Category Archives: Community Leadership

Obstacles for Working Mothers

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This report explores disincentives to career advancement.

By Cara Jacob, Research Coordinator, The Women’s Fund and The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio

The Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation leads our community in ensuring the economic self-sufficiency of women in our region and ignites a shared desire to improve it. One of the most influential ways we advance this mission is through our research; we have released seven groundbreaking studies in the past as part of our PULSE research series. All of The Women’s Fund research is available on our website.

We are excited to share that we have released our eighth PULSE study, in partnership with the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center, titled “PULSE REPORT: Outlining the Disincentives and Opportunity Costs for Working Mothers.” This study began in response to findings on the Cliff Effect in Ohio, from our 2014 PULSE Briefing.

The Cliff Effect refers to a sudden drop off in public assistance due to an income raise that results in an overall loss of gross resources.

  • For example, a mother making $12 an hour might get a $0.50 raise, resulting in an overall annual income bump of a couple thousand dollars. But she becomes suddenly ineligible for her childcare assistance which costs her $8,000 a year. She is now $6,000 worse off because of her $0.50 advancement and unable to make ends meet.
  • We have a lot more information about the Cliff Effect and other factors affecting women’s economic self-sufficiency on our website at Self-Sufficiency 101.

In this new report, we wanted to dig into whether or not the Cliff Effect was preventing working mothers from taking raises or otherwise presenting barriers to women’s economic advancement. What we found was not exactly what we had expected.  As it turns out, the benefits cliffs in Hamilton County have largely been smoothed out. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the picture is still pretty dismal for working mothers in our area. Our topline findings were:

  • The average annual income for a working mother in Hamilton County is $19,700, which is just 20% above the Federal Poverty Level for a family of two and roughly 50% below self-sufficiency for a mother and one preschool-age child.
  • From $8,000 annually to $42,000 annually a working mother’s gross resources (calculated as earned income plus public benefits) is essentially unchanging, leading many to feel that they are working harder and harder but they can’t get ahead. The graph below shows the tapering of benefits as earned income increases. The line across the top is the self-sufficiency level for Hamilton County.

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Working more hours does not necessarily mean you are financially better off. Consider the case below. Even at a wage as high as $20, a working mother going from part time to full time would be working an additional 1,000 hours for $900 a year.

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After digesting the complex nature of the challenge now before us, The Women’s Fund has developed a number of recommendations for change in our community. A few examples include:

  • Strongly advocate that all community recommendations and actions regarding poverty are firmly rooted in the way race, gender, and the intersectionality of the two play a critical role in the experience of individuals and in developing effective interventions.
  • Close the gender wage gap which is present at all levels of work in all occupational groups.
  • Promote full spectrum of benefits eligibility to those who qualify and collect more accurate data about usage rates.
  • Recognizing that women are disproportionately represented in low-wage work, encourage career mobility by building bridges to better paying jobs through mentorships, education, and on-the-job training.

Our findings were presented to the Greater Cincinnati community at a research release on August 30. Attendees included representatives from social service organizations, nonprofits, and the community-at-large. We are already beginning to have conversations about the implications of the research findings with the Child Poverty Collaborative and Partners for a Competitive Workforce.

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Cara Jacob

We hope you will share this with your friends and colleagues. Discuss it. Brainstorm interventions and ways you can help. We cannot eliminate the issue of poverty by ourselves- it can only be done by working together.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me, Cara Jacob, Research Coordinator, at jacobc@gcfdn.org, if you have any questions!

If you are interested in getting involved with the Women’s Fund please contact Barb Linder, Coordinator, at linderb@gcfdn.org.

Cara Jacob is the Research Coordinator for The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio, a supporting organization of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation .

A Conversation About Leadership With Dianne Rosenberg

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Dianne Rosenberg and her husband David at Smale Riverfront Park. They gifted family porch swings to the park.

By Julia Mace, Senior Communications Officer, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

Dianne Rosenberg is the Governing Board Chair of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF). She took on her role during a time of transition for the Foundation when Kathy Merchant retired as President/CEO and Ellen M. Katz took the position. In this post, she addresses her experience with The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Why did you start volunteering at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation?

