Helping every Ohio student succeed

headshot of claudia smilingOhioans 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.


The Dayton ESSA Ohio Stakeholder meeting took place at the Strivers School for the Arts.

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.


State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria speaks with Jenni Roer, executive director of the Frank M. Tait Foundation.

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.


Nearly 175 parents, educators, policymakers and community members attended the Dayton ESSA meeting.

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

September 19, 2016 at 5:01 pm Leave a comment

The Big Table at Philanthropy Ohio

2016-jessica-blog-photoTwo 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.

gok_infographicAnd 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.

big-tableIn 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.

jessica signature

Jessica Howard

September 12, 2016 at 4:26 pm Leave a comment

Ohio philanthropy goes back to school

2016-Suzanne-blog-photoBrené 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.

learning institute logoIt’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 signed in blue ink

Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.

September 6, 2016 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

Hit the pause button on Head Start funding change

headshot of claudia smilingHead 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.

girl_reading education.jpgSenator 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.”

child plays with cubes 1

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

September 1, 2016 at 9:37 am Leave a comment

Charging up at the end of summer

2016-Suzanne-blog-photoI read a great article in Fortune magazine entitled How to Recharge if You’re Losing Motivation by Sally Blount, dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, in which she contends that there are five components to staying motivated at work. At this time of year, I find myself needing a little more motivation.

Summer is my favorite season and with the calendar pages flying, it appears that summer may be over too soon, and the impending cooler, then colder weather is just on the horizon. Wet leaves, followed by frozen sidewalks and grumpy dogs who refuse to go outside in anything less than balmy weather, render me less than motivated both personally and professionally.

summer-1405218 beach sandalsThe personal motivation is something I know I need to work on, but the professional component of motivation was rather intriguing.

According to Blount, the academic and applied research suggests that there are five things you need to stay motivated at work. Four of these she contends are about context, the situational aspects of your work and how you leverage them to show and measure your own achievement.

The four contextual aspects of professional motivation are: The Right Mission, the Right Job, the Right Boss and the Right Team. Blount said, “These are the fundamentals—it’s that simple.” But the fifth aspect is all about you – having the Right Attitude.

Sure, she says, you need to work for an organization you believe in and where you can grow and where the mission is something you believe in. You also need to be in the right job – the right seat on the proverbial bus – so you can thrive and contribute and you need to work with and for folks who engage you and whom you trust, teammates who challenge and celebrate what you bring to the table.


As you work through these four situational issues, the other aspect of motivation is looking at yourself in the mirror. Once the four factors are in place, the job swings back to you to focus and stay motivated over time.

And that’s where the article got really interesting. Blount asserts that people who are following a leadership path and are pretty good at the first four need to pay particular attention to the fifth motivational aspect – the Right Attitude. It turns out, surprisingly, that people don’t particularly like to work with and for leaders who “look/act stressed out, self-indulgent or self-satisfied.” So Blount thinks that, “It’s up to you to make sure that you reset, renew and/or refresh your focus and energy level when you sit in the top job” or are headed that way, and she believes that there are two important types of recharging to keep you in the “Right Attitude.”

Here, I need to just quote the article from Fortune:

“The first I’ll call the micro-charge—making sure that every three months, you get three to four days where you are really away. When I do a micro-charge, I do very little email and no phone calls, if possible. Instead, I take long walks (in addition to other forms of exercise) and try to read a full book from cover to cover (no jumping around to absorb only the key facts). I relish my meals with family and friends and actually sit down to eat each one.

The second, the mission-charge, is about going the distance—the soul-searching work you need to do every two to three years to make sure that things aren’t getting rote, to make sure that you really understand your marketplace and are challenging your team to perform and deliver. This recharge requires at least a week, but two is better. I like to go to one place where I stay put—with great views, good food, and a lot of walking trails for thinking. The desert is perfect for me. The mission-charge is all about deep reflection—analyzing your performance and your organization’s, asking yourself the hard questions, and plumbing the depths of your own mind. You have to make sure that you really know what you’re thinking and feeling.”

cedar-springs-trail-1341470 hike

I’m still dreading fall and the snows of winter, but I’m finding ways to look forward to “charging-up.” I’d love to hear from you and how you micro- and mission-charge your attitude.

