Author: John Morytko, GreenLight Cincinnati Summer 2018 Intern

When deciding on an internship for the summer before my senior year of college, I searched for an opportunity that would allow me make a lasting impact on the Cincinnati community. I found that exact opportunity here at the Greenlight Fund. Throughout my years at Xavier University, I have completed several non-profit internships in Cincinnati and though these opportunities have been meaningful and shaped the person I am today, I have not been in a role with an organization where I can make such a large impact on the community in which I live.

Within my first week here at Greenlight I knew this was going to be an amazing summer. This is a place where I could make my mark while bringing a fresh, new perspective to a rapidly growing and evolving organization.

If I had to describe the work my colleagues and I are doing at Greenlight Cincinnati in one word, it would be “diligent.” Nothing is done without ample preparation and ensuring that we are as knowledgeable as possible. Preparation is key whether that be talking with local partners, analyzing potential organizations, understanding research on specific issue areas, or ensuring we are in touch and current with local politics. With this information, Greenlight is able to make well informed decisions and stay on top of a constantly changing landscape to ensure that our investments fit into the existing landscape and are able to make meaningful and lasting impact in our communities.

Throughout my college years at Xavier University, I have been able to observe the city from an outsider’s point of view and I can say that I have fallen in love with Cincinnati while also gaining a healthy perspective on the challenges faced by its residents. This city is a vibrant collection of diverse populations that breeds creativity and innovation from every neighborhood. However, a deeper look beneath the surface of flourishing neighborhoods, Cincinnati has plenty of challenges.

The rapid gentrification of neighborhoods brings dynamic restaurant, bar and cultural opportunities to visitors and city dwellers alike but it also results in once affordable housing becoming increasingly expensive. The nation’s opioid epidemic has hit Ohio particularly hard and its effects ripple outwards throughout the community. Cincinnati is one of the worst cities in the region for economic mobility and childhood poverty.

Greenlight Cincinnati seeks to understand the issues our community is talking about, uncover the obstacles that nobody is talking about, and then find innovative approaches to address the huge challenges that plague the Queen City. Being a part of an organization that aims to address the most crucial needs of a community with the ability to change and address a new issue each year is truly amazing.

Often, efforts to alleviate poverty continue to fall into the same patterns that have not been proven to really help, and even more often, innovative organizations that address specific needs are unable to replicate their program for communities that need them the most. I have been a part of these organizations and I can truly say that being in such an amazing environment at Greenlight has enabled me to reinvigorate the very passion that brought me to the non-profit sector.

This reinvigoration of passion, the skills I am gaining, and the incredible dedication of my co-workers is something I find special and it all cumulates in an amazing culture that radiates in each of its portfolio organizations. That culture includes an overarching desire and commitment to impact our community and to make effective, lasting change in the lives of those who need it most. This is my desire and the desire I see daily in each and every one of the members of the Cincinnati office. Together I believe we can continue to grow Greenlight Cincinnati’s portfolio and bring amazing organizations and much needed services to our neighborhoods and communities.