Momentum – Innovation

From supporting initiatives that build a community where every individual is valued, to lifting up programs that place highly skilled, recently retired professionals with nonprofits to address community needs, The Dayton Foundation and its more than 4,000 donors supported groundbreaking, collaborative and dynamic projects in fiscal year 2021.

One such project – The Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative – made headlines for producing innovative work in Greater Dayton. Five new Fellows were added to the program, which deploys retired or career-transitioning older adults to work on significant community issues, bringing the total to nine, including Senior Fellow Noreen Willhelm. Each Fellow brings talent and experience to nonprofit organizations working to solve critical community issues.

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Among the innovative projects being carried out by the Fellows is one by Debra Brathwaite, a former deputy superintendent of schools in several systems, including Dayton Public Schools. Debra’s work with Preschool Promise includes authoring an extensive report on the barriers to increased education and credentialing for early childhood teachers, designing a role for a new Preschool Promise staff person to serve as a coach for teachers and setting up study cohorts and other tools for helping teachers further their education. Thanks to this work, childcare providers will have a better pathway to earn certifications and degrees that will help increase their incomes and improve the quality of care and teaching for our youngest citizens.

Since its launch in 2017, the Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative has placed Fellows with more than a dozen organizations, working on major projects, engaging older adults as Encore volunteers and changing the conversation around aging.

The work is made possible by a generous grant from the DMH-Dayton Fund of The Dayton Foundation, which also supports another Foundation leadership initiative, the Institute for Livable & Equitable Communities. This innovative partnership with AARP/WHO, Learn to Earn Dayton, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and other community partners is building a coalition of key allies throughout the region to create an equitable, age-friendly and livable community for all. Through thought-provoking exhibits such as “Undesign the Redline,” a visually captivating traveling display that illustrates how communities like Greater Dayton often are racially segregated, and the Environmental Justice Academy, a nine-month program that trains community and nonprofit leaders to identify and address environmental challenges in their neighborhoods, strides are being made to make Greater Dayton better for all our region’s citizens.

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File date: 03.18.22


Preschool Promise

“While still in its infancy, the Promise Pathway Program already has some success stories. Teachers who previously had to stop pursuing their degrees for financial reasons have been able to return to school and finish. Del Mar Encore Fellow Debra Brathwaite (left) developed the program and helped to create the career advisor position to provide educational support for early childhood teachers. Teachers in this program have gained credentials leading directly to pay increases. Employers in the area have used it to attract new teachers. I am excited to be a part of this work and to continue to make a positive impact in early childhood education.” – James Cosby III, career advisor at Preschool Promise

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