Close

The Columbus Dispatch: Amid political dysfunction, some institutions just work

Columbus Dispatch Editorial

1/5/2019 – With so much in the public sphere that isn’t working right now — the federal government shut down amid the border-wall fight, Ohio House Republicans squabbling over who will lead their majority for the next two years and the White House seemingly at war with itself — it’s worth giving credit to some central Ohio institutions that work well and make central Ohio lives better each and every day.

First, there’s Columbus State Community College. With a rapidly changing economy bringing new jobs that demand new skills (but not necessarily four-year degrees), community colleges are perfectly designed to help people find their way to careers that can lift them into the middle class, and Columbus State President David Harrison pursues that mission tirelessly.

In his eight years on the job, Harrison has focused on links — with employers, with other colleges and universities and with social-service agencies. That helps the college know what types of education and training to develop and helps students overcome any obstacles they face in preparing for those careers.

Columbus State is praised, and rightly so, for all the help it offers single parents, impoverished students and first-generation college students in improving their life prospects. Says Harris, “I really do think there’s an opportunity to change the trajectory for a lot of families … That’s a big part of our role at the college, and it’s going to only grow in importance.”

At the same time, though, Columbus State has expanded its role as a smart bridge to four-year degrees at traditional universities. Thanks to agreements with nine institutions across the state, including Ohio State, Ohio and Miami universities, savvy students can complete their first two years at Columbus State for a fraction of the cost and be assured of admittance to a four-year institution where they will earn their bachelor’s degrees.

And then there’s the Modern Manufacturing Work Study program, through which students work and earn at participating companies, including Honda, while taking classroom studies in a coordinated schedule. When they finish, many have a good shot at solid, full-time jobs.

Central Ohio truly is rich in higher education, but Columbus State stands out for its role of constantly innovating as jobs and students change.

Next, a regional nonprofit called Equitas Health aims its services at a narrower slice of the community — LGBTQ people — but its latest project promises to brighten the King-Lincoln District neighborhood in general.

The agency, originally called the AIDS Resource Center Ohio, already brings health-care services to communities that lack them, with clinics, medical centers and pharmacies across central Ohio. One of its locations is the Gateway Building in the King-Lincoln area, offering treatment for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, primary and behavioral-health care and dental.

Now, Equitas plans to quadruple its space there and open a store offering grocery basics, in an area that has little in the way of fresh-food sales.

That could improve the neighborhood in several ways, by boosting traffic for a restaurant in the building and creating bonds with Columbus College of Art & Design students who might patronize the store.

Central Ohio no doubt has many other people and institutions that quietly work to improve lives. Focusing on those can be a good antidote to the dismaying dysfunction so prevalent at the state and national level.

Read the original story here.