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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

Archer challenge spurs fundraising success for Women’s Fund Childcare Initiative

ASHLAND – Bob and Jan Archer have become well known in Ashland, not only for their own philanthropic gifts but also for the way they inspire charitable giving from others.

Bob and Jan pledged a generous $1 million toward the Women’s Fund Childcare Initiative of the Ashland County Community Foundation. In typical Archer fashion, they made their $1 million pledge at the outset of the campaign, challenging the Women’s Fund to raise $2.5 million from other donors in order to receive the Archer’s “capstone” gift.

“We cannot thank the Archers enough for coming alongside us in such a major way,” Chief Program Officer Kristin Aspin said. “Their gift was one of the first we received, and it provided exceptional momentum that has carried us forward throughout this campaign.”

Jan commented, “We were impressed with the research and planning that Kristin and the Women’s Fund Steering Committee had done before approaching us. This facility and its services will be unique in the state and will meet a huge need for women and their families in our Ashland area.”

Bob added, “We like to make challenge gifts because it gets the community involved, and it’s the right thing to do!”

The Archer’s gift helped inspire many of approximately 275 businesses, individuals and funders who have contributed $4.1 million to date, putting the committee just $400,000 shy of their $4.5 million goal.

The Archers’ $1 million paved the way for Ashland County Commissioners to approve a grant of $500,000 from federal American Rescue Plan Act funding, an anonymous family foundation to provide a grant of $500,000, and State Senator Mark Romanchuk to help secure $300,000 from the State of Ohio in support of the project.

Brenda Uselton, chair of the Women’s Fund Steering Committee of Ashland County Community Foundation, noted the committee has raised enough money to ensure that the childcare center building will be constructed in 2023.

“We are celebrating the successful fundraising that has taken place, but we also want the community to know that the dollars given now in this final stretch of the campaign are what will put the center on solid footing to be the sustainable and affordable childcare facility families and businesses need it to be,” Uselton said.

Dr. JoAnn Ford Watson, past chair of the Women’s Fund Steering Committee and a board member at ACCF, has been a champion of the Childcare initiative since its inception. She contributed $375,000 to the project.

Watson now serves as chair of the board of Foundations Community Childcare, the new nonprofit owner/operator of the future childcare center.

“We are so grateful for the Women’s Fund’s leadership, and we sincerely thank every donor who has contributed to this effort,” Watson said. “As the Women’s Fund passes the baton to FCC at the conclusion of this campaign, our board looks forward to sharing the center’s progress with the community.”

In addition to the Archers and Watson, 218 individuals and families have already contributed a total of nearly $403,000, and gifts are continuing to come in as donors are making yearend charitable contributions.

Many of the gifts made to date are unrestricted and can be used for capital or endowment, so the committee is still raising money for both capital and endowment. Individuals and businesses who give now can designate their gift for either purpose, if they so choose.

Among the 37 businesses who have contributed to the initiative to date are the following corporate donors of $10,000 or more: Barbasol Foundation; SJE, Inc.; Baker Properties; BCU Electric; Chandler Systems, Inc.; Charles River Laboratories, Inc.; Park National Bank; Lippert Enterprises, Inc.; Sutton Bank; Grandpa’s Cheesebarn; Jenbratt, Inc.; Mc. B Paving and Sealcoating, Novatex North America, Inc., Packaging Corporation of America and Shawn and Nichole Aber of Valley Transportation.

For a complete list of corporate donors, visit

“We hope this impressive list will demonstrate to our friends and neighbors in Ashland County just how much this project has resonated for our community and how much of a priority childcare is for families, businesses and the local economy,” Aspin said.

To join this list, and to help meet the needs of families and businesses in Ashland County, donate online at or mail a check payable to Ashland County Community Foundation with Childcare Initiative in the memo line to ACCF, 300 College Ave. Ashland, OH 44805.

About Ashland County Community Foundation: Ashland County Community Foundation advances philanthropy and improves the quality of life in Ashland County by connecting people who care with causes that matter. ACCF has awarded over $22 million in scholarships, grants and distributions.


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