Rosenberg: I started volunteering as a board member. Following my professional retirement, I had been engaged in civic work in the arts and culture, social service and educational sectors. I wasn’t a GCF donor and nor did I serve on any of GCF’s committees before I was asked to join the Board. Ironically, it was at a time in my life when I thought I was going to retire from community volunteering. I was an empty nester, longing to reduce my golf handicap, and to garden, cook and satisfy my wanderlust. Frankly, I was surprised to be asked and very flattered. I knew by its reputation that GCF contributes enormously through the generosity of its donors and its collaborations with community organizations to improve the lives of our community. I realized it was an opportunity for me to learn, grow and engage with Cincinnati leadership around initiatives which I have had longstanding interest. My work on the board broadened my awareness of other opportunities for civic engagement and has been challenging yet gratifying. The complexity, the depth and breadth of GCF’s reach in the community is formidable. I still have so much more to learn!

How did you first come to know The Greater Cincinnati Foundation?

Dianne Rosenberg
Dianne Rosenberg

Rosenberg: The first time I learned of GCF was when I was in my late twenties. I was the board chair of a new venture, a parent learning center, affiliated with Jewish Family Service Cincinnati. This innovative program was the first of its kind in the region. It was a health-based model for teaching and supporting healthy, mothers, fathers, infants and toddlers. A team of highly qualified early childhood educators and healthcare professionals created rich program. But there was a lack of funding.

This is where GCF played an important role. At that time, a face-to-face interview was required as part of the GCF grantmaking process. We met with GCF Executive Director Carolyn McCoy, who was warm, engaging, and very intrigued by this innovative model for supporting and educating healthy thriving young families. Not only was our grant request funded, but GCF advised a number of their donors to invest in this new program which resulted in additional support as well.

Tell us about your time as board chair. What stands out to you?

Rosenberg: When I was asked to become board chair, it was with the knowledge that our executive leadership would be changing during the first half of my first year as chair. I have always been one who embraces change and views it as an opportunity for discovery and growth. Pete Strange, my predecessor, asked me to chair the executive search process before my term commenced. It was a great learning curve for me in becoming familiar with GCF’s strengths, needs, and growth opportunities. The proof of a successful search is the hire. Ellen Katz is the example of this credo. I have always held the belief that a balanced partnership with board and executive leadership is essential for the organization’s health. Ellen and I share a mutual respect for the importance and necessity of our collaborative efforts to advance GCF’s mission. It has been rewarding to learn from our board members that their work has been enriched because of this shared value. I had great confidence in Ellen when we hired her although at the time I had no idea the depth and breadth of her executive leadership skills. Ellen has packed a WHOLE LOT into her first 18 months, and she is just getting started. Honestly, I do not know when she sleeps. It is my honor and joy to serve as board chair.

Dianne Rosenberg is the Governing Board Chair of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

A Cincinnati Renaissance for All

Spirit of Construction Foundation's Summer Camp
Spirit of Construction Foundation’s Summer Camp

By Ellen M. Katz, President/CEO, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

The changes in the Greater Cincinnati region in recent years is astounding.

We have:

    • Revitalized neighborhoods
    • Sparkling new buildings growing out of the ground
    • Amazing restaurants
    • Celebrities hanging out waiting for the next movie scene
    • Street cars on the move from our now park-filled banks to our ultra-hip Over-the-Rhine

But as the leader of the 35th largest community foundation in the country, I have to point out our other reality—a reality we at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation are taking quite seriously because our mission demands it.

Our mission is to inspire generous people to invest in a more vibrant and prosperous Greater Cincinnati where everyone can thrive.

But everyone is NOT thriving in this wonderful renaissance we are experiencing.

And if those few items don’t resonate, PolicyLink, a highly regarded national research and advocacy institute, shared the economic benefit to our region would be up to $6.3 billion a year if we could close the gap on income disparity.

As our community’s leaders, we shouldn’t stand for this.

Based on facts, it makes no sense:

  • We have the 35th largest community foundation in the country
  • We have the largest community campaign for the arts in the country
  • And we gave $62 million to our United Way last year!
Ellen M. Katz
Ellen M. Katz

We are generous people, as the data clearly shows.

So what do we need? We need leadership.

Not “pass the torch” leadership, not “doing what it takes to get, renew, or keep our jobs” leadership, but bold leadership.

Our community deserves better than this, and it is up to us to change this reality. So let me put it to you in words shared with me by a great Cincinnati leader – Lee Carter. It’s quite simply “Let’s go!”

