Another New Tenant for UC’s 1819 Innovation Hub

Village Life Outreach Project will move in next to Cincinnati Bell

CINCINNATI (May 3, 2018) – The University of Cincinnati is welcoming another new tenant this month in the new 1819 Innovation Hub in the Uptown Innovation Corridor.

Village Life Outreach Project will occupy approximately 1,500 square feet in the suite right next to Cincinnati Bell’s new corporate innovation center announced last month.

“Being able to rub elbows with industry giants like Cincinnati Bell is a big plus for us,” said Village Life Founder Dr. Christopher Lewis. “One of our biggest challenges, for example, is communicating with people on the other side of the world by phone, email, Skype … you never know what creative collaborations may occur in this new building.”

Village Life Outreach Project is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 and based in Cincinnati, working in partnership with three remote villages in the east African nation of Tanzania to design and implement projects to fight poverty and improve lives.

Funded by UC Health, UC, and private contributions, the organization partners with students and faculty from the university’s colleges of Engineering and Applied Science, Medicine, Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning (DAAP), and others to create sustainable change in the areas of healthcare, water quality and access, and educational opportunities in Tanzania.

But Village Life’s partnerships don’t begin and end at the university. Due to a large, multi-year gift from UC Health, its impact on the local community has been profound. Lewis’ outreach has included the community in which his medical practice and non-profit reside, Avondale, as well as the local professional chapter of Engineers Without Borders, Saint Ursula Academy, his childhood neighborhood of Finneytown, and school districts around the region. His team works to teach others the lessons of love, humanity and community they’ve brought home from Tanzania.

Village Life’s executive director, Susan Casey-Leininger, is taking a group of students and teachers from Saint Ursula Academy to Tanzania this June, as part of a new program utilizing Village Life’s Youth Connect Curriculum. The goal is to find the commonalities that exist between themselves and the residents of rural, impoverished villages in Tanzania. Rather than draw upon their differences, students will seek to find the feelings and experiences that are the same between two very different cultures.

Casey-Leininger says there are four dozen other schools throughout the Greater Cincinnati region that partner with Village Life through fundraisers, service activities, and experiential learning programs, such as eating only beans and rice for meals. A one-day “ride your bike to school” program raises money to purchase bicycles for Tanzanian students, turning a three-hour walk into a 45-minute bike ride.

“Innovation doesn’t have to mean only computer science and technology,” says Casey-Leininger. “Innovation can be finding new ways of doing things. By changing how you go about your day, new ideas may surface to help people on the other side of the world live better lives. Alternatively, Tanzanians teach us innovative ways to treat diseases with local plants and build better structures through community input. The learning is bi-directional.”

Lewis and Casey-Leininger are looking forward to new creative collisions that are bound to occur within the new 1819 Innovation Hub. They’ve seen more than 800 students and faculty come through their program since Village Life’s inception 14 years ago, and have impacted countless others through school and community partnerships. They hope to have a greater impact within the Uptown Innovation Corridor, already planning a 2019 trip to Tanzania with the Avondale Youth Council.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Village Life Outreach Project in the building,” said UC Chief Innovation Officer David J. Adams. “It takes the combination of industry partners, social impact organizations, students, faculty, and community to create a true innovation village, and this is just the beginning.”

Lewis and Casey-Leininger agree. They are excited to display Village Life’s collection of African treasures on the walls inside the university’s new physical manifestation of innovation. They believe the building, on the shuttle route, will allow them to attract new students and faculty to their effort.

Village Life Outreach Project will move into the 1819 Innovation Hub in mid-May before Casey-Leininger leads the June trip to Tanzania. The organization plans to host an open-house in the fall when students return to campus.

1819 Innovation Hub’s growing list of tenants includes Cincinnati Bell, P&G, and UC’s Office of Innovation. The building will also house classrooms, collaborative spaces, an entrepreneurial accelerator, and an 11,000 square-foot makerspace.

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University of Cincinnati’s Office of Innovation enables Next Lives Here by creating an environment for collaboration and innovative collisions around shared interests among students, faculty and community. With the 1819 Innovation Hub and Uptown Innovation Corridor serving as the connecting place, what comes next are talent development and inclusive and creative ideas to power the region and the world. For more information, visit https://www.uc.edu/strategicdirection.html and find ways to engage at the bottom of the page.

Village Life Outreach Project is a non-profit organization based in Cincinnati, Ohio whose mission is to unite communities to promote Life, Health and Education. We work in partnership with three remote villages in the Rorya district of Tanzania, East Africa to design and implement projects to fight poverty and improve lives while bringing important lessons of love, humanity, and community to our own friends and neighbors. For more information, visit http://villagelifeoutreachproject.org/.