Countywide Poverty Assessment and Strategic Plan
In the fall of 2018, the Franklin County Commissioners began an initiative to analyze the causes of poverty that are unique to Central Ohio, the resources that are available in our community, and to create a plan to more effectively bring those resources to bear on the problem with a community-wide, systematic approach. They assembled a steering committee of subject matter experts and community members from all walks of life, hosted conversations with hundreds or Franklin County residents who are living in poverty, and studied nationwide best practices.
The steering committee produced the Rise Together Blueprint for Reducing Poverty in Franklin County, including a list of more than 120 goals, action steps, and recommendations to be worked on, to which the commissioners have added some actions that they can take right away. Together, they form the basis of a plan to address poverty in Franklin County, the first step of which is a collaboration with the Columbus business community. The new initiative will involve the creation of an Innovation Center to be housed at the Columbus Partnership and led by a leadership committee headed by Trudy Bartley of The Ohio State University and Matt Habash of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. The Innovation Center will begin immediately to take on three of the goals identified in the blueprint and to study the big idea of piloting universal childcare and early childhood education for Franklin County residents. In 12 to 18 months, the commissioners envision the Innovation Center spinning off into a stand-alone organization to which they have committed up to $2.5 million in annual funding as well as to soliciting a similar amount from other sources.
One of the immediate actions that the commissioners have announced is an increase in the minimum wage paid to any of their employees to at least $15 per hour. The commissioners’ next step to rolling out the Rise Together Blueprint will be to host a series of community conversations introducing the plan to the community and soliciting feedback. The full Rise Together Blueprint and information about the community conversations can be found in the links below.