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.
- 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.
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.
- African American Chamber of Commerce
- Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation
- Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
- Design Impact
- The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
- Green Umbrella
- Interact for Health
- LISC Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky
- Partners for a Competitive Workforce
- United Way of Greater Cincinnati
- Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio
- The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Contact Janine Keeton, Community Investment Coordinator, if you would like to join us in becoming an “All-In Cincinnati.”