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Kimberly Rusnak
Project Director

301-495-3036 x 170
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Closing the Opportunity Gap

The Children’s Opportunity Fund (COF) is a public-private partnership funded jointly by the Government of Montgomery County, Maryland and Montgomery County Public Schools and managed by the Greater Washington Community Foundation and its local office in Montgomery County. COF’s objective is to champion, plan, and fund strategic investments that improve the lives of low-income children and families in the county — with a specific focus on innovative, evidence-informed efforts that work to close the opportunity gap in Montgomery County.

COF does this by identifying priority areas for investment based on unmet need, aligning resources toward multi-sector collaborations serving the county’s most vulnerable youth and their families, and seeking new funding sources from public and private partners.

The Children’s Opportunity Fund is guided by and works closely with a Policy Leadership Group and Steering Committee representing leaders from government, philanthropy, business and the community. These leaders include:

Children’s Opportunity Fund Policy Leadership Group

Marc Elrich, County Executive, Montgomery County

Nancy Navarro, Councilmember, Montgomery County Council

Monifa McKnight, Interim Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools

Children’s Opportunity Fund Steering Committee

Kevin Beverly, Community Business Leader (Chair)

Joan Schaffer, Independent Consultant (Vice Chair)

Robin Riley, Director, Montgomery County Department of Recreation (Secretary)

Sophie Felts, Founder, Lead Designer at Sophie Felts Floral Design

Sharon Friedman, Director, Montgomery Moving Forward

Jess Fuchs, Director, Grants and Community Impact at Healthcare Initiative Foundation

Anna Hargrave, Executive Director, Montgomery County, Greater Washington Community Foundation

Julian Haynes, Program Officer, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

Agnes Leshner, Board Member, Montgomery's Kids

Ruschelle Reuben, Chief of Teaching, Learning and Schools at MCPS

Pat Ruppert, Professor at Montgomery College

Joyce Segarra, CPA, CliftonLarsonAllen

Zelda Wafer-Alonge, Parent Representative

COF News and Updates

Educational Enrichment and Equity Hubs in Montgomery County

 
 

When COVID-19 forced Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to close in March 2020, countless families across the County struggled to adjust to remote learning. Many students lacked technical support, internet access, and daytime supervision—especially those from lower-income families, who were already struggling before the pandemic.

In response, COF joined forces with The Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence, MCPS, and a slew of community partners to establish Equity Hubs in Montgomery County. These enrichment centers, open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and located in schools throughout Montgomery County, served kindergarten through 8th grade students and offered a safe learning environment for young people from low-income households to receive one-on-one support.

Since their founding, the Hubs have welcomed 1,500 students across 70 sites. Thanks to our incredible community partners, COF has raised over $4.6 million to support the Hubs. In January 2021, MCPS and Montgomery County Council provided another $3.6 million to support them through March 2021, when in-person learning is resuming for some students.


Equity Hub Partner Providers

Academy Child Development Center

Bar-T

Cosmic Kids

Global Children’s Center

Horizon Child Care

Kid Power

Kids Adventures

Kids After Hours

Kids Co

Montgomery Child Care Association

Rockville Day Care Association

Wonders Learning

What is the mission of the Children's Opportunity Fund?

The Children’s Opportunity Fund brings together top government leadership and dedicated community partners to plan, advocate for and fund strategic investments that improve the lives of children and families in Montgomery County.  The Fund envisions a deliberate, coordinated strategy for aligning public and private resources to ensure that all children have access to the essential services and growth opportunities they will need to thrive.

Goal 1

To provide a community-based approach for aggressively seeking out new funding sources, outside of the school system budget, to fund innovative, evidence-based efforts targeted at disrupting the social determinants that currently predict the achievement gap. COF will evaluate all interventions to determine return on investment.

Goal 2

To strategically identify priority areas for investment based upon unmet need. COF will rely on data and research into best practices for reducing opportunity and achievement gaps to support meaningful impact on a large scale.

GOAL 3

To guide the intentional alignment of resources toward effective county interagency and cross system collaborations that deliver health, education and social services to the county’s most vulnerable youth and their families to achieve maximum positive impact on improving outcomes for children and families.

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Why is the Children's Opportunity Fund necessary?

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The opportunity gap for children in Montgomery County is growing. The number of  low-income families living in the county is growing. The need for integration among health, education, and community investments for vulnerable children is greater today than ever before in Montgomery County, with over one-third of the students attending MCPS eligible for free or reduced meals. To reduce poverty and increase opportunity, the disparity in educational achievement between children from wealthy and poor families needs to be diminished. 

  • Performance Gap: Student performance at the 11 county “high-poverty” high schools lagged behind student performance at 14 “low-poverty” high schools. The majority of MCPS low-income students attend one of the 11 “high poverty” schools located on the east side of the county and in the Gaithersburg/Germantown areas.
  • Attendance Gap: Within MCPS, of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals (these are moderate- to low-income students), 7.5% of elementary school students and 10.2 % of middle school students are absent more than 20 days per year, compared to less than 5% of their peers who are ineligible for the program. 
  • Summer Learning Loss: Two-thirds of the 9th grade achievement gap in Montgomery County can be attributed in part to unequal access to summer learning opportunities

What makes the Children's Opportunity Fund unique?

  • The leadership within MCPS and county government help set the direction for Children’s Opportunity Fund investments and are leading interagency and multi-sector collaboration to better align COF and county investments among health, education, and other agencies to promote the well being of vulnerable youth and their families.

  • COF is committed to scalable, evidence-informed, systemic interventions with rigorous evaluation of outcomes to document return on investment. 

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