project are important. However, this year I would like to give you my thoughts from behind the curtain.

Student presenters at the symposium.

The environment at the symposium this year was electric. I felt the energy from 9AM when the students kicked off the EARLY morning sessions, until the last attendee walked out the doors of The African American Cultural and Resource Center (AACRC) at 4PM. The Cincinnati Project leadership team was grateful to host the symposium in the sacred space known as the AACRC. It was the perfect space to have much-needed conversations on power, partnerships, and the community. The TCP leadership team prides ourselves on being equal partners in research for equity, so we wanted the symposium to match these goals. As a result, the symposium was just not just an event for professors, but also included students, and community members. Our approach facilitated important conversations on the value of community-partnered research and working collaboratively across the city. This year we charged all parties to do more, and to work collaboratively.

Yvette Simpson describes the importance of working together

The symposium was a remarkable event because both the attendees and the speakers engaged deeply with the subject. The students emphasized how classroom-partnered research gives them real-life experiences and connections with the community that they live in. The TCP faculty scholars explained how faculty can successfully navigate community-partnered work and why it is rewarding. The panels featured many influential Black women leaders of Cincinnati. The Power, Partnerships, and Progress panel was amazing because the faculty were both transparent and vulnerable, addressing their positionality and how it affects their research, and what it means to really listen to community partners. The concluding call to action by keynote speaker Yvette Simpson left the room buzzing. She emphasized the importance of bridging communities and collaborative work. The panel she sat on with other local leaders emphasized the necessity of different leaders coming together for a common goal.

Thank all of you for making this symposium a success. It was amazing to see the connections made, the crowded sessions, the delicious food, and the hope and desire to do important collaborative work to eradicate inequality. I end this post with a call to continue the work. There is plenty of work to do, and we all have skills to add to the fight. Moreover, let me be frank, if you are not fighting to eliminate inequality, you are continuing inequality. To UC and other academic folk, I urge you to take your research outside of academia, and publish your results outside of journals. To the community, please continue to teach us, and allow us to leverage our power and resources to benefit you! There is no time like today to act, and most importantly listen. #WeInThisTogether. #TCP18 was great. Hope to see all of you again next year!

jmalatThe 4th Annual TCP Symposium, from behind the curtain
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WOC Initiative Project Highlight- Mapping Eviction

Neighborhoods of Cincinnati

BY BRITTNEY MILES

There is amazing work-in-progress emerging in The Cincinnati Project’s 2018 initiative to highlight the experiences and voices of women of color, funded by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. One highlight is the work of Elaina Johns-Wolfe and the students in her Urban Society sociology course. They are partnering with Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) and Legal Aid of Southwest Ohio to illuminate the experiences of eviction in our community. Together, using a community-partnered research model from The Cincinnati Project, they are working to understand who is evicted, how they are evicted, by whom they are evicted, and the communities from which they are evicted. Previous research shows that the socioeconomic problems of eviction disproportionately impact women of color. This project will contribute to a more holistic picture of the experiences of housing instability and dispossession.

With the aid of eviction records and American Community Survey data, the goal of this project is to map the geography of eviction filings that occurred between 2014 and 2017 in Hamilton County. Finding itself at the intersection of statistical analyses and lived experiences, this project centers the experiences of a population displaced and often forgotten. Indeed, much of the research on housing instability focuses on the experiences of homeowners rather than of renters. Beyond the benefits of this research, this project goes one step further by supporting the local efforts of two organizations HOME and Legal Aid of Southwest Ohio to better understand housing in Hamilton County.

In addition to the grant support from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, this project is made possible through a partnership between The Cincinnati Project and Texas A&M University’s GeoServices. We would also like to acknowledge the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts for their assistance in obtaining data on eviction filings in Hamilton County.

jmalatWOC Initiative Project Highlight- Mapping Eviction
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Women of Color at the Center

Women of Color at the Center

Women of color provide important leadership in the city of Cincinnati, working in all sectors and volunteering their time for a better Cincinnati. At the same time, women of color face a multitude of challenges, including an alarmingly high poverty rate, high rates of health problems, and other inequities.

At The Cincinnati Project, we have begun a new initiative in 2018, funded by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, to raise up the stories from women of color as well as to reduce poverty and other disadvantages face by women of color. Working with community partners, we have launched a set of projects designed to benefit women of color either directly or by supporting the work of other groups with this goal.

Some of the projects will lift up the voices of women of color to tell success stories and describe obstacles to equality. Business owners and activists and women isolated by poverty will be featured in these projects. Other projects will help ongoing efforts to improve women of color’s lives. For example, an urban societies class will collect information that will help Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) reduce evictions in Cincinnati, a problem that greatly affects women of color. Another class will work to promote a business owned by a black woman, improve communication among neighborhood community councils, and help the Child Poverty Collaborative achieve their goals. Finally, our initiative will benefit from the research for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In this project, a group of professors is evaluating data on city employees for a study of gender, race, and other potential forms of inequality as a first step in the CEDAW process.

