Providing Access and Opportunity for Future Generations

The Beginning:  The Living Classroom Education Access Fund (LCEAF) was launched in November 2012 to provide access to the Zoo and its nationally recognized education programming to under-resourced schools (public, private and parochial) in our service area. This was in response to the exacerbation of already-disproportionate achievement gaps in our schools worsened by the economic downturn that began in 2008.  At a time when schools and teachers were under increased pressure to meet requirements for 21st Century learning, they also, ironically, had fewer resources to take students on the very kinds of enriching field trips that could amplify their classroom experience.

Impact Thus Far:  After the first four years of program implementation, the LCEAF has been successful beyond our most hopeful projections, bringing over 65,000 students and their teachers to the Zoo for a free, fun, standards-aligned daytime or overnight field trip.

AmeriCorps Commitment:  In 2016, the Zoo received a federal matching grant to establish an AmeriCorps service program at the Zoo. The program will support 14 positions at the Zoo, nine of which will be dedicated to LCEAF program delivery, solidifying our commitment to long-term community impact.  These AmeriCorps members are helping us achieve ambitious outcomes of academic engagement and science literacy within the Cincinnati community.

A Cincinnati Experience:  In a more long-term view, our expectation is that the LCEAF will continue to help the Zoo raise the quality of life in Greater Cincinnati by allowing students who were not able to come to the Zoo for financial reasons the opportunity to do so now. The LCEAF is very literally leveling the playing field for schools—because of it, field trips are no longer a luxury that only affluent schools can afford.  We intend for the LCEAF to offer the opportunity for EVERY child to be inspired by wildlife every day and enjoy the essential Cincinnatian experience of visiting this top Zoo.

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Here are the words of one teacher about her students’ experience:

“Thank you so much for giving our students the opportunity to experience the zoo!  It was an amazing trip. We come from a district that has a low income population. Many of these students do not get to travel even outside the county…. To see this in person, rather than reading it from a book was phenomenal. We were able to make real life connections with the animals that we have been studying and reading about.  Without this grant, our students would not have been able to go on this outstanding field trip!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

A better Zoo.  A better you.  A better Cincinnati.


Zoo Events Supporting LCEAF

Zoogeist: March 15, 2018

Join the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden for this happy hour of fun for all ages at Rhinegeist to support the Living Classroom Education Access Fund which provides opportunities for applicable students to participate in various Education Programs including camps, classes, and overnights. Every $30 raised will send five kids to the Zoo for a wild adventure!

Zoo La La: Friday, May 18, 2018 | 7pm – 11pm

As one of the Zoo’s newest events, Zoo La La is quickly becoming summer’s wildest party for a purpose. Set in the Zoo’s newest exhibit, Africa, this fun adults night out at the Zoo will include Zoo-nique cocktails, a brand new raffle full of special Zoo experiences, the opportunity to mingle with our animal ambassadors and see some of your favorite animals up-close, including a special Cheetah Encounter experience. Guests will tame their hunger with dinner-by-the-bite from local area restaurants and enjoy and evening of live entertainment. Funds raised through Zoo La La will support the Living Classroom Education Access Fund providing free field trips to schools in need as well as the Ambassador council Future of the Zoo Fund which will provide funding to preserve the Zoo for future generations.

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Thank You to our Sponsors

The Living Classroom Education Access Fund was made possible through generous support from our 2012 founding partners:


The Helen G., Henry F. and Louise Tuechter Dornette Foundation

The Ambassador Council of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The John A. Schroth Family Foundation, PNC Bank, Trustee


Additional support has been provided by individuals, corporations, and foundations, including these major gifts:


Virginia W. Kettering Foundation


Mathile Family Foundation


Jack J. Smith, Jr. Charitable Trust, PNC Bank and Karen B. Wachs, Co-Trustees


Robert H. Reakirt Foundation, PNC Bank, Trustee


The Sutphin Family Foundation


The Andrew Jergens Foundation



Your support in any amount can make a difference!

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