Ohio Department of Education Releases 2020-2021 Student Wellness and Success Fund Survey Data Report

The Ohio Department of Education released its 2020-2021 Student Wellness and Success Funds Report. The report summarizes how funds help eligible districts and schools and community partners implement physical, mental and behavioral health care services.  A $675-million state investment in student support initiatives from October 2019 through June 2021 has served more than 1 million Ohio students through 2,000 student support initiatives. Several school districts represented by The Ohio 8, an ACS client, participated in the study, including Cincinnati, Dayton and Youngstown public schools. Highlights of the survey include:

  • 80% of eligible schools and districts used Student Wellness and Success Funds to provide mental health programs and services.
  • Schools and districts increased community partnerships by 491 additional community partners from the previous year.
  • Of the reported initiatives, 22% were new.

Jennifer Judkins joins ACS as Senior Communication Manager

Jennifer Judkins joins Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC  as Senior Communication Manager

Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC is pleased to announce Jennifer Judkins has joined the firm as a Senior Communication Manager. Judkins will lead the firm’s strategic communication efforts to support clients nationwide.

“Jennifer has deep experience in developing and delivering information to drive and support a wide variety of internal and external communication strategies including political campaigns, marketing and public relations, community engagement, and staff training. Her expertise will only deepen ACS expertise and capacity in this vein,” said ACS CEO and Co-Founder Lori McClung.

Judkins is a professional writer, editor, and public relations professional who has spent her career advocating for her clients across a broad range of industries. She believes that in order to be an effective communicator, you must know your audience and meet them where, when, and how they want to receive information for maximum influence and change.

ACS President and Co-Founder Scarlett Bouder said, “Judkins personally and professionally aligns with the ACS commitment to the issues. Along with her experience, Jennifer understands the impact strategic communication can have on people, organizations, and communities at large. Her holistic view of partnering with clients has allowed for her to have an almost immediate impact within the firm’s portfolio,”

“Being given the opportunity to work with a female- and minority-owned business is an honor I take very seriously,” said Judkins, “I look forward to learning from and contributing to this team of amazing individuals on issues that are important, relevant, and life changing for ACS clients and those they serve.”

Judkins is currently an active member of both the Cleveland Clinic Advisory Board and the North Coast Rotary. She received her BS in Communications and MA in English from Bowling Green State University. Judkins currently resides in Avon Lake, Ohio with her husband, Dan, three children, and a dog.

About Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC

ACS is one of the only female and minority owned consulting firms in Ohio, receiving various local, national and international awards for their work. ACS has gained a national reputation for not only its advocacy, communication and strategy development expertise but also a deep understanding of matters within the early childhood, K-12, workforce, Medicaid, and health and human services fields across the non profit, government, and philanthropic sectors. Learn more about ACS at www.advocacyandcommunication.org 

The Franklin County (Ohio) RISE Initiative Supports Child Care Providers, Families with $23M Investment

Franklin County commissioners announced a $23-million, two-year investment of American Rescue Plan Act funds (Franklin County RISE) for child care providers and families who struggle to pay for child care. This partnership with Action for Children is the most significant investment in the local early childhood learning system and builds on earlier funding from the City of Columbus.  The funding is intended to help families who are facing the “benefits cliff” in which they earn too much to qualify for Publicly Funded Child Care but too little to afford child care.

Check out the Dispatch article to learn more.


ACS Senior Strategist Nikki Reiss Highlighted in Interact Health Q&A

In an interview for Interact Health’s “Health in Action” feature, ACS Senior Strategist Nikki Reiss discusses implementing and sustaining school-based health centers (SBHCs). Interact Health promotes health equity through grants, education, research, policy, and engagement and focuses on three strategic priorities: reducing tobacco use, addressing the opioid epidemic and ensuring that children have access to health care through school-based health centers.

In the interview, Reiss says school-based health centers are gaining ground in regions that benefit from a strong pediatric provider community, either through pediatric hospitals or Federally Qualified Health Centers, or because they have a state health structure that incentivizes those school-based clinics. Read the full interview here.

PRE4CLE Launches Early Learning Spaces

PRE4CLE, Cleveland’s plan to expand high-quality preschool, launched a new program named Early Learning Spaces to help high-quality child care providers in the city of Cleveland.  Early Learning Spaces will offer child care and Head Start providers grants, technical assistance, and professional development to complete facility renovations that support the health, safety, learning, and development of young children. The program is being launched through a $1-million grant from The George Gund Foundation and a matching $1-million donation from Gordon and the late Llura Gund. PRE4CLE plans to fund renovations at 12 sites this year and is in the midst of an aggressive $20-million fundraising effort to fully renovations for 80 child care centers and 70 child care homes – impacting more than 6,000 Cleveland children a year. ACS has worked with PRE4CLE since its launch in 2014.

