The number of Ohio babies who die before their first birthday is simply unacceptable and that is why Philanthropy Ohio supports SB 332. We urge the Ohio House of Representatives to follow the lead of the Ohio Senate and pass SB 332 when it returns to its scheduled sessions after the November election. The bill passed the Senate with broad, bipartisan support as seen by its 29-1 vote.
Consider just a few facts about infant mortality, deaths before age 1 per 1,000 live births:
- Ohio ranks 45th in the nation in overall infant mortality rates;
- 7 of every 1,000 babies born in Ohio died before their first birthday in 2014;
- The rate of black babies who died in Ohio is twice that – 14.3 – and actually increased from previous years; and
- The national rate was 6.05.
Philanthropy has worked with government and community partners to develop and implement various initiatives to address this crisis in their local regions. For example, Interact for Health and United Way of Greater Cincinnati support Cradle Cincinnati, a collective impact initiative that focuses on three aspects of reducing infant mortality: preventing premature births, reducing tobacco and other substance use during pregnancy and promoting safe sleep. Hamilton County’s infant mortality rate in 2014 was 8.8, two points higher than the national rate. Fifth Third Bank also supports efforts through its funding of Cincinnati Children’s Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth, a partner in Cradle Cincinnati.
At the other end of the state, the Toledo Community Foundation has been deeply committed to the cause of saving infants. The foundation is an active partner with the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio’s Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB program.
Pathways HUB is a system designed to find at-risk pregnant women and link them to services that contribute to positive birth outcomes. The program was created to address the high number of preterm infants born to African American women living in Lucas County. Since its founding in 2007, 1,400 at-risk African American pregnant women (2,772 all races) enrolled in the Pathways HUB and the program has shown positive results: from 2013-2015, African American women enrolled in Pathways at least 90 days had a much better birth weight rate (8.2%) than the overall rates for African Americans in Lucas County (14.7% in 2014).
But these efforts, along with the state’s policy efforts to combat the high infant mortality rate, are not enough. SB 332 is a statewide, coordinated approach – critical if not sufficient – to reduce the number of infants who die each year.
The bill is innovative and deliberate in its focus on the social determinants of health, a focus that is critical to preventing the death of our youngest residents. By addressing housing issues and increasing the number of qualified community hubs providing services to at-risk populations the bill can go a long way toward saving babies and keeping them out of hospital NICUs. Its other provisions are also important, from tobacco cessation efforts to birth spacing and safe sleep education, to keep babies alive. These are interventions that work – we have proof of that – and strengthening these provisions will help our state move the needle on infant mortality.
Call your representative in the Ohio House to urge their support for the bill, moving it through committee and to the House floor before the end of this session.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
At our recent Learning Institute, we took time out from learning and networking to honor outstanding achievements in philanthropic practice, presenting our annual awards on September 21. The Philanthropy Ohio Board of Trustees reviewed the nominations submitted over the summer and made their selections; Board Chair Melissa Kleptz and President & CEO Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D., announced the winners and presented each with a handcrafted, glass award. We congratulate all on their selection and thank them for their dedication and commitment.
George B. Milbourn, chair and president of the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation in Cleveland, received our Ohio Philanthropy Award, which we have given annually since its creation in 2004. George joins a lengthy list of accomplished philanthropists who, like him exemplify the award’s criteria:
- Long-standing leadership in advancing philanthropy;
- Creativity in responding to societal problems; and
- Significant, positive impact on philanthropy.
George has presided over the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation for the last 18 years of his quarter century of service on the board, a significant accomplishment in and of itself, but only one of many demonstrations of his commitment to philanthropy. He has been a donor, volunteer and board member for scores of nonprofit organizations and each is better as a result of his service. As one letter supporting his nomination said, “He chose to dedicate his life to philanthropic work, making it his mission to challenge the ordinary and inspire others to be big-hearted.”
This is the second year that we’ve presented the Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Philanthropy, which we established after Mr. Shinn’s passing in 2015. He was a member of the Philanthropy Ohio Board of Trustees, where he chaired the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. He was also the founder of the Shinn Family Foundation with his wife, Joyce, and was an active and respected community volunteer who gave generously of his time, talent and treasure.
The Community Foundation of Lorain County is this year’s winner, recognizing the board and staff who have focused on diversity, equity and inclusion for the past 30 years. Recent activities demonstrating the organization’s commitment include spending two years assessing every aspect of the foundation – from governance structures and practices to vendors and investment policies – that is resulting in a culture shift that embraces the principles and practices of diversity, equity and inclusion.
The board selected two individuals for the Emerging Philanthropist Award, which honors someone who, regardless of age, has engaged in philanthropy for the first time in the last few years either as staff or a volunteer. Patrick Westerlund, education and impact investment consultant at the Tony R. Wells Foundation in Columbus, received the award for his efforts to promote social enterprise and impact investing.
