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Friday, April 27, 2012

Altruism propels College Hill's 'Avenue' | Carrie Whitaker, |

In Cincinnati last year, an anonymous donor offered $200,000 to help revitalize a neighborhood business district if other neighbors would match the figure. The donor had two conditions: a promise of continued anonymity and a commitment to use the total $400,000 contribution to buy a property in the business district that could turn a profit, which would then be reinvested in the district.

The donor's intent was clear, said the president of the College Hill Community Urban Development Corp.:
The money should help College Hill "become more financially interdependent (and ) not just rely on city money."
Residents responded and have raised $181,000, so far, through dinner parties, a golf outing, a pig roast and other efforts. And those efforts "brought the community even closer together."

The neighborhood effort was aided by strong organization, clear goals and people who "worked their tails off,' said a business owner who became co-founder and president of a nonprofit board that recommends neighborhood projects to get funding. 

According to newspaper reporter Whitaker:
The College Hill experiment shows that a neighborhood need not rely solely on tax dollars or City Hall for its revitalization – a relevant case, given how many city neighborhoods were wounded over the last decade by declines in population, foreclosed homes and shuttered businesses.
And the vice mayor of Cincinnati agreed:
When you have leadership aligned around a positive common vision of the future, with clarity as to the steps they need to achieve it, success starts happening and change occurs. That’s what we’re seeing in College Hill.
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