Tag Archives: GCF

Make the Most of Your Generosity with Endow Kentucky Tax Credit

150415_GCF-78
Chuck Scheper and Julie Geisen Scheper used the Endow Kentucky Tax Credit to benefit Covington Partners.

By Suzanne Rohlfs, Director of Development and Professional Advisor Relations, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

In my work at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, I’m privileged to help generous people make the most of their giving. This is why I’m happy to share an upcoming opportunity in Northern Kentucky that benefits Kentucky taxpayers and makes the most of their generosity.

What is the Endow Kentucky Tax Credit?

The Endow Kentucky Tax Credit enables any Kentucky taxpayer (business or individual) to receive a state tax credit of up to 20% of a charitable gift to a permanent endowment fund at a local community foundation (up to $10,000 per taxpayer).

Unlike a tax deduction, a credit is taken off the tax bill dollar for dollar. So, if a donor has a Kentucky tax bill of $1,000, a donation of $5,000 through Endow Kentucky would eliminate that tax altogether (20% of $5,000 is $1,000). Federal and State charitable tax deductions are still available for these gifts.

In 2016, $1,000,000 in tax credits are available beginning July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017.

Limited time opportunity

Applications for fiscal year 2017, (which begins July 1, 2016) will be accepted through June 30, 2017, or until the credits run out, whichever comes first. Note that tax credits may be depleted in the first week of July, so I recommend applying on July 1, 2016.

What gifts qualify for the Endow Kentucky tax credit?

Gifts can be cash or appreciated stock, and must be made to a qualified community foundation, such as The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Donors may also create a new endowment fund. Endowed funds are permanent funds which provide annual support to the named organization. The fund must benefit a Kentucky organization.

Jumpstart your nonprofit’s endowment

Are you part of a nonprofit looking for a way to grow or start your organization’s endowment? Endow Kentucky is a great way to build your endowment.

What our donors are saying

I asked Chuck Scheper why he and his wife, Julie Geisen Scheper, used Endow Kentucky in the past.

“My wife and I found setting up an Endow Kentucky fund to support one of our favorite charities, Covington Partners, was not only a very tax efficient way to go with both a tax deduction and the state tax credit, but it’s also comforting to know that we are setting up a legacy of giving to this organization for many years to come,”
-Chuck Scheper

Why a tax credit?

The Endow Kentucky Tax Credit is a response to a study that showed a substantial intergenerational transfer of wealth would occur in the next few decades and that many of these dollars would likely leave the state (often passed by parents to adult children who move away). Kentucky offers the tax credit as an incentive to keep charitable dollars in the state and to use them for the permanent support and long-term sustainability of Kentucky nonprofits.

Need help?

Suzanne RohlfsConsult your tax advisor for further information and additional tax advantages.

Contact Suzanne Rohlfs, Michele Carey, or Laura Menge at 513-241-2880 to discuss your plans for making a gift that may qualify for the Endow Kentucky Tax Credit.

Suzanne Rohlfs is the Director of Development and Professional Advisor Relations of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

 

 

Angel Investing 101

GCF's work with impact investing parallels angel investing. In 2014, GCF made an impact investment of the Homeownership Center of Greater Cincinnati.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s work with impact investing parallels angel investing. In 2014, GCF made an impact investment of the Homeownership Center of Greater Cincinnati.

By Julia Mace, Senior Communications Officer, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation teamed up with Cintrifuse to explain angel investing  in February. Angel Investing 101 gave philanthropists the opportunity to learn and ask questions.

Robert Killins Jr., vibrant places director, and Michele Carey, senior giving strategies officer, talk about angel investing and what it means for GCF and its donors.

Michele_Carey_Robert_Killins

What is angel investing?

Robert: Angel investing is when you invest dollars in a very early stage of an entrepreneur’s business. You are really investing in an idea or a person. You help an entrepreneur catalyze an idea and put some structure around it.

Michele: Local examples of places fostering entrepreneurs include Queen City AngelsConnetic VenturesCintrifuse, UpTech, CincyTechThe Brandery, Bad Girl Ventures, OCEAN Accelerator, and MORTAR.

Does GCF participate in Angel investing?

Robert: We do something that parallels it called impact investing. It’s a different but similar investment tool. GCF and its donors use charitable assets to invest in projects that generate financial and social return. The dollars are recycled and used again.