The second awardee, Meredith Wood, is a native of Springfield who founded Obed’s House Ministries, a 24-hour care facility in General Santos City, Philippines, where she lives and works.
Our fourth annual award, for Innovation in Philanthropy, went to the Ashtabula Foundation for their successful efforts to engage youth in philanthropy. With 10 high schools in the county – in every school system – the foundation has involved nearly 250 students in youth philanthropy boards that assess needs and award grants to their local nonprofits.
Congratulations to all the awardees!
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
Last week, about 175 people gathered at The Blackwell Inn on the OSU campus for two days packed with deep learning on critical topics facing Ohio philanthropy.
Thanks to the smart and thoughtful work of a handful of volunteers (Meghan Cummings, Connie Hawk, Brady Groves, Bob Jaquay, Kris Putnam-Walkerly, Anthony Richardson and Emily Savors) and my Philanthropy Ohio colleagues Deborah Aubert Thomas, John Gest and Laura Smith, the Institute offered sessions on topics as diverse as how to: restore prosperity to industrial cities; plan for leadership succession; evaluate impact; use research to connect with donors; and use impact investing models. An early look at evaluations indicates that participants rated the Institute very highly for knowledge learned and connections made to peers.
For many, the highlight of the event was the keynote talk and following panel discussion on the Equity Effectiveness Imperative. Early on, we made a decision to embed equity throughout the Institute, rather than as a separate track, so kicking off with a two -and- a-half hour session set the context for the remaining sessions.
Vu Le, executive director of the Rainier Valley Corps and nonprofit blogger, brought his particular brand of humor to the serious topic of how funders can be more equitable and inclusive in their work with grantees and communities. If you don’t already subscribe to his blog, Nonprofit with Balls, head over and do so: every Monday morning you’ll get a post that’s sure to bring a chuckle while setting you thinking about the topic of the week (today’s post: 29 tips for being a horrible supervisor everyone hates).
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
Ohioans have a unique opportunity this fall to weigh in on what the state needs to do to make sure that all students succeed in school, during 10 regional meetings we are co-hosting with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The regional meetings are one of the ways that ODE is meeting a new requirement of engaging stakeholders to create a state education plan, part of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that was passed by Congress in late 2015. It is the first major overhaul of federal education policy in years and shifts the broad federal oversight of primary and secondary education to greater, more flexible decision making at the state and local levels.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Dayton regional meeting, where nearly 175 people gathered at the Stivers School for the Arts for an evening discussing ESSA. Local educators, parents, community members and funders began the evening with an overview of the law before heading to the cafeteria for snacks and table conversations that lasted more than an hour and a half. Joining in the talks were members of the State Board of Education – Tom Gunlock, A.J. Wagner, Ron Rudduck and Tess Elshoff – as well as Senator Peggy Lehner, Representatives Niraj Antani, Jeff Rezabek and Jim Butler and former Governor Bob Taft.
The state’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria, spoke for a few minutes at the beginning of the night, welcoming participants and encouraging them to “Speak your mind because I’m looking for the unvarnished truth.” Superintendent DeMaria spent the next couple of hours walking through the cafeteria, listening to table conversations.
The conversations gathered thoughts – with copious notes taken at each table and handed in at the end of the evening for compilation – on a number of topics: standards & assessments, accountability, educator effectiveness and school improvement & student supports. As you can imagine, people had many different perspectives and opinions on the topics.
We’ll be reading through all of the notes from the 10 meetings, identifying common themes as well as specific, regional issues, which we’ll present in a white paper later this fall. ODE is set to release a draft of its state plan in November, with a final plan due to the federal government sometime next year. We hope that our paper, along with several other briefs we have just released will help inform the state’s plan and help ensure that every Ohio student succeeds.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
Two weeks ago, more than 5,000 individuals participated in The Big Table conversations across our community, including 20 of our members convening at our Central Ohio office. Deborah Aubert Thomas and I led the conversations, splitting into two groups to better facilitate conversation and interaction.
The Columbus Foundation invited people and organizations to host conversations and participate in discussions, and we took the opportunity to convene our members to hear about the issues close to their hearts. The conversations lasted just over an hour and spanned topics from emotional intelligence and equity to mental health and millennials.
To see notes from the two conversations we hosted, please visit our website.
The Columbus Foundation was hoping to engage 1,000 people and on August 30, more than 5,000 people participated in over 450 conversations—gathering around tables to listen, share and learn about what strengthens and challenges our community – far exceeding their original hopes.
