Activities Beyond the Classroom Receives 2022 Spencer Award for Promoting Diversity and Inclusion

We are thrilled to share that Activities Beyond the Classroom has been selected as a recipient of the Cincinnatus Association’s distinguished Spencer Award, honoring organizations that deliver conspicuous and enduring contributions that have created greater diversity and inclusion in our community.

Previous recipients of the award have included the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Shelterhouse, and the Reds Community Fund, as well as several others.

“It is such a privilege to receive this award,” Executive Director Sally Grimes shared. “The staff here at ABC is dedicated to creating accessible and equitable opportunities for all kinds of families throughout our community. This award recognizes all that hard work, and is a great reminder of how much work there is yet to do.”

Perhaps serendipitously, the announcement of the Spencer Award recipients immediately preceded Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday,” shared Director of Advancement Carmen Lawrence-Billé. “Dr. King suggested we all make our careers about humanity and that we commit ourselves to the long-term struggle for civil rights. This is not easy work and it is not fast work. It is sometimes slow, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes maddeningly difficult, but it is always worth it.”

Activities Beyond the Classroom recently adopted new organizational values, one of which being to exemplify IDEA: an acronym standing for inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility. “We strive to channel this spirit in all that we do. If it’s not a good IDEA, then it’s not us,” Grimes shared.

History of the Award

The Cincinnatus Association was founded in 1920, and is a civic organization committed to reducing poverty and helping more people in Greater Cincinnati achieve the American Dream. Its mission is accomplished through advocating for diversity, inclusion, education, and government, and its members provide civic leadership in its efforts to improve the long-term vitality of the region.

Civil Rights Activists Donald and Marian Spencer. Photo courtesy of the Cincinnatus Association.

Named after Cincinnati’s “First Couple of Civil Rights,” Donald and Marian Spencer, the Cincinnatus Association created The Spencer Awards in 2015 to celebrate the couple’s achievements and honor nonprofits and businesses who promote diversity and inclusion in our community.

Marian Spencer was known for fighting to integrate Coney Island amusement park so her children could swim in the pool. She also was the first African American president of the Woman’s City Club of Cincinnati and the first African American member of Cincinnati City Council. Donald Spencer was the first African American on the Cincinnati Park Board, the first African American broker on the Cincinnati Board of Realtors and the first African American trustee at Ohio University.

A Distinguished Cohort

Susan Noonan, Chair of the Spencer Dinner Committee, shared that, “when reading the nominations we receive each year for the Spencer Awards, the outstanding work being done by so many organizations in our community to improve the lives of our citizens is an inspiration to us all. [The Cincinnatus Association] has this unique opportunity to recognize and share with you the efforts of our honorees to help those in need achieve their ‘American Dream’ through their services, education, and inclusion of all citizens.”

Activities Beyond the Classroom is ecstatic to share the honor of receiving this year’s award alongside the following distinguished partners, nonprofits, and community-minded thinkers:

  • Avondale Development Corporation was founded in 2011 for the purpose of improving the quality of lives of the residents of Avondale, the largest African American neighborhood of Cincinnati. ADC’s mission is to direct the revitalization of Avondale by developing housing, real estate, and economic initiatives while collaborating with residents and partners to address priorities that promote the well-being of Avondale residents. 
  • Clifton Cultural Arts Center is the only multi-disciplinary arts center in the racially and socioeconomically diverse Uptown neighborhoods of Corryville, Clifton, Avondale, Clifton Heights-University Heights-Fairview, and Mt. Auburn. CCAC’s mission is to build a community-created place where people of all ages, races, culture, and socioeconomic status connect with one another through art. CCAC’s average attendance is over 40,000.  
  • Lighthouse Youth Services empowers young people and families to succeed through a continuum of care that promotes healing and growth. Serving clients ages 0-24 and the families that surround them, Lighthouse is a “trauma-informed” agency that serves 4,000 diverse clients annually in their various programs. 
  • Santa Maria Community Services is a catalyst and advocate for Cincinnati’s Greater Price Hill families. Santa Maria focuses on promoting family and individual wellbeing. 
  • TriVersity Construction is a for-profit organization and is among the largest commercial construction companies in the tri-state region. TriVersity is known for their focus on the customer experience during the construction process, their investment in ongoing innovation, and their deep commitment to the communities in which they operate. They have an active commitment to various community service organizations by encouraging their employees to volunteer. 

If you’d like to celebrate with us…

The Cincinnatus Association will present the Seventh Annual Donald and Marian Spencer Spirit of America Awards Dinner on May 10, 2022, at 6PM at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, 35 W. Fifth Street, Cincinnati. WLWT5 anchor/reporter Courtis Fuller will serve as emcee of the event this year. Dinner tickets and sponsorship information is available at: