Community Leadership Grants Support Equity

“In our efforts toward a more equitable community for all, we know that where people work and where they live are fundamental.  Through our investments, leadership, convenings, advocacy, education and awareness building, GCF is committed to advancing equity in housing as a critical step to insuring that everyone has an opportunity to thrive in our community.” — Harold Brown, GCF Vice President, Community Strategies

As we enter our 56th year as a trusted and connected community partner, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) continues to make strides along the pathways of racial and economic equity. The most recent result of that purposeful and strategic focus is a series of community leadership grants to five organizations engaged in impactful equity work.

GCF launched a redesigned community impact strategy in 2017 to spotlight equity issues. In response to a preponderance of challenging data — provided, in part, by extensive research by GCF’s Women’s Fund — we know that in our region, three out of four children living in poverty are being raised in single, female-headed and disproportionately women of color households. Cincinnati has the third highest child poverty rate in the nation, with 180,000 children growing up in families living below the self-sufficiency line. As a region, 72 percent of jobs pay less than self-sufficient wages, which lands us in the lowest bracket of upward mobility. Furthermore, there is a 40,000-unit gap in affordable housing, the result of which is that 60 percent of low-income households spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing (much more than the recommended 30 percent or less).

That is why GCF is committed to prioritizing a deep, concentrated focus on housing stability and economic mobility for people of color, and particularly low-income women. We revised our organizational community investment strategy, adopting explicit equity approaches that are also reflected in our grantmaking and directed funding opportunities.

Aligned with that mission, GCF made the single largest investment in our history — $1.8 million, together with our generous donors — to partner with the Greenlight Fund in 2017 to  the Family Independence Initiative (FII) to Greater Cincinnati. The innovative, data-driven program empowers families to determine their own goals to move out of poverty. To date, more than 200 families have enrolled in the program.

GCF’s recent, concentrated community leadership grants also exemplify that vital equity strategy. They include:

  • $75,000 to 4C for Children, to help child care providers become Step Up to Quality rated by 2020;
  • $75,000 to HOME (Housing Opportunities Made Equal) for the Housing Stability Program for At Risk Students, administered in three Price Hill elementary schools;
  • $50,000 to Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, to support the overall mission;
  • $25,000 to Healthy Homes Block by Block, to fund the certification process for four Community Health Workers;
  • $25,000 to GCF’s Women’s Fund, to support the Appointed civic engagement training program for women and a Bridgeable study of the challenges of low-income women.

Through these and future grants, GCF is determined to move the needle on housing stability and economic mobility in life-changing ways that benefit all of us with a more vibrant, inclusive community.