Creating a more equitable Cincinnati

Learn more on how the Cincinnati Project is harnessing the academic research of UC faculty and students with community-based organizations
to conduct social research benefiting disadvantaged communities at the organization’s third annual symposium Feb. 16-17.



by Rachel Richardson

Feb. 14, 2017

Four years ago, a team of University of Cincinnati researchers from the College of Arts and Sciences launched the Cincinnati Project with the goal of connecting UC faculty and students with local agencies and community groups as part of a collaboration to create a more equitable Cincinnati.

Today, the growing organization counts more than 170 UC faculty and students who’ve worked with 28 community organizations in conducting research on issues like health disparities and educational inequalities, as well as poverty-related issues, among others.

The Cincinnati Project will highlight some of that research and its community partnerships at the organization’s third annual symposium, set for Feb. 16-17 on UC’s Uptown campus.

The event spotlights the work of Cincinnati Project-funded scholars and UC faculty in addressing such topics as reproductive justice, social media and justice movements in Cincinnati, the effects of gendered violence on black women’s health, how to best serve low-income people and minorities with cancer and the arrival to the region of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America. 

The symposium kicks off 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 16, with an event co-sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs.

Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, will speak on “Resistance is Essential: The Continuing Fight for Black and Queer Lives” in the Great Hall of the Tangeman University Center.   

Cullors, a performance artist and Fulbright Scholar, serves as the executive director of Dignity & Empower Now, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that advocates for the respect and support of incarcerated people, their families and communities.

Patrisse Cullors

Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo provided

The symposium follows from 8:30 a.m,. to 2:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 17, in UC’s African American Cultural and Resource Center.

Renowned social theorist Patricia Hill Collins will be the event’s keynote speaker. The acclaimed author who’s dedicated her career to researching the intersections of race, gender and class will speak on “Taking a Stand: Anti-Black Racism and Coalitional Politics” at 1 p.m.

Hill Collins, a distinguished professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, also holds an appointment as the Charles Phelps Taft Emeritus Professor of Sociology in the Department of African American Studies at UC.

Jennifer Malat, a professor of sociology and Cincinnati Project co-founder, said more than 125 people attended last year’s symposium and organizers are expecting even larger crowds this year.

Patricia Hill Collins

Social theorist Patricia Hill Collins is the event's keynote speaker. Photo provided

The event highlights the work of faculty in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences who are conducting research, often involving students, that has a direct benefit on local community agencies and nonprofit organizations serving underrepresented populations in the Greater Cincinnati area.

“We’re matchmakers,” explained Malat. “We connect College of Arts and Sciences faculty with communities and agencies that serve disadvantaged populations in Cincinnati to improve people’s lives, particularly people who don’t have a voice or who are marginalized.”

Farrah Jacquez, an associate professor of psychology and member of the Cincinnati Project’s leadership team, said the unique community involvement aspect of the program has been a boon for her undergraduate and graduate students, who engage in hands-on research projects with groups like the Cincinnati YMCA’s after-school program.  

Other community partners include the Cincinnati Health Department, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Churches Active in Northside (CAIN), the YWCA of Cincinnati and Cradle Cincinnati.  

“Students become so much more invested, not because they want to get an ‘A,’ but because they want to do right by the organizations they partner with,” she said. “I feel they learn more.”


“We’re matchmakers — we connect College of Arts and Sciences faculty with communities and agencies that serve disadvantaged populations in Cincinnati to improve people’s lives, particularly people who don’t have a voice or who are marginalized.”

‒ Jennifer Malat

Symposium speakers include Cincinnati Project scholars Leila Rodriguez, Jeff Blevins and Carolette Norwood, all UC faculty members who’ve received grants from the organization to conduct research on local issues.

Other speakers include Steve Carlton-Ford, a sociology professor and department head; Heather Zoller, a communications professor; Juliana Madzia, a student majoring in neurobiology; and A&S Dean Ken Petren.  

The Cincinnati Project organizers say the collaboration between academic researchers and community-based organizations dedicated to advancing social justice and equity benefits researchers, students and the people served.   

“Real research that has actual community benefit is what we’re all about,” said Jacquez. “I feel like we’re well primed to do good work.”




What: The Cincinnati Project Third Annual Symposium

When: Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors will speak at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Grand Hall of TUC; the symposium takes place from 8:30 to 2:30 p.m. Friday at UC’s African American Cultural and Resource Center

Where: UC Uptown campus map

Cost: Free and open to the public. Lunch provided to those who register at

Contact: The Cincinnati Project




Program overview/keynote speaker (PDF)

Program schedule (PDF)