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John Jones Comes Full Circle at HOPE Toledo

By Linda Nelson
Sojourner’s Truth Reporter


"We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else."

             — President Barack Obama


A deep commitment to service and community is at the heart of John Jones’ vision for HOPE (Helping Our Population Educate) Toledo’s directive to create and deliver a quality education from cradle to career.

“Education is the greatest civil rights effort that we can undertake,” said Jones, president of the 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization whose most recent efforts involve the HOPE Toledo Promise initiative at Scott High School.

The program, which was funded by Pete Kadens of The Kadens Family Foundation and creator of HOPE Toledo, pledged to pay four and a half years of tuition to a public college, university, or trade school for Scott High School’s entire 2020 senior graduation class and one parent from each family.

“The better our children are educated the more opportunities they will have and the better our communities will be,” Jones said about HOPE Toledo’s commitment to educational advancement for those in the Toledo community.

Jones, who grew up in Toledo’s inner city, has first-hand knowledge that a quality education can be the catalyst to closing economic gaps in low-income communities.

A degree from Central State University followed by career stints at Ernst & Young and ProMedica have opened the doors for Jones to take his place in board rooms and have become the building blocks that have brought him full circle to help others succeed.

“Our quality education concept was birthed out of questions on how we could create a program to eliminate barriers in our communities,” said Jones.

“You don’t need to look far across our landscape to see that, in our community, pursuing a secondary education is difficult. There are often too many silos created that make it hard to connect the dots from where people are to the classroom.”

According to the Ohio Department of Education, in 2019, more than 800,000 students were classified as economically disadvantaged, an 18 percent increase from 10 years ago.

Despite a plethora of contributing issues that threaten to overwhelm low-income communities and communities of color thereby keeping them on the margins of society, Jones continues the push toward a data driven emphasis on quality education and its capacity to lift the underserved out of lifelong and generational poverty.

“In order to be successful, the community needs to understand the value of education in young people,” Jones said. “Education is the great equalizer.”

For Jones, success also comes in the form of strategic partnerships and hands-on involvement.

But while he acknowledges that partnerships with like-minded organizations, which include Toledo Public Schools, ProMedica, and the Greater Toledo Community Foundation, have been vital to HOPE Toledo’s overall growth, Jones says he would like to see more community members find a place within the program.

“We have volunteers who have actively been doing this for decades,” Jones said. “But at the end of the day we need to continue to elevate the message of education.”

“We need a community who understands that early childhood education is essential to a four-year-old’s trajectory,” said Jones. “We need community volunteers who will come alongside and help us carry out that mission as well as those who will work with us as mentors on the Promise side of the program to help students make the transition from high school to post-secondary learning spaces.”

As the organization clears its first hurdles – finding stability in its first year of operation and navigating the challenges of the ongoing COVID crisis – Jones believes that the HOPE Toledo Promise project at Scott High School is just the beginning of what the organization plans to accomplish in the next five years.

“We have to be intentional,” Jones said, as the organization’s cradle to career objective continues to push to increase its capacities.

“An ideal quality education involves one that is loaded and reflects six-hour days and five-day weeks,” said Jones. “We want to see teachers compensated properly in early education spaces and we also want to see some barriers eliminated in post-secondary spaces. The better our children are educated, the more opportunities they will have, but it will take time and hard work.”

On its face, it may seem like a huge undertaking in just five years but Jones has a secret weapon that keeps him motivated and on track; family legacy and faith.

The legacy is rooted among his family’s place at Christian Temple Baptist Church where his grandmother once pastored, his father currently pastors, and where Jones himself is associate pastor. It’s where Jones says he first learned about the importance of service and the importance of sowing seeds that help to build the next generation.

“My father always told me to do the work that will produce fruit for the next generation,” Jones said. “I’m not doing this so that I can see the fruit of it, but so that my children and their children can.”

To learn more about HOPE Toledo’s Promise initiative and how you can get involved contact them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HopeToledoPromise



Copyright © 2021 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/06/21 09:50:26 -0500.

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