United Way announces ambitious goals to end child poverty in Cincinnati

WCPO Published December 13, 2017

Rumble “This is a huge challenge that we’re facing as a region, a county and a city that we have to take head on,” said Ross Meyer, senior vice president and chief impact officer at United Way of Greater Cincinnati. United Way announced earlier this year that the organization would be investing the bulk of its money in efforts and organizations to reduce child poverty.  United Way also helps manage the work of the group of community and business leaders known as the Child Poverty Collaborative, which began working in 2016 to reduce child poverty in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The Child Poverty Collaborative launched its One-to-One Learning Collaborative in September, starting the clock on its ambitious goal to help 10,000 children and 5,000 families lift themselves out of poverty in the next five years. In Meyer’s view, the region’s poverty problem is even more widespread than the latest Census data indicate. Under federal poverty guidelines, a family of four is considered “poor” if its annual household income is $24,600 or less. The United Way and other social service organizations maintain that it takes at least twice that amount for a family of four to meet its basic needs. So United Way looks at the number of families with household incomes that are 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less. There are 614,268 people in the region who meet that definition, according to the latest Census data, or roughly 30 percent. “To say that one in three people in our entire region are struggling to meet the basics -- are making decisions every week between paying a utility bill or paying for a prescription or putting food on the table,” Meyer said. “That’s the central challenge we are taking on.”