People’s Liberty presented their last round of project grant winners Nov. 30 as the organization continues into the last year of its five-year-plan — 2019 will mark its final year of grant giving. Normally, the grantee group consists of seven or eight people. But for the final edition, nine applicants made it through.
On the day of the announcement, the organization's Over-the-Rhine space is filled by a diverse group — by age, race and careers. Eric Avner, People's Liberty’s CEO — a tall, energetic man wearing a gray People's Liberty sweatshirt over a more formal, button-up shirt — buzzes around the room.
“The group of people that get these grants are not the people who would normally go out and search a foundation for a project grant,” Avner says. “They’re coming from all different neighborhoods, all different ages, all different backgrounds. All different.”
Since it kicked off in 2015, People's Liberty has had to do less and less marketing to recruit grantees. Most of their applicants hear about People's Liberty from word-of-mouth. Overall, the org has financially powered 81 individual’s creative projects or proposed solutions to local civic issues. Grantees receive $10,000, a six-month stint with launch events and access to People's Liberty’s workplace.
As the group lines up along windows overlooking Findlay Market for a photo, Avner says with a laugh, “This is going to be an unruly bunch, I can tell."
“Welcome to the family,” he continues, “and sorry about that because we’re kind of a crazy family."
The grantees and their projects are as follows:
Angela White, currently an assistant counsel at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, pitched DebateABLE. The premise is to engage and enhance civic discourse, with grant money going toward hosting debate boot camps, trainings and community debates.
Eban Taylor’s project — dubbed Freshmen — is a community delivery service that will strive to bring access to healthy, fresh food items to the residents of Avondale; the project will also address issues that limit the community’s resources, such as unreliable transportation.
Kathy Wade, the co-founder of Learning through Art, Inc, created the Loads of Love project, a six-week series of life skills mini-classes that uses social-emotional learning. As the name suggests, sessions will be conducted during the time of a washing and drying cycle (about 60 minutes) at the Bond Hill Super Laundry.
The Welcoming Party — spearheaded by web, print and TV producer Jeremy Mosher — acts as the exact opposite of a going away party. The parties will welcome new, interesting people who just moved to the city. And in turn, make them feel at home in Cincy even sooner.
Rebecca Smithorn, a conductor and pianist, is bringing SoundWebs to the Queen City, a series of live music and performance events that will act as a way for the community to engage with local talent and sound.
Terana Boyd’s project, POP UP, which stands for Professional Organized Portfolios Uplifting Progresses, will work with Roselawn community residents to make their own professional portfolios — including a cover letter, references and resume — while assisting with the general job search process. Boyd works as the CSR and Intake Coordinator at Cincinnati Works.
10 ______ women, pronounced “10 pause women,” will choose and empower 10 Cincinnati women who have made great strides in their discipline or work through making the greater community more aware of their accomplishments. The founder, Kristin Suess, is the executive director of Voices of Indiana and an adjunct professor at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.
Napoleon Maddox’s project, The Mobilization of Congo Square, will host free Jazz concerts in different neighborhoods around Cincinnati. Maddox — a DJ, beatbox artists, writer and producer — hopes to bring Jazz to underexposed audiences.
Desktop Theatre is helmed by freelance theater director Bridget Leak; the interactive puppet theater hopes to teach elementary- and middle school-aged children different acting skills and basic puppetry while reinforcing what they learn within the classroom.
Avner notes that come August 2019, People's Liberty will probably change "drastically." But, he says, they're not going away entirely.
“We think if you find these people and give them some agency and you give them some resources and you give them some support, they’re going to do amazing things in the city,” he says.
For more info, visit peoplesliberty.org.