Q&A With Charley Frank, Member of the ABC Board of Trustees

Charley Frank (center) stands with Reds players to address a young crowd of baseball enthusiasts

This is the latest in a series of “get to know us” posts about ABC’s leadership, both on the Board of Trustees and our staff. These stories give an insider’s view of the people behind Activities Beyond the Classroom. 

Charley Frank, Executive Director for the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund, is committed to developing youth baseball and softball programs as well as expanding baseball, softball and education programs throughout the region. Since he began as the Fund’s director, he has played a key role in the capital campaign for the expansion of the Community Fund’s “Urban Youth Academy”.

Let’s Start with the age-old Cincinnati question… Where did you go to school?

I attended Walnut Hills High School, and later attended Northwestern University.

What is your professional background?

I’m completing my 16th year as the director of the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund. Previously, I spent 11 years with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, and for the final five years I served as the Vice President of Communications.

Tell us a little about your family.

My wife Amy is a veterinarian, our son, Sam, is a senior at Walnut Hills, and our daughter, Avery, is currently a freshman at Walnut Hills.  Both of our kids are in involved in music and theater.  Sam has expressed an interest in politics and is involved in Harvard Model UN.  Sam has played 10 years of baseball, and is also a member of the Thespian Society.  Avery has played 7 years of softball.  Both kids are Honors Students.

Did you participate in any extracurricular activities?  If so, which ones, and what skills do you think you gained from them?

I was involved in both music and theater when I attended Walnut Hills. I also was the co-editor of the sports section of Chatterbox, a  Walnut Hills student newspaper. I played club and intramural sports in high school and college, and during college, I spent four years with the student radio station, WNUR-FM.

In my opinion, ALL have had an impact on my career choice and trajectory. Being involved in extracurricular activities taught me a great deal about communication, which played a major role in my career choices.  Also, because of the high expectations at Walnut Hills, I learned how to manage my time and how to prioritize, both skills that help me in every aspect of my adult life.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher, Sal Ramano (left) speaks with young baseball enthusiasts.

Outside of ABC, in what ways do you give (or in what ways have you given) back to the community?

I currently serve as the Executive Director of a nonprofit representing the Cincinnati Reds.  In this role, I spend a great deal of time building community throughout the region.  I look at myself as a community ambassador for the Reds.  The work I do allows me to get to know the different communities throughout the region on an intimate level.  The Reds have led recent field renovation projects in St. Bernard and Bellevue, KY, and host an annual neighborhood makeover effort with P&G, the Cincinnati Zoo, Kroger and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  We have been engaged everywhere from Louisville and Dayton to the West End, Lower Price Hill, and Avondale.  I also serve on boards of Halom House and Kid Glove.  Additionally, I am an involved parent at Walnut Hills High School.

How did you become involved with Activities Beyond the Classroom?

The Reds have been funding CPS varsity baseball for more than a decade through a connection with Dave Dierker (former Athletic Director) and Brian Leshner (Executive Director at Activities Beyond the Classroom). Thanks to the success of this partnership, we’ve since added girls’ softball as well as Junior Varsity baseball and softball programs.

On a personal level, my involvement at ABC revolves around the fact that most of my family attends or has attended CPS Schools, including myself, my wife, parents, siblings, and kids.  I feel very connected to the work that ABC does.  Most of the schools in the CPS district do not have the resources that schools like Walnut Hills, Hyde Park, Kilgore and Fairview-Clifton have.  Those extracurricular activities really shaped my life.  Being a part of an organization that focuses on providing access to every CPS student really means a lot to me.

What do you see as the greatest challenge for today’s students, and what do you think ABC’s role is in addressing this challenge?

A variety of stress factors impact today’s youth. Whether they’re CPS kids coming from troubled or under-served households, or even high-achievers dealing with the intense pressure of college admission, kids are all under a lot of pressure.

ABC’s role continues to be providing opportunities for extracurricular experiences of all types that can help kids feel connected to peers with similar interests. In my opinion, being a part of a team, club, production, or cultural group allows kids to experience life beyond themselves.  These activities are a great confidence builder and help prepare kids for life.  We’ve seen that kids who are involved in extracurricular activities have a higher graduation rate and turn out to be more responsible.  The payoff for getting and keeping kids involved in extracurricular programming is definitely worth the time invested.

What is one of your favorite ABC programs, and why?

I’m grateful that ABC supports the athletic departments at each high school, as well as the booster programs at schools that lack alumni coordination.  I also appreciate ABC’s role in helping to refurbish ball fields throughout the district, and the collaborative manner in which they partner with other community leaders.

ABC is expanding its arts programs and hosted the inaugural CPS International Jazz Festival on October 5th. What benefits do you think this event brought to the city of Cincinnati?

Beyond creating more awareness for ABC, it’s exciting that CPS students will be able to interact with professional musicians during the day and to participate in the event that night.

What has been the most rewarding outcome you’ve witnessed or experienced at ABC since joining the Board?

The strengthening of the partnership with CPS and the increase in program breadth and quality across the board.  This is an effective model that should be studied with other public school districts.

What are some goals you’d like to see ABC accomplish in the future?

I support our long-term goal of reaching EVERY child throughout CPS.  I am so pleased that we are taking on this big goal.  The CPS district consists of 44 elementary schools and 16 high schools.  This undertaking is no small feat.

What is the most important thing you would like the public to learn about ABC?

Every public school district in mid-to-major markets is lacking resources for extracurricular programs.  ABC not only kept athletics on the map a decade ago but is now working to make arts, music, culture and other extracurricular experiences available to more and more children. I believe that extracurricular activities change lives.