Cincinnati’s positive momentum over the past few years has been hard to miss – revitalized neighborhoods, new businesses, and just a general ‘buzz’ that even the national media has picked up.
The data, however, tells a disparate tale:
• The percent of our region’s residents living in poverty has increased from 11% in 1970 to 14% today;
• In the city of Cincinnati, nearly one in three residents (30%) are living in poverty;
• The rate of child poverty in our region has doubled since 1970 so that now one in five children are growing up in poor households
From United Way’s perspective, poverty is THE underlying challenge that is holding back progress toward the Bold Goals for Our Region. While progress is being made, we’re not going to reach the ambitious 2020 goals unless we reverse the trajectory of increasing poverty, especially for children. It is the root cause preventing more kids from starting kindergarten ready to learn, graduating high school prepared for their next step, advancing their skills and education, becoming gainfully employed, and maintaining good health.
Solving the Problem Together
In late 2015, community leaders joined together to begin developing a game plan to tackle child poverty head on. The Child Poverty Collaborative, convened and managed by United Way, envisions a community where no child grows up in poverty. Initially focusing on reducing the number of children in poverty by 10,000 within five years in Hamilton County, the collaborative has/will:
• Convened key partners from business, political, foundation, education, social service, and faith-based communities to drive the effort;
• Engage the community throughout the process, including families currently living in poverty, to better understand needs and effective strategies,
• Launch a community plan with a set of short- and long-term strategies, possibly calling for bold changes in programming, policies, and funding to drive the systems change required.
A steering committee with broad-based representation across the business, political and civic sectors has been convened to guide the effort. Six co-chairs are providing overall leadership.
Michael Fisher, CEO, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Mayor John Cranley, Donna Jones Baker, CEO, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, Tom Williams, president, North American Properties, O’dell Owens, medical director, Cincinnati Health Department, and Sister Sally Duffy, president of the SC Ministry Foundation. Lynn Marmer, a former Kroger Co. executive, is executive director.
“The collective work our community is undertaking through this collaborative will maximize the impact for years to come,” says Ross Meyer, vice president, Community Impact for United Way. “This is the most important work of our generation."