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Investment in communities means investment in childhood education

Written on Aug 2, 2022

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager  

Creating a strong community means focusing on early childhood education, said one local expert.  

“If we want a community that has the best and the brightest, if we want a community that has a very strong workforce, it literally starts at birth,” said John Jones, president & CEO of Hope Toledo, a 501(c) 3 organization that helps children obtain high-quality early childhood education through Pre-K and post-secondary training in college or trade schools. “You have to work your way through and these early childhood educational moments are extremely important.”  

In 2020 Society President & CEO Scott Wiley, CAE, announced a three-part commitment to end racism and help create a business environment that offers equal opportunity to all. The plan consists of CEO leadership, organizational commitment – which includes a $100,000 pledge for initiatives – and advancing public policy.  

In continuation of its commitment, OSCPA’s Board of Directors has approved a $20,000 investment in Hope Toledo, an organization dedicated to ensuring high-quality education from preschool to post-secondary and trade school as a means of creating generational economic change for the Toledo community.   

Jones said research has shown 95% of a child’s brain is developed by the age of five, which means the things they learn up to that point shape their social and emotional skills. Hope Toledo works with various community-based providers to ensure children are learning to not only read well but also playing and engaging with each other  

“We think that that creates not only a thirst for learning, but it also creates that quest in that drive for the critical analysis and the analytical processes,” he said. “We will see that come to bear down the road in their post-secondary journeys, and also in their own career aspirations.”  

Hope Toledo also offers a Promise program, which works with high school students that have graduated from high school to assist them in their post-secondary pursuits by providing some type of scholarship. This assistance could mean tuition, room board books, fees and also helping them to graduate with little or no debt.   

Jones called this “rounding out the circle,” so the organization sees students not only at the beginning of their lives but also as they enter the workforce.  

“We look at this from a cradle to career perspective,” he said. “How do we ensure that these children when they graduate, have access to post-secondary opportunities that prepare them for the world of work?”  

Hear more from Jones on the State of Business podcast.