Critical Need Alerts (CNAs) were created for donors and community members who want to participate in a shared investment opportunity and partner with the Foundation to support our community’s greatest needs.
To date, CNAs have leveraged more than $6.6 million for a wide range of initiatives including childcare, food for families, basic needs, workforce development, fresh food, and the arts. CNA’s are identified by our Community Research and Grants Management team, which strategically verify local nonprofits to ensure the most effective philanthropy possible.
The most recent Critical Need Alert, The Pathways Project: Technology Training and Careers for At-risk Youth launched in March 2016. This CNA was developed to provide Foundation donors and community members with an efficient and immediate way to address a community need by launching 125 in-demand technology careers for Opportunity Youth in Franklin County.
In less than six weeks, 63 investors came together to leverage $634,850 ($34,850 more than our goal of $600,000) for The Pathways Project—propelling at-risk youth from undesired idleness to the powerful pathways of technology careers.
From start to finish, these young people will be mentored and transformed by three collaborative partners identified by our Community Research and Grants Management team—i.c. stars, Digital Works, and Per Scholas. This effort invests in Opportunity Youth beyond their careers, and also amplifies the nonprofit partners’ capacity to propel new innovations into the future.
The power of this transformation can be heard in the words of one recent graduate of the Per Scholas program as reported in The Columbus Dispatch:
"Here, they push you. I felt the urgency. They're really changing lives…I also learned not to sell myself short."
- STEPHEN BOOKER, COLUMBUS RESIDENT
His gratitude was echoed by Plinio Ayala, Per Scholas president and CEO—"Without the support of Columbus Foundation donors we would not be able to propel these young people into amazing careers while building a stronger community for everyone. The opportunities made possible will multiply throughout Columbus. Families will be stronger. It brings such joy to my heart.”
Overall, Opportunity Youth are not competitive in the job market due to factors such as lack of education or a transient work history. Recent Foundation-commissioned research has revealed best practices that offer sustainable solutions. This project will substantially improve lives and spur community growth.
"When the Foundation launches a Critical Need Alert, we are certain it's an area of the utmost importance to support."
- Nancy and Tom Lurie, Columbus Foundation donors