Greater Cincinnati Foundation: Centering the Focus on Black Women

Greater Cincinnati Foundation: Centering the Focus on Black Women
Six outstanding community foundation teams from across the country completed their participation in CFLeads’ two-year Economic Mobility Action Network pilot this summer.

We’re sharing community foundation stories from our recently published report, Advancing Economic Mobility in our Communities, which documents the outcomes of these community foundations that came together to develop economic mobility agendas for their communities.

Greater Cincinnati Foundation

Sharing facts to empower change

To deepen public understanding and underpin a campaign promoting positive images of professional Black women in the community, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation produced three data-rich reports on the history, potential, and challenges involved with Black women’s economic mobility in the Cincinnati area.

It created a new full-time position focused on building cross-sector partnerships and marshalling national resources to support economic mobility. The foundation also developed a multi-partner effort to equip more Black women with IT credentials through the Grow with Google initiative.

If you would draw a Venn diagram and overlap our big efforts around affordable housing, around economic mobility, and around racial equity, you would see that the center overlap is quite large. Black women are at the center of it.
Robert Killins, Jr.Director of Special Initiatives

The foundation’s research reports, together with the results of several community-resident focus groups, helped it shape its economic mobility strategy. Data cited in the reports show that even though their work has been central throughout U.S. history — and their workforce participation today is high — Black women earn significantly less than white women and Black men. In the Cincinnati area, the research found that 49% of employed Black women earn less than $15 per hour, even with a college degree.

This statistic inspired the foundation to focus on Black women and become narrowly focused on the industries where Black women predominate and don’t make a living wage, such as childcare, healthcare support, retail and food service as well as sectors with high-paying jobs that don’t have many Black
women in their ranks, such as IT and advanced manufacturing.

One initiative that we created is our Racial Equity Matters series, where we’re educating the community. We’ve reached about 2,500 people now … it’s really built a narrative in our community, with shared language where people can actually talk about race. It’s influenced people across every sector.
Ellen KatzPresident and CEO

Undoing destructive narratives

“We became aware of the destructive narratives we reinforce when we continue to present disparities and negative images of Black women,” the foundation noted. “So, our recently launched campaign shows the power of Black women in a positive light. … Our work was led by a diverse team, and we relied on the insight and lived experience of groups of marginalized people in our community to guide the way.”

For its effort to advance IT credentialing and employment among Black women, the foundation worked with a number of project partners — including the Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce, local employers and community nonprofits — and secured a $500,000 grant from JP Morgan Chase.

Joining the Network benefited the foundation, in part, through deep learning and skills advancement from exposure to national thought leaders, stating in their report: “We had access to the top-tier thought leaders in an intimate setting. This kind of pollination supercharges our thinking and work.

[The Network] gave us an entry point on where to start and how we can focus and hone in our strategy.
Rasheda CromwellVP of Community Strategies


If you have any questions about CFLeads’ future economic mobility work, please contact Leonard Brock at or 617-854-3549.