Residents, black business owners feel left out of $80M MLK interchange project
“I can’t cuss, so I’ll say it’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Ozie Davis, an Avondale resident and community activist. “There obviously was not intentionality around finding African-American contractors because there is no dearth of African-American contractors that could have participated.”
Ozie Davis III is a man on a mission to rebuild Avondale, the neighborhood he calls home
CINCINNATI – It’s 5:30 p.m. Monday at the corner of Hale Street and Harvey Avenue in Avondale, just steps away from where a 6-year-old girl was shot the day before.
A peace rally is supposed to start, and the TV cameras are waiting. Ozie Davis III glances from side to side as he greets the couple dozen people gathered around him. Cincinnati Police Department District Four Captain Maris Herold is there, along with some residents, several pastors, a plain-clothes lieutenant and a sergeant from District Four’s violent crimes unit.
Still, Davis expected a bigger crowd for this rally organized by Project Nehemiah Ceasefire, the Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation and Brothers Going to Work it Out. A little girl was shot, after all – shot after filling her bicycle tires with air.
“It’s still early,” he says, a few minutes before Pastor Ennis Tait of Project Nehemiah Ceasefire gets started. “People could still show up.”
It’s quintessential Ozie Davis.
Davis is executive director of the Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation and an Avondale native who has called Eden Avenue home for all of his 50 years. He believes with a religious fervor in the neighborhood he loves and the people who live there. And he won’t give up on Avondale, no matter what awful things happen on its streets.
“He’s got a tough job,” Captain Herold said of Davis, a man she calls a partner in cleaning up the community. “Avondale is a very tough neighborhood to crack as far as the violence on the street. He’s out there everyday.”
Barber shops implement reading program for children
Barber shops are known for haircuts, shaves and plenty of sports talk, but some are now changing their focus in an effort to get kids to read.
Clippers buzzing, scissors snipping and now you can add the sound of kids and parents reading to the repertoire of tones you’ll hear at local barber shops.
“It’s the most important thing we can be doing, having our youth read. Reading is fundamental, and if you don’t get the foundation, you wind up in places you don’t want to be,” said Ozie Davis, executive director of the Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation.
The ACDC, along with the Haile Foundation, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, The United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Pre School Promise, Strive and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, are all working to spread the program across the city.
As of Friday, it’s installed in five local barber shops, four in Avondale and one in Hartwell.
“I think that this needs to be in every barber shop. Give the kids something to do (that’s) educational instead of playing the games all day. So I think it was a great idea,” said Deangelo Boynton, the owner of Stag’s Barbershop.
And if you’re wondering why barbershops, Davis said he has a good reason.
“It’s like the barber, the coach and the preacher. They all have a huge significance in communities like Avondale,” Davis said. “Nobody gives the barber authority over a kid, except with (those) scissors. You know you start to value and trust your barber, and I think that trust carries over to children.”
The Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County will replace books once a month at all five locations, including Stag’s Barber Shop.
Anyone interested in having the Book Buzz at their business can contact the Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
The Challenges Faced By Young African American Males, And A Symposium At The Freedom Center
Last November, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center hosted the program Manhood to Brotherhood: An intergenerational discussion on the ideals of manhood and brotherhood from an authentic African American male perspective.
Joining us to explore the challenges faced by young African American men in America are Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation Executive Director and President of Ozie Davis & Associates, Ozie Davis III; director of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati-Middletown Area, Terrence Sherrer, Sr.; and Manager of Program Initiatives at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Chris Miller.
Thursday evening, February 4, at 7 p.m, the Freedom Center will present the KinKillin Kin Solutions Symposium, to discuss ways to reduce violence and homicide. Kin Killin Kin, by local artist James Pate, explores youth violence in inner city communities.
Davis: Choice plan, neighbors changing Avondale
Ozie Davis III is executive director of the Avondale Comprehensive Development Corp.
In 2015, the Avondale Comprehensive Development Corp. wants to concentrate on further stabilizing the real estate and commercial development markets in Avondale and Uptown while continuing to enhance relationships in the community around health and wellness, education, and safety to make Avondale a neighborhood of choice.
We have been able to accomplish great things in Avondale because of the spirit of collaboration. Our founding principle of “shared value” is the key. Working with anchor institutions, businesses, faith based-institutions and residents on resident-led priorities we have shaped an opportunity for Avondale to return to glory.
Increases in population, home values, homeownership rates, employment and median household income are all indicators of what we see the future holding for those in our community. A dramatic decrease in crime, infant mortality, asthma-related illness, obesity-related disease and unnecessary injury all factor into what we see as winning here in our corner of the world.
