Green Umbrella in the News

  • April 07, 2017 10:40 AM | Anonymous

    Source: Soapbox Media

    Opening Day for Cincinnati Reds baseball is always a celebration, but there’s another Opening Day — also full of entertainment — in store for community members. Tri-State Trails is hosting its second annual Opening Day for Trails event April 8 and 9.

    As part of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s national kickoff to spring trail season, this weekend’s festivities will feature 14 trail events that encourage participants to walk, hike or bike their ways throughout Greater Cincinnati.

    “Our vision is to make Cincinnati the healthiest region in the country,” says Megan Folkerth, program officer for active living at Interact for Health, one of Rails-to-Trails' community partners. “Opening Day for Trails encourages people to explore local trails and incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.”

    This season’s Opening Day for Trails sampler will showcase the variety of ways in which people can incorporate physical activity into their lives. Event highlights include:

    Covington will host a scavenger hunt on the Licking River Greenway Trail

    Indiana will host a guided history tour on the Whitewater Canal Trail

    In partnership with UC|sustainability, Tri-State Trails will lead a four-mile bike ride through Uptown, along the proposed Wasson Way

    “Opening Day for Trails showcases some of the many ways you can experience our robust trail system in Greater Cincinnati,” says Frank Henson, chair of Tri-State Trails and president of Queen City Bike. “We’re excited to engage new trail users and build support for continued investment in trails and active transportation.”

    DO GOOD:

    - Explore the full list of events for Opening Day for Trails.

    - Post a trail selfie using #tristatetrails for a chance to win free gear from REI Cincinnati.

    - Tell a friend about this weekend’s upcoming events, and encourage them to explore and be active as well.

  • March 20, 2017 10:42 AM | Anonymous

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier

    The former owner of Over-the-Rhine retailer Park + Vine has a new job at a Greater Cincinnati environmental group.

    Danny Korman will advocate for bicycling as trails ambassador for Green Umbrella, whose mission is to coordinate environmental and sustainability collaboration among 200 members including nonprofits, businesses, educational institutions and governments.

    Former Park + Vine owner Danny Korman has taken a job with Cincinnati environmental group Green Umbrella.

    Part of Korman’s job will be to gather support for Tri-State Trails and a massive plan to build a 42-mile, regional network of bike trails that would connect communities and job centers.

    Green Umbrella describes Korman as a regular bicycle commuter and outdoorsman. Park + Vine, which recently closed in Over-the-Rhine, was a business that also advocated activism.

    Korman has 15 years of nonprofit management experience in city, county and state governments in economic development, historic preservation, bicycling, marketing and media relations.

    “We are excited to have Danny working on bicycling advocacy in an official capacity in Greater Cincinnati,” said Frank Henson, chairman of Tri-State Trails.

  • February 19, 2017 12:03 PM | Anonymous

    Source: WCPO

    COVINGTON, Ky. -- Once it’s complete, the Licking River Greenway and Trails will span more than a dozen miles, connecting urban and natural sections of Newport, Covington, Wilder and Taylor Mill — ultimately tying in with the Riverfront Commons pedestrian pathway.

    There’s even talk of one day connecting to Lexington via the southerly Sheltowee Trace Trail.

    But the ambitious project has met with a number of setbacks — and a healthy amount of skepticism — since master plans were released in 2008.

    See more.

  • February 07, 2017 10:38 AM | Anonymous

    Source: Soapbox Media

    Green Umbrella is known for furthering sustainability and green efforts in Cincinnati, but it’s also working to help grow the food movement. With the help of a lump sum of $75,000 from the Duke Class Benefit Fund, the nonprofit is providing grants to support energy-efficient refrigeration in the local food system.

    Refrigeration is essential to maintaining quality, meeting food safety requirements and avoiding food waste. It’s also one of the most costly parts for the local food supply chain. The grant will help advance the region’s sustainability goals related to local food, food waste reduction, fresh food access and energy efficiency.

