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
For the next two years, 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 distributions from the Women’s Fund to make grants supporting new childcare initiatives, or expansions of current childcare offerings in Ashland County.
2. Spearhead, and serve as the fiscal sponsor of, a new initiative designed to create additional spaces for childcare in our community with the start of a new childcare center. The Women’s Fund will convene strategic partners and raise funds to get the new center up and running. Though we will serve as a catalyst and funder, 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.
How we're moving forward
The Women’s Fund Steering Committee is in the early stages of planning this initiative. Committee members are working to identify strategic partners, develop buy-in from our local business community and secure space for the center. Once these foundational pieces are in place, the committee and its partners will identify a licensed childcare provider to operate the center.
The committee will undertake a major fundraising effort to raise seed money for this project. Donations to this project will be held in a “Women’s Fund Childcare Initiative” pass-through fund to cover start-up costs for the new center. Further, an endowment component to assist in the sustainability of the childcare center will also be included. These funds are separate from the permanently endowed Women’s Fund.