Current Initiatives
We aim to carry out innovative, high-impact initiatives that propel every child to live up to his or her full potential and uplift every neighborhood to serve as a hub of opportunity.
Bonds of Union focuses its efforts in the Midwest, Mid-South, and Mississippi Valley regions of the U.S. In our current initiatives, we strive to improve the long-term educational, social, and economic outcomes for low-income children and families in Cincinnati. Our child- and family-centered approach emphasizes the need for both (a) long-term, interpersonal relationships and (b) coordinated, individualized services that are embedded within the home, school, and community. We offer a bold vision that is based on our fundamental faith in the goodness of people: given the chance, caring individuals will be willing to dedicate their time and energy to ensure that every child thrives. With this guiding principle in mind, we have designed dual initiatives to increase opportunity in Cincinnati:
The Family Advocate Model
We recruit Cincinnati-area families to develop meaningful, long-term relationships with selected students, beginning in early elementary school.
1:1 Accelerated Learning
Selected students participate regularly in online, individualized instruction with a live 1:1 Learning Coach, beginning in the fifth grade.
Family Advocate Model


Approximately three out of every four African-American children under the age of six live in poverty in Cincinnati. Nearly half of all children citywide live in families whose household incomes are below the federal poverty line. Cincinnati, like many cities and towns throughout the region, has long struggled to lift its children and families out of these difficult social and economic conditions. Too often, efforts designed to improve outcomes in low-income communities fail to fully appreciate the complex, wide-ranging circumstances that contribute to and exacerbate family hardship. To be successful, we must develop and implement an approach to service delivery that is narrowly tailored to specific child and family needs.

Our Core Beliefs

Three core beliefs drive our efforts in the design of the Family Advocate Model:

We believe that thoughtfully-timed interventions at key points in a child’s life are critical to overcoming persistent challenges within the home, school, and community.

We believe in the transformative power of long-term, 1:1 relationships between children and caring adults.

We believe in the need for coordinated services that are tailored to the specific, individualized needs of children and families.

Our Vision

Engineering a New and Enduring Social Support System for Children and Families

The Family Advocate Model is based on the fundamental idea that meaningful relationships with caring, committed families can transform a young child’s life. Our efforts supplement this relationship-centered approach with the use of outcome-driven, coordinated services for children and families. These services are embedded within the key pillars of school, home, and community. In our view, the Family Advocate Model is not just another new program. It is a movement, inspired by our collective, civic purpose. Our hope is to engineer a new and enduring social support system in Cincinnati that can create nurturing, interpersonal relationships and allow young people to flourish. Through our efforts, we aspire to uplift our community, cultivate shared empathy and understanding, and create opportunity for those most in need – one child and family at a time.

What We Do

  • Teachers and staff, in collaboration with key community partners, identify a high-need child in early elementary school. Our team matches this child with a Family Advocate, a Cincinnati-area family who serves as a compassionate advocate and support for this young person throughout his or her childhood. In ways both big and small, the Family Advocate facilitates meaningful life experiences, opens doors and opportunities, and helps to ensure that s/he reaches key age-specific milestones.

  • At the same time, our Family Empowerment Coordinators provide intensive, individualized case management support to the child’s family and head of household, empowering them to overcome key barriers to improved quality of life.

  • These coordinators work closely with our school-based Child Success Advocates, who collaborate with teachers and staff to help address individual children’s educational, social-emotional, and behavioral needs and connect them to key supplemental resources.

  • Together, Family Empowerment Coordinators and Child Success Advocates oversee the provision of services within the school, home, and community to ensure that each child receives the necessary, holistic support to thrive. These services are tailored to the specific needs and assets of participating children and families.

1:1 Accelerated Learning
Over the past three decades, the achievement gap between children from low-income and high-income families has increased by approximately 40%. In recent years, we have witnessed significant academic gains in both high school graduation rates and other key indicators of student progress across Ohio, and specifically within Cincinnati. However, these improvements in outcomes have largely excluded those high-need, low-income students and “difficult to reach” youth who may be multiple grade levels behind their peers in one or more core subject areas. Too often, this group of students is treated merely as a liability to be managed, rather than as children with individual hopes and dreams who — like all other kids —merely want the opportunity to succeed and live up to their full potential.

Our Core Beliefs

Three core beliefs drive our efforts in the design of 1:1 Accelerated Learning:

We believe that a child learns best from someone whom they love, admire, and/or respect.

We believe that highly-structured, 1:1 instruction facilitates learning and academic growth among low-performing students.

We believe that successful, student-centered initiatives require long-term partnerships between the family, school, and 1:1 academic support.

Our Vision
Reimagining the Modern Paradigm of Teaching and Learning
We have developed an initiative that harnesses the promise of education technology to overcome barriers to academic proficiency among low-performing students. 1:1 Accelerated Learning takes the first step in reimagining the modern paradigm of teaching and learning. We believe that, sometimes, all it takes to re-engage a child in the classroom is compassionate, long-term, 1:1 instruction from a caring adult. Our vision, however, is not one of a traditional after-school tutoring program. Instead, it is an effort characterized by systematic, personalized, and outcome-driven 1:1 instruction, carried out over multiple years by a well-trained core of dedicated individuals. In our view, this approach has the potential to yield meaningful, accelerated academic growth for participating children — propelling them on an upward educational trajectory and renewing their faith in what the future holds.

What We Do

  • Beginning in the fifth grade, selected students participate regularly in live, online sessions with a 1:1 Learning Coach.

  • Students and Learning Coaches work together on specific content areas, determined in consultation with students’ classroom teachers.

  • A school-based coordinator works closely with teachers and coaches to manage the day-to-day operation of the program. These coordinators have expertise in core subject-area curriculum and provide Learning Coaches with ongoing, individualized support and instructional feedback.

  • Our team dedicates significant time and resources to oversee an intensive recruitment, training, and tutorial process for participating Learning Coaches.