Additional Information and Resources:

Ellen M. Katz is the President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

A Meaningful Career in Philanthropy

Jim Huizenga, GCF staff, and friends volunteered at Ronald McDonald House Charities Greater Cincinnati as a way to celebrate Jim's retirement.
Jim Huizenga (first row center), GCF staff, and friends volunteered at Ronald McDonald House Charities Greater Cincinnati as a way to celebrate Jim’s retirement.

Jim Huizenga, Senior Program Officer of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, retired recently after 12 years with the Foundation. Jim is a trusted and well-respected colleague throughout the service sector, particularly with those in the arts and culture community, as well as to GCF’s private foundation clients.

By Jim Huizenga, Senior Program Officer, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

Twelve years ago, a longstanding dream of mine came true – that was to work full-time for a large private foundation or the community foundation.

Every day since then, I have been grateful for the opportunities and privilege to support, encourage, and strengthen service providers in our community.

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is on an important mission, and I have been profoundly honored to be a part of it.

I am thankful for the interactions with broad range of service providers on topics that need funding and other topics that go beyond grants and funding.

Every conversation has been a privilege for me.

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Thank you taking me into your confidences and allowing me to engage with you in addressing community needs.

I am thankful for the interactions with charitably-minded folks with resources looking to make a positive difference in our community.

I understand this activity is personal, close to the heart, sometimes sacred.

Thank you, as well, for folding me into your confidences and allowing me to engage with you in supporting many, many good works being delivered in our community.

Thank you to The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, those providing services, and those supporting the service providers.

All of you and all of it are woven into my mental and emotional fabric, and that shall remain precious to me.

I don’t have a firm plan for the future. But I expect I’ll be popping up here and there to participate in the interactions and re-engage in a few good works.

Thank you all.

Grantmaking at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation thanks our nonprofit partners for helping keep our community thriving and vibrant.

GCF administers grants to address a wide range of community needs and issues. We award grants to qualified nonprofit 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

More about Jim

Prior to coming to The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Jim was with PNC Bank in Cincinnati, where he managed the Bank’s Charitable & Endowment Services Group. Including his time with PNC, Jim has been active in the philanthropic sector for over 25 years.

Jim’s commitment to the community includes personally serving United Way of Greater Cincinnati, ArtsWave, Saint Joseph Home, Cincinnati Boychoir, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, YMCA Greater Cincinnati, Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church, and several other organizations.

In 2015, two of these organizations honored Jim for his dedication and commitment. The Cincinnati Boychoir gave him the 2015 Community Recognition Award. Jim is an active vocalist with both the Cincinnati Boychoir Men’s Glee Club and the Mount Washington Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir.

He was also honored by St. Joseph Home at the Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council’s 2015 Voices of Giving Awards Ceremony. A former board member of Saint Joseph Home, Jim was recognized for his long-term guidance and service to the organization.

Angel Investing 101

GCF's work with impact investing parallels angel investing. In 2014, GCF made an impact investment of the Homeownership Center of Greater Cincinnati.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s work with impact investing parallels angel investing. In 2014, GCF made an impact investment of the Homeownership Center of Greater Cincinnati.

By Julia Mace, Senior Communications Officer, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation teamed up with Cintrifuse to explain angel investing  in February. Angel Investing 101 gave philanthropists the opportunity to learn and ask questions.

Robert Killins Jr., vibrant places director, and Michele Carey, senior giving strategies officer, talk about angel investing and what it means for GCF and its donors.

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What is angel investing?

Robert: Angel investing is when you invest dollars in a very early stage of an entrepreneur’s business. You are really investing in an idea or a person. You help an entrepreneur catalyze an idea and put some structure around it.

Michele: Local examples of places fostering entrepreneurs include Queen City AngelsConnetic VenturesCintrifuse, UpTech, CincyTechThe Brandery, Bad Girl Ventures, OCEAN Accelerator, and MORTAR.

Does GCF participate in Angel investing?

Robert: We do something that parallels it called impact investing. It’s a different but similar investment tool. GCF and its donors use charitable assets to invest in projects that generate financial and social return. The dollars are recycled and used again.

In the last five years, GCF and donors have invested more than $10 million in projects that have created jobs, built homeless shelters and affordable housing, and prevented foreclosure.

With impact investing, we invest in a specific fund that finances a project. When you are an angel, you finance a company directly.

Michele: We value the social impact of our investments and we are approaching this as another way to make the community strong.