In the last five years, GCF and donors have invested more than $10 million in projects that have created jobs, built homeless shelters and affordable housing, and prevented foreclosure.

With impact investing, we invest in a specific fund that finances a project. When you are an angel, you finance a company directly.

Michele: We value the social impact of our investments and we are approaching this as another way to make the community strong.

How does it benefit our community?

Robert: Angel investing creates jobs and companies in the region. Those businesses will start here, grow here, and stay here.

This work also creates so that entrepreneurs know they don’t need to go to a coast to be successful; they can do it here.

Michele: The way angel investors create a thriving entrepreneurial landscape, which brings in jobs, and boosts our economy, aligns with what we want to accomplish as a community foundation.

Why did GCF introduce this to its donors?

Michele: Angel investing is not for everyone—certainly not for anyone who is risk adverse—but we’re providing a service to our donors by educating them to learn and explore with no expectation. It’s also a chance for us to engage with a new audience —angel investors—who may wish to learn how GCF can help them leverage their charitable dollars in exciting and innovative ways.

Robert: We want donors to know that we’re supporting much of the same work through impact investing. Also, angel investing is creating recognition for Cincinnati and opportunities for talented individuals. Institutions that are innovative idea generators are involved, for instance, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati.

What’s next?

Robert: Given the positive feedback from our attendees, we will offer additional opportunities to learn about supporting our start up community through angel investing.

Interested? How can you get involved?

We suggest finding out more from Cintrifuse and checking out their blog post, Angel Investing 101.

If you’d like to get more involved, contact Robert Killins Jr. or Michele Carey.

Julia Mace is the Senior Communications Officer of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Is Cincinnati “All-In” for Equity?

Cincinnati Delegation to PolicyLink’s 2015 Equity Summit

By Julia Mace, Senior Communications Officer, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s (GCF) commitment to equity and inclusion informs our grants and leadership, but much progress is still needed in our region.

Statistics support the need for equity. Here are just a couple of examples from the 2014 “State of Black Cincinnati 2015: Two Cities” report by the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio.

  • Of the 14,000 families living in poverty in Cincinnati, 76 percent were African American.
  • The infant mortality rate for African American babies is 18.4, compared to 5.5 for whites.
  • The homeownership rate in 15-county Greater Cincinnati is 74.5 percent for whites but 33.1 percent for African Americans.
State of Black Cincinnati, a report by the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio
State of Black Cincinnati, a report by the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

Equity isn’t just black and white.

PolicyLink defines it as “just and fair inclusion into a society in which all, including all racial and ethnic groups, can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.”

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation organized a Cincinnati delegation to attend PolicyLink’s 2015 Equity Summit which included President/CEO Ellen Katz, our staff and representatives from Greater Cincinnati organizations.

Michael Coffey, program officer, and Meghan Cummings, executive director of The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, shared their thoughts about the experience.

Why was it important to lead a delegation to this conference?

Coffey: Bringing back the knowledge and wisdom as one person, or one organization doesn’t work. We looked at other cities and foundations that are being intentional about equity and making progress.

Cummings: According to Stanford University’s Professor of Economics Raj Chetty, the odds that a child born to parents in the bottom fifth income bracket will reach the top income bracket is 7.5 percent. In Cincinnati, that number is 5 percent.

How did the Equity Summit connect with the mission of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation?

Cummings: The Women’s Fund and GCF are focused on a more prosperous Greater Cincinnati region and you can’t do it unless all residents can live up to the highest potential. An equity lens will help this happen.

Coffey:
Because of our role as a convener and thought leader, we are well positioned to connect the dots and identify gaps that hold our community back from making progress around equity. We can take a complex issue and find some entryways to change.

What was your biggest take-away from the Equity Summit?

Coffey: We need to be able to speak clearly about equity and PolicyLink has provided the language for this work in The Equity Manifesto.

This was the most diverse and well-attended conference I’ve ever attended with 3,000 people. High school students to octogenarians attended. It held your attention.

Cummings:
PolicyLink has laid out equity-focused practices that cities can take to support equity in “All-In Cities: Building an Equitable Economy from the Ground Up.”

Coffey: I have a clear sense of who is on our team in shaping this work going forward, a sense of who is working with us. We have a team, a commitment and resources. I’m excited to be part of a large group that can make a change.

