Cincinnati Public Schools fighting poverty rate by expanding programs


    New census data shows nearly half of all children in the Queen City are in poverty, but Cincinnati school leaders say a recently passed levy is helping combat the problem. (WKRC)

    CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Cincinnati’s poverty rate is back on the rise after years of decline.

    New census data shows nearly half of all children in the Queen City are in poverty, but Cincinnati school leaders say a recently passed levy is helping combat the problem. They’re hoping the increase is just a blip on the radar.

    Vera Brookes has taught generations of Cincinnatians during her career with Cincinnati Public Schools.

    "I started as a teacher at Woodward High School, and then, through my teaching career, I moved into administration,” said Brookes.

    The 25-year CPS veteran says to break the cycle of poverty, you have to create more opportunities.

    "It takes a whole community wrapping around the families to help them through the different life struggles,” said Brookes.

    District leaders say CPS is trying to expand opportunities at every level.

    A 2016 levy helped fund The Preschool Promise. The money is also funding other programs like the one-to-one laptop program at CPS. Every CPS student in the fourth grade and up has a laptop they can take home.

    "Because a large percentage of our students are economically disadvantaged, they don't have that technology at home, so it's very critical for us to provide that at school," said Sarah Trimble Oliver, chief information officer at CPS. “Anything from job opportunities, health care information, students doing their homework and classwork.”

    The school district has also created community learning centers like the center at The Academy of World Languages in Evanston. At AWL, parents and students can get what they need, from financial literacy to dental care in an environment they already know.

    “The community learning center at that school is the pipeline of helping families connect to maybe an agency or a partner or someone outside of the school to build and create a better life for their family,” said Brookes.

    School leaders say this is all a part of the “Three E’s” mission, which has a goal of having all CPS students enrolled, enlisted or employed by graduation.

    “These are really important things that if we don't provide for them, they're missing out on opportunities,” said Trimble Oliver.

    Lifelong educators like Brookes say giving Cincinnati kids more opportunities will break the cycle of poverty. To do that, Brookes believes the public and private sector must work together to sustain those opportunities.

    “Being able to come up with ways to ensure everyone has opportunity, has access to that opportunity and they have the supports needed to be successful. None of us got to where we are by ourselves,” said Brookes.

    CPS is also opening up three new classrooms to expand The Preschool Promise.

    For more information on The Preschool Promise, click here.

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