Learn More:

Cleveland Early Learning Spaces

WEWS (Cleveland ABC)Major Initiative Launches to Improve Early Childhood Education in Cleveland

Crain’s Cleveland BusinessNew PRE4CLE Initiative Aims to Improve Early Learning Classrooms in Cleveland

Ideastream Public Media (WKSU) PRE4CLE Launches Initiative to Renovate Early Learning Facilities in Cleveland

Racism Declared a Public Health Crisis: Now What?

Two years after declaring racism a public health crisis, Cuyahoga County officials have released a follow up report on accomplishments aimed at addressing socio-economic and racial disparities. Legislation passed in May 2021 created the Department of Equity and Inclusion to enhance diversity both internally – as it relates to recruitment, hiring, and promotion – and externally – as it relates to awarding contracts, providing services, and making other investments. An article published by The Land highlights the county’s efforts.

5 Issues to Watch in 2022

2022 is off to an ambitious start. This year holds many challenges but lots of promise. ACS is closely watching five issues that will have big impact on our clients: issues related to election laws, how states use federal dollars, abortion access, debates on critical race theory and if we will continue to see governments and foundations cut red tape. Our latest newsletter offers a primer on these five issues so you can get up to speed quickly. Read it now.

A Field Guide to the 2021 World of Public Policy and Advocacy

A Field Guide to the 2021 World of Public Policy and Advocacy

Grantmaking foundations have a new go-to guidebook on how to navigate today’s world of public policy, thanks in part to Advocacy & Communication Solutions’ contributions to a new report from the Council on Foundations.

Public Policy and Advocacy for Grantmakers dropped in August 2021. It brings ACS combined decades of experience to bear with the Council’s resources for a clear, concise summary guide for grantmakers.

It includes “The Rules in a Nutshell,” two pages of do’s and don’ts for both private and public domains, and “10 Ways for Foundations to Contribute to Effective Public Policies.” These include:

  • Building internal support for policy engagement
  • Spotlighting issues needing public-policy attention
  • Working for judicial system reforms
  • Educating decision makers
  • Developing partnerships with government
  • Building funder coalitions around shared goals

There’s even a comprehensive “cheat sheet” appendix on political lobbying as seen from the foundation and grantee perspective.

To see the full report, visit the Council on Foundations.

To learn more about how ACS works with foundations and grantees across the country and about ACS’ expertise in local, state and national lobbying, see ACS Case Studies.

What’s in a Name? First Things First Knows….

What’s in a Name? First Things First Knows….

First Things First, an earliest-childhood advocacy group in Arizona that focuses on birth to age 5, does not believe in daycare.

They do believe in childcare.

“We are trying to help families understand that we don’t take care of their day. We are taking care of their children,” said Amy Corriveau, chief program officer for First Things First, which has worked closely with Advocacy & Communication Solutions on a number of issues.

Child care implies that something is happening in the environment to help my child develop and grow,” she said in a recent First Things First news item.

Evidence continues to roll in and practices continue to evolve, regarding the brain growth and learning capacity that each child develops in the first five years of life. The child’s environment during that time is critical to how growth and development play out.

Saying “childcare” instead of “daycare” is a more precise and fully-informed approach to that reality.

Days go by, but children deserve care. First things first, indeed!

Check out the whole article here

ACS Wins Silver!

Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC takes Silver in coveted Stevie® Awards International Business Award for Company of the Year 

Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS) was selected out of more than 3,700 nominations to receive a Silver award for Company of the Year in the Small Business or Professional Services category.

ACS, an Ohio-based minority and women-owned firm that has been in business for almost 20 years, received the award for its work in helping non-profit organizations, government agencies, philanthropic organizations and for-profit companies advocate for policy change and communicate effectively with audiences that have the power to effect change. ACS previously won the Bronze Company of the Year Stevie® Women in Business Award in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

One judge commented, “Highly impressive submission clearly and concisely articulating the inspiration and impact of this regional powerhouse gaining national recognition.”

The International Business Awards are the world’s premier business awards program. All individuals and organizations worldwide – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small – are eligible to submit nominations. The 2021 IBAs received entries from organizations in 63 nations and territories.

ACS is one of four US small businesses honored with the award; other winners are located in Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Cyprus and Canada. It is an honor for ACS to be acknowledged among such a large field of impressive companies from around the world. The winners were announced by the Stevie® Awards on Monday, August 16 as part of the 18th annual International Business Awards®.