A focus on valuing education is as important as our desire to see increased educational attainment, and this is definitely possible with an attention to early childhood education like that being promoted by the Strive Partnership with the Preschool Promise. I agree with former Mayor Dwight Tillery and the Center for Closing the Health Gap that a good job is a great road to good health, and we will continue to focus on connecting Avondale residents to opportunities to find good wage-paying employment. Our partners at the Urban League, Community Action Agency, Easter Seals, Cincinnati Works and Hamilton County Office of Re-Entry provide the platform to lead to success there.
Our work in the neighborhood rests on our Know Your Neighbor initiative. We must continue to concentrate on encouraging profit-bearing relationships between neighbors. We are making headway here. Some say that things like “spreading love,” “hope” and “faith,” are soft commodities hard to measure, but we are committed to continue to hold up these spiritual elements because we know the battle is a spiritual one when it comes to depression, trauma-induced mental illness and drug addiction.
This type of community building is like the strong brick foundations found in many of the older homes here in Avondale. Requesting that neighbors set the standard for living in the neighborhood is hard work, but it’s work we are committed to and that we see developing into its own language in 2015.
Beyond deep neighborly ties, we must continue to tie our development of Avondale into the overall development of Uptown. This requires continued good working relations between ACDC and the Uptown Consortium. The development of the Northern Townhomes is one indication that this relationship works, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Home Improvement Program is another.
When we talk about the ability to progress residents from one station to a greater one, there are no greater resources available than those found in the five buildings that make up Choice: The Somerset, Maple, Poinciana, Alameda and Crescents. That stretch of Reading Road will be forever changed when we’re done, and 2015 hosts the real first look at this transformation.
Preschool Promise chairs: 1 levy is way to go
Bishop Michael Dantley, Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Mann and Avondale activist Ozie Davis III are co-chairs of Preschool Promise.
Last Sunday, the Enquirer urged a “combined approach” to expanding preschool and funding our schools. We agree that working together is the only way forward. Preschool has become a regional priority, and now is the time for bridge-builders and problem-solving.
Nearly half of our children, almost all of whom are living in some form of poverty, show up to our schools already struggling to catch up. In some schools, over 80 percent of children show up unprepared. Academic and other key outcomes for these children are not good at all. We must change this, and we know preschool works. A recent RAND study confirms this.
The big challenge we face is that federal and state funding for preschool is insufficient, and leaves out thousands of children. This makes it very challenging for programs to operate at high levels of excellence, to expand (including Cincinnati Public Schools and the Community Action Agency, which runs Head Start), or, for many, to even keep their doors open.
Head Start, for example, which is critically important, is funded by Congress, where funding faces annual cuts. Meanwhile poverty continues to grow, and we now cover less than 40 percent of the eligible children. New funding would allow us to cover more if not all of the eligible children, and help many afford a full-day program. Head Start is managed locally by a wonderful board and a great organization in the Community Action Agency. This would help them expand and serve more children who would benefit greatly.
The state also offers childcare vouchers, but they only help some children and do not reimburse programs at a rate that allows them to achieve and maintain high quality. This new funding would help to fix that.
CPS serves 1,200 of the 9,200 3- and 4-year-olds who live in the district. They can and should expand to reach more children, and they need additional funding to do so. We need to help them and secure the new money they need as they continue to grow and serve more children in their K-12 schools. We must all rally around CPS if we want a great public school system, and work in partnership with them to pass a new-money levy in 2016. We can do this with a major expansion of preschool, which will help further build community support for the levy.
This plan must also help community-based providers by building a system of high quality preschool for our children that offers coverage to as many as possible, beginning with those children living at or below 200 percent of poverty.
Finally, we need to recognize that many of our preschool programs are minority-owned and operated. If we want to be intentional about inclusion, we must ensure that these programs are part of that system. Many of these smaller providers need access to the kinds of supports that will help them grow while achieving and sustaining the state’s rating of high quality.
What the community has proposed, which thousands have organized around, is to secure a new source of local funding to fill gaps, build onto existing efforts like our public preschools, Head Start and the state child care vouchers, and begin to cover all of the children who need it.
You can find the uniquely Cincinnati plan at www.askpreschoolpromise.org. It has improved significantly over the past year, thanks to engaged citizens and community leaders.
The bridge-builders and problem-solvers are now coming together, from the community, Preschool Promise and our steering committee of over 40 leaders, AMOS, CPS and business to finalize a plan that’s best for children, our schools and taxpayers. We must succeed together.