COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Ashley Kinamore has already been uplifting marginalized children at her organization, High Achievers Aim High (HAAH), for five years through a host of tutoring, wellness and entrepreneurship programs.
But now that the organization is moving from its old location in Evanston to a larger facility in Colerain Township, it feels like Kinamore is just getting started.
“I am big on wanting to make sure that our underrepresented youth can fairly compete,” Kinamore said. "Their more affluent counterparts have the resources and materials that they need, no question. And that's what I want our facility to be.”
Kinamore isn't alone in her mission. Her co-founders, Jazmin Smith and Alexandra Bell, have been by her side since the beginning, grinding away to reinforce education for vulnerable children who struggle in the classroom.
Kinamore, once a teacher with Cincinnati Public Schools for almost a decade, saw firsthand how some children were dramatically ill-prepared for higher education.
“There were just so many students coming in that were like grade levels behind," she said. "As a teacher, you don't have the time to go and reach everyone where they are and try to pull them up...to make that adequate planning. So I think that really had me, like, we need something, that we can be a support system for the schools. Schools can't do it all by themselves.”
Parents WCPO spoke with were forthcoming about how desperate they are for more youth education programs in the Colerain Township area.
Gentrification in neighborhoods such as Over-the-Rhine has pushed lower to mid-income families — especially Black residents — to suburbs on the West Side and northern parts of Hamilton County. Local schools now have more diverse student populations with greater socioeconomic needs.
However, parents say their children are being neglected, and that there need to be more options in the suburbs.
“If you’re inner city, then you have the Boys and Girls Club," said Brandy Sow, a Colerain Township resident. "You have different afterschool programs to help, summer programs to help those children. You come up this way and there's nothing.”
Sow's daughter was enrolled in HAAH's tutoring program last year when it was still at its location on Durrell Avenue, in the Village 3060 Center. Sow says she had to take her out of the program because the commute was too far. But she is excited that she can now re-enroll her daughter for the current school year, as the commute to HAAH's new facility on Galbraith Road is only three minutes away from her home.
“Something like this is much needed,” said Carmen Poellnitz, another Colerain Township resident. Poellnitz has had her 12-year-old son enrolled in HAAH's programs for the past three years. She also taught the organization's fitness program.
“Having High Achievers here, I felt like it definitely (will help), you know, some kids where they can just come and learn and have fun with other kids in the community.”
On Friday, October 1, HAAH will be holding a major fundraiser to furnish and finish renovating its facility. It's looking to raise $300,000. The organization's community partners, like United Way, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and FC Cincinnati, are expected to be in attendance.
Anyone interested in donating to HAAH is encouraged to text "Aiming High" to 44321. Patrons can also mail donations to its new facility at 2475 W. Galbraith Rd, Cincinnati, Ohio 45239.
Monique John covers gentrification for WCPO 9. She is part of our Report For America donor-supported journalism program. Read more about RFA here.
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