Suzanne T. Allen

August 22, 2016 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

Understanding and responding to the needs of Ohio’s local LGBTQ communities post-Orlando

This week’s column is excerpted from a briefing paper written by Kristi Andrasik (program officer at the Cleveland Foundation) and Brian Schultz (community outreach manager at Foundation Center Midwest).

orlando graphic shapeEarly this summer, LGBTQ communities across the nation were painfully reminded of the many challenges that remain. On June 12, Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub, was attacked on Latin night during Pride Month. The massacre claimed 49 lives and wounded 53 others, nearly all of them LGBTQ and Latinx young adults. Many in the philanthropic sector have sought information about opportunities to support Orlando. The national philanthropy affinity group, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, released both a statement and resource guide with recommendations for grantmakers interested in supporting the Orlando community. A number of funders across the country have since directed funds to Orlando, launched community fundraising efforts and made statements in support of the Orlando LGBTQ community and LGBTQ people generally.

In March of this year, Funders for LGBTQ Issues announced a new targeted, place-based effort to increase the dialogue about foundation funding for LGBTQ people living in Ohio, naming Kristi Andrasik of the Cleveland Foundation and Brian Schultz of Foundation Center Midwest as the inaugural Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors.

Kristi and brian posing

Kristi Andrasik, LISW-S, Program Officer for Cleveland Foundation and Brian Schultz, Community Outreach Manager for Foundation Center Midwest are the inaugural Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors.

Less than three months into our new role as Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors, we found ourselves working to maintain focus on the needs of Ohio’s LGBTQ community while grappling to comprehend the horrific crime committed against our community in Orlando. Since June 12, we have been in communication with LGBTQ colleagues, LGBTQ-serving organizations, and local funders to understand the impact of Orlando and offer support; yet we know there are still many with whom we have not yet connected, and many who may not yet know that we exist as a local resource.

After convening Northeast Ohio LGBTQ nonprofit leaders to gain a deeper insight into the local impact of Orlando, the issues most important for local funders to be aware of, and the opportunities for local funders to respond, we have compiled a briefing for Ohio’s philanthropic community, which is available on Philanthropy Ohio’s website.

The briefing paper discusses how Orlando has impacted LGBTQ Ohioans and LGBTQ organizations as well as suggesting ways that funders can support their local communities.

To learn more, read the briefing and reach out to Kristi or Brian.

Kristi Andrasik, LISW-S
Program Officer, The Cleveland Foundation
Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassador

Brian Schultz
Community Outreach Manager, Foundation Center Midwest
Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassador
216.861.1933  x326

August 15, 2016 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

School’s out but the learning continues

headshot of claudia smilingThe idea that learning only occurs during an academic year has never really been true for me. When I was in junior high school – back in the dark ages – I became a voracious reader, visiting the local branch of the Columbus Public Library weekly. I’d walk the several blocks to the library, pick out a big stack of books and spend the summer days reading on the porch rather than sunning at the pool. Thus was born my love of Russian literature (yes, I read War and Peace one of those summers) and through reading I learned so much about different cultures, political systems and worldviews.

In high school, I took history or math classes during the summer so I could double up on language, vocal music (I sang alto) and orchestra (I played violin) classes and edit the high school newspaper during the regular school year.

I continue the year-round learning here at Philanthropy Ohio, and this summer I’m devoting time to learn more about a couple of topics.stack of books

First, racism in 21st century America. I’m taking time to watch an incredible set of speakers talking to Washington, D.C. grantmakers. Titled Putting Racism on the Table, the recorded talks cover a wide range of issues, including structural racism and implicit bias. Thanks to our colleague organization, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, for making the talks available to everyone. I’m also reading a couple of books: Dog Whistle Politics, by Ian Haney Lopez, a constitutional law professor at UC Berkley who has studied and written extensively on racism’s evolution in contemporary American society. I’m also dipping into Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum. The book explains the development of racial identity and frames the challenges in talking about race and racism.

Second, I’m learning more about collaboration – its best practices, challenges and opportunities. All three aspects of collaboration were part of a workshop we offered, our Three City Learning Tour that was led by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations staff and Chris Thompson from the Fund for our Economic Future with a keynote by Lisa S. Courtice (who was kind enough to let us post her remarks on last week’s blog). And, last week I was in Indianapolis at the Forum of Regional Associations’ Annual Conference where collaboration discussions included international presenters.

learning institute logo There are many opportunities to continue learning throughout the summer here at Philanthropy Ohio, culminating in our Learning Institute. The last two days of the summer – September 20 and 21 – will find us gathered on The Ohio State University campus for deep dives into a number of highly relevant topics for today’s grantmakers with a keynote and panel: The Equity Effectiveness Imperative. Check out the agenda and see which workshops will be most helpful in expanding your knowledge and skills. See you there.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

July 25, 2016 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

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