How does it benefit our community?

Robert: Angel investing creates jobs and companies in the region. Those businesses will start here, grow here, and stay here.

This work also creates so that entrepreneurs know they don’t need to go to a coast to be successful; they can do it here.

Michele: The way angel investors create a thriving entrepreneurial landscape, which brings in jobs, and boosts our economy, aligns with what we want to accomplish as a community foundation.

Why did GCF introduce this to its donors?

Michele: Angel investing is not for everyone—certainly not for anyone who is risk adverse—but we’re providing a service to our donors by educating them to learn and explore with no expectation. It’s also a chance for us to engage with a new audience —angel investors—who may wish to learn how GCF can help them leverage their charitable dollars in exciting and innovative ways.

Robert: We want donors to know that we’re supporting much of the same work through impact investing. Also, angel investing is creating recognition for Cincinnati and opportunities for talented individuals. Institutions that are innovative idea generators are involved, for instance, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati.

What’s next?

Robert: Given the positive feedback from our attendees, we will offer additional opportunities to learn about supporting our start up community through angel investing.

Interested? How can you get involved?

We suggest finding out more from Cintrifuse and checking out their blog post, Angel Investing 101.

If you’d like to get more involved, contact Robert Killins Jr. or Michele Carey.

Julia Mace is the Senior Communications Officer of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Is Cincinnati “All-In” for Equity?

Cincinnati Delegation to PolicyLink’s 2015 Equity Summit

By Julia Mace, Senior Communications Officer, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s (GCF) commitment to equity and inclusion informs our grants and leadership, but much progress is still needed in our region.

Statistics support the need for equity. Here are just a couple of examples from the 2014 “State of Black Cincinnati 2015: Two Cities” report by the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio.

  • Of the 14,000 families living in poverty in Cincinnati, 76 percent were African American.
  • The infant mortality rate for African American babies is 18.4, compared to 5.5 for whites.
  • The homeownership rate in 15-county Greater Cincinnati is 74.5 percent for whites but 33.1 percent for African Americans.
State of Black Cincinnati, a report by the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio
State of Black Cincinnati, a report by the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

Equity isn’t just black and white.

PolicyLink defines it as “just and fair inclusion into a society in which all, including all racial and ethnic groups, can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.”

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation organized a Cincinnati delegation to attend PolicyLink’s 2015 Equity Summit which included President/CEO Ellen Katz, our staff and representatives from Greater Cincinnati organizations.

Michael Coffey, program officer, and Meghan Cummings, executive director of The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, shared their thoughts about the experience.

Why was it important to lead a delegation to this conference?

Coffey: Bringing back the knowledge and wisdom as one person, or one organization doesn’t work. We looked at other cities and foundations that are being intentional about equity and making progress.

Cummings: According to Stanford University’s Professor of Economics Raj Chetty, the odds that a child born to parents in the bottom fifth income bracket will reach the top income bracket is 7.5 percent. In Cincinnati, that number is 5 percent.

How did the Equity Summit connect with the mission of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation?

Cummings: The Women’s Fund and GCF are focused on a more prosperous Greater Cincinnati region and you can’t do it unless all residents can live up to the highest potential. An equity lens will help this happen.

Coffey:
Because of our role as a convener and thought leader, we are well positioned to connect the dots and identify gaps that hold our community back from making progress around equity. We can take a complex issue and find some entryways to change.

What was your biggest take-away from the Equity Summit?

Coffey: We need to be able to speak clearly about equity and PolicyLink has provided the language for this work in The Equity Manifesto.

This was the most diverse and well-attended conference I’ve ever attended with 3,000 people. High school students to octogenarians attended. It held your attention.

Cummings:
PolicyLink has laid out equity-focused practices that cities can take to support equity in “All-In Cities: Building an Equitable Economy from the Ground Up.”

Coffey: I have a clear sense of who is on our team in shaping this work going forward, a sense of who is working with us. We have a team, a commitment and resources. I’m excited to be part of a large group that can make a change.

Can you tell us about progress going forward?

Cummings: The Cincinnati delegation has continued to meet and report to each other how we’re using this knowledge to transform our organizations and community.

Coffey: The African American Chamber has created Declare to Grow! Prosper2016, a 12-month regional action plan aimed at fostering economic inclusion and breaking down the barriers of growth that typically plague small businesses.

Want to get involved?

