On Friday, March 6, corporate and community partner endorsers of the Bold Goals for Our Region joined United Way of Greater Cincinnati for the 2015 Bold Goals Summit. More than 200 leaders came together at the Reds Urban Youth Academy in Roselawn to discuss progress to date and plans to accelerate the pace of change.
Back in 2010, United Way convened more than four dozen leading community organizations to set six Bold Goals for 2020 in the areas of education, income, and health. The Bold Goals are about creating opportunity for everyone in our community to have a better future. And they’re about making Greater Cincinnati one of the best regions in the country to live, raise a family, work, or do business. This collective vision has now been endorsed by more than 260 of our region’s leading business, civic, government, philanthropic, and nonprofit organizations.
So, how are we doing? Every one of the Bold Goals is trending in the right direction. Important progress has been made – more children are ready for kindergarten, more are graduating, more people are back to work. But progress has been incremental and will not get us to the ambitious goals we set for 2020. We need to accelerate the pace of change. As Kevin Kabat, Vice Chairman & CEO of Fifth Third Bancorp, put it to kick off the Summit, “we must redouble our efforts – each of us, together – to not only align behind the goals, but to rally behind a new plan to achieve these goals and focus our resources behind key game changing strategies that can drive results.”
Santa Ono, President of the University of Cincinnati and Chair of United Way’s Research Council, presented the 6th edition of The State of the Community report and announced the re-launch of the Facts Matter data portal (www.factsmatter.info), both of which provide data on 48 indicators that are continuously monitored to track progress toward the Bold Goals. Bill Scheyer of Vision 2015, Mary Stagaman of Agenda 360, and Shiloh Turner of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation presented the data on the progress to date on each of the Bold Goals. They pointed to highlights of progress, such as a 30% increase in kindergarten readiness in Cincinnati Public Schools since 2006, an on-time high school graduation rate that now exceeds the 85% goal, and a regional gainful employment rate that is nearly to the 90% goal. They also called attention to troubling trends that should be a focus moving forward, such as a growing poverty rate and indicators that suggest that too many of our high school graduates are not college and career ready.
Ross Meyer of United Way laid out the “Bold Plan” for accelerating progress. The Bold Plan – developed with partners over the past nine months – identifies who we need to reach, where we need to reach them, the strategies that work, and how to execute against those strategies. Meyer presented the two “where to play” strategies that focus on driving a more integrated approach for people and places. Education, income, and health are interconnected, yet far too often these are treated as silos and interventions are delivered in a fragmented way. The first strategy aims to build strong families with a “multi-generation” approach that integrates services for kids and their parents at the same time. A top priority will be to reach the 46,000 families with a child under 5 who are living below 200% of poverty level, which represents half of all families with a young child across our region.
The second strategy aims to build strong communities with a “place-based” approach that integrates education, income, and health interventions in targeted communities. Progress towards the Bold Goals is drastically uneven across the region, and this approach aims to focus effort on communities with “concentrations of opportunity” to move the entire region towards the goals faster. Building on the successes of the place matters initiative that has promoted comprehensive community development in seven communities, over the next few months additional target communities will be identified using the criteria of need, potential impact, community capacity, and leverage.
In addition to these two integrated strategies targeting families and communities, the Bold Plan includes 19 proven strategies in education and income that are needed to move the needle. Community change on this level is complex and requires a comprehensive approach – there are no easy answers or sliver bullets. But there are a few strategies that are game-changers where, as Meyer put it, “the evidence is so strong, the scalability so clear, and the return on investment so compelling that we must do all that we can to get them done.” These “Bold Plays” were presented by Michael Fisher, President and CEO of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Steve Shifman, President and CEO of Michelman, Inc., and John Prout, President and CEO of TriHealth:
- Bold Play 1: Home Visiting: 3,000 more families – doubling the current reach – will be equipped with skills to support their children’s health and development during the critical early years, when it matters most.
- Bold Play 2: Universal Quality Preschool: Every three- and four-year-old in our region will have access to voluntary high quality preschool, driving educational achievement and economic opportunity for years to come.
- Bold Play 3: Career Pathways: Put 15,000 people – tripling the current reach – back to work with the skills necessary to fill available jobs in high demand sectors, fueling our continued economic growth.
While executing these Bold Plays is not inexpensive, Fisher, Shifman, and Prout all made the point that coming up short on the Bold Goals is even more expensive – in lost productivity, untapped potential, and higher costs down the road. The return on investment for these Bold Plays is substantial in terms of decreased costs for educational interventions, decreased health care costs, increased lifelong earnings, and reduced recruitment and turnover costs for employers. As Johnna Reeder, President and CEO of REDI Cincinnati, put it, “we will either pay now or pay much, much more down the road.”
The Bold Plans Playbook
Executing these Bold Plays will require public-private partnerships, with public funding leveraged from federal, state, and local governments. United Way will work with partners over the coming months to build out the specifics of how to finance these Bold Plays with public and private funding.
Rob Reifsnyder, President of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, closed the Summit with a call to action. Here are some specific examples of how everyone can help: advocating for the Bold Plays; leveraging skills and talents within companies for innovation, data analytics, and marketing; ensuring that employees have access to quality preschool; adopting a class and recruiting tutors and mentors; partnering with a workforce development program to hire qualified candidates; and investing to support the Bold Plays and other high-impact strategies. There are countless other ways to get involved. Check out more volunteer opportunities online at www.uwgc.org. Let us know what you’d like to do by Tweeting it to us @UnitedWayGC with the hashtag #BoldGoalsGC.
As we near the mid-point in 2015 of our work towards the Bold Goals, let us celebrate our community’s progress and redouble our efforts. Our community has great momentum, but we need to go farther and faster if we are to reach these ambitious goals by 2020.