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May 2011 Issue

Second-year medical student Andrea Sitlinger (front row,far right), UHP voluteer, leads a walking group for Off the Streets.
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Urban Health Project Marks Anniversary, Receives Key Gift

By Angela Koenig
Published May 2011

Maintained for over two decades by a strong compassion for the less fortunate and funded by the generosity of private donors and foundations, and not to mention a whole lot of bake sales, the medical student-run Urban Health Project (UHP) marks its 25th anniversary Thursday, May 12, with another significant achievement to toast: A lump-sum, $50,000 grant from the Jacob G. Schmidlapp Foundation Trusts, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee, to seed an endowment to help sustain the program into the future.

The gift is connected by history to Jacob G. Schmidlapp, a prominent Cincinnati banker and philanthropist whose Union Savings Bank merged with Fifth Third in 1919. The trust has contributed over $1.6 million toward art, health and community initiatives.

”We haven’t finalized all of the numbers yet, but it looks like this is going to be one of our most successful fundraising years ever, and we are grateful for the contributions from individuals and foundations who have recognized the value of our work in the community,” says UHP Co-Director Michelle Sibille, a second-year medical student at the UC College of Medicine, where UHP was founded in 1986.

The UHP is an eight-week summer program that pairs second-year medical students with nonprofits in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas such as Off the Streets, Tender Mercies and Lighthouse Youth Crisis Center.

Students receive a stipend for their service but also have the opportunity to gain hands-on knowledge in a social service or clinical agency. The service is free to the nonprofit, and students have the opportunity to personally observe socioeconomic barriers to health care.
The experience challenges them to incorporate this awareness into their future practice. In 2010, the organization placed 25 students at 23 locations. In the summer of 2011, there will be 25 interns at 24 locations.

Although this is not the first grant from the Schmidlapp Foundation—a three-year, 15,000 per annum gift expired in March—it’s the first lump-sum donation of its size from any one source.

The second-largest was a $24,500 gift in 2010 from the Bethesda Foundation, and the third largest was a $20,000 grant that same year from the Johnson Family Foundation. The annual UHP budget, says Kelly Thomas, co-director and second-year medical student, is approximately $110,000, solely made up of contributions and grants.

"We have several funders who now give over $15,000, and most of our funders give every year,” Thomas says, adding that this year, UC Health was added as a new sponsor with an $18,000 donation, and the physicians group of UC Health raised their contribution from $16,000 to $18,000.

The new UC Health sponsorship, she says, allows UHP to host a fundraiser/anniversary event, with all proceeds going to the endowment, on Thursday May 12, at the Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center.
For more information about attending the event or how to donate to UHP, call (513) 569-6155 or visit

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