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Poverty in Cincinnati Cincinnati ranks No. 2 for highest child poverty rate out of major US cities. Poverty is directly associated with disparities in access and quality of health care. In Cincinnati, these inequities have led to large differences in health status and life expectancies between affluent and under resourced neighborhoods. In 2012, the grassroots organization CoreChange ( began a community-wide effort to bring together improbable partners to co-create solutions that unleash the possibilities of the urban core. Co-chair, Dr. Victor Garcia, a surgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center facilitated a meeting between Dr. Melinda Butsch Kovacic and Mr. Sherman Bradley of Consider the Poor, LLC. ultimately co-created the HopeFest Health and Education Festival. For the past 5 years, Dr. Melinda Butsch Kovacic, MPH, PhD, an Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, has organized the health screening and health education portion of HopeFest while Mr. Bradley appropriated the facilities, festivities, event promotion and funding of the event. CoreChange continues to support this and other community endeavors today!

What is Hopefest? HopeFest is a health screening and education festival that also gives Cincinnati young people a chance to have some fun! In past years, face painting, balloon art, games, and music helped to spice up the event. Reds mascots and Batman are known to stop by. Children always walk away with all kinds of goodies. Unlike other health fairs, HopeFest is unique in that it also has the Health Passport.

The Data Challenge While several free health screenings are offered each year in Cincinnati, organizers often miss a great opportunity to collect health-related data to utilize in future community-led endeavors. Indeed, one of the challenges for community-led health programs is the lack of data to identify priorities for health programs, support their funding and implementation. Further, health statistics are commonly reported from hospitals or social service agencies and therefore may not represent a portion of the population at the greatest need who do not utilize these services. 

 The Health Passport The HopeFest Health Passport provides the chance to target education, screenings while simultaneously collecting data from some of the neediest children living in Cincinnati. Dr. Butsch Kovacic used her research training and experiences in epidemiology and community partnership ( to first evaluate the success of HopeFest using the Passport. Later, she saw the festival as an opportunity to engage screeners so that the Passport served their needs better as well as the needs of attendees and their broader communities. With each subsequent year, additional clinical screens and education topics were added. Feedback from attendees, screeners and volunteers a-like led to the refinement of the Passport and the data collection process and to its greater capacity to uniquely identify areas of community need. In 2016, Dr. Butsch Kovacic received a CCTST grant to convert the paper Passport to an ePassport. The ePassport was tested in April, 2016 at the first mini HopeFest event in Cincinnati’s West End. With the ePassport, children’s responses are entered onsite and shared more quickly with screeners and community members via an online platform. The lessons learned will prepare for its use on July 9th at the larger event in Washington Park.  For her role in developing the Passport and organizing the health screens at HopeFest, Dr. Butsch Kovacic was one of two recipients of the 2015 HopeFest Humanitarian Award.

Melinda Butsch Kovacic wins award at Hopefest 2015

Diversity & Inclusion The inclusion of community partners and university students and faculty now supports the development of inclusive clinical professionals to better serve diverse families living in the inner city. Now, the Health Passport has become a sustainable model for health data collection by community organizations doing health screenings festivals. Indeed, the passport process will be used to inform other fairs including the First Ladies Health Initiative on October 9th, 2016. 

Volunteers Needed! Over the last four annual events in Washington Park in Over the Rhine, more than 300 HopeFest volunteers have screened and educated nearly 1,000 children. Clinical volunteers are those with clinical skills that can provide the health screenings and education that leads to screenings. Research volunteers help us obtain consent from attendees and their caregivers and collect the family/self-information on the Health Passports. General volunteers are those individuals are those willing to provide physical event support such as the dispensing of entertainment, healthy food and giveaways and clean up and tear down of tables etc.

The 2016 HopeFest Health and Education festival is on: July 9th at Washington Park, Over the Rhine from 11 am to 3 pm

Click the following link to sign up to volunteer at Hopefest:

Community Partner: Sherman Bradley’s Consider The Poor, LLC brought HopeFest to Cincinnati in 2012 to work toward breaking the cycle of poverty in inner city youth. Indeed, improving health directly impacts the vitality of children’s educational experiences. Providing on-site health screenings and information about health and health care services deters families from going without or ending up at the emergency room for their health care needs. Since education and health are inseparable for those at greatest risk, needed education service providers will be on site as well.

Sherman Bradley speaks at Hopefest 2015 

To learn more about supporting the event or gaining access to the data and/or reports: contact Melinda Butsch Kovacic at




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College of Allied Health Sciences
French East Building
3202 Eden Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45267 

Phone: 513-558-7495
Fax: 513-558-7494

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