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 Margaret Robinson, The Columbus Foundation
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Supporting Our Kids: Critical Need Alert

Supporting Our Kids: Critical Need Alert
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When kids in our neighborhoods are in need, it is our collective responsibility to step forward and invest in their future—our future. This Critical Need Alert by The Columbus Foundation was developed as an efficient, effective, immediate opportunity to join together and address needs of two groups of kids who need our help. With the goal of raising $1.5 million in 50 days, this urgent community need has already raised more than $500,000.

The two urgent issues facing our community related to some of our youngest and most vulnerable residents:

  • Supporting quality early childhood education 
  • Bolstering collaborative efforts to effectively end youth homelessness


Ohio offers publicly funded childcare to children of working parents living at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level. This care, typically from ages 0–5, takes place during a critical time in a child’s growth and learning.

In 2005, Ohio established Step Up To Quality, a statewide quality rating and improvement system for childcare centers. The state set goals that mandated 100 percent of licensed childcare providers be rated (on a 1 to 5-star accreditation system) by 2020.

According to a recent Groundwork Ohio report, in 2017, 75.2 percent of all children eligible for public funding in Franklin County were in unrated centers. If these centers are not able to receive the professional development training and accreditation necessary to increase to at least a one-star rating 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. The ripple effect of this could be detrimental to working parents, threatening sustainability of the family.


Youth homelessness is a public health crisis in our community. Homeless youth are 12 times more likely to die due to untreated illness, suicide, or assault, and nationally, 41 percent of homeless youth have attempted suicide.

In 2017, more than 1,300 youth ages 14–24 were served in Columbus and Franklin County shelters. Further compounding the challenge in sheltering homeless youth is that, due to trauma, youth do not trust adult caregivers and often choose to live on the street rather than seek shelter at an adult facility. This puts them at additional risk for exploitation and violence.

“We can’t lose another generation to the ravages of homelessness. Broad support through the Critical Need Alert will help create a path forward to a coordinated, comprehensive solution to assure that the most vulnerable young people in our community have the opportunity not just to survive—but to thrive.”

— Michelle Heritage, Executive Director, Community Shelter Board

With limited rights and privacy, homeless youth have little access to the services and support needed to survive independently. Without intervention, the cycle of trauma, poverty, and poor youth health outcomes is often perpetuated: 25 percent of unaccompanied youth are parents or pregnant.

The Columbus Foundation has been working closely with nonprofit organizations addressing both of these issues, and collaborating with partners throughout our community to identify needs and possible solutions. Early Childhood Education organizations include Action for ChildrenColumbus State Community College, and FutureReady Columbus. Youth Homelessness organizations include Community Shelter BoardHuckleberry House, and Star House. This Critical Need Alert enables us to take action and work collectively with donors to respond to this growing need.

Learn more about this Critical Need Alert.


Better TogetherThe Columbus Foundation‘s crowdfunding platform, rallies individuals to work together to bring out the best in our community! Through Better Together, you can show love to our local nonprofits by donating toward their time-sensitive projects and programs. With new projects going up every month, you’re sure to see a cause that’s close to your heart, so be sure to stop in often to check them out!


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