Papers with colorful illustrations taped to the walls, students acting out a story to fit it into context, words mixing together to retell a tale in a new way––these are the activities that inspire a love of learning and that Cooperative for Education (CoEd) seeks to make possible in Guatemalan schools. When lessons exchange rote methodology for engaging activity, students are excited to attend class and return home spreading the love of learning to their siblings. Brothers Joe and Jeff Berninger founded CoEd after visiting Guatemala in the 1990s. Jeff volunteered in a local school, where he noticed students lacked adequate access to learning resources. Together, the brothers left their careers to dedicate themselves to improving the availability of resources, giving students a chance to succeed academically and professionally so that they might break the cycle of poverty. Today, CoEd team members focus on textbooks, reading, computers, and scholarships. The Textbooks program, which currently reaches about 10% of Guatemala's rural middle schools, rents out books for a small fee to allow students access to resources that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. Computer Centers give children access to technology, equipping them with in-demand work skills, and the Culture of Reading Program delivers books and supplies to children and teaches them how to become better readers and writers.
The Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation—started by the Bengals quarterback and his wife—provides a combination of daily services and life-changing experiences for seriously ill and physically challenged children. Its four primary programs support children and their families throughout their medical experiences. Date Night gives parents a free private dinner as an opportunity to spend time on their own while their children play together at the Hilton Downtown. King for a Day sends children to Kings Island theme park with fast lane passes, snack vouchers, and free T-shirts. As part of the organization's focus on daily needs, the Pass it On program distributes medical equipment to families who cannot endure the financial expense, and The Hub stocks hospitals with entertainment and educational resources.
Ohio Alleycat Resource & Spay/Neuter Clinic (OAR) works to enrich the lives of cats and communities in Greater Cincinnati through low-cost spay or neuter surgeries as well as a no-kill adoption center dedicated to finding loving, permanent homes for cats and kittens. Along with its standard spay or neuter services, OAR helps to protect feral cats and keep the cat population in check through its trap-neuter-return program, in which cats are humanely trapped and spayed or neutered before being returned to their outdoor lives.
In partnership with more than 20 community churches, the Ohio State University Extension, and the city of Cincinnati, the Madisonville Education and Assistance Center (MEAC) provides vital assistance to individuals and families in need. MEAC distributes donated food and clothing and offers rent and utility assistance to underserved members of the community. In 2011, MEAC served more than 3,900 families through its Choice Food Pantry, which provides cleaning products and toiletries in addition to food.
The organization’s Operation School Bell program supplies low-income kids who are currently participating in the Ohio Free and Reduced Price School Meals program with school-uniform packages that include other necessities such as new jackets, socks, underwear, belts, hygiene supplies, and shoes. Children are fitted for their uniforms at Operation School Bell’s facility, ensuring a proper fit to maximize kids’ confidence in school. This year, the number of low-income schoolchildren that the program serves has risen, and many students requesting assistance must be put on waiting lists for uniform packages.
Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity aims to eliminate substandard housing by building, renovating, and repairing homes in partnership with low-income families. As part of the process of receiving a Habitat home, these partner families commit to 500 hours of sweat equity, helping to build the homes and then making zero-interest monthly mortgage payments. Cincinnati Habitat volunteer crews build about 20 homes a year in the Cincinnati area.