Cincinnati Museum Center is pleased to announce that we received more than 120 nominations for Duke Energy Children’s Museum’s Seventh Annual Difference Maker Celebration! The Difference Makers program recognizes those in our community who work to benefit the lives of children while also celebrating children and the work they do in their own communities to make our world better.
A total of 18 finalists in six different categories were recognized for making the greater Cincinnati area a better place for children to grow, learn, play and thrive. In addition to the finalists, 20 young difference makers will also be celebrated at our Difference Makers celebration on Feb. 7, 10 under the age of 13 and an additional 10 aged 13 to 18.
Click the links to learn more about our Community Honoree, finalists and nominees!
The Difference Makers program annually recognizes one community honoree for having a positive impact on the lives of children and their families. The seventh annual Difference Makers Community Honoree is OneSight Vision Center at Oyler School.
OneSight Vision Center at Oyler School is the first self-sustaining vision center in the United States. The vision center was created and funded through public-private partnerships and is operated by the Cincinnati Health Department. The OneSight Vision Center provides access to comprehensive eye exams, glasses, fittings, adjustments and medical eye care to more than 3,000 Greater Cincinnati students each year. The Founding Partners of the OneSight Vision Center are the City of Cincinnati Health Department, Cincinnati Public Schools, the Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation, Ohio Optometric Association, OneSight, Growing Well Cincinnati and Oyler School, with support from the Cincinnati Women’s Club.
The finalists by category for the seventh annual Duke Energy Children’s Museum Difference Makers are:
Adult Professional Finalists
2015 Honoree: Shondale Atkinson
As founder of the Mustard Seed Home, Atkinson has provided housing, intensive case management, parent training, education and mental health services to recent and expecting teen mothers, preparing them to be parents without letting them lose sight of their own dreams.
Christina Russo, Ph.D.
As principal of Winton Hills Academy, Dr. Russo has created a safe haven for children in an often volatile neighborhood, building a strong academic program and offering a wealth of opportunities that support the entire community.
As a speech and language pathologist turned teacher, Jones has been an active advocate for systems and methods to help students learn to read, helping them to overcome common challenges and disabilities that many teachers lack the skills or time to overcome.
Adult Volunteer Finalists
2015 Honoree: Charles Kelly
As co-founder of The Match Program, Kelly has brought together urban and suburban youth to play ball, socialize and break down the barriers of racism while broadening their horizons and making friends. The program has grown from 85 children to more than 2,500 in the last eight years.
As a volunteer with Lighthouse Youth Services, Lassandro spearheaded a program to organize a warehouse to receive and store items donated to the organization, helping to provide clothing and home goods to foster parents and new parents.
McQuade has been involved with the Ronald McDonald House for 27 years, including three years as board chair. Returning as a volunteer in 2013, he has donated 725 hours over the past 18 months, offering comfort and compassion to families and serving as an enthusiastic ambassador for the house.
Small Non-Profit Finalists
2015 Honoree: ProKids
Through strong alliances within the child protection system, ProKids maximizes the outcomes for all children, creating a new cycle of growing up safe and secure and changing the future for our children and entire community. The organization worked with 533 children in the foster care system last year, 99 percent of whom were free from abuse and neglect.
Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education
Benefitting over 60,000 students, teachers and community members each year, the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education continues the legacy of local Holocaust survivors. It educates the community on this watershed event in world history and teaches students the dangers of unchecked power and bigotry while emphasizing the value of leadership and diversity.
Su Casa Hispanic Center of Cincinnati
Su Casa Hispanic Center provides social, educational, language, employment and health care services to the Hispanic community, including Vacaciones Útiles summer camp for children 3 to 8 years old. The camp provides bilingual academic content to 70 children over a period of 10 weeks during the summer.
Large Non-Profit Finalists
2015 Honoree: KnowledgeWorks
Through educational systems that create personalized learning opportunities for all students regardless of family income, neighborhood or background, KnowledgeWorks is a vibrant learning ecosystem that puts students at the center of their education and prepares them for success in college, career and civic life.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Community Relations
Since its introduction in the fall of 2013, the Community Relations program and its more than 400 employee volunteers has reached more than 18,000 children and families to promote health education and awareness as well as conducting health screenings.
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio
The Girl Scouts of Western Ohio help girls of all ages discover who they are and connect with each other and their community, as well as exposing girls to science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, helping to close a gap in those fields often dominated by males.
2015 Honoree: Game Time Budgeting
Game Time Budgeting provides financial fitness training to youth, helping them develop the mindset required to maximize their financial potential.
Community Partners, Paycor’s employee-led community service organization, has filled more than 7,000 volunteer opportunities since its inception in 2010, including events benefitting the Down Syndrome Association of Cincinnati, March of Dimes, Flying Pig Marathon and Junior Achievement.
Cincinnati Bell has been investing in the future of several bright students at Taft High School through a tutoring program that pairs 55 Cincinnati Bell employees with students one hour each week, eventually selecting 10 of those students to receive a college scholarship.
School/Youth Group Finalists
2015 Honoree: MYCincinnati Youth Orchestra
A free youth orchestra program that uses music as a tool for youth development, MYCincinnati Youth Orchestra currently helps 60 students build a variety of skills including self-confidence, focus, social skills and strong work habits and brings together students of different ages, languages, ethnicities and schools.
LiftUp Youth Initiative
Leadership Initiative for Teens Using Philanthropy (LiftUp) has involved teens in philanthropic endeavors throughout the community, helping them gain self-esteem and confidence while empowering them to do more through volunteer opportunities that have benefitted Freestore Foodbank, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Springdale Elementary Student Council
Thirty students from grades 3 to 5 on Springdale Elementary’s Student Council have participated in meetings before and after school and have forgone recess time as they contribute to community service projects, including supporting the Ronald McDonald House and writing letters of support for Honor Flight during Veteran’s Day.
Youth 12 and Younger
Hue Tran DiCesare
Youth 13 to 18
LiftUp Youth Initiative
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Community Relations
Game Time Budgeting