Mercedes Benz of Cincinnati promoting ICYO
Larry Cameron, Jr., creative director for BlaCk OWned Outerwear in Cincinnati, knows firsthand the positive impact a nonprofit organization like Inner City Youth Opportunities makes in people’s lives. He spent seven years in ICYO, graduated from Miami University and now serves on the organization’s board of directors.
He says in his testimonial on the ICYO website that Jeanne and Philip Bell decided to give back to the community when they founded ICYO in 1993, and that he is a “snapshot of how powerful giving back can be.”
“It was all need-based driven by what I saw happening in the inner city,” Jeanne Bell says, noting ICYO’s original mission remains today: to help inner city children experiencing family problems and struggling to become better students, academically and socially. The Bells’ goal was and continues to be to help youth learn how to resist negative peer pressure and increase the skills needed to realize their academic dreams. ICYO initially revolved around a summer tennis program because the Bells had observed that tennis programs successfully blended sports and character-building activities. However, a tennis aficionado herself, Jeanne soon realized it would take more than tennis to keep academic success on the children’s horizons.
“We realized a lot of these kids don’t get the opportunity to see the world beyond their neighborhoods,” she says. “If you are going to strive for something bigger than yourself, you have to experience the world firsthand.”
Jeanne has since expanded the scope of the program to include an Academic Intervention program with an emphasis on early childhood literacy for grades K-4 during the school year, and the year-round ICYO Youth Development Program that offers educational, social and sports-related field trips and summer camps.