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The Columbus Foundation Selects 5 Nonprofits to Watch in 2018

Columbus, OH (March 19, 2018)—The Columbus Foundation today announced its 5 Nonprofits to Watch in 2018, recognizing innovative central Ohio organizations poised for an exceptional year of growth and progress. Each recipient awardee received a $5,000 grant.

The organizations selected for 2018 are: City Year, Columbus Humane, CompDrug, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and Per Scholas.

“These nonprofits are doing remarkable work to address challenges, offer hope, and build future leaders,” said Douglas F. Kridler, President and CEO of The Columbus Foundation. “Collectively, these five organizations offer a bright future for our community today, tomorrow, and beyond.”

Leaders of the 5 Nonprofits to Watch (l-r): Rita Soronen, President and CEO, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption; Tasha Booker, Executive Director, City Year Columbus; Dustin Mets, CEO, CompDrug; Rachel Finney, CEO, Columbus Humane; and Toni Cunningham, Managing Director, Per Scholas Columbus.

5 Nonprofits to Watch debuted in 2014 as an annual program of The Columbus Foundation, and honors remarkable nonprofit organizations working to strengthen and improve our community.

More about this year’s honorees:

City Year
City Year Columbus is an education-focused nonprofit organization that partners with Columbus City Schools to keep students in school and on track to graduate.

City Year Columbus is part of City Year, Inc., a national organization founded in Boston in 1988 with the mission of bringing young people together for a year of service in their city. City Year Columbus, founded in 1994, is one of 28 City Year sites in the United States. Since its founding, City Year Columbus has grown to 62 AmeriCorps members serving almost 4,000 students in Columbus City Schools. City Year AmeriCorps members work alongside teachers as tutors and role models, increasing school capacity and inspiring students to reach their full potential.

City Year Columbus was recently selected by the Search Institute to co-create and participate in a national research study focused on understanding and strengthening the relationships of young people in high-need communities. The results of the study will benefit many organizations for years to come, and City Year Columbus' selection is a distinct accomplishment. 

We acknowledge the important work of City Year Columbus AmeriCorps members and their support of students in our community.

Columbus Humane
For 135 years, Columbus Humane has been sheltering homeless animals, fighting animal cruelty and neglect, and offering programs to address the needs of animals in our community. The organization is undergoing a dramatic transformation at its shelter, improving the living conditions for their cats, expanding the number of spaces where dogs can meet with potential adopters, and creating a state of the medical art facility.

Formerly known as Capital Area Humane Society, Columbus Humane is well known for animal adoptions, but also is the community’s cruelty investigation and law enforcement entity, and benefits from an innovative partnership with The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The partnership was among the first in the country to require a two-week rotation in shelter medicine and surgery for all fourth-year veterinary students.

We celebrate the recent progress and evolution of the organization, and endless advocacy for vulnerable animals and people in need within our community—whether that’s through adoptions, charity boarding, partnerships with other shelters, or animal welfare investigations.

Serving on the front lines of a community-wide crisis as one of central Ohio’s Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs, CompDrug is a federally recognized Opioid Treatment Program licensed by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMHAS), and nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

Approaching 40 years of service, CompDrug’s mission is to be a leader in developing, promoting and providing a fully responsive range of research-based programs and services to assist in the prevention, treatment, recovery, and wellness of those affected by the disease of addiction.

Using a treatment philosophy rooted in mental health services and pulling upon evidence based interventions, CompDrug provides prevention education, addiction support—through group sessions and outpatient treatments—as well as medically assisted treatment. Specific programming for pregnant women and the well-known, school-based, Youth-to-Youth prevention programming are also provided by CompDrug.

Programs help restore the patient with untreated mental illness and/or substance abuse to fully functioning adult status within his/her family and the community, and teach skills to help the patient maintain the recovered level of functioning. This is in addition to providing access to the lifesaving overdose reversal drug Narcan.

We applaud and appreciate CompDrug’s leadership, innovative responses, and steadfast commitment to our community’s expansive addiction needs.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
Each year, nationally, more than 20,000 youth age out of foster care without the love and support of a forever family. For more than 25 years, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has been advocating for children in the foster care system to help every child find a loving, permanent family through adoption.

Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, was a national advocate for foster care adoption and established the Foundation to raise awareness about the issue and as a grantmaking organization. Today, the Foundation supports more than 330 recruiters across North America through its signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, resulting in more than 7,700 children who have been adopted or are in pre-adoptive foster care placements.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption launched an aggressive expansion of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids that over the next 10 years scales the program in every state, driving toward permanent, adoptive homes for 60,000 children.

We are pleased to have the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in central Ohio, doing such important work nationally—for those who don’t often have an advocate or a voice of their own. The scale and scope of the foster care world is immense—but through the leadership of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the success and future prospects of these youth are greater.

Per Scholas
Per Scholas collaborates with businesses to design industry- and job-specific courses based on employers' information technology needs, and teaches technology skills training and professional development tailored to those needs to highly motivated students. Then, the organization matches talented graduates to employers, providing career support throughout the process.

The organization was founded more than 20 years ago with a mission to open doors to transformative technology careers for individuals from often overlooked communities. Launched in New York, Per Scholas expanded to Columbus in 2012 and has been an important partner in central Ohio’s workforce development and Opportunity Youth landscape.

The intense 15-week curriculum includes seven hours in the classroom each day, and an additional 10-15 hours of reading and group work each week, followed by two industry-recognized certification exams. Locally, Per Scholas has enrolled more than 400 participants, with 85 percent of program graduates earning certifications and 80 percent placed in jobs within four months of graduation at an average wage of $16 per hour. 

We are energized by the leadership of Per Scholas and the important connecting role it plays in bringing employers into underserved communities—providing skills, and setting graduates on a career journey towards success. New and expanded partnerships on the horizon promise to continue to deepen and expand Per Scholas’ impact in central Ohio.

About The Columbus Foundation
The Columbus Foundation is the trusted philanthropic advisor® to more than 2,500 individuals, families, and businesses that have created unique funds and planned gifts to make a difference in the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. More than 70 years strong, The Columbus Foundation is the eighth largest community foundation in the United States. The Foundation’s Giving Store is a one-stop shop for easy and effective philanthropy. Learn more at

March 19, 2018