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Sep 28, 2018




Dan A. Sharpe is the Vice President for Community Research and Grants Management at The Columbus Foundation.


Back to At The Table

Our Kids, Our Future

As your trusted philanthropic advisor, when critical community needs emerge, The Columbus Foundation is here to help you respond. Our Critical Need Alert (CNA) does just that—alerts donors and the community to pressing problems facing our region. Since 2003, CNAs have been used in the fight and response to opiates in central Ohio, to propel youth on pathways to careers, and to strengthen the emergency food (pantry) system—raising more that $7 million in total.

Today, children and youth in our community need our help. Building upon the work of researcher Robert Putnam, author of Our Kids, is the sentiment that communities need to think of, and care for, all children as if they were our own kids. The Foundation’s current Critical Need Alert: Our Kids does just that through the direct investment in organizations working on two distinct issues facing our young people: access to early childhood education and youth homelessness. 

In Franklin County, there are more than 1,300 youth experiencing homelessness. In a community as generous and prosperous as ours, this is an unacceptable reality—but one that can be addressed. Support through the Critical Need Alert will help connect youth to stabilizing resources, expand outreach efforts and services, and help with a community-wide response to prevent and effectively end youth homelessness in central Ohio. Trusted partners Community Shelter Board, Huckleberry House, and Star House will receive investments to advance this important work.

The importance of learning and quality education at a young age is well documented—and known to prepare one for the rest of life. State standards for early childhood education are changing and threatening to leave thousands of kids behind. The state’s Step Up To Quality system set goals that all licensed childcare providers be rated (on a 1 to 5-star accreditation system) by 2020. Currently, 75 percent of all children eligible for public funding in Franklin County attend unrated centers. If these centers are not able to receive the professional development training and accreditation necessary before the deadline, they will lose their ability to accept public funding. Parents who rely on these unaccredited childcare centers will be forced to find alternative childcare providers—and employees of these centers may be out of work.

Funds raised will help nonprofits serving early childhood education by supporting technical assistance and professional development training needs related to achieving Step Up To Quality ratings, as well as funds to help childcare providers complete their Child Development Associate credentials. Investments in Action for Children, Columbus State Community College, and FutureReady Columbus will strengthen and improve the centers and educators caring for our community’s youngest minds.

We invite you to learn more about the pressing problems these groups are addressing and how you can support a stronger community through the Our Kids initiative by visiting the CNA webpage.