Recent News

September 04, 2015

Years of Regional Collaboration Pay Off -- $1.7M Coming to Greater Cincinnati to Fight Poverty

Thanks to years of persistence and hard work by hundreds of organizations, our Tri-State region has developed a strong national reputation for improving lives by working together on tough issues.  Our ability to collaborate has attracted the attention of funders like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) which works with communities to improve conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

Breaking the Generational Cycle of Poverty

WKKF will be funding two separate local projects totaling $1.7 million - one led by United Way of Greater Cincinnati (UWGC) and one led by Brighton Center, a United Way agency partner - to help 200 women and their children get on the path to self-sufficiency. Of the seven national grants awarded by WKKF, it's noteworthy that local organizations received two of them – a remarkable achievement for our area.

Each $850,000 project will run for 30 months from May 2015 to October 2017. With 66 percent of the children in poverty in single female headed households in our region, this funding has the potential to break the generational cycle of poverty by helping families, as a unit, move towards permanent economic security.


The grants from WKKF are part of the foundation’s $11.6 million national effort with 14 community-based workforce organizations around the country that are focused on increasing employment, workforce mobility and family economic security through a two-generation approach. Both local projects are part of a new pilot study, Supporting Transitions to Employment for Parents (STEPS).

“This grant allows us to further advance our region’s economic growth while making strides to eliminate generational poverty,” said Jodi Geiser, tax partner, EY, and member of United Way’s Impact Cabinet and Women’s Leadership Council. “Our employers in expanding industries such as healthcare, construction and manufacturing have open positions, but lack qualified applicants. Through a collaborative, multi-generational approach, we will train and produce the qualified candidates needed, and provide our most vulnerable children a better opportunity to succeed in school and life. Our region is one step closer to achieving our goals” 

brighton center project

Step Forward will increase greater educational, employment and economic security outcomes for unemployed mothers and their children through advancing formal partnerships between workforce development and early care stakeholders serving children through the age of eight.


Step Forward will create a partnership model where Brighton Center’s Center for Employment Training collaborates with the Early Childhood Education department, in addition to external early childhood education partners, Pre-K, and K-5 elementary schools.  These cross-sector partnerships will work on breaking down traditional silos, and work together more formally to remove barriers and meet the needs faced by single mothers.  

“We are excited for this opportunity to advance employment outcomes for single moms while also reducing childcare barriers that can hinder their success,” said Wonda Winkler, vice president at Brighton Center.

Last year alone, Brighton Center’s Workforce Development and Early Childhood Education programs served more than 26,000 individuals. Founded in 1966, Brighton Center uniquely partners with individuals and families through the individualized bundling of services based on their hopes and dreams for the future. 

UWGC Project

Cincinnati STEPS will work in conjunction with two nationally recognized initiatives managed by UWGC: Partners for a Competitive Workforce (PCW) and United Way Success By 6®. PCW is an employer-led collaborative of more than 150 partners focused on meeting employer demand by growing the skills of the current and future workforce. Success By 6® leads the regional effort to make high quality early childhood education and kindergarten readiness a top priority for resources and funding. 

2015 UWGC Centennial Logo Lockup - 4-ColorPCW and Success By 6® will work to build strategic partnerships so more low-income mothers attain family-sustaining work in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region and their children thrive – a new approach the grant makes possible. The grant will provide a key opportunity to change early childhood and workforce training systems to better support mothers and their children. The systems will be co-designed with the mothers to help them achieve financial stability and provide an important boost for child outcomes.

“This grant makes it possible for us to take this critical work in a direction we’ve wanted to move for a long time, and will accelerate results for children and their parents,” says Janice Urbanik, executive director, Partners for a Competitive Workforce.