Who we are
The Women’s Fund is a permanently endowed fund held at Ashland County Community Foundation and managed by the Women’s Fund Steering Committee. Annual fund distributions are used to make grants and provide scholarships that build community among women, promote women’s advancement and strengthen Ashland County women.
What we're doing
The Women’s Fund Steering Committee has committed to pursuing a two-pronged approach to expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare for working families in Ashland County. As part of this initiative, the committee will:
1. Use all 2021 and 2022 distributions from the Women’s Fund to make grants supporting new childcare initiatives, or expansions of current childcare offerings in Ashland County.
2. Spearhead a new initiative designed to create additional spaces for childcare in our community with the start of a new childcare center at Ashland Business Park. Though we are serving as a catalyst for the center’s creation and implement a plan for sustainability, we are NOT a childcare provider and will not be involved in operating the childcare center.
Through research, anecdotes from local families and conversations with our community’s social service providers and childcare providers, the Women’s Fund Steering Committee has identified childcare access and affordability as a major need in our community. In particular, demand exceeds supply for infant and toddler care as well as for center-based care outside traditional work hours. Additionally, the high cost of childcare is a barrier for many families, particularly for single mothers and low-income families with multiple children. These factors keep some parents—most often women— out of the workforce or force families into undesirable or even unsafe childcare arrangements.
We believe collaborating to address these needs will have the following benefits:
• For women and parents: Access to affordable, quality childcare allows parents to remain in the workforce and advance in their careers. It gives them the ability to provide financially for their families while meeting the physical, emotional, educational and social needs of their children.
• For children: Children need safe, stable and educational environments to thrive. Providing this in their most formative years sets them up for success in school and in their future lives.
• For businesses: When childcare resources are adequate, businesses will be better positioned to recruit and retain high-quality job applicants. They will save time and money by reducing absenteeism and turnover. They will benefit from greater workplace diversity. In addition to significant immediate workforce benefits, businesses will benefit from the better-prepared future workforce that will result from this investment in early childhood education and care.
• For community: When families and businesses in our community thrive, it lifts up our entire community. Improved access to childcare for workers will help fuel economic development. Meanwhile, drug use and crime may be reduced as a result of increased employment for parents, greater financial stability for families and the provision of positive environments for children.
Our May 2021 needs assessment—a survey of parents working in the industrial park— provided strong confirmation that a childcare center in Ashland Business Park would meet an important need for families in our community.
How we're moving forward
We have already identified strategic partners, secured a donation of property for the center and created budgets for the center’s start-up and sustainability. Committee members are establishing a new nonprofit agency to operate the center.
We are confident that with grant funding as well as support from businesses, organizations and individuals, we can raise $3.5 million for construction and startup as well as $1 million for endowment to support ongoing operations. We plan to begin construction on an approximately 11,000 square foot facility in spring 2023, with a target opening date of fall 2023.
In the news: Read the article “Foundations Community Childcare non-profit to open childcare center in 2023” by Emma Davis, Report for America Corps Member, published by Ashland Source on April 9, 2022.
Short and sweet: View a one-page summary of four key aspects of the Women’s Fund Childcare Initiative: “The Issue,” “Our Solution,” “Our Progress,” “Economic Impact”
The whole picture: Review our full project proposal, a detailed document that likely answers any remaining questions you may have.