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Making Family Memories in the Old Neighborhood Alum wins grant for family-friendly movie series in underresourced Cincinnati communities

Amber Kelly ’15, Ph.D. in Community Psychology, knows the importance of making memories. So she’s back in her hometown of Cincinnati working on a new project that promotes family and community closeness.

“As a kid, I grew up going to the movies with my family — it was one of our favorite pastimes. I have seen my old neighborhood change, especially as businesses have left. This included the movie theater that I frequented with my family,” recounted Kelly.

Kelly’s project is FamilyFlickn, a series of movie-going experiences in the Bond Hill, Avondale and Roselawn neighborhoods of Cincinnati tailored to parents and their kids. This movie-going experience includes everything you might expect — popcorn, drinks and candy. But FamilyFlickn adds a little twist by showing these movies inside a party bus.

The out of the ordinary theater venue fills a gap in Kelly’s childhood memories, but more importantly it fills a gap in these neighborhoods. “If you want to do something with your family, there’s just not that many options in these communities,” she explained. “When looking at other neighborhoods that extend downtown — [investment] has not moved upstream quick enough. These other neighborhoods are not getting that level of investment.”

Kelly’s creative idea to jump back into these neighborhoods got the attention of People’s Liberty, a self-described “philanthropic lab” supported by the Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation that is funding projects to benefit Greater Cincinnati. She received a $10,000 grant to get FamilyFlickn off the ground and, along with a cohort of other grant recipients, received assistance with marketing, PR and branding for the project.

Amber Kelly ’15 displaying her FamilyFlickn badge.

Not only does Kelly have funding and support with marketing from People’s Liberty, she credits her solid educational background for preparing her for the work she’s doing now. NLU’s Community Psychology program and a professionally diverse cohort gave her the right tools to help her community.

“I really wanted to make the best of my experience. With any program you have to think beyond: what are you going to do when you finish? This program really prepared me for what I’m doing now and what I’d like to do,” she said of her time at NLU.

Kelly’s extensive preparation and support for FamilyFlickn are still outmatched by her passion for the neighborhood and community of her childhood.

“I’ve moved back here [to Cincinnati] and I’m trying to get my feet wet and my hands dirty, and trying to make an impact in the city that made me who I am today,” Kelly asserted.