    Cincinnati boasts many food-related accomplishments, including:

    A 55 percent growth in farmers markets over the past three years, with 25 percent of those markets — like Findlay Market and the Northside Farmers Market — providing year-round access to local food.

    Two food hubs, Our Harvest Cooperative and the Ohio Valley Food Connection, that make it easier for restaurants, food retailers and other organizations to purchase local food in larger quantities.

    A rise in grocery co-ops that source local food, such as the newly opened Clifton Market and the Apple Street Market in Northside, that is still working toward an opening date.

    Support for healthy food access through programs like Produce Perks, which doubles up dollars for farmers and SNAP/WIC consumers who purchase locally grown produce. There are 18 new locations that will participate in the program in 2017.

    The publication of resources that help consumers support local farmers, build the local economy and help the public get to know food better. These include the 10% Shift to Local Food Challenge and the Central Ohio River Valley Local Food Guide, as well as local chapters of the Chefs Collaborative, Slow Food and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.

    The launch of the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council that works to advance a healthy, equitable and sustainable regional food system.

    Food waste initiatives like the forum on Food Waste: A Strategic Regional Conversation and breweries like MadTree that donate spent grains to local farmers.

    Food publications like Cooking Light and Edible Ohio Valley that are produced right here in the state of Ohio.

    The grants will help get Green Umbrella one step closer to achieving its goal of doubling production and consumption of local food and locally made goods by 2020.

    Applications are due March 15, and can be accessed here.

  • January 17, 2017 11:35 AM | Anonymous

    Source: Soapbox Media

    On June 9, Cincinnati will once again host the Midwest Sustainability Summit at Xavier’s Cintas Center. The event will feature a keynote speaker, awards ceremony and breakout sessions.

    This year, the Summit will explore new areas of environmental sustainability while taking a deeper look at equity in sustainability.

    The Summit’s goal is to bring together a broad audience of professionals — Fortune 100 businesses, small business owners, government agencies, academia and NGOs — who want to engage in thoughtful discussion, share best practices and celebrate the sustainability work that is currently being done throughout the Midwest. The Summit will also help identify areas for future regional collaborations.

    Van Jones, a leader in building an equitable green economy, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Summit. He’s started problem-solving organizations like The Dream Corps, Green for All and Rebuild the Dream, and will share his wealth of knowledge and experience in linking the economy, environment and social justice.

    A lunchtime awards ceremony will honor local small business leaders that have incorporated sustainability into their business practices. The breakout sessions will allow attendees to dive deeper into issues like energy conservation, water quality, local food access, outdoor recreation, sustainable business supply chains and waste reduction.

    Tickets will go on sale in February. Early bird student admission is $15; Green Umbrella members are $45; and general admission is $65.

  • December 30, 2016 4:19 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review

    In 2012, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) made a big bet on the ability of collective impact to accelerate systems change. It committed $3.5 million over five years to a number of local “backbone” organizations, with the hope of achieving Community-level social impact on a range of complex problems in the region.

    Backbone organizations—typically composed of independent, funded staff dedicated to an initiative—are an important part of the cross-sector, collective impact approach to social change (other elements include a common agenda, mutually reinforcing activities, shared measurement, and continuous communication). Backbone staff help guide the vision and strategy of an initiative, support aligned activities, establish shared measurement practices, build public will, advance policy, and mobilize resources. These activities can all sit within a single organization, or they can have different roles housed in multiple organizations.

    GCF’s funding aimed to provide long-term operating support to six different backbones, adding a seventh in 2014, so that they could scale up their programmatic efforts and partnerships, and ultimately improve their ability to drive change in areas like education, workforce development, and environmental sustainability. The foundation also funded a community of practice to support knowledge exchange among the backbones. This year, GCF asked our organization, FSG, to determine if their bet was paying off.  FSG has developed a guide to evaluating collective impact. Here, we share an example of putting this evaluation approach into action. 

