Excerpt from the History of Queen City Foundation
By The Honorable Robert L. Black, Jr.
The Queen City Foundation was born of noble aspirations, matured through trial and error, and carried forward by the devoted work of committed volunteers. Short on financial resources, Queen City Foundation has been rich in human resources. We have brought extraordinary benefits to unnumbered minority students for twenty-five years, simply because the Trustees of the Queen City Foundation have responded to the call to do something about the racial fault line that has split whites from blacks throughout Cincinnati’s 200 years.Queen City Foundation was the brain child of Dr. John A. Ordway, a psychoanalyst, whose deep civic interest was energized by the Cincinnati racial riots in 1967 and 1968. He had demonstrated his concern for what was happening in the public sector by establishing a psychiatric clinic to assist the Municipal Court judges in the handling of mentally disturbed offenders. He felt the riots were, in fact, a “revolution”, and he wanted to work to spark a white response by “helping emerging minority groups to rise creatively and come into their own as strong and healthy people.”
Queen City Foundation was organized in March 1969, the founders being Dr. Ordway, Judge Robert Black, Thomas Conlan, Dorothy Dolbey, Henry Hersch and Leonard Sive. Queen City Foundation promptly obtained status as a “501(c)(3)’ organization, but it took months to settle on a program. The demand of those times was legion, and the Trustees had to find something within Queen City Foundation’s financial capacity. The final focus was on education. The Founders concluded this is the most effective way to open opportunities for disadvantage minorities (African American) Cincinnatian for centuries.
Wanting to do something for the local independent schools, the Trustees initiated in 1972 the Grants-In-Aid program. In the first years, $108 was given to day-school students to buy clothing and pay for incidental needs. In many cases this grant, small as it was, made it possible for the student to accept the school’s offer. The Grants-In-Aid, now named for Leonard Sive, its originator, are deemed unique to the admission officers; it now furnishes thirty stipends to students in six of the local schools.
By reason of a re-organization in A Better Chance, Inc. in the middle 1970’s, the Queen City Foundation temporarily lost contact with the eastern schools. However, in 1979, through the good help of Henry P. Briggs, who came to town as headmaster of Seven Hills School, our relationship with A Better Chance, Inc. was vigorously re-established. In 1979, Queen City Foundation sent a group of nine Cincinnati students to eastern schools for the academic year 1979-80.
Through the inspiration and leadership of Joe Dehner, Queen City Foundation was also able to solicit major contributions to A Better Chance, Inc. from three Cincinnati Foundations and General Electric Employees. Since that year, Queen City Foundation has assisted annually in the placement of Cincinnati scholars through A Better Chance, Inc.
Our principal recruited from the beginning was Allen F. Adamore, initially a school counselor, and later the Principal of Peoples Junior High school, prior to his retirement in 1988. In the early years, Allen was assisted by John Brunner, also a Cincinnati School counselor. Allen and John both realized initial success in recruiting talented minority students from the Cincinnati schools for A Better Chance, Inc. placement in boarding schools Through Allen’s tireless efforts, Queen City Foundation also expanded its efforts into the Dayton area where the Foundation began recruiting students in the 180’s.
A another solution to the recruitment problem speared when John Raushenbush, headmaster of Cincinnati Country Day School, told us about an “independent School Fair” in Washington, DC. After a visit by Mr. Adamore and Judge Black to Washington’s Black Student Fund, we held our first Independent School Fair in the fall of 1985, at the Westin Hotel. This first Independent School Fair was a success, thanks to the support of the Westin Hotel and the efforts of many volunteers. Since the first successful Independent School Fair, our annual event has proven to be our major means of reaching the talented students. At the first Independent Fair, the six local Independent Day Schools, nine boarding schools, and A Better Chance, Inc. sent representatives, and we had a respectable attendance from the African American community. The Independent School Fair has improved year by year. We have had to limit the number of schools to thirty at any one Independent School Fair, and the number of students attracted to the Independent School Fair has increased annually. In 1993, we had 418 students register at the Independent School Fair, an increase of 18% over 1992. Queen City Foundation’s Annual Independent School Fair has become known as one of the best of its kind in the nation.
Supplementing the Independent School Fair have been two activities demanded by the challenge facing each student applying to and preparing for the move from the public school environment to the independent school environment. The first assistance required is with the testing procedure since all schools routinely require a test, a daunting procedure that needs to be made tolerable by explanation. In response to this, Queen City Foundation established a program to assist our students with standardized testing. In response to the second need , preparing for what they can expect in this new world they are entering, Queen City Foundation conducts a full day of “orientation” at which old hands talk about their experiences in an open forum for the students and their parents. Among other benefits, the new students get to know one another, and other persons in the independent school “world”.
Early on, the Trustees recognized that Queen City Foundation could not truly serve its highly motivated and academically talented students simply by placement in an independent school. As any parent knows, continuing support is a necessity. Our task, therefore, no less important than placing the student, is to help enrolled students in maximize their experience and development.
To me this objective, Queen City Foundation collaborated with a series of programs to assist its students. Queen City Foundation annually arranged for summer employment through programs such as YES, LEAD, CCY, SWEL, and others. In the early 1980’s, Dr. Vera Edwards provided leadership training (as only she could) to a group of primary school students. In 1981, Queen City Foundation held its first Annual Recognition Dinner as an occasion to acknowledge the pride we have in these young persons who accepted the challenge of intensive college-preparatory training. At these dinners, we have had such inspirational speakers as Judge Nathaniel R. Jones (our first speaker), the legendary Arthur Ashe, Cincinnati City Councilmember Marion Spencer, Brigadier General Fred Gordon, the first African American Commandant of West Point, and other outstanding black leaders. Queen City Foundation has sponsored social occasions for the students, such as a holiday party during the Christmas season and a boat ride on the Ohio River in the summer, for both local and boarding students.
Our role as a supporter of minority students in Independent schools was immeasurably enhanced when a group of students representing all six local schools came to us and asked us to sponsor an organization they had formed, known as R.A.I.S.E. (Raising African American Awareness in a Social Environment) The students aimed R.A.I.S.E. at several needs; to provide tutors across school lines, to be a means of interschool communications, to be an outlet for self-expression, and to organize social occasions. Queen City Foundation was honored to be asked.
We immediately accepted and gave R.A.I.S.E. the necessary funds, together with an adult supervisor. These students, under the guidance of Maggie Bevans, have assumed responsibilities for coordinating the boat ride, provided the program at the 1994 Recognition Dinner( Salute to Scholars ), published newsletter, and managed their own funds.
These brief reflections cover a lot of history. They hit the highlights and mention only a few of the truly wonderful people who brought Queen City Foundation to its success of today. We are grateful to all who made their unique contributions and have laid a rich history on which to build our future.