League CEO Baker to serve on mayor’s anti-poverty task force


Donna Jones Baker: A leader of Mayor John Cranley's anti-poverty task force.

Donna Jones Baker: A leader of Mayor John Cranley’s anti-poverty task force.

DOWNTOWN — Donna Jones Baker, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, is one of six co-chairs selected by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley to work on the mayor’s task force to address child poverty.

The latest estimates, according to the American Community Survey, show Cincinnati’s rate has dropped to 44.3 percent, down from 53.1 percent in 2012.

The Urban League’s State of Black Cincinnati 2015: Two Cities report shows that 3 in 4 African-American children under age 6 are living in poverty. Poverty is defined as an annual income of $24,250 for a four-person household, according to 2015 federal guidelines.


Cincinnati Enquirer City Hall reporter Sharon Coolidge reported first on the mayor’s anti-poverty effort aimed at children. The goal, which Cranley spoke of during his annual State of City address Monday night at Great American Ball Park, is to lift 10,000 children out of poverty in the next three to five years and to help 5,000 underemployed or unemployed people find jobs or better-paying jobs in order to move them outside of the poverty index.

In addition to Baker, the other co-chairs are: Cranley; Sally Duffy, a Catholic nun in the Sisters of Charity order; Michael Fisher, President and CEO of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; Dr. O’dell Owens, newly appointed as the city’s medical director and former president of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College; and Tom Williams, co-owner of the Cincinnati Reds.

For Baker, involvement in this anti-poverty task force is consistent with the Urban League mission to transform generations through personal empowerment and economic self-sufficiency.

“The work we do is make sure people are not living in poverty,” she said when asked why she agreed to join the Mayor’s effort as a co-chair. “We’re about our mission in our work.”

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune will convene the summit. Its recommendations are expected to be submitted June 30 and are supposed to be ready to put into motion.

“We have a lot to be proud of, but we must be ashamed at our childhood poverty rate,” Cranley said during his address. “Our great civic renewal will not be complete without lifting up those who do not choose the dire and desperate circumstances in which they live.”

Cranley acknowledged that poverty and child poverty are bigger problems among the city’s African-Americans, who comprise 46 percent of Cincinnati’s population.

On Sunday, Oct. 11, as part of First Lady Dena Cranley’s, health initiative, free medical screens will be offered at predominantly black churches. Screenings will cover diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, HIV, behavioral health and other conditions. Cranley said 800 volunteers from 30 community partners and five hospitals are involved in making the screens available.

Here are lists from the Mayor’s office of churches and screens available:

Services Guide for Health Day

Neighborhoods List of Churches

These Companies are Transformational Supporters of the Urban League’s Corporate Heritage Annual Giving Program.