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November 16, 2016

Co-Creating Solutions to Lift Children and Families Out of Poverty

The clock starts now. That’s the key take away from the second Child Poverty Collaborative Community Summit on Saturday, October 29. The Summit capped off several months spent gathering community insights that reinforce the ambitious goal — co-creating solutions to lift 10,000 children and 5,000 families out of poverty over the next five years.

The Collaborative took the opportunity at the Summit to share their key learnings from the more than 80 community conversations held since March in neighborhoods, libraries, places of worship, businesses, around picnic tables, and at the first Community Summit in June. Based upon their learnings, they shared a Framework for Action plan.

key learnings 

  • A family of three must make $50,000 per year to be self-sufficient; 70% of children in Cincinnati live in families that have less money than needed to be self-sufficient
  • 72% of jobs in the region pay less than $50,000 per year
  • 85% of families with children in poverty are headed by a single woman
  • 62% of children in poverty have at least one parent working
  • Cincinnati’s teen birth rate is twice the national average
  • There is a 40,000 unit affordable housing gap for households with 0-30% of the Hamilton County median income

“If things are going to get better, and they must get better, everyone in this city and this region must be a part of the change to make lives better for children and families,” said Donna Jones Baker, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, and a Collaborative’s Co-Chair.


Michael Fisher, CEO of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, another of the Collaborative’s Co-Chairs, announced  five commitments to the community:

  • Leading a “One-to-One” approach, which will partner families living in poverty with a mentor, coach or champion to help them get resources and help they need
  • Creating a roundtable of human resources professionals to develop better ideas and best practices to improve employment opportunities
  • Creating a shared public policy agenda by looking at legislative policies that can be changed both locally and nationally, including advocating for expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Remaining an important convener for the community to build strength and capacity
  • United Way committing to a new focus on expanding opportunity for families in poverty, which includes a collaborative and integrated approach to investment decisions

“We must come together to take on an issue as complex as child poverty,” said incoming United Way Board Chair Julia Poston.  “There are no simple solutions, but we cannot be paralyzed by the complexity – we have to start somewhere.  We have to all be a part of making the change.  Business cannot go on as usual.”

Child Poverty Collaborative steering committee and United Way Board member Sean Rugless detailed the Framework for Action, which identified the Collaborative’s four key areas in a shared view of poverty: basic needs, institutions and organizations, systems and community strength and capacity.

“We must be courageous and bold to change the status quo,” said Rugless.

As Sean was discussing the Framework, a live artist rendering appeared behind him. Local artist Brandon Black drew the frame work as a pyramid in four layers: housing, health, food, and income representing basic needs at the top; transportation, child care and family planning representing institutions and organizations; violence, racism, public policy, and the Earned Income Tax Credit representing systems; and problem solving, leadership and the faith community representing community strength and capacity, with the pyramid being held up by love, hope, faith and resilience.

Thoughts from participants

  • “We can’t keep playing the same game and expecting different results.”
  • “If minimum wage went up, so many young parents wouldn’t have to worry about extra benefits they may or may not get that they need. There’s so much extra work just to make ends meet.”
  • “We’re not holding each other and our political leaders accountable.”
  • “We need to start raising children together, as opposed to with single mothers.”


Toward the end of the half-day forum, Lynn Marmer, Child Poverty Collaborative executive director, told a story about how a table of participants from the last Community Summit stayed in contact and continued to meet after that first event. One lady in the group was homeless, and the group was able to help her find a safe place to live, and help her enter a job training program to get on the right path to self-sufficiency — a true testament to the community coming together to help those that need it most.

A letter from the Co-Chairs contained in a report given to all participants of the Summit echoed that it will take the entire community together to create necessary change.

“We are grateful for the outpouring of support we received from our community. We are in this together — which is the only way we will strengthen our community and our citizens and make our hometown the place we believe it can and should be.”

Would you like to get involved with the Child Poverty Collaborative? Email for information.


News, Poverty