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Government Insider | May 10, 2022

May 10th, 2022

Military Appreciation Resources

Gov. Mike DeWine’s office marked Military Appreciation Month in May by announcing the launch of a new resources page for service members and their families on governor.ohio.gov. The governor’s office described the resources page as a one-stop-shop to find everything from employment opportunities to county veterans’ service offices. There are also resources for military members who are relocating to Ohio, including how to enroll children in school, information about Purple Star Schools, and how to transfer the professional license of spouses.

REAL ID, Passport Deadline

Ohioans have one year to obtain a REAL ID, U.S. passport, or military ID in order to board commercial airlines in the U.S., says the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Effective May 3, 2023, state-