Lynn Marmer: Kroger executive tapped to lead effort to reduce Cincinnati's childhood poverty rate

More than 100,000 Tri-State kids are poor

CINCINNATI – Long-time Kroger Co. executive and former Cincinnati Public Schools school board member Lynn Marmer will oversee the effort to reduce childhood poverty in Greater Cincinnati.

Marmer will become executive director of the Child Poverty Collaborative on Feb. 1, she told WCPO Thursday. She is retiring from her position as Kroger's group vice president for corporate affairs at the end of January.

The collaborative will work to bring people together to reduce Cincinnati's childhood poverty rate.

In the city of Cincinnati, nearly half of all children younger than 18 — a stunning 47.2 percent — live below the federal poverty threshold, according to five-year estimates released as part of the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey earlier this month. That amounts to more than 30,000 children within the city limits.

For the Tri-State as a whole, one in five kids — or 105,000 children — live below the federal poverty level.

Related: New Census figures show our childhood poverty rate is getting worse

"We are a thriving community in so many ways. But we'll never really be a thriving community until everyone's included," Marmer said, explaining why she decided to take the job right after retiring from Kroger. "I've done a lot of work in hunger relief. I've done a lot of work in education. And it's just kind of a coming together."

Lynn Marmer

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley unveiled a regional childhood poverty task force during his State of the City Speech in October.

High-profile clergy, business and civic leaders agreed to lead the initiative, which has been renamed the Cincinnati Child Poverty Collaborative. Marmer said she would work to include a broad array of people in that work, including people who live in poverty and those who have just recently worked their way out of poverty.

The group's ambitious goal is to lift 10,000 children out of poverty within 5 years and help 5,000 unemployed or underemployed adults get jobs.

Money raised to fund the work will flow through the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Marmer said.

"There's already been fundraising going on, and it's been incredibly successful," she said. "In a couple days, we've raised a couple hundred thousand dollars."

A news release announcing Marmer's appointment said the vision of the collaborative is "for no child to ever grow up in poverty in our community."

"Recognizing that the causes of poverty are complex, the CPC views this as a 20-plus year effort to change the trajectory for children, setting measurable interim goals along the way," the release said.

Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and also shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. Childhood poverty is an important focus for her and for WCPO this year.

To read more stories by Lucy, go to www.wcpo.com/may. To reach her, email lucy.may@wcpo.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.

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