Tag Archives: Partners for a Competitive Workforce

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.

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.