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March 8, 2017

Dater High Students Participate in Day of Service

Dater students with large boxAbout 100 juniors from Gilbert A. Dater High School fanned out into the community in January to donate their time in a day of service to others — while building skills that will support their futures.

The students, all members of Dater’s new Junior Seminar class, are participating in a project on philanthropy. The class has partnered with Magnified Giving, a nonprofit organization that provides groups of students with $1,000 to donate to a nonprofit of their choice.

The students have been charged with convincing their peers to choose a Cincinnati-area nonprofit to receive the gift. To do so, they had to select one of 10 nonprofits to research, volunteer at, and promote with a video and presentation.

“We wanted students to not only volunteer their time but to also interview workers to get a better understanding of their mission and values,” said Catherine O’Shea, community resource coordinator at Dater. “It’s hard for them to advocate for an organization if they don’t dig into it.”

For many students, the organizations they picked were personal.

Gabriel Bock-Marshall joined 20 fellow students at the Freestore Foodbank to pack Power Packs — packs of kid-friendly food to feed children in need on weekends. The volunteers packed more than 683 Power Packs in two hours.

“I know there are people out there who need this,” said Bock-Marshall. “I know for a fact that there are people who are grateful to receive anything.”

At Crayons to Computers, eight students spent several hours sorting donations. The organization provides free school supplies to teachers from qualifying schools or to teachers who donate their time. Since July 1, 2016, the organization has benefited 150,000 students and relied on more than 8,000 volunteer hours to keep its shelves stocked.

Von Edwards said her peers should vote for Crayons for Computers because it will help other CPS students.

“I think it’s a good organization because we were all elementary school students once. We all benefitted from the program in some way,” Edwards said.

While the service-learning project focuses on philanthropy, the Junior Seminar students also are honing skills that will be critical to their career prospects. Those skills —including research, collaboration, communication, persuasive speaking and use of technology — tie in with My Tomorrow, Cincinnati Public Schools’ districtwide initiative aimed at ensuring that all students graduate from high school ready for careers of their choice.

The project is also doubling as an opportunity for students to explore potential career pathways, said Junior Seminar teacher Jennifer Franzoi.

“There are a lot of things you can get out of volunteering,” she said. “Obviously, it’s good for the community, but there is also a personal component to it. It’s an opportunity for students to explore what they like to do and to consider their place in the world.”

The day was made possible in part by the Mayerson Foundation, which provided grant money for transportation. LaRosa’s Pizza donated lunch.

“I hope the students see the time, treasure and talent that makes our community better,” said Clare Blankemeyer, director of the high school service-learning program for the Mayerson Foundation. “If they can see themselves in each one of those facets, that’s a dream. We are helping kids do meaningful service and ask the hard questions about why it matters.”

After spending the morning at their chosen nonprofits, the students regrouped for lunch and a period of reflection. In addition to reporting out on their experiences, they were asked to consider their own values and the greater purpose of their work.

“Even if it felt small to you, together we were able to make a huge difference today,” Blankemeyer told the students.

Later this year, students will amplify that difference when they select one nonprofit to receive the Magnified Giving grant.


March 2, 2017

CPS Announces New Neighborhood School Programs and Magnet Schools for 2017-18

Cincinnati Public Schools’ Superintendent Mary Ronan announced eight new programs that will be launched at nine neighborhood schools in time for the 2017-18 school year. In addition, Superintendent Ronan announced the opening of two new magnet schools and a new elementary school, also in time for the new school year.

Last year, CPS conducted a stakeholder survey, which revealed that stronger neighborhood schools should be the district’s top priority. Nine neighborhood schools are being enhanced with special programs that offer students unique ways to apply academic concepts through hands-on activities and project-based learning. These new programs and locations are as follows:

  • Bond Hill Academy - Math and Science Discovery
  • College Hill Fundamental Academy - Expeditionary Learning
  • Ethel M. Taylor Academy - New Tech
  • John P. Parker School - Global Environmental Literacy
  • Mt. Washington School - Expeditionary Learning
  • Rockdale Academy - Global Conservation
  • Roll Hill Academy - High Technology
  • South Avondale School - Creative Integration of Arts and Sciences
  • Frederick Douglass School - Dance and Movement    

These nine schools join seven other neighborhood schools that received new programs in time for the current school year.

New Magnet Schools for 2017-18
Superintendent Ronan also announced the opening of the Spencer Center for Gifted and Exceptional Students, a new citywide magnet school. The success of the Gifted Academies at Hyde Park and Cheviot schools has attracted more students than those schools can accommodate. Spencer Center will help meet the increasing demand and will serve students in grades 3-8 initially, with additional grades added, each year, up to grade 12.

