Northwest Dayton Partnership: New Initiative Aims to Build Economic and Racial Equity


Northwest Dayton Partnership aims to create two-generation, place-based programs that result in racial and economic equity.

When the Northwest Dayton Partnership launched in August, the announcement about this collaborative, place-based effort to build economic and racial equity brought a renewed sense of excitement to the region.

“The Northwest Dayton Partnership is the culmination of years of discussions and planning for how to improve outcomes for kids and families in this critical corner of our city,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “I am thrilled that this work is moving forward to intentionally focus on investing in existing community leadership and creating better outcomes for Black students. I’m grateful for the leadership of all of the partners involved and look forward to seeing this work come to fruition.”

Mike Parks
Kristina Scott, CEO of Learn to Earn Dayton, and Mike Parks, president of The Dayton Foundation, speak at the August press conference announcing the Northwest Dayton Partnership.

Boosted by an $8 million grant from Blue Meridian Partners, the Northwest Dayton Partnership brings together people and organizations working to dramatically improve results at a population level and reduce racial disparities with sustained, systemic solutions. The effort aims to take a two-generation approach to building well-being by intentionally and simultaneously working with both children and the adults in their lives. Efforts include building high-quality, early childhood education and shifting power to deeply connected, primarily African-American-led community organizations, among others.

As part of its Place Matters portfolio, national funder Blue Meridian Partners is providing catalytic support for the Northwest Dayton Partnership. The two-year, $8 million grant will help the partners develop a comprehensive six- to ten-year vision that aligns opportunities, bolsters the infrastructure critical for the community’s success and equips families to pursue their goals and thrive. Other national support for the initiative will be provided by Harlem Children’s Zone, which is sharing best practices to reinforce the Northwest Dayton Partnership’s success.

I’m grateful for the leadership of all of the partners involved and look forward to seeing this work come to fruition.
– Nan Whaley, former Dayton mayor

“We at Harlem Children’s Zone are committed to cradle-to-career models across the nation, and we have a generation of data to prove the effectiveness of place-based work,” said Kwame Owusu-Kesse, CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone. “We are inspired by the Northwest Dayton Partnership’s impactful, on-the-ground work and are excited to see the effect on the future outcomes of young people here in Dayton.”

Learn to Earn Dayton, a supporting organization of The Dayton Foundation, will convene the partners and provide them with core support to achieve a shared vision.

“Our job as the backbone organization is to accelerate the amazing work being done by deeply connected community leaders and facilitate collaboration so that all the organizations in Northwest Dayton can work towards their common goals,” said Kristina Scott, CEO of Learn to Earn Dayton.

The Dayton Foundation’s role is to provide Northwest Dayton Partnership’s team members with technical assistance on capacity building, impact investing and leveraging philanthropic investment to support partnership goals. The Foundation also is leading efforts to analyze the infrastructure needs of African American-led agencies in the community and help them to build capacity.

“Blue Meridian Partner’s generous investment in the Dayton community comes at a critical time in closing the economic gap,” said Michael M. Parks, CFRE, president of The Dayton Foundation. “Thanks to this grant, the Northwest Dayton Partnership can align and leverage resources, as well as increase linkages across agencies, to build equitable neighborhoods and improve life outcomes for area youth and families.”

The hope is that the Partnership’s impact not only will be felt locally, but have a national reach as well.

“We are looking for models around the country on how to effectively address the complexities of race, poverty and education,” said Geoffrey Canada, founder and president of Harlem Children’s Zone. “The Northwest Dayton Partnership has the potential to serve as a model on how to address, and ultimately solve, these profound issues.”