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New Year, New Groundwork Advisory Committee

This fall, we opened applications for Groundwork's Advisory Committee. Members of the Advisory Committee are trusted to provide insights on the needs of young children and families in Ohio and advance Groundwork’s mission to champion high-quality early learning and healthy development strategies. After receiving an overwhelming (but exciting) response of applicants for the Committee, we are happy to announce our 2020 Advisory Committee members! The Committee members listed below have a total of 779 years in combined experience and represent 62 Ohio counties.

  • Melissa Bacon, Government Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement, Office of Policy at OCALI

  • Pat Bebo, Assistant Director, Family and Consumer Sciences at The Ohio State University Extension

  • Dawn Blalock, Operations Manager at Little Miracles EDC

  • Tiffany Blumhorst, Assistant Director at the Ohio Child Care Resource & Referral Association (OCCRRA)

  • Laura DiCola, Early Childhood Strategy Leader at Summit Education Initiative (SEI)

  • Rebekah Dorman, Director at Invest in Children Cuyahoga County

  • Mary Fiala, Superintendent of Schools at the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown

  • Justin Fogt, Clinical Supervisor for Healthy Families America at The Center for Family Safety and Healing, Nationwide Children's Hospital

  • Twinkle French Schottke, President at the Ohio Association for Infant Mental Health (OAIMH); Co-founder, infant mental health specialist and program director at Moms2B

  • Vanessa Freytag, President & CEO at 4C for Children

  • Lisa Garofalo, Executive Board Member at Southwest Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children (SWOAEYC)

  • Patricia Gleason, CEO at Cincinnati Early Learning Centers (CELC)

  • George Goddard, ECE Division Director at Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD)

  • Rozlyn Grant, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Early Learning at the Centers for Families and Children

  • Lisa Gray, President at Ohio Excels

  • Connie Griffith, Parent Ambassador Mentor/Policy Council Chairperson at Harctus Head Start

  • Michael Harlow, Ohio State Director at Council for a Strong America

  • Barbara Haxton, Executive Director at The Ohio Head Start Association, Inc.

  • Carol Haynes, Owner/Administrator at Kiddie Academy of Reynoldsburg

  • Claudia Herrold, Senior Vice President of Communications & Public Policy at Philanthropy Ohio

  • Eric Karolak, CEO at Action for Children

  • Katie Kelly, Executive Director at PRE4CLE

  • Sarah Kincaid, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Ohio Children's Hospital Association (OCHA)

  • Robyn Lightcap, Executive Director at Learn to Earn Dayton/Dayton-Montgomery County Preschool Promise

  • Erin Lucas, Early Childhood Programs Director at Hopewell Health Centers, Inc.

  • Leshia Lyman, Vice President of Success By 6 & Area Communities at United Way of Greater Cincinnati

  • Renuka Mayadev, AVP Community Impact Education at United Way of Central Ohio

  • Ashon McKenzie, Director of Strategic Initiatives at CelebrateOne

  • Mike Moroski, Policy & Partnership Manager at Cradle Cincinnati; Board of Education Member at Cincinnati Public Schools

  • Tracy Najera, Executive Director at Children's Defense Fund-Ohio

  • Misti Norman, Owner/Director at Heavenly Kids Center for Learning

  • Emia Oppenheim, Early Childhood Nutrition Consultant and President of Oppenheim Consulting, LLC

  • Wilbert Owens, Owner at Our Kidz Early Childhood Center

  • Will Petrik, Budget Researcher at Policy Matters Ohio

  • Mary Ann Rody, Executive Director at the Ohio Association for Child Care Providers (OACCP)

  • Sherry Roush, Mentor at Toledo Public Schools Early Childhood Program

  • Thomas Seddon, Chief Development Officer at Warren County Foundation

  • Adam Shank, Executive Director at Boys & Girls Clubs Ohio Alliance

  • Margaret (Peg) Tazewell, Executive Director at Knox County Head Start, Inc.

  • Dr. Jonathan Thackeray, Chief Medical Community Health Officer at Dayton Children's Hospital

  • Kimberly Tice, Executive Director at the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children (Ohio AEYC)

  • Judith VanGinkel, President at Every Child Succeeds

Congratulations to all of our new and returning members! We are excited to start the new year with this strong, passionate, and diverse group of early learning and health experts.


Applications Are Now Closed! ​

The Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship application is now closed. However, we are pleased to announce that we had a great turnout of applicants from all over the state representing many different early childhood professions! Over the next two weeks, we will reach out to applicants to offer fellowship positions. Stay tuned for an official announcement of the 2020 Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship Cohort!

For more information on the Fellowship, please visit:


Now Open: RFP for Quality Infrastructure Grants​

As you will recall during our state budget process earlier this year, we were able to secure $10 million in Quality Infrastructure Grants to go to local communities to ensure that we continue to make progress and deliver upon our statutory mandates around quality (all programs must be a 1-star by June 2020 and highly rated, 3-5 star by 2025). As a member of the Early Childhood Advisory Council, Groundwork was able to participate in the committee that helped mold the Request for Grant Applications (RFGA) writing process. Read the full press release from the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services.The RFGA is now available for stakeholders to apply.

Thank you once again to all the incredible advocates who supported Groundwork's efforts with meetings, calls, postcards, and testimony to ensure this funding opportunity was included in the FY20-21 budget!


Governor DeWine Invests in Child Safety Programs​

Recently, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's Office of Children's Initiatives announced $400,000 spanning 22 counties to help educate low-income families on infant and toddler safety and healthy development to reduce infant mortality and poor health outcomes. These education programs will educate parents on infant safe sleep practices, car seat installation, and infant early childhood development and nutrition. The grants will be awarded for the Early Childhood Safety Initiative pilot project and administered by the Ohio Children's Trust Fund in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health. After families complete the training, families will be eligible to receive safety-related support items such as cribs, strollers, car seats, safety monitors, etc.


Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition Receives Funding to Support Local Organizations During Census​

The Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition (OCAC) was recently awarded funding from The George Gund Foundation and The Cleveland Foundation to support community outreach during the 2020 Census. This funding will go towards mini-grants for local, community-based organizations to support a full count during the Census.

This week, OCAC hosted a webinar on how the mini-grants will work. The webinar recording and slides are now available to access. The grants are available for regional lead and regional partners and are due by Friday, January 10th at 5 pm. To learn more about the grants, please view this FAQ document or email CDF-Ohio at and put "OCAC grants" in the email subject line

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