Because we do not want this research to sit on the shelf, we are making plans to bring it to the public. We have a design team who will synthesize this work and match it practical information. For example, women’s stories of activism and starting businesses will be shared in public spaces—we are still working on where and how—along with information about how to organize in your community or start a business. Look for more about this phase of the project during the summer.

All of this work will be completed and shared in 2018. We won’t stop doing other projects, but the projects partnered with women of color will allow us to focus efforts to demonstrate the power of coordinated efforts. We hope that our projects will support the efforts of All-In Cincinnati, the Child Poverty Collaborative, HOME, and other groups working on policy change and providing services that disproportionately support women of color.

jmalatWomen of Color at the Center
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Symposium Next Friday!

We are looking forward to the symposium next week! There will be engaging panel conversations about negotiating power in relationships, discussions with local leaders about the value of partnerships across sectors, and students and faculty describing their community-partnered research. There’s a longer story about the symposium here.

You can find the full schedule here.

If you plan to join us, please RSVP here. It’s free!

jmalatSymposium Next Friday!
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Communities Acting for Kids Empowerment (CAKE)

Communities Acting for Kids Empowerment (CAKE)

BY FARRAH JACQUEZ, JAMIE-LEE MORRIS, & MICHAEL TOPMILLER

In September 2016, UC Psychology department faculty member Farrah Jacquez, New Prospect Baptist Church community organizer Jamie-Lee Morris, and American Academy of Family Physicians geographer Michael Topmiller were chosen as Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The IRL program brings together two researchers and a community partner to use the power of applied research—informing and supporting critical work being done in communities—to accelerate that work and advance health and equity. The team proposed research called “A Place-based Approach to Early Childhood Wellness in Carthage and Roselawn”, a project designed to organize community members in two Cincinnati neighborhoods to promote the well-being of young children.

The CAKE Leadership Team (Back row Michael Topmiller, Farrah Jacquez, Crystal Davis, Alexander Shelton; front row Cindy Wooten, Lakisha Best, Jamie-Lee Morris, Shanah Cole, Monica Arenas-Losacker). Not pictured are Alan Dicken and Giovanna Alvarez.

Over the past year, The IRL program has facilitated the formation of Communities Acting for Kids Empowerment (CAKE), a team of early childhood stakeholders in the neighborhoods of Carthage and Roselawn.

CAKE has three primary aims to be accomplished over the next two years:
• Create a network of engaged community members, education providers, and stakeholders ready for action
• Develop a multi-level intervention with systematic input from across community sectors and with shared decision-making of Leadership Team
• Increase awareness of the value of preschool and preschool options available in Carthage and Roselawn

We plan to do this by:
• Creating a team of community members to collaborate with us on the research
• Using research to improve the health of young children
• Focusing our place-based approach on the communities of Carthage & Roselawn
• Focusing on approaches that address the multiple levels that influence a child’s life: individual, family, school, community
• Identifying the assets that already exist in Carthage and Roselawn and create ways to build on them

To begin our work, we first needed to find out what the people who live and work in Carthage and Roselawn see as the most important factors in the health and wellness of young kids living in their neighborhoods.

Photo from GLA

We conducted four participatory focus groups called Group Level Assessments with four diverse groups of stakeholders: members of New Prospect Baptist Church, members of San Carlos Catholic Church, members of Carthage Neighborhood Council, and Type B Childcare Providers. Through these four GLAs, we were able to talk with almost 100 community members from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Photo from GLA

Based on the GLAs, we have started to identify the factors that Carthage and Roselawn residents believe are the most important in the lives of young children. Participants identified important drivers at the family, school, and community levels as being critical to the wellness of young kids. Several ideas emerged as ways to promote early childhood wellness, including supporting parent involvement in children’s lives and providing safe, high quality places for children’s activities.

For our next steps, will be interviewing up to thirty school stakeholders to help understand the educational context for preschoolers living in Carthage and Roselawn. By identifying the educational assets that currently exist in the neighborhoods, we hope to move toward building an intervention that builds on existing resources to provide the best possible environment for happy, healthy young kids.

If you’re interested in learning more about CAKE, keeping up with our progress, or getting involved, go to our Facebook page or email us at cakecincinnati@gmail.com.

jmalatCommunities Acting for Kids Empowerment (CAKE)
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2017-2018 TCP Scholars

2017-2018 TCP Scholars

We are pleased to have another great cohort of TCP Scholars. The Scholars are a funded group of researchers who are working on projects that directly benefit disadvantaged people in Cincinnati. We are fortunate to have funding support from the Wilder Foundation and the College of Arts and Sciences to support this year’s scholars.

