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Meet the 5 Nonprofits to Watch in 2024

Central Ohio’s nonprofit sector is full of dynamic and impactful organizations dedicated to strengthening and improving the region. Each year, The Columbus Foundation recognizes 5 Nonprofits to Watch that are addressing pressing community issues such as housing, hunger, education, youth engagement, neighborhood connectedness, underrepresented populations, and more.

Congratulations to the 5 Nonprofits to Watch in 2024: Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, Franklinton Farms, Mansion Day School, Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio, and We Amplify Voices.

Pictured (l-r): Carlie J. Boos, Esq., Executive Director of the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio; Gabrielle Fields, Executive Director of Franklinton Farms; Nicholas D’Andrea, Executive Director of We Amplify Voices; Masami and Ty Smith, Directors of the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio; and Dee James, Head of School at Mansion Day School. The photo was taken at Direction for Youth & Families’ Crittenton Community Center.

The honorees represent growing, small- to medium-sized organizations in Franklin County. Although their missions vary, each organization provides vital services and resources that help create opportunity, promote well-being, and cultivate a sense of belonging.

We recently asked leaders from this year’s 5 Nonprofits to Watch to share more about their organizations and how they are building community:


Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio (AHACO)
Carlie J. Boos, Esq., Executive Director

"Central Ohio absolutely can solve its affordable housing puzzle. And we must. Because housing is essential to expanding our quality of life, to protecting our children’s education, to creating healthy bodies and minds, and to ensuring our region leads the economy of the future.

Today, 52,000 Franklin County families—about 1 in 10 of our neighbors—face extreme housing insecurity. If we don’t act soon, that number will grow by another 20,000 households in less than a generation.

Closing this housing gap is possible, but it requires hyper-local data and research. It requires experts all working together to solve big problems. It requires sustainable resources and modern laws that build our communities up. And it requires tireless advocates. These are the tools and services the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio shares with our community. Through collaboration, respect, and persistence, we will fix this problem together."

 

Franklinton Farms
Gabrielle Fields, Executive Director

"Franklinton Farms’ mission is to nourish neighborhood well-being and connection through farming, gardening, and education. We make nourishment accessible by growing and delivering affordable, hyperlocal produce. We operate on 12 scattered sites—formerly blighted lots—where we grow food, native plants, and flowers to help the neighborhood feel as welcoming as the neighbors.

Franklinton Farms also empowers community members to grow their own food and develop their own sense of connection to nature through free garden education programs, offered in collaboration with community partners and local schools. We promote social connectedness and belonging by hosting community events weekly and two annual festival—all of which are free and fun for all ages!

We are humbled by the involvement and feedback of our community, and are dedicated to evolving according to their needs and goals, and it is an honor to be part of Franklinton’s story."

 

Mansion Day School
Dee James, Head of School

"Mansion Day School’s history of educating a diverse population of students with cultural competence to become positive contributors to society is unparalleled. We endeavor to sharpen the mind, expand academic knowledge, and stretch intellectual reach, while developing skills as independent thinkers and confident communicators.

In my 27-plus years as Head of School, I consider myself a master gardener who plants seeds, waters, and cultivates, so that students grow, flourish, and blossom into greatness. Our graduates are nurtured by our outstanding teachers to not only make a difference in their communities, but to become successful leaders and positive contributors in the world. Mansion Day School is so much more than just an outstanding educational institution. It is a place where dreams are born, and success is expected. Strong Start-Strong Finish."

 

Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio (NAICCO)
Masami and Ty Smith, Directors

"As the only viable urban Indian center in Ohio, NAICCO’s presence serves as a critical mainstay in the lives of numerous Native American individuals and families. For Native People, many who are far from their ancestral homelands, NAICCO serves as a home away from home. It’s a place in Ohio where Native People can come together and grow as an intertribal community. By holding space and providing authentic programming unique to our People’s expressed areas of need and concern, we are helping instill a genuine sense of belonging and identity.

At the end of the day, NAICCO is ultimately helping strengthen our Native People’s healing journey going forward—interlacing identity, pride, family, community, history, culture and traditions, connection to place, values, visibility, balance and harmony, and overall holistic wellbeing."

 

We Amplify Voices

Nicholas D’Andrea, Executive Director

"Our vision is to heal communities through creative expression. We try to accomplish that by creating safe spaces for groups of people from all different backgrounds and ages to come together and make things together with guidance from professional artists who are passionate about our mission.

We have seen a lot of good magic happen when people come together to share their stories and be vulnerable with each other for a collective creative goal. Especially since COVID we have observed a real hunger for authentic community, those special third spaces outside of home or work where people feel seen, known, and loved. We want to create as many of those spaces as we can, and we believe the potential of what good can come from them is unlimited."

 

To learn more about the 5 Nonprofits to Watch in 2024, click here.

 

 

Mar 18, 2024

Photos by Challen Brown/The Columbus Foundation.

 

 

AUTHOR

CHELSEA KIENE

Director, Communications and Marketing


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