Aspire is an initiative created in 2012 in Lucas County, Ohio, to serve as a convener and change agent for the scores of organizations working to help families in our community. It was created when community leaders from a broad range of organizations representing health and human services, philanthropy, education, business, government and religion recognized that despite the efforts of many groups, residents of Lucas County continued to suffer from poverty and lack of access to resources and opportunity, particularly in education. While there was great enthusiasm and strong capabilities in organizations serving our community, something was not working.
• Lucas County has the highest infant mortality rate in Ohio
• The county’s high school graduation rate is 69 percent
• 65 percent of the children who enter kindergarten are not prepared
The local leadership group determined we were missing a shared focus and accountability towards achieving specific outcomes. While every group was doing what it believed best for our residents, individual efforts were not leading to improvement of the collective good. So Aspire was created, modeled after a successful national organization called StriveTogether, to address this challenge.
We want to help harness community resources in a more productive way using data and continuous improvement methodologies. Our objective is to build transparency into the system to ensure that we are doing the right things for our children and families – establishing the right support structure to allow kids to learn, grow and thrive in Toledo.
Aspire is not a service provider, nor a funder, and there are no plans to become either in the future.
Aspire is a collaborative effort of the United Way of Greater Toledo, The Toledo Community Foundation and Lucas County Commissioners.