    Backbone organizations supported by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation included:

    Evaluating Community Transformation

    Evaluating any aspect of collective impact effort is challenging—change is happening at multiple levels, in non-linear ways, throughout the life of an initiative—and evaluating backbone organizations is no exception. But tracking progress across multiple success factors—such as social, political, and financial capital—can be helpful, and for this project, we ultimately developed a framework to capture community transformation on a variety of levels. The framework is rooted in the belief that innovative and structured collaboration leads to a strengthened civic infrastructure, which translates into systems-level change, and thus accelerates community-level impact.

    • Civic infrastructure. Is there a web of strong, trusting relationships between people and institutions? Backbone organizations play an important role in improving civic infrastructure by building connections, marshalling resources, enabling community engagement, and sharing knowledge.
    • Systems-level change. Insight on this level took shape through seven indicators. We looked for: a culture of learning, dialogue, experimentation, and reflection; formal organizations making changes in their practices; shifting behavior of the target population; increasing funding streams; evolving social and cultural norms; progress on advocacy and public policy goals; and resources and capacity allocated to supporting partners. Backbone agencies engage with their partners on these medium-term outcomes, because they actually influence the attainment of long-term outcomes.
    • Community-level impact. Is the collective impact initiative achieving the long-term, population-level changes it seeks? Backbone agencies help build data collection systems to track impact across health, education, economic growth, and other indicators in the region.

    The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s theory of change to community transformation.

    To evaluate the impact of the backbone organizations on each of these levels, we reviewed publicly available information, grant reports, and internal information provided by GCF and the backbone organizations themselves. We also interviewed backbone leaders, stakeholders, and GCF staff and board members, and surveyed organizations and individuals involved in each collective impact effort.

    Applying the Framework

    To illustrate how this framework helped us see the progress of each backbone across a number of metrics, let’s look at Partnership for a Competitive Workforce (PCW), a workforce development initiative in the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana tri-state region, and one of the seven backbones GCF supported. PCW’s mission is to meet employer demand by enhancing the skills of its current and future workforce by fostering collaboration between employers, chambers of commerce, workforce boards, educational institutions, and service providers. The initiative has three main objectives:

    1. Connecting businesses with qualified workers
    2. Aligning education with employer needs
    3. Improving work readiness services to help individuals obtain and retain gainful employment

    In terms of building a trustworthy civic infrastructure, PCW has successfully brokered relationships among three sectors that traditionally have not worked well together: business, higher education, and workforce investment boards. PCW has acted as a neutral convener, using data (from workforce needs surveys, for example) and mutual interests (developing a strong talent pipeline) to spark conversations and find win-wins. They collected data from service providers and government agencies on workforce development services, awarded credentials, employment status, current income, and demographic information of clients, for example, and used it to facilitate conversations on how to improve providers’ performance.

    PCW has also excelled at systems-level change, in two areas: 1) establishing a culture of experimentation and learning, and 2) gaining active participation from partners across sectors. In collaboration with another GCF-supported backbone called Skyward, PCW facilitated the creation of a talent pipeline for the advanced manufacturing industry—the second largest source of private sector employment in Northern Kentucky. Employers were struggling to find skilled workers who had a technology background and could take on roles such as welder, or pharmaceutical or electro-mechanical technician. At the same time, Gateway Community College was having difficulties recruiting students for classes in advanced manufacturing. PCW brought both sides to the table to design a predominantly online training program through which students could obtain an industry credential in less time and at a lower cost, and move into job opportunities quickly.

    On the community-level impact front, PCW has served more than 10,000 individuals across five career pathway partnerships since 2008. Of that group, 89 percent of individuals completed training, 78 percent obtained employment, and 67 percent retained employment for more than 12 months. Those who participate in a career pathway program earn up to $7,500 a year more than the previous year.

