The Children’s Opportunity Fund (COF) is a component fund of the Greater Washington Community Foundation (The Community Foundation) and its local office in Montgomery County. Funded jointly by the government of Montgomery County, Maryland, and Montgomery County Public Schools to leverage public funds to attract private investment, COF champions, plans and funds strategic investments that improve the lives of low-income children and families in the county. With a focus on innovative, evidence-informed efforts targeted at closing the opportunity gap, COF identifies priority areas for investment based on unmet need, aligns resources toward effective multi-sector collaborations serving the county’s most vulnerable youth and their families, and seeks new funding sources.

COF 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

  • Ike Leggett, County Executive, Montgomery County
  • Nancy Navarro, Councilmember, Montgomery County Council
  • Patricia O' Neill, Member, Montgomery County Board of Education
  • Jack Smith, Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools

Children’s Opportunity Fund Steering Committee

  • Uma Ahluwalia, Director, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
  • Gabriel Albornoz, Director, Montgomery County Department of Recreation
  • David Asai, Senior Director of Science Education, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Kevin Beverly, President and CEO, Social and Scientific Systems
  • Parker Hamilton, Director, Montgomery County Public Libraries
  • Anna Hargrave, Executive Director, Montgomery County, Greater Washington Community Foundation
  • Julian Haynes, Program Officer, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation
  • April Kaplan, Executive Director, Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families
  • Agnes Leshner, Board Member, Montgomery's Kids
  • Maria Navarro, Chief Academic Officer, Montgomery County Public Schools
  • David Petr, President/CEO, Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation

Contact

Mala B. Thakur, Executive Director
Children’s Opportunity Fund
mthakur@thecommunityfoundation.org


News & Events

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Programs level the slippery slope of 'summer slide' (Baltimore Sun Op-Ed, Aug. 24, 2017)



Montgomery's Children’s Opportunity Fund initiated by Councilmember Navarro selects leadership team and creates new partnership (Sept. 29, 2016)

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.