We know learning for people of all ages is not confined to a traditional school environment. And we know the education of our youth is greatly impacted by the communities that they live in. What would it look like to educate, engage, and empower community members using a strengths-based approach to become agents of positive change in their communities? How might this amplify the foundational work established by the Thriving Learning Communities program that addresses social and emotional learning through the lens of character strengths in our Cincinnati area schools?

Strong Cincinnati is exploring this exact question. Our vision is to expand our strengths work beyond the school building and into the community. Strong Cincinnati, an initiative of Mayerson Academy, is looking to foster strong, connected communities through the activation of strengths within individuals, organizations, and neighborhoods. We are starting in one neighborhood—Madisonville. Why Madisonville? Madisonville is a vibrant, diverse Cincinnati neighborhood that also houses one of the “bright spot” schools for character strength implementation: John P. Parker School. John P. Parker has implemented Mayerson Academy’s strengths-based Thriving Learning Communities program to transform its school culture by deepening teacher and student relationships and by focusing on strengths rather than deficits.

In Madisonville, we are looking to reinforce innovative ideas from the individuals who know their neighborhood the best. We want to build community awareness and understanding of character strengths, spread character strengths-usage by providing a common language of positivity, support the work happening inside the neighborhood’s school, and nurture resident and community leader-generated ideas for how to activate strengths in themselves and their neighbors for positive community impact.

Building on the learning and success of the Thriving Learning Communities program, Strong Cincinnati will provide new insights that will inform the way Mayerson Academy shapes programs by uncovering successful strategies to help learners of all ages be their very best. And at the same time, we will build upon the community of support for strengths-based programming already in place within our CPS elementary schools. To find out more about this work, visit us at www.strongcincinnati.org.