    Community Transformation Across the Backbones

    We found a very strong civic infrastructure, a high level of systems change, and positive community-level impact at each of the organizations GCF backed.  A few examples follow:

    Civic infrastructure: The Diverse by Design (DBD) initiative facilitated by Agenda 360 and Skyward brings 150 companies together in a community of practice, with 400 volunteers and 5 action teams to strategize around inclusivity, diversity, and culture within their businesses and the region at large. Experienced companies are mentoring others on supplier diversity and the creation of employee affinity groups.

    Systems-Level Change

    • A culture of learning, dialogue, experimentation, and reflection.For Green Umbrella, experimentation has led to numerous independent, highly resourced initiatives, such as the Red Bike program (50 stations and more than 100,000 rides in 15 months), Taking Root campaign (planting of 170,000 trees), and the Tri-State Trails Master Plan (1,000-plus miles mapped).
    • Funding streams are increasing. LISC has tapped into this network to advocate for a land bank in Cincinnati, directly resulting in increased investments for demolishment and development in the region. Most notably, over the past 5 years, LISC has aligned funding totaling over $664 million in grants, private investment, and market tax credits, including a $29.5 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods implementation grant in Cincinnati.
    • Progress on advocacy and public policy goals. StrivePartnership and SB6 have helped the Preschool Promise coalition to expand access to high-quality preschool through an annual $15 million levy.

    Community-level impact. The StrivePartnership has seen positive, sustained improvement across the vast majority of their student indicators, with 91 percent of its 40 indicators currently trending in the right direction.

    Room to Grow

    Finally, while we uncovered many successful efforts, we also saw some areas where all the backbones could grow. These included:

    • Incorporating an equity lens when evaluating community-level impact by developing a set of goals, strategies, and metrics that disaggregate progress by race, class, gender, geography and other important factors 
    • Increasing community engagement through all stages of design and implementation (for example, upfront input, co-creation, and sustaining solutions) by embedding the community voice in every aspect of the work
    • Developing community leaders into “system” leaders who can get others to understand the complexity of the change process, and focus on the “health of the whole” versus just the success of their own organization or interest area

    The good news is that backbone leaders are already shifting their practices to address racial equity and co-create solutions with communities.

    Change requires time and patience; however, most collective impact efforts are probably making progress on at least one level of this evaluation framework. But no matter where your effort stands, it is important to track and articulate these metrics.

  • November 18, 2016 4:28 PM | Anonymous

    Source: WCPO 

    CINCINNATI -- A walk in the park is not just a recreational pastime. It's serious business.

    That's the trend local developers are beginning to notice, as access to parks, trails and other walkable or bikeable outdoor amenities are becoming key draws for those looking to rent or buy new homes.

    Jim Cohen, with Blue Ash-based CMC Properties, is a developer picking up on this trend.

    "People are really starting to want to live in cool towns with bike paths, rivers, trails, parks," Cohen told WCPO.

    The phrase "cool towns" is indicative of the two key demographics Cohen said is driving this trend: young professionals launching into adulthood -- often referred to as millennials -- and Baby Boomers or other empty nesters looking to downsize or relocate.

    For these groups of potential renters and buyers -- which make up around 70 percent of the U.S. population -- it boils down to finding a place that encourages activity and a sense of community: "What they want today is a community that invests in an urban core and a healthy, active lifestyle," he said, and that means pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

  • November 10, 2016 4:34 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Business Wire

    Cintas Corporation Supports Green Umbrella’s Waste Reduction Initiatives

    Regional group aims to drastically reduce landfill waste by 2020

    November 10, 2016 08:48 AM Eastern Standard Time

    CINCINNATI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With America Recycles Day approaching on Nov. 15, Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ: CTAS) has signed the Green Umbrella’s recycling pledge in an effort to help Cincinnati achieve a top ten ranking on the list of the most sustainable cities in the U.S. The Green Umbrella, an alliance of organizations across 10 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, hopes to reduce landfill waste by 33 percent by 2020 through rotating recycling initiatives.

