Rob Reifsnyder is the President of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. The below letter recently appeared as an op-ed in The Cincinnati Enquirer.
For 100 years, we’ve brought people together to make our community even stronger, with more opportunity for everyone. Together, we take on challenges big and small – from convening community leaders to tackle tough issues like child poverty, and getting kids ready for school success, to partnering with thousands of you who donate each year to a campaign that makes the work of bettering community possible. United Way’s 100 year history is rife with the spirit of innovating to meet challenges facing our community, starting with its very founding as ‘one campaign for all’, through mobilizing community responses to a destructive flood, supporting the War effort during WWI and WWII, and on to being an important voice and partner as our community faced the sometimes turbulent 1960's and 70's.
To guide this work, we set Bold Goals for Our Region and, over the past five years, have rallied around the vision and aligned efforts behind them. But the pace isn’t on track to achieve them – and in our 100th year, we launched a Bold Plan to maximize impact and accelerate progress.
The common thread between our history and the future: a core belief that the status quo is never good enough.
Accelerating progress for our community
It’s in that spirit that United Way’s volunteer leaders have approved funding for 24 new programs to join the 300+ receiving continuing funding for the 2016 – 18 community investment cycle. Thirteen are in current agency partners, 11 in eight new agency partners. All represent the innovation and cross-cutting strategies the Bold Plan calls for.
Examples of New Programs
• Northern Kentucky Scholar House, part of a state-wide effort to develop post-secondary education opportunities for low-income single parents while providing their young children with a high-quality early learning experience. The goal is educational success, employment and self-sufficiency.
• Per Scholas, an IT-ready job training program that partners with leading IT employers to provide tuition-fee training to unemployed and underemployed adults so they can secure IT jobs and enhance their earnings. Grads are prepared via a committed employer network and two-plus years of career advancement.
• Leadership Scholars Parent Academy, the first enterprise in the country to design and implement an approach that combines best-practices in college readiness, social/emotional mindset, and parent engagement.
• A Financial Opportunity Center at Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, which will provide bundled services across the interconnected areas of employment services, financial education and access to public benefits and community resources. The model is designed to move hard-to-employ individuals into the economic mainstream.
As we head into the new year, and United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s next century, these new programs also enhance alignment and coordination of resources that can ultimately break the cycle of poverty and help reach the Bold Goals for Our Region by 2020.
2016 New Programs
- Increasing Quality in Family Child Care, 4C for Children
- Sheltering More Homeless Families, Bethany House Services, Inc.
- Academic Summer Session, Breakthrough Cincinnati
- College Bound Program, Breakthrough Cincinnati
- Northern Kentucky Scholar House, Brighton Center Inc.
- Household Stabilization Ministry, Churches Active In Northside – CAIN
- PPC Kindergarten Readiness Captain, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
- Greater Cincinnati Reach Out and Read Coalition, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
- myTomorrow Career-based Learning Pilot, Cincinnati Public Schools
- Off the Streets, Cincinnati Union Bethel
- Regional Expansion, Cincinnati Works
- Clermont County Safety Net Alliance, Clermont County Community Services, Inc.
- Parent Resource Center, Community Building Institute Middletown, Inc.
- GRAD Cincinnati, College Readiness, Access and Support
- Leadership Scholars, Leadership Scholars Parent Academy
- MEAC & BGC Collaborative at John P. Parker School, Madisonville Education and Assistance Center (MEAC)
- IT Ready Job Training, Per Scholas
- Safe Passage Emergency Shelter Program, Safe Passage, Inc.
- Family Child Care, Santa Maria Community Services
- Build Up Academy, Supports to Encourage Low Income Families (SELF)
- After School Program Providers Collaborative, The Children’s Home of Cincinnati, Ohio
- Financial Opportunity Center, Urban League of Greater Cincinnati
- Individual Development Account Program, Working in Neighborhoods (WIN)
Achieving these Goals requires all of us pulling together. Thanks to the many of you who are already engaged. If not, please join us as we work together to improve our community and people’s lives.