Can you tell us about progress going forward?

Cummings: The Cincinnati delegation has continued to meet and report to each other how we’re using this knowledge to transform our organizations and community.

Coffey: The African American Chamber has created Declare to Grow! Prosper2016, a 12-month regional action plan aimed at fostering economic inclusion and breaking down the barriers of growth that typically plague small businesses.

Want to get involved?

The following organizations were part of the delegation that attended Equity Summit 2015. These groups are still meeting and will continue to welcome additional organizations.

Contact Janine Keeton, Community Investment Coordinator, if you would like to join us in becoming an “All-In Cincinnati.”

Julia Mace is the Senior Communications Officer of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Our Donors are Leaders in Greater Cincinnati

Chuck Scheper and Julie Geisen Scheper with second graders at John G. Carlisle Elementary in Covington. Chuck and Julie are GCF donors.Chuck Scheper and Julie Geisen Scheper with second graders at John G. Carlisle Elementary in Covington.

By Ellen M. Katz, President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation exists to leverage your generosity into solutions to problems you care about. Together we are able to create a more prosperous community.

“You don’t just want to write a check and feel good about it. You want to see improvement.”
Chuck Scheper. Read more of Chuck’s story.

We want to support you in determining how best to use your charitable resources.

“We decided to partner with GCF to support Withrow Dental Center because it is an innovative healthcare solution that has been proven successful.”
Jeff and Heather Spanbauer. Read more of this partnership.

A community foundation is developed by and for a community of people. Because of your generosity in 2014:

As you can see, helping you most effectively invest your charitable resources in the areas you are most passionate is the engine of our work.

“It was difficult for me, so I’d like to pass on the opportunity to someone from a similar background who is really eager to go to school and does not have the means to do it.”
Laura Harrison. Read more of Laura’s story.

Let’s find out how we can work together.

Ellen M. Katz is the CEO/President of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Fostering Youth Leadership Through Art

By Julia Mace, Senior Communications Officer, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

A recent work day began with me donning a hard hat and getting painting instructions from college student Karalyn Henry. Not my typical work day at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF)!

Lori Beiler
Lori Beiler hard at work.

My colleague, Lori Beiler, and I were fortunate to spend a morning working on murals with ArtWorks apprentices as part of an event to allow donors and funders to take part of mural creation.

As I climbed two flights of scaffolding to work on the Sycamore Street mural, Kara calmly gave me directions, asked me questions, and told me about herself.

Hard hat time!
Kara directing Julia on mural making.

Working on the mural was fun, but what really stuck with Lori and me was how impressed we were with these young future leaders.

Since 1996, ArtWorks has been providing life-changing summer employment experiences for Cincinnati’s youth through the creation of community-based art. By painting murals, youth not only hone their artistic skills, but gain valuable work experience and life skills.

Making Art
Getting supplies ready.

More than 500 youth apply for the 200 available positions each summer.

It was obvious the group we worked with was top-notch. They were well-spoken and confident with adults as they became our “bosses” for the day.

Lori was as impressed with Ahustin Crawford, a college student, as I was with Kara.

“[Ahustin] told me he wanted to be an art teacher and his experience at ArtWorks had influenced him,” Lori said. “It was his second year in the program. The best part of the day was talking to the kids.”

Artworks Volunteers
Coffee break!

The apprentice group we worked with was diverse in age, schools, neighborhoods, and interests. The group ranged from 15 to 21. There were high school students from DePaul Cristo Rey and Mother of Mercy High School, and college students from Northern Kentucky and Xavier universities.

One apprentice told me how surprised she was that the group not only worked well together but became friends, despite their age differences.

GCF supports organizations like ArtWorks because they contribute to a more thriving and vibrant community. ArtWorks uses the arts to foster community and foster youth leadership.

Our generous GCF donors love ArtWorks. They granted more than $200,000 to the organization in the last year and a half, and GCF was able to grant an additional $100,000 recently to ArtWorks.

The mural Lori and I worked on represents this summer’s CincyInk project, supported by a $50,000 GCF grant. ArtWorks’ CincyInk is an interactive, citywide celebration of love for Cincinnati, manifesting itself in the form of a community-created poem, tattoos, and urban art installations.

We thank these apprentices—our future leaders—for contributing to the beauty of our city.

The next time you drive past the Horseshoe Casino, check out “The Queen Shares Her Crown” mural that Lori, Kara, Ahustin, and I got to work on.

We paint some mean bumblebees.

Our ArtWorks crew - volunteers and apprentices
Our ArtWorks crew – volunteers and apprentices.

Julia Mace is the Senior Communications Office of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Images via ArtsWorks | Julia Mace | Yvette Simpson

Building Meaningful Connections

Our 2014 Annual Report cover features Union Terminal. Learn more about our work with the Cultural Facilities Task Force.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s 2014 Annual Report cover features Union Terminal.

By Ellen M. Katz, President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

As the new face here at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, I’ve been busy learning all about the meaningful connections GCF makes in the community.

The spirit of giving in the Tristate is legendary, and we are proud of the part we play. By partnering with many in our community, GCF granted more than $77 million to nonprofits in 2014.

You may be surprised at the many things GCF has had a hand in, thanks to our generous donors.

A few of the projects in which GCF has invested:

In taking this job, I’m excited by GCF being the region’s leading convener.

By partnering with many organizations and community leaders, GCF has helped to develop a shared vision of community change, save two local icons,  support big ideas, inspire the next generation of philanthropists, improve racial equity, and connect many interested donors to causes they care about.

GCF is often there, providing support behind-the-scenes.

Another important role for us is building the nonprofit capacity in our region. We do this in many ways – through grantmaking, impact investing, and support to nonprofits. Our nonprofits are top-notch in Greater Cincinnati, providing for the good of our community in countless ways.

I personally subscribe to the values of servant leadership, where the needs of others are put first.

That’s why I love the story of the women leaders of the Fresh Air Society, who realized their mission to provide tenement families a respite in the country was obsolete. They went on to partner with the local banking community to start The Greater Cincinnati Foundation in 1963.

I look forward to partnering with you, as I begin my journey here at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Ellen M. Katz is the CEO/President of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

The Promise of Our Future

Via Cincinnati Preschool Promise
Via Cincinnati Preschool Promise

By Shiloh Turner

We promise many things to our children – to love them always, to do our best to protect them, to make their lives better. But many of our community’s children are missing the chance to get the early start they need for success throughout their lives.

What promise do they hold to be successful in their lives and in our community?

What our children do in the first five years of life isn’t just a stage – it’s really their only chance. Our brains do more work in the first five years of life but our investment in education is concentrated much later along children’s educational path.

Via Wyoming Kids First
Via Wyoming Kids First

Here’s how the path works, according to the data: Kindergarten readiness is improved by preschool experience. Third grade reading proficiency is driven by Kindergarten readiness. Eighth grade math achievement is linked to third grade reading success.

You probably see where this is going: 80-90% of students who excel in eighth grade math will graduate from high school, ready for college and career.

But many of our children are not getting the right start on that path.

According to the Cincinnati Preschool Promise, “Cincinnati only has enough federal Head Start funding to cover about half the children who are eligible. The state provides additional funding for childcare subsidies, but there are still gaps in the system. Thousands of children – more than half of the city’s 3 and 4 year olds – are completely unserved.”

The Preschool Promise believes that every child deserves a solid start and a chance at a better life. Attending preschool is the best foundation for achieving success and all of our children deserve that opportunity. I’m proud to be a steering committee member of the Preschool Promise.

The Promise is simple. Every child, regardless of family income, can use tuition credits – more people at more income levels will be able to afford it. Parents choose the preschool. It is “last dollar” support – other available funding will be used first. It will help create a sustainable market for quality preschool because parents will ask for it, and have the means to pay for it. The Promise will also help preschools improve their quality.

We are aiming to help 5,000 children get two years of quality preschool, which could make us first in the nation in this arena. Even our model program in Denver is just one year right now.

To make it happen, the Preschool Promise will need funding from a school district levy, city or county sales tax initiative, or by leveraging existing city, state, or school resources. Voters and elected officials alike will have to help fulfill this promise to our kids.

It’s worth it. According to the First Five Years Fund, “Every dollar invested in quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children delivers economic gains of 7-10 percent per year through increased school achievement, healthy behavior, and adult productivity.”

Investing in quality preschool is also an investment in grownups: our current workforce. It provides quality education – not just babysitting – for the children of those working in many sectors, and it creates a more highly qualified workforce in the preschools themselves.

How does this connect to the work of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation? Since our 1992 Early Childhood Initiative, GCF has invested in the early years of our region’s kids. As best practices have evolved, the Foundation has invested and provided leadership to collaborative efforts like Success by Six ®, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, and StrivePartnership.

GCF’s work to ensure Thriving People includes investments in Economic Opportunity and Educational Success that support children and families through their lives. And we believe that a successful educational career for each child, beginning with quality preschool, can help level the playing field on longstanding racial inequity in our workforce and local economy.

Quality preschool for all children. Everyone believes it’s a good idea. Let’s make it happen for Greater Cincinnati’s kids.

Here’s what others are saying:

Shiloh Turner is The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Vice President of Community Investment. Learn more about her here.

Urban Renaissance in Covington

Welcome to our blog, Leadership Matters. In this forum, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation‘s leaders will focus on timely and challenging community issues, and the role that GCF, its donors, and other partners play in creating a more thriving and vibrant community.

In our second post, GCF’s Kathy Merchant looks at what it takes to help revitalize our communities over the long term – it’s not quick, and it’s not easy, but it matters.

GCF Donors take a tour of Covington
GCF donors take a tour of Covington. See the rest of our tour photos on Facebook.

Transformation of Covington’s neighborhoods is advancing at a rapid pace! Just 15 years ago, only a few community organizations toiled in the trenches to slow neighborhood decline – even as the riverfront was being successfully developed in Covington and Newport.

Last month we took some GCF donors to see Covington’s revitalization, starting at the Center for Great Neighborhoods where community developers have been hard at work since 1976. We saw the proof of how far things have come thanks to increased and sustained investment in both traditional and new groups

Covington Row Houses
Row houses in Covington being renovated.

Revitalizing Covington started with a vision for change. Forward Quest (now known as Vision 2015) called for an “urban renaissance” in Northern Kentucky. Slowly but surely, resources and organizations joined to jump start the revitalization effort. The projects our donors saw on the Covington tour resulted from many years of hard work, collaboration among multiple partners, and a series of complex funding strategies.

GCF is proud to have been a strong and committed partner throughout this process. What made this possible? Our community’s generous donors.

Since 2000, GCF has shared a steady stream of grants, loans, and equity investments from our endowed community funds and from The Northern Kentucky Fund of GCF to renovate buildings, start new businesses, advance K-12 and higher education, support lifelong learning, build a stronger workforce, and revitalize neighborhoods.

The total invested by GCF in the leading nonprofit organizations featured in this post is $7.3 million.

GCF was instrumental in bringing the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. LISC is a national organization that works through local programs to help community residents transform distressed neighborhoods. LISC provides financial resources, shapes public policy, and provides technical assistance. Since 2000, LISC has helped to renovate nearly 2,000 houses and apartments and 1.2 million square feet of commercial space in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

Starting in 2007, LISC tapped Covington for a comprehensive initiative called PlaceMatters, patterned on a national LISC model called Building Sustainable Communities.

Mutual Building
Mutual Building

A major new development tool accelerating Northern Kentucky’s urban renaissance is the Catalytic Fund. GCF provided an impact investment (loan) to help seed a $10 million development fund, and also helped get the Catalytic Fund off the ground. The Fund’s work includes redevelopment of the historic Mutual Building, right in the center of Covington’s re-emerging business district, creating market-rate housing and commercial space. Restoring this architectural jewel will catalyze the return of the area as Covington’s hub of New Economy business activity. The Catalytic Fund provided subordinate mortgage gap financing for this project and coordinated all financing. (UpTech, an anchor tenant, is described below.)

Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF) has worked for 25-plus years to finance community development efforts in the region. GCF made its first impact investment to CDF in 2002 to help begin a process of diversifying the downtown neighborhood by adding more middle income residents to alleviate the concentration of poverty, and has since approved a second loan. Now, CDF is financing a 32-unit rental conversion project in historic downtown Covington, complementing the commercial and other projects of the Catalytic Fund.

UpTech is a start-up business accelerator formed in 2012 to leverage the talent and knowledge generated by Northern Kentucky University’s College of Informatics. GCF provided $45,000 in start-up funding for operating expenses, and recently approved a $200,000 equity investment.