And as a thoughtful gesture of thanks, The Columbus Foundation made a contribution to the Gifts of Kindness Fund in honor of each person who participated. The fund provides one-time emergency grants through local nonprofits to help lift up individuals and families who experience an unexpected setback.
We’re grateful for The Columbus Foundation for giving us the opportunity to hold the community conversations. Our members really appreciated the candid discussion and outlet to talk about Columbus’ assets, opportunities and ways we can collaborate.
In addition, The Columbus Foundation created a follow-up survey and will release the results at the end of the month. We’re excited for what may grow out of The Big Table and what The Columbus Foundation has in store.
If you’d like to see what other Big Table conversations looked like, check out the Twitter hashtag #TheBigTable. For more information and next steps to The Big Table conversations, check back on our website for updates.
Brené Brown summed up my feelings pretty accurately with her statement, “In many ways, September feels like the busiest time of the year: the kids go back to school, work piles up after the summer’s dog days and Thanksgiving is suddenly upon us.”
September is indeed a busy month and it’s one that most people connote with fall leaves, schools and learning. While I’m not quite ready to buy the turkey yet, I did pick up a few notebooks last week just because it’s “back to school” time. It was rather disconcerting to see the Halloween candy next to the spiral notebooks and lunchboxes, though.
Even more disconcerting is how much we spend on school supplies. According to the National Retail Association, money spent on K-12 and college supplies is expected to reach $75.8 billion by the end of September, up from last year’s $68 billion… and that’s a lot of spiral-bound notebooks.
But we know that school (or learning) doesn’t end as it does in the traditional notion of education. As leaders in philanthropy, we know that we must always seek new knowledge and understanding of the changing world we serve.
So as Ohio’s children head back to school, it’s the perfect time for the philanthropic community to gather, reflect and learn together and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing on September 20 and 21 at Philanthropy Ohio’s 2016 Learning Institute.
This year, I’m delighted that we are offering two days of engaging sessions focused on a wide array of topics that philanthropy addresses daily. And, as in school, it’s more than just learning, although our programs will be impactful, focusing on strategies for economic revitalization in urban or rural settings, demystifying impact investing and evaluation, learning how to plan for leadership succession and more.
It’s also about the networking. The conversations that happen in the halls and during meals are tremendously helpful in building connections with colleagues, new and seasoned, so you can tap into their experience and wisdom after returning to the office. We have planned new affinity group convenings on Tuesday morning to expand your networking time.
Finally, I think it’s about recharging. Philanthropy work requires patience and tenacity as you address the changing and complex 21st century issues. The Learning Institute is a great opportunity to get out of the office and recharge individually and as a community.
I hope to see you – with or without your new school supplies – in two weeks at The Blackwell Inn and Conference Center, on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus. If you haven’t registered yet, give us a call.
Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.
Head Start programs that asked for clarification about their ability to continue “layering” federal dollars to provide more services to their young students were told by the Kasich administration that the practice would not be allowed as of September 6. The change will result in Head Start providers in Ohio losing $12 million in federal funding.
The rule promulgated by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in June makes Ohio an “extended hours” state. This means that federal funds for early childhood education and Head Start programs can’t be used to provide additional or enhanced services but only to serve these students for additional hours. The rule changes the practice that has been in place for the last 15 years.
Senator Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee and with whom Philanthropy Ohio has worked on a number of education policy reform issues in recent years, explained “It’s going to have a significant impact. It’s actually going to cause a number of children to be dropped from programs, a number of high-quality teachers that are more expensive than others to be let go and I can’t begin to overplay the impact that this decision is going to have on the quality of programs for us in the state of Ohio.”
We sent the following letter to Governor Kasich last week, as part of our ongoing Education Initiative’s focus on increasing access and quality in early childhood education.
Dear Governor Kasich,
For over a decade, Philanthropy Ohio has been steadfast in its commitment to ensuring all of Ohio’s children have access to high-quality education opportunities. As the state’s only association that provides the network, tools and knowledge to help people engaged in philanthropy become more effective, powerful change agents in their communities, we have worked with members of our Education Advisory Committee to advocate for policies that positively impact Ohio’s youngest, most vulnerable learners and improve early childhood education.
I am writing to you to express Philanthropy Ohio’s concern regarding the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ recent decision to prohibit the layering of federal and state funds for early childhood education programs in Ohio. While we are not taking a position on whether the layering of Head Start funds on top of Child Care funds is an appropriate practice, we strongly encourage you to pause the administration’s decision and more fully study the potential impacts before the current proposed changes take effect on September 6, 2016.
Given the profound impact this decision will have on the lives of our teachers, children and families in Ohio, potentially leading to less access to high-quality programs for those most needing such services – and given your passionate support for early education – I urge you to devote the time necessary to collaborate with stakeholders and come to an informed decision about what is best for our children and families.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold