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“I started my presentation by asking them, ‘Tell me about yourself and your child.’ I noticed going around the table that their faces shined more when they talked about their children,” Garrette said.
“When it got back to me, my comment was, ‘I know you want the best for your children. What better way to do that than to prepare them before they actually get to school by giving them the tools they need to understand reading and writing?’”
Garrette was at the American Red Cross to teach these mothers the shared reading technique, part of United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Success by 6® initiative. Its vision is that by age six, all children in the region are safe, healthy and prepared to succeed.
Research confirms that what happens to children before the age of three affects the way their brains develop and if they are wired for learning or not.
Success by 6® grew out of initiatives proposed by Cincinnati CAN in 2003 and adopted by Better Together Cincinnati (BTC), a group of funders managed by GCF. It was a strong national model that could recommend strategies that help children get ready for school by working with parents, early childhood professionals and policymakers who can make a difference in a child’s success.
Research shows that more than half of children entering kindergarten within Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) are not on track for school readiness in early literacy and language development.
“We know kids are going into CPS less prepared,” said Success by 6® Executive Director Stephanie Byrd. “This creates an achievement gap over time. Research shows that kids that start behind never catch up.”
But shared reading can result in substantial changes in preschool children’s language skills.
Supported by this knowledge, Success by 6®, in collaboration with The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, trained a group of librarians in shared reading.
The librarians in turn trained child care providers, parents and agency workers.
Garrette, a former children’s librarian (now a library acquisitions manager) and mother of two, also uses shared reading with her three-year-old son Garrison.
“Shared reading, in a nutshell, is taking the lead of the child and letting them tell the story,” she said.
Shared reading is a conversation that uses three simple steps: comment and wait; ask questions and wait; respond by adding a little more.
“For example, my son Garrison is really into football,” Garrette explained. “If we were looking at a book with Rudi Johnson, I might say, ‘He has a helmet just like you,’ and I’ll spark that conversation.
“Or you could say, ‘That is a big helmet – it is humongous,’” she said. “I’ve learned through shared reading that children repeat
after you. They might say, ‘Humongous?’ They’ll make the effort to say the word they’ve just been introduced to.”
“I might say, ‘That is a beautiful butterfly,’ and I’ll sit and wait and my child might say, ‘Oh, flowers,’” Garrette said. “So then you start your questioning off with what they are interested in. I might think that butterflies are great to talk about but my son might think flowers are great.”
Shared reading has made such a difference with Garrison that he may enter preschool early, Garrette said.
As for the women she met at the Red Cross, she believes she empowered them to use shared reading, whether they could read or not.
“There is a fear in parents who can’t read or write that they can’t help their child,” Garrette said. “This is the perfect thing for them.
“Just because they don’t have a good economic situation doesn’t mean parents don’t care and don’t want the best for their children.”
In a nutshell, that’s what Success by 6® is all about – wanting the best for our children.
Better preparing them for kindergarten gives them a fair shot at success as they progress through school.
Every child in our community deserves that opportunity.
Success by 6® received $500,000 from GCF in 2002. This support was a result of GCF’s Future Directions II “community listening” process held to identify priority community issues in its six grantmaking areas. More than 300 community leaders and volunteers participated. As a result of these conversations, GCF committed $2.2 million over five years to four new initiatives, including Success by 6®.
Originally published in the 2006 Annual Report to the Community
As the holidays approach, more than 100 families in three inner-city Cincinnati neighborhoods have a stronger sense of housing stability in their lives, thanks in part to the 2017 expansion of a tenant advocacy program by Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) in three Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) elementary schools. Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF), in partnership with our donors, granted $40,000 to HOME’s Housing Stability Program for At Risk Students this past year and has been supporting it since 2014.
In those schools — Carson Elementary School, Oyler Community Learning Center and Roberts Paideia Academy — 125 families have received counseling on tenant rights and 76 were given financial assistance with housing bills to enable them to remain in their homes. We know that housing instability affects the health, work and education opportunities of families, and that half of the children in CPS schools change schools each year because of housing challenges.
Various studies have found that student mobility, especially multiple moves, can contribute to reduced engagement in school, poorer grades and a lower likelihood of graduating, and it is particularly hard on children in early grades. University of Chicago researcher David Kerbow found, in a study of 13,000 Chicago students, that those who had changed schools four or more times by sixth grade were nearly a year behind their classmates. As we reported in last month’s Amplify issue, higher eviction activity in our region over the past five years has increased the population of homeless families, which puts an even higher strain on their educational opportunities.
Parents who have participated in HOME’s school-based tenant advocacy program reported that they feel more empowered with the increased knowledge of their rights as tenants, and that they can now focus more of their energy on their children’s education. Since 2014, Carson Elementary School — the first school to participate in the program — has seen a 10 percent reduction in the student mobility rate, which helps to further educational success.
HOME, along with Legal Aid of Southwest Ohio, worked with The Cincinnati Project to identify and quantify patterns in our community to understand the components of eviction: who, how, by whom and the communities from which they are evicted. Eviction disproportionately impacts women of color and areas of high poverty in our region, which was mapped by The Cincinnati Project and received coverage in a WCPO-TV news story.
To support these types of equitable projects, please contact your GCF philanthropic advisor, who will reach out to you with specific funding opportunities when they are determined.
CINCINNATI (May 15, 2019) – Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) has awarded $752,600 in Safety Net grants to 20 nonprofit organizations throughout our tri-state community. These funds will help the region’s most vulnerable residents have better access to food, shelter and behavioral health services. In response to the shift in funding available to the community in this critical sector, grants were increased from $35,000 to $50,000 this year.
“Without community partnerships, this type of support to our region’s most vulnerable wouldn’t be possible,” said Harold Brown, GCF’s Vice President, Community Strategies. “We are excited to partner with organizations in these efforts to make Greater Cincinnati a more equitable region.”
Grantees and their awarded amounts are:
BLOC Ministries, Inc.: $43,000 for Second Chance Live and Work Program
Central Clinic Behavioral Health: $30,600 for Child & Family Treatment Center: Eradicating Barriers to Trauma-Informed Behavioral Health Treatment
Childhood Food Solutions: $50,000 for Food Support for Children and Families in Four Low-Income Cincinnati Zip Codes during July 2019
Children’s Hunger Alliance: $25,000 for Afterschool Meals for Underserved Children in Cincinnati
CityLink Center: $50,000 for Shoring Foundations for Future Success
Community Matters: $30,000 for Food and Housing Support for Families in the Lower Price Hill Neighborhood
Dearborn County Clearinghouse for Emergency Aid: $20,000 for Right-2-U Resources, Mobile Pantry
Erlanger Elsmere School District: $19,000 for Lloyd Memorial High School Safety Net
Family Nurturing Center: $25,000 for Child Abuse Treatment Services
Freestore Foodbank: $50,000 for School Pantry: Bringing Wholesome Food to Children and Their Families
Holly Hill Child & Family Solutions: $50,000 for Behavioral Health Services Outreach
Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati*: $50,000 for Kinship Care
Mental Health America of NKY and SW Ohio: $50,000 for Pro Bono Counseling
Milford Miami Ministry: $15,000 for Safety Net Programs for Food Insecure and At-Risk Families
Over-the-Rhine Community Housing*: $50,000 for Preserving Permanent Supportive Housing
Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses: $50,000 for Findlay Street Neighborhood House
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Northern Kentucky: $25,000 for Emergency Assistance Conference Support
Tender Mercies, Inc.**: $50,000 for Making Independence Possible Through Affordable Housing and Nutrition
Valley Interfaith Community Resource Center: $35,000 for Valley Interfaith Safety Net Proposal
Women’s Crisis Center: $35,000 for Safe Shelter
*Fully funded by anonymous foundation partner
**Funded in part by anonymous foundation partner
About Greater Cincinnati Foundation
As the region’s leading community foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation connects people with purpose in an eight-county region in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. GCF is leading the charge toward a more vibrant Greater Cincinnati for everyone — now, and for generations to come.
Thanks to a $45,000 co-investment by our generous donors, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) recently was able to fund a $60,000 emergency grant to Bethany House Services, Inc. GCF defines a funding emergency as “an immediate need for funding to avoid total stop of services of basic needs to vulnerable people.” The grant will be used to pay rent, utilities and basic expenses for a fifth shelter Bethany House added this summer in response to a dramatic increase in the number of homeless families — specifically, women and children — they are being asked to serve.
While the funding can be counted as a success story, there are more chapters to be written. For Bethany House, which shelters more than half of all families receiving temporary lodging in Cincinnati, the urgency for meeting the need is ongoing, and growing. When their shelters are filled, “overflow” families are temporarily housed in hotels, which is more expensive. This year they have sheltered 973 people so far and project that to reach about 1,112 by year’s end, which exceeds the 1,030 people they served in 2017.
Among the factors contributing to Bethany House Services’ operating and “overflow” challenges:
GCF recognizes that while fulfilling emergency needs is crucial, it’s also important to provide strategic leadership to address root causes that create those needs. As we move forward, we know that advocating for equitable policies — and initiatives such as the Family Independence Initiative — we will, with your support, move the bar toward a brighter future for a region that everyone will be proud to call home.
Amplify Giving for Greater Impact
To support this transformative work, please contact your GCF philanthropic advisor, who will reach out to you with specific funding opportunities when they are determined.
Giving Circles bring together individuals who pool their charitable dollars and collectively decide which projects and nonprofits will be the recipients of the funds. GCF will match members’ contributions to make an even bigger impact.
GCF convened its first Giving Circle, for Vibrant Arts and Culture, in 2017. The 11 members — drawn by a common passion for the arts scene which enriches life in our community — met to evaluate applications for funding and determine the grantees. Combined with a match of GCF funds, their contributions enabled awards totaling $80,000 to 10 local nonprofits, including the Kennedy Heights Arts Center and Stepping Stones, Inc.
“I feel honored to have read all the applications and to work with the nonprofits who applied,” said Patti Heldman, co-chair of the Vibrant Arts and Culture Giving Circle.
This year GCF is offering two Giving Circle opportunities :
Both Giving Circles will convene this fall. To join with GCF and other donors sharing your goals to support these impactful initiatives, and for further information, please contact Laura Menge, Philanthropic Advisor, at 513-768-6170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Providing a safety net to our region’s most vulnerable residents is key to them being able to bounce back from adversity. Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF), through partnerships with our generous donors, recognizes this to be a foundational element in promoting economic equity in ways that result in positive impacts for all of us.
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