The following organizations were part of the delegation that attended Equity Summit 2015. These groups are still meeting and will continue to welcome additional organizations.

Contact Janine Keeton, Community Investment Coordinator, if you would like to join us in becoming an “All-In Cincinnati.”

Julia Mace is the Senior Communications Officer of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Culture of ideas, innovation growing in every corner of Greater Cincinnati

Winners from the 2013 Big Idea Challenge
Winners from the 2013 Big Idea Challenge

By Beth Benson, Vice President for Communications & Marketing, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

Two years ago, we announced the winners of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s “Big Idea Challenge,” a project we dreamed up to celebrate our 50th anniversary. We thought it would be Big but we never dreamed how Big!

More than 200 people submitted ideas to make Greater Cincinnati greater! These big thinkers were all ages, from all over the region. 6,000 of you voted to pick 7 winners, who received grants to test out their ideas.

Download our report on how each of the 7 Big Idea projects have fared since 2013 [PDF]. 

It was exciting to be at the beginning of a wave of many contest, challenge, and individual grant programs – we’re thrilled to see how this culture of ideas and innovation is growing in every corner of our community.

Check out these local contest, challenge and individual grant programs:

Arts

Covington

General

We’re excited to connect you with these diverse initiatives! Please add any more you know of in the comments.

Fostering Youth Leadership Through Art

By Julia Mace, Senior Communications Officer, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

A recent work day began with me donning a hard hat and getting painting instructions from college student Karalyn Henry. Not my typical work day at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF)!

Lori Beiler
Lori Beiler hard at work.

My colleague, Lori Beiler, and I were fortunate to spend a morning working on murals with ArtWorks apprentices as part of an event to allow donors and funders to take part of mural creation.

As I climbed two flights of scaffolding to work on the Sycamore Street mural, Kara calmly gave me directions, asked me questions, and told me about herself.

Hard hat time!
Kara directing Julia on mural making.

Working on the mural was fun, but what really stuck with Lori and me was how impressed we were with these young future leaders.

Since 1996, ArtWorks has been providing life-changing summer employment experiences for Cincinnati’s youth through the creation of community-based art. By painting murals, youth not only hone their artistic skills, but gain valuable work experience and life skills.

Making Art
Getting supplies ready.

More than 500 youth apply for the 200 available positions each summer.

It was obvious the group we worked with was top-notch. They were well-spoken and confident with adults as they became our “bosses” for the day.

Lori was as impressed with Ahustin Crawford, a college student, as I was with Kara.

“[Ahustin] told me he wanted to be an art teacher and his experience at ArtWorks had influenced him,” Lori said. “It was his second year in the program. The best part of the day was talking to the kids.”

Artworks Volunteers
Coffee break!

The apprentice group we worked with was diverse in age, schools, neighborhoods, and interests. The group ranged from 15 to 21. There were high school students from DePaul Cristo Rey and Mother of Mercy High School, and college students from Northern Kentucky and Xavier universities.

One apprentice told me how surprised she was that the group not only worked well together but became friends, despite their age differences.

GCF supports organizations like ArtWorks because they contribute to a more thriving and vibrant community. ArtWorks uses the arts to foster community and foster youth leadership.

Our generous GCF donors love ArtWorks. They granted more than $200,000 to the organization in the last year and a half, and GCF was able to grant an additional $100,000 recently to ArtWorks.

The mural Lori and I worked on represents this summer’s CincyInk project, supported by a $50,000 GCF grant. ArtWorks’ CincyInk is an interactive, citywide celebration of love for Cincinnati, manifesting itself in the form of a community-created poem, tattoos, and urban art installations.

We thank these apprentices—our future leaders—for contributing to the beauty of our city.

The next time you drive past the Horseshoe Casino, check out “The Queen Shares Her Crown” mural that Lori, Kara, Ahustin, and I got to work on.

We paint some mean bumblebees.

Our ArtWorks crew - volunteers and apprentices
Our ArtWorks crew – volunteers and apprentices.

Julia Mace is the Senior Communications Office of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Images via ArtsWorks | Julia Mace | Yvette Simpson

Building Meaningful Connections

Our 2014 Annual Report cover features Union Terminal. Learn more about our work with the Cultural Facilities Task Force.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s 2014 Annual Report cover features Union Terminal.

By Ellen M. Katz, President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

As the new face here at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, I’ve been busy learning all about the meaningful connections GCF makes in the community.