    “Paper is one of the simplest things to recycle, yet the landfill in Hamilton County, Ohio, is comprised of roughly 30 percent paper,” Pamela Brailsford, Senior Director of Supplier Diversity and Sustainability at Cintas Corporation and Green Umbrella board member. “Raising awareness of the importance and ease of paper recycling will help our organization, and many others, cut back on unnecessary landfill waste.”

    The Year of Paper initiative, which has been in place since 2015, encourages individuals and organizations to make a pledge to recycle more paper. This category includes everything from documents, magazines and newspapers to corrugated cardboard. The campaign will run through Earth Day 2017, at which point the Green Umbrella will select a new material to divert from landfills, such as electronics, food waste or plastics.

    Cintas is just one of many organizations that has embraced the effort to increase commercial and residential recycling rates. It is using the corporate toolkit prepared by the Green Umbrella’s waste reduction team.

    “Although recycling is voluntary and not mandatory, the more individuals and organizations that we can get on board with it, the better we position this region for sustainable growth,” said Elena Pfarr, Green Umbrella’s Co-Chair of the Waste Reduction Team. “We hope to add 50 new corporate pledges each year in order to make the biggest impact.”

    For more information, and to take the pledge, visit

  • October 20, 2016 3:35 PM | Anonymous

    Source: The Clermont Sun 

    What: Area’s largest outdoor events sampler returns to the Tri-state Sept. 24 & 25. Green Umbrella is excited to present the 13th Annual Great Outdoor Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25. This outdoor events sampler will give Greater Cincinnati residents the opportunity to sample the best outdoor recreation and nature awareness programs available in the region. Participants can enjoy over 100 free events at 40 different locations throughout the area over two days. This perennial favorite is expected to draw 10,000 visitors this year.

    Some of this year’s activities include:

    · Learning to kayak, canoe or fish
    · Exploring the tree canopy on an exhilarating zip line plunge
    · Relaxing with yoga in the park
    · Hiking up a mountain
    · Collecting and discovering the critters that live in our region’s waterways

    All of these activities plus many more are available to adults and children alike, free of charge, during Great Outdoor Weekend, one of the largest events of its kind in the country.

    When: Sept. 24-25, 2016; all day

    Where: Over 40 locations throughout the Greater Cincinnati region

    To view more information on specific events held by participating organizations, go to:

    Great Outdoor Weekend is presented by Green Umbrella and, the Tri-State’s year-round guide to the outdoors. Sponsors for this event include The Cincinnati Wild Flower Preservation Society, Cohen Recycling, Great Parks of Hamilton County and The Nature Conservancy Ohio Chapter.

  • October 20, 2016 3:33 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Northern Kentucky Tribune 

    Southbank Partners has been honored with the 2016 Trail Project of the Year award for the Riverfront Commons Project. The award was presented at the Regional Trails Summit at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden on Aug. 26th.

    “It is exciting to receive an award from your peers,” said Southbank Partners President Jack Moreland. “To be recognized by other people who develop and work on trails in our region validates the success of the Riverfront Commons project.”

    The Fourth Annual Regional Trails Summit was presented by organizations the Tri-State Trails and Green Umbrella. This year’s topic was “Making the Economic Case for Trails”. The program covered topics such as the OKI 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, using trails as an economic tool, and building public support for trails.

    Southbank Partners promotes and manages economic development and infrastructure improvement projects in the Northern Kentucky Ohio River cities of Newport, Covington, Bellevue, Dayton, Ludlow and Fort Thomas.

    “It is quite an honor to be recognized as we continue to move forward with Riverfront Commons,” said Southbank board member Roger Peterman, a member of Fort Thomas City Council. “Much has been accomplished but there is also much to be done to realize our vision of a hike and bike trail along the entire Northern Kentucky riverfront. Public support is a key to realizing our dream and this recognition tells the public we are well on our way.”

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