The 2017-2018 class is working on a range of projects that represent TCP well. Two projects are partnered with non-profit organizations that provide key services to people experiencing difficult periods in their lives. UpSpring supports homeless families and will provide needed medical services to homeless children, based on the research of Professor Kloos and her students. LifeLawn is a landscaping company that seeks to provide positive and resume-building employment to people who might otherwise have difficulty getting a job. Professor Furst-Holloway and her students are gathering data in order to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of their programs.

Professor Sastry’s research project is of a different sort. Like some other TPC researchers, his project begins by locating communities that are hidden from outsiders. Often these communities face obstacles to achieving maximum well-being. The Cincinnati Project is pleased to offer support to Professors Sastry’s effort to learn more about disenfranchised South Asians’ health challenges by talking to South Asians themselves. His research will begin partnerships that can meaningfully improve people’s health.

Learn more about this class of TCP Scholars here. We are glad to have grants from the Wilder Foundation and the Colleges of Arts and Sciences to support their research!

jmalat2017-2018 TCP Scholars
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Building Connections on Campus

Building Connections on Campus

A couple weeks ago, we co-hosted an energizing workshop on community-partnered research for faculty across the university. The event grew out of a chat with the co-directors of the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice at the College of Law.

Janet Moore, Farrah Jacquez, and Edie Morris take questions from the audience.

We noticed that faculty who partner with communities are passionate about their work, but the size of campus and time spent in the field make it difficult for them to meet each other. Faculty who know each other can share opportunities, support each other, and produce more research with a stronger impact.

We decided to organize an event that would help people get to know each other. We structured the day so that there would be many opportunities for sharing successes and strategies for confronting challenges. We also hoped students would attend the event in order to learn more about community-partnered research.

Discussion with all attendees at the end of the day.

Our efforts were successful! Approximately 45 faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate/professional students gathered throughout the day at the African American Cultural and Resource Center. We listened to experienced researchers talk about their work, shared lunch, and exchanged ideas in a large group. We left having met new people, with plans to stay in touch, and agreeing that we need to meet again!

jmalatBuilding Connections on Campus
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Partnering with the Black United Front on the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement

Partnering with the Black United Front on the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement

By Shaonta’ Allen, second year doctoral student in Sociology, graduate assistant, Yates Fellow, and Southern Regional Education Board Scholar

Through The Cincinnati Project,  I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Black United Front, a local organization committed to bettering community police relations in Cincinnati, on a research project aimed at refreshing the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement. This anti-bias policing agreement was signed by the city, the police department, and community leaders in the wake of the 2001 civil unrest that culminated out of a police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American man. City leaders are making a public pledge to review the Collaborative Agreement, as it was the basis of the previous decade’s police reforms.

We worked together to create a survey that would capture community members’ perspectives of policing. I assisted with the data collection process as well as with data analysis and reporting. In addition to making the survey available online, I, along with a few other team members, attended popular community events throughout the city, such as the Cincinnati Music Festival and the Black Family Reunion, in the hopes of recruiting respondents in person. Altogether we received over 1200 responses in a just a 3-month time-period! I worked with University of Cincinnati Political Science Professor Brian Calfano to analyze the data that was reported which was later converted into a comprehensive report over 125 pages long.

The Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement’s booth at the Black Family Reunion where community members could stop by and take the survey

It was very exciting to be a part of this research project because the community’s voice is often overlooked when it comes to discussions of policing, yet in a short amount of time I was able to work with a team that collected a ton of data that captured just that! I was also able to  present some of our data at a public forum attended by not only community members but also several police-officers. This was particularly rewarding because, in a way, I was able to link the community’s comments and suggestions about policing directly back to the individuals who could implement the changes that they proposed.

As a sociologist interested in race relations and social justice, I’ve always believed that the research I conduct should have direct implications on the betterment of my community. Working on this survey regarding the Collaborative Agreement has reinforced this belief.

 

The Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement Research Team posing for a quick picture at the Cincinnati Music Festival

I have been able to see first-hand how vital it is for our stories to be told from our own perspectives, and I have witnessed the negative implications of what happens when we are not in positions to advocate for ourselves.

“This collaboration has helped make me a better scholar”

Working on this project has assisted with the development of my quantitative research skills. I’ve tailored most of my academic methodological training towards qualitative skills. However, working with Professor Calfano on analyzing the survey data pushed me out of my comfort zone, and has helped make me a better scholar.

Presenting the findings at a community meeting.

Presenting this data at the community forum equipped me with the skills to present data in non-academic settings. As a graduate student I attend several academic conferences a year and as a result, I have experience giving academic talks. However, given my commitment to ensuring my research is accessible to my community, knowing how to discuss research results in layman’s terms is an essential skill which I now have thanks to this collaboration!

Overall, I’m thankful for this opportunity and excited to continue working with these community organizations. We already have plans to present our data at another community forum and are additionally in the early stages of writing a research article together. This all serves as an indication of the significance of collaborative work between community partners and university research scholars.

jmalatPartnering with the Black United Front on the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement
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