The spirit of giving in the Tristate is legendary, and we are proud of the part we play. By partnering with many in our community, GCF granted more than $77 million to nonprofits in 2014.

You may be surprised at the many things GCF has had a hand in, thanks to our generous donors.

A few of the projects in which GCF has invested:

In taking this job, I’m excited by GCF being the region’s leading convener.

By partnering with many organizations and community leaders, GCF has helped to develop a shared vision of community change, save two local icons,  support big ideas, inspire the next generation of philanthropists, improve racial equity, and connect many interested donors to causes they care about.

GCF is often there, providing support behind-the-scenes.

Another important role for us is building the nonprofit capacity in our region. We do this in many ways – through grantmaking, impact investing, and support to nonprofits. Our nonprofits are top-notch in Greater Cincinnati, providing for the good of our community in countless ways.

I personally subscribe to the values of servant leadership, where the needs of others are put first.

That’s why I love the story of the women leaders of the Fresh Air Society, who realized their mission to provide tenement families a respite in the country was obsolete. They went on to partner with the local banking community to start The Greater Cincinnati Foundation in 1963.

I look forward to partnering with you, as I begin my journey here at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Ellen M. Katz is the CEO/President of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

The Promise of Our Future

Via Cincinnati Preschool Promise
Via Cincinnati Preschool Promise

By Shiloh Turner

We promise many things to our children – to love them always, to do our best to protect them, to make their lives better. But many of our community’s children are missing the chance to get the early start they need for success throughout their lives.

What promise do they hold to be successful in their lives and in our community?

What our children do in the first five years of life isn’t just a stage – it’s really their only chance. Our brains do more work in the first five years of life but our investment in education is concentrated much later along children’s educational path.

Via Wyoming Kids First
Via Wyoming Kids First

Here’s how the path works, according to the data: Kindergarten readiness is improved by preschool experience. Third grade reading proficiency is driven by Kindergarten readiness. Eighth grade math achievement is linked to third grade reading success.

You probably see where this is going: 80-90% of students who excel in eighth grade math will graduate from high school, ready for college and career.

But many of our children are not getting the right start on that path.

According to the Cincinnati Preschool Promise, “Cincinnati only has enough federal Head Start funding to cover about half the children who are eligible. The state provides additional funding for childcare subsidies, but there are still gaps in the system. Thousands of children – more than half of the city’s 3 and 4 year olds – are completely unserved.”

The Preschool Promise believes that every child deserves a solid start and a chance at a better life. Attending preschool is the best foundation for achieving success and all of our children deserve that opportunity. I’m proud to be a steering committee member of the Preschool Promise.

The Promise is simple. Every child, regardless of family income, can use tuition credits – more people at more income levels will be able to afford it. Parents choose the preschool. It is “last dollar” support – other available funding will be used first. It will help create a sustainable market for quality preschool because parents will ask for it, and have the means to pay for it. The Promise will also help preschools improve their quality.

We are aiming to help 5,000 children get two years of quality preschool, which could make us first in the nation in this arena. Even our model program in Denver is just one year right now.

To make it happen, the Preschool Promise will need funding from a school district levy, city or county sales tax initiative, or by leveraging existing city, state, or school resources. Voters and elected officials alike will have to help fulfill this promise to our kids.

It’s worth it. According to the First Five Years Fund, “Every dollar invested in quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children delivers economic gains of 7-10 percent per year through increased school achievement, healthy behavior, and adult productivity.”

Investing in quality preschool is also an investment in grownups: our current workforce. It provides quality education – not just babysitting – for the children of those working in many sectors, and it creates a more highly qualified workforce in the preschools themselves.

How does this connect to the work of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation? Since our 1992 Early Childhood Initiative, GCF has invested in the early years of our region’s kids. As best practices have evolved, the Foundation has invested and provided leadership to collaborative efforts like Success by Six ®, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, and StrivePartnership.

GCF’s work to ensure Thriving People includes investments in Economic Opportunity and Educational Success that support children and families through their lives. And we believe that a successful educational career for each child, beginning with quality preschool, can help level the playing field on longstanding racial inequity in our workforce and local economy.

Quality preschool for all children. Everyone believes it’s a good idea. Let’s make it happen for Greater Cincinnati’s kids.

Here’s what others are saying:

Shiloh Turner is The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Vice President of Community Investment. Learn more about her here.