Education    |   Health Care    |   Essential Human Services

Economic competitiveness begins with an educated and skilled workforce

Communities with a stable, skilled workforce are more economically competitive and have greater potential to attract business and revitalize neighborhoods (United Way Worldwide, 2012).

Research has shown that the key to individuals moving out of poverty begins with a job that pays a family sustaining wage, provides paid sick leave and offers pathways for wage and career advancement.

Low-income working families face many barriers to economic and educational success

According to the Working Poor Families Project, nearly 30% of Ohio’s population is low-income working families, nearly 36% of all children live in low-income working families, more than 46% of these families have no post secondary education, and 25% do not have health insurance.

Census data reveals that in Cleveland 26% of adults have incomes below the federal poverty level (that number jumps to 32% for families with children), 11% of the city’s population has a college degree when economic trends show that 60% of the available jobs in 2018 will require a college degree, and nearly 70% of the City’s residents are functionally illiterate (4th grade reading level).

Aligning the region’s health and human services and education goals can bridge this opportunity gap

The essential ingredients for economic and social success have been defined as living-wage jobs, good schools, strong social networks, community-based services, and access to healthy food (Policy Link, 2008).

Leading economists and policy analysts concur that efforts to grow and strengthen a region’s economy cannot be sustained without removing the barriers to economic and social success for the people that live there.

Health and human services provide the support individuals and families need to stabilize their current situation and improve their quality of life. By removing barriers to success (access to childcare, health care, healthy foods, etc.), individuals and families can focus on and achieve their educational and career goals to become economically self-sufficient.

We advocate for:

An alignment of education, workforce and social services priorities with the goals of:

• Building a strong educational system, from P-16, focused on 21st century skills and career pathways.

• Aligning funding for social services and workforce to ensure individuals and families have the support they need to remove barriers to work.

• Responding to the needs of business to ensure potential workers are ready for the jobs available now and in the future.

Hunger has a devastating impact

Ohio is ranked among the top six states where families are food insecure or do not get enough nutritious meals (Feeding America, 2011).

More than 25% of Ohio’s children live in households where there is not enough access to food. In Cuyahoga County, 34% of residents are eligible for emergency food assistance (Ohio Association of Food Banks, 2012).

Without the proper nutrition, as well as social, emotional and academic supports, children are less likely to do well in school, which leads to lower graduation rates and decreased job prospects in later years (Children’s Health Watch, June 2009).

Investments in programs that help support hungry children and families are critical

Unemployment and food insecurity are inextricably linked, and investing in food programs is investing in economic recovery:

Due to the support of food programs, more than 2 million Ohioans were able to access nutritious meals between 2011 and 2012 (Ohio Association of Food Banks, 2012).

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the largest federal nutrition program, ensures families have adequate resources for food until their household economic conditions stabilize and improve.

We advocate for:

Working with our advocacy partners focused on hunger issues to promote:

• Ongoing investment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

• Reduced eligibility restrictions for vulnerable populations that are in need of food assistance but currently do not qualify for the program.

• Investments in federal and state food programs to ensure children and adults have access to meals.