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Promoting Early Literacy Through the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library

The foundational skills that support strong reading and writing are developed long before a child enters kindergarten. Starting at birth, loving interactions with adults, sharing books, and telling stories help lay the groundwork for strong language and literacy as a child grows. When a child engages with their caregiver through books, it not only teaches children the excitement of reading, but also expands their vocabulary, builds connections between pictures and words, and supports a healthy relationship between the child and caregiver.

The Imagination Library is now available in 56 counties, meaning more than 130,000 children ages 0-5 are now eligible to receive a free monthly book! The Ohio Governor's Imagination Library's goal is to reach every young child in each of Ohio's 88 counties. So far, OGIL is over halfway there to achieving this goal with many more participating counties on the horizon. This week, Franklin County announced the launch of its Imagination Library program. In Franklin County alone, all of its 83,000 children under the age of 5 are eligible to enroll in this free program. To enroll your child in the program, please visit:

Check out our newest resource on early literacy to learn more about the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library’s efforts to advance early learning throughout the state!


Addressing and Improving Infant Mortality in Ohio​

This week, Groundwork Executive Director Shannon Jones joined a panel discussion on infant mortality at the National Health Policy Conference in Washington D.C. The panel also included:

  • Deena Chisolm, Nationwide Children’s Hospital;

  • Charleta Tavares, PrimaryOne Health;

  • Angela Dawson, The Ohio Commission on Minority Health; and,

  • Amy McGee, Health Policy Institute of Ohio.

During the panel discussion, experts discussed Ohio’s successes and challenges in its work to decrease infant mortality rates. The panel also discussed how the state has worked with local governments, healthcare providers, nonprofits, and advocates in this work.


Ohio Legislative Children's Caucus Discusses Ohio's Growing Rate of Uninsured Kids​​

This week, the Ohio Legislative Children's Caucus convened to learn more about promoting whole-child health and wellness by addressing the growing child uninsured rate. A bipartisan group of policymakers from the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives, along with child health experts and advocates, heard from featured panelists Maureen Corcoran (Director of the Ohio Department of Medicaid), Tricia Brooks (Research Professor at the Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy's Center for Children and Families), and Amy Rohling McGee (President of the Health Policy Institute of Ohio).


Groundwork Announces First Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship Cohort of 2020​

This past weekend, Groundwork hosted its first Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship session with our 2020 Cohort. The Fellowship was designed to provide early education and health professionals from across the state with the opportunity to develop leadership skills, engage with thought-leaders and policymakers to advance quality early learning and health, and take steps to create state-, local-, and community-level change for young children in Ohio.

We are excited to announce the Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship Cohort of 2020:

  • Elizabeth Abbott, Bombeck Family Learning Center

  • Krista Allison, Stark Education Partnership, Inc.

  • Sadie Bonifas, The Great Oaks Career Campus

  • Mary Brady, Early Childhood Resource Center

  • Tonya Byous, The Centers for Families and Children

  • Jennifer Cheeks, Mom2B-Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

  • Casandra Chermer, Ohio State University Virtual Lab School

  • Heather Conkle, Child Care Resources

  • Scott Dieter, Lorain City Schools

  • Bridgette Forson, Action For Children

  • Jarissa Garcia, Little Hands, Inc.

  • Stephanie Geneseo, All Nestled Inn Family Childcare

  • Nicole Gordon, Child Focus

  • Camille Harris, All 4 Kids, LLC

  • Malissa Harris, Little Miracles EDC

  • Elizabeth Hibbs, Early Childhood Education Alliance

  • Kimberly Hiltz, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Ohio, Inc.

  • Kelly Kaiser, Baby University

  • Rebecca Keaton, COAD

  • Helen Mattheis, Cincinnati Early Learning Centers

  • Rebecca Mental, Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center

  • Navya Nalla, Nationwide Children's Hospital- Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Ross "Chad" Nunamaker, The Lynda A. Cohen Center for the Study of Child Development

  • Stefanie Post, Warren County Educational Service Center

  • Emily Rozmus, INFOhio

  • Beth Rutter, Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities

  • Leslie Schreiber, Small Wonders Discovery & Learning Center

  • Ashley Scott, Home-Based Child Care Owner

  • Elizabeth Styles, Winton Woods City Schools

  • Qianna Tidmore, Office of Early Childhood/Invest in Children

  • Shannon Viccarone, Starting Point

  • Lynecia White, Rogers Intergenerational Daycare

  • Aysha Wilburn, The Centers for Families and Children

  • Molly Youngstrom Hagkull, The Childhood League Center

Congratulations to all of our Fellows! We are excited to be a part of and support you during your journey to become a champion for young children, families, and the early childhood profession in Ohio.


New Report Highlights Why Quality Early Learning Matters​

In partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools and INNOVATIONS in Community Research and Program Evaluation at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, United Way of Greater Cincinnati Success by 6 released a report on kindergarten readiness in Cincinnati Public Schools. The report, Kindergarten Readiness, Preschool Attendance, and Academic Achievement: Comprehensive and Longitudinal Outcomes, evaluates the relationship between kindergarten readiness and high school graduation in Cincinnati Public Schools. The study found children who are in high-quality early learning programs prior to entering kindergarten demonstrate kindergarten readiness at higher rates and have improved performance in third-grade, eighth-grade, and rates of high school graduation. These findings further affirmed a large body of research on the impact of quality early learning experiences on long-term academic success. Most significantly, the study showed that children who scored higher on the literacy component of the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment were 314% more likely to be proficient in the third-grade math compared to those who did not demonstrate readiness. To learn more about the outcomes of the study, click below to read the report.


Free (Yes, Really!) Tuition for Early Educators​

The Ohio State University recently announced their Pipeline for Early Childhood Educators (PEACE) program. The PEACE program is a full-tuition program designed to help early educators advance their careers in Franklin County by covering tuition costs for a bachelor's degree in education. If you currently work in Franklin County (or plan to work in Franklin County) and have an associate's degree in early childhood education or a related field, you are eligible to participate in the PEACE program. Once accepted into the program, graduates must work three years in early care and education settings in Franklin County. The deadline to apply for the program is March 28, 2020.


Unearthing Fairness During Black History Month​

Graph Source:

In 1976, as a part of the nation’s bicentennial, Black history “Week” was expanded to month. During this year’s Black History Month, Groundwork is taking time to reflect on the progress that has been made over the past several decades and the many challenges and inequities still present in our state. Although progress has been made since the establishment of Black History Month nearly half a century ago, there is still much that needs to be done to achieve equitable outcomes for all Ohioans. One inequality that is especially appalling is the large disparity in preterm birth rates for African American babies. The preterm birth rate is significantly higher for African American children than babies of any other race.

Learn more about the disparities in preterm birth and infant mortality rates in Groundwork’s Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity Report.


Each week, Groundwork will now wrap up our newsletter by spotlighting a Groundwork Advisory Committee Member to share the great things these Members are doing for young children in their communities.

Dawn Blalock

Operations Manager Little Miracles EDC Website

Q: What led you to get involved in Groundwork Ohio's advisory committee? A: To advocate about how important it is for quality early education and to encourage policymakers to prioritize early childhood education. Q: What is your organization currently doing to help support young children and their families? A: We offer extended hours (5 a.m. to midnight) who work non-traditional hours and need quality care. Q: Tell us a fun fact about you. A: I am turning 40 this year and I registered to run the NYC Marathon this year. Wish me luck!

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