Life Learning Center
Life Learning Center

Life Learning Center will soon have a new home to provide comprehensive life skills training and employment support in the formerly vacant and blighted Stewart Iron Works building adjacent to the Center for Great Neighborhoods. The Catalytic Fund has provided critical development services to get this project done. GCF provided grants to plan and develop this new community resource.

Progress in these neighborhoods and the ways it is funded are ground-breaking (pun intended) and are being noticed around the country. In fact, LISC chose Cincinnati for its recent national board meeting because we have so many great projects going in our region.

GCF is proud to have the flexible charitable capital and patience to make investments in long-term change, even when the results may not be immediate.

Covington Organizations Summary of Investments

Which brings us back to our donors. We are able to make investments like this using endowed funds entrusted to GCF by generations of donors who care about our community, but have no way to predict what its needs will be in the future. If not for these donors’ generosity, we would not have the resources to support community change that really matters.

Kathy Merchant is President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Learn more about her here.

Images via GCF/Catalytic Fund

Save Our Icons

Welcome to The Greater Cincinnati Foundation‘s new blog, Leadership Matters. In this forum, GCF’s leaders will focus on timely and challenging community issues, and the role that GCF, its donors, and other partners play in creating a more thriving and vibrant community.

In this first post, GCF’s Kathy Merchant recaps the unprecedented community effort to save two important historic buildings, which culminated this week in a vote by Hamilton County Commissioners not to support a fully vetted and viable plan to permanently fix Union Terminal and Music Hall.

Union Terminal and Music Hall by Wally Gobetz
Union Terminal and Music Hall

The iconic Music Hall and Union Terminal are hubs of education, economic, and artistic activity that have helped our region thrive for 136 and 81 years, respectively. The museums and cultural organizations that call these buildings home have a significant direct and indirect economic impact in the region. The buildings are critical anchors for economic development and cultural enrichment in Queensgate and Over-The-Rhine, two important neighborhoods in our urban core. Like most great cities, our cultural facilities are located in densely populated areas, convenient for residents, and yet inviting for visitors from many places.

But these iconic buildings need us now.

In July, they made the National Trust for Historical Preservation’s list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Buildings.” Other investments, both past and future, may be jeopardized if these buildings are left to decay. Their unique and historically significant architecture helps to define and differentiate Cincinnati from other Midwestern cities—a plus in attracting companies and people to our region.

Cultural and economic development consultants have, for many years, concluded that our region “fights above its weight” in the cultural sector. We are unique among benchmark American communities as a destination to live, work, and visit. Many successful cities such as Denver, Charlotte, Indianapolis and Kansas City yearn to create the range of cultural assets we already have here, and they are willing to pay for them.

For more than a half century, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) and its generous donors have supported the development of a diverse cultural sector throughout our region.  Fueled by this insight, GCF has partnered with cultural institutions and other philanthropists for more than a decade to figure out how we can “diversify and grow the pie” of resources to support the continued growth of the cultural sector.

The work of the Cultural Facilities Task Force, co-convened by GCF and the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, is an unprecedented collaborative effort that produced a comprehensive renovation plan for Union Terminal and Music Hall.

Brilliantly led by former P&G chairman Bob McDonald and teams of experts from engineering, architecture, public finance, and philanthropy, the Task Force’s review was thorough and represents a huge step toward changing the dynamic of how we do business as a region. The financing proposal is prudent, paving the way for a balanced public and private approach to saving our icons. We believe that the mix of investment sources, which includes a ¼ cent increase in the local sales tax, is reasonable and achievable at an annual cost of $23 per taxpayer, whether they live in or are visiting Hamilton County. You can read more about the Task Force’s report here (PDF).

This solid renovation and financing plan was presented to the Tax Levy Review Committee and Hamilton County Commissioners with a request to permit the residents of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to vote on the ¼ cent sales tax in November. With some suggested modifications, the TLRC recommended sending the sales tax levy to voters. Despite strong support from Commissioner Todd Portune, Commissioners Chris Monzel and Greg Hartmann declined to allow this plan to be placed on the November ballot. Instead, they passed a measure that eliminates Music Hall from the equation and does not fully address the needs of Union Terminal.

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is committed to working with the Cultural Facilities Task Force toward the complete restoration and repair of Music Hall and Union Terminal.

Image Credits: Wally Gobetz

Kathy Merchant is President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Learn more about her here.