Spencer Center will be located in the former Frederick Douglass School building on Alms Street in Walnut Hills. The building is under renovation.

Cincinnati Public Schools also will open LEAP Academy at North Fairmount as a West-side magnet school offering world language instruction in Spanish. LEAP, which stands for Language Enrichment and Academic Proficiency, initially will serve grades preK-3, and will expand each year up to grade 6.

The North Fairmount building also is under renovation.

New Early Learning Center in Carthage
Cincinnati Public Schools also will open Rising Stars Academy at Carthage inside the former Carthage School. This early learning center will serve preschool and kindergarten students starting next year. Carthage joins Rising Stars Academy at Vine, the district’s other free-standing preschool. With this expansion, Cincinnati Public Schools will add 420 new preschool seats and will be able to serve more than 2,000 preschool students starting next year.

The new neighborhood programs, magnet schools and preschool expansion efforts reflect both Board of Education and stakeholder priorities to improve neighborhood schools and increase quality educational options to meet diverse student needs and expand choices for families.


March 1, 2017

Cincinnati State, CPS unveil new grant program for low-income CPS grads

Grant aims to reduce cost for tuition, books to $0

CPS students showing Cincinnati State T-shirtsCincinnati State’s new Be Great High School Grant program is taking aim at a financial challenge that keeps many low-income students from attending college.

That challenge is the gap that often occurs between the standard financial aid students receive (federal and state aid, and scholarships) and the total cost of tuition and books. For many low-income students, those gaps, even if they are in the hundreds of dollars, may as well be canyons.

The new Be Great Grants will provide low-income graduates of the Cincinnati Public Schools who attend Cincinnati State on a full-time basis with up to $1,000 for tuition and $1,000 for books to help fill gaps beyond their financial aid.

Seventy-five percent of the 14,500-plus students enrolled in CPS high schools are economically disadvantaged, according to data from the Ohio Department of Education. However, in 11 of the 15 CPS high schools for which data is available, that percentage soars to more than 98 percent economically disadvantaged.

“This program will make college possible for many CPS students who might not otherwise be able to pursue a degree,” said Dr. Monica Posey, president of Cincinnati State. “This is also about the future of our region. We must provide students with opportunities to develop the skills needed by employers.”

The Cincinnati State Foundation is providing funds to support the Be Great Grant program, which takes effect beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year. Any student graduating from a CPS high school who qualifies for a federal Pell Grant and who attends Cincinnati State on a full-time, degree-seeking basis will be eligible for a Be Great Grant.

"We’re very excited about this new college grant opportunity for our students,” said Mary Ronan, superintendent for the Cincinnati Public Schools. “While a large majority of CPS graduates are eligible for college financial assistance through federal programs, sometimes that’s not sufficient to overcome all the financial barriers.”

The Be Great Grant program is a key component in Cincinnati State’s efforts to partner with local high schools and four-year colleges to create affordable pathways for students to earn college degrees at both the associate and bachelor level.

For example, Cincinnati State is also working closely with CPS to expand the College Credit Plus program, which allows high school students to earn college credits while still in high school, jumpstarting their education while further reducing the cost of earning a college degree.

And on Feb. 10, Cincinnati State and the University of Cincinnati announced a new transfer agreement through which students who are pursuing bachelor’s degree can save more than $13,000, enough to pay for a full year of tuition and books at UC.

In addition, students receiving Be Great grants who complete a two-year degree at Cincinnati State and continue their education in a degree program at University of Cincinnati will also be eligible for a similar grant from UC called the Cincinnati Pride Grant.

To qualify for a Be Great Grant, students and their parents or guardians will need to complete a free Cincinnati State Admissions Application and a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), help for which can be provided by the Cincinnati State Educational Opportunity Center.

Once a student’s FAFSA is complete and her or his federal, state and institutional aid have been determined, the Be Great grants kick in to cover any gaps in tuition and book costs.

Students, parents and high school counselors interested in learning more about the Be Great High School Grant program can contact Tammie Larkins, Cincinnati State College Representative, at 513-569-1470, or at

About Cincinnati State

Cincinnati State offers more than 130 associate degree and certificate programs in business technologies, health and public safety, engineering technologies, humanities and sciences and information technologies. It also offers a nationally recognized cooperative education program, and custom training through its Workforce Development Center.

About Cincinnati Public Schools

Cincinnati Public Schools serves 35,000 students (preschool to 12th grade) in 56 schools spread across a 90-square-mile district in southwest Ohio, Cincinnati Public Schools is Greater Cincinnati's largest school district and Ohio's third largest

Photo: L-R Withrow Principal, Paul Daniels and Cincinnati State President, Dr. Monika Posey, with Withrow students Sharrell Lasley, Oscar Martinez and Superintendent Mary Ronan