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.
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?
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.
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.
The iconic Music Hall and Union Terminal are hubs of education, economic, and artistic activity that have helped our region thrive for 136 and 81 years, respectively. The museums and cultural organizations that call these buildings home have a significant direct and indirect economic impact in the region. The buildings are critical anchors for economic development and cultural enrichment in Queensgate and Over-The-Rhine, two important neighborhoods in our urban core. Like most great cities, our cultural facilities are located in densely populated areas, convenient for residents, and yet inviting for visitors from many places.
Cultural and economic development consultants have, for many years, concluded that our region “fights above its weight” in the cultural sector. We are unique among benchmark American communities as a destination to live, work, and visit. Many successful cities such as Denver, Charlotte, Indianapolis and Kansas City yearn to create the range of cultural assets we already have here, and they are willing to pay for them.
Brilliantly led by former P&G chairman Bob McDonald and teams of experts from engineering, architecture, public finance, and philanthropy, the Task Force’s review was thorough and represents a huge step toward changing the dynamic of how we do business as a region. The financing proposal is prudent, paving the way for a balanced public and private approach to saving our icons. We believe that the mix of investment sources, which includes a ¼ cent increase in the local sales tax, is reasonable and achievable at an annual cost of $23 per taxpayer, whether they live in or are visiting Hamilton County. You can read more about the Task Force’s report here (PDF).
This solid renovation and financing plan was presented to the Tax Levy Review Committee and Hamilton County Commissioners with a request to permit the residents of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to vote on the ¼ cent sales tax in November. With some suggested modifications, the TLRC recommended sending the sales tax levy to voters. Despite strong support from Commissioner Todd Portune, Commissioners Chris Monzel and Greg Hartmann declined to allow this plan to be placed on the November ballot. Instead, they passed a measure that eliminates Music Hall from the equation and does not fully address the needs of Union Terminal.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is committed to working with the Cultural Facilities Task Force toward the complete restoration and repair of Music Hall and Union Terminal.