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

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


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


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


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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Students in Public Relations Campaigns Class Assist TCP Partners

Students in Public Relations Campaigns Class Assist TCP Partners

“It’s important/beneficial for UC students to collaborate with [community] organizations because both parties can benefit. With my experience and tenure at Total Quality Logistics (TQL), I could provide the Civic Garden Center (CGC) with our marketing team so they can set up these volunteer opportunities. TQL is a company that I know firsthand loves to give back. My hopes for the CGC are that they do grow their volunteer and donations base with young professionals and I hope TQL can be a part of that community.” Samantha Clark, student

Every semester, UC’s Department of Communication offers multiple sections of a class entitled “Public Relations Campaigns.” This class is a final requirement for graduating public relations certificate undergraduates. Each class invites up to five community organizations to be semester-long clients. After meeting with clients the first week of the semester, students form groups to serve the clients for the duration of the semester. Each client has a dedicated group of five or six students, and those students spend their semester researching their client and its market. Then, each student group crafts a strategic communication plan for their client. At the end of the term, groups make formal presentations to their clients. In the process, the students learn about applied research, strategic planning, collateral creation, and persuasive pitching to clients.

PR Campaign Students work with the Support Network

In the years I have taught this course, my students have served dozens of local non-profits, start-ups, and small businesses. Over the course of the past year, The Cincinnati Project has connected me with several clients. Those clients include Churches Active in Northside’s Rainbow Choice Food Pantry, the Civic Garden Center, the Community Police Partnering Center, Holly Hill Children’s Services, New Life Furniture Bank, the YWCA LGBTQ Task Force, and the YWCA Anti-Violence Program.

With each project, my students and I have the privilege and challenge of learning all about the community partner’s organization, situation, marketplace, and communication challenges. This is an eye-opening experience for students, since it requires them to understand unfamiliar organizations and marketplaces. After doing original research for their client, students have to generate a comprehensive, integrated communication plan for their client. This plan may center on rebranding, building stronger organization-stakeholder relations, updating the organization’s social media presence, distinguishing the organization from its competition, raising community awareness of the organization, and more.

“It’s important for UC students to collaborate with community organizations because it makes the students well versed in the types of organizations that are affecting the community and it also gives them an idea of where they might want to work after graduation. My hopes for the Civic Garden Center are that they take some of our ideas, like the content calendar, and implement them into their company. I also hope that through all of these new implementations they in turn get more volunteers and more donations coming into the organization.” Abby Fordham, student

Although this is a challenging project for students, it leaves them proud of how relevant their skills are. It is also something the Department of Communication is proud of, since experiential learning and community engagement are central to our mission and identity. We are committed to equipping our students to serve the local community upon graduation. Working with The Cincinnati Project has been, and continues to be, a great way for us to stay connected to our community!

“This class was the most informative class for my future career. I’m currently working for an internship and I used what I learned in this class, towards my internship and talked about this class also for a job interview. This class helped me to truly understand what goes into a PR campaign and the steps you need to take in order to reach your end goal.” Ryan Ritze, student

cinciprojectStudents in Public Relations Campaigns Class Assist TCP Partners
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Communities Acting for Kids Empowerment (CAKE)

Communities Acting for Kids Empowerment (CAKE)


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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