ASHLAND — The Women’s Fund steering committee asked themselves during a retreat in August 2020, “What’s the number one thing holding women back in Ashland County?”

The steering committee members, who operate under the Ashland County Community Foundation, identified childcare

In less than two years, the Women’s Fund steering committee created a new childcare nonprofit, Foundations Community Childcare, and fundraising for the operation is underway. 

The Women’s Fund Childcare Initiative has been in a quiet phase of its fundraising since March 2022, focused on corporate and grant dollars. So far it has raised $2.2 million of its $4.5 million goal, said chief program officer of the Ashland County Community Foundation Kristin Aspin.

More specifically, $3.5 million of that goal will be to cover construction and start-up costs for a childcare center in Ashland Business Park, and set aside $1 million for an endowment, which will help with scholarships and offsetting tuition costs. 

The childcare center would be built on donated land on Ford Drive in Ashland Business Park, which is home to 27 businesses with a total of 1,200 full-time equivalent employees. Slated to open by the end of 2023, the 12,400 square foot center will have initial capacity to serve up to 150 children, infants through school age, with room for expansion.

The Women’s Fund Childcare Initiative is opening up fundraising efforts to the community in June. Specifically, from June 1 to June 30, the electrical equipment supplier SJE, Inc. is matching the first $200,000 raised, SJE controller Larissa Willett said. 

More specifically, SJE will provide $40,000 per year throughout the course of five years, Willett said. 

“We are always working for ways as a company to support our employees, our business and Ashland in general,” Willett said. “This project hit all the boxes.”

SJE operations manager Tim Bartholomew is a part of the Foundations Community Childcare board and first brought the nonprofit to the attention of SJE.

The Foundations Community Childcare board voted during its May meeting to open a checking account with Sutton Bank, which will be used to pay beginning expenses such as letterhead, logo creation, etc. The dollars placed in the checking account are those earmarked specifically for startup, Aspin said.  

The rest of the funds, and additional funds raised, will be held by the Ashland County Community Foundation.

Community members who wish to donate towards the fund can do so online at or by mailing a check with Women’s Fund Childcare Initiative in the subject line to Ashland County Community Foundation, 300 College Ave., Ashland, OH 44805.

Also during its May meeting, the board voted to approve ACCF as the nonprofit’s fiscal sponsor, which means money contributed to the nonprofit is placed in an ACCF account and passed onto the nonprofit as needed to pay expenses.

“The reason we do that is because they’re a brand new nonprofit,” Aspin said. “They don’t have staff employees to be able to accept the gifts, record the gifts, process everything, send out thank-you (notes).

“So, we’re doing all of that on their behalf as a service, which we’ve done for other organizations in the past.”

The Women’s Fund Childcare Initiative’s goal is to raise the total $4.5 million by the end of 2022, in order to have the funding to enter the design phase this fall and begin building by spring 2023. 

When it comes to hiring a director and staff, the board did not set a hiring timeline as of its last meeting. It has begun the process of creating a job description and anticipates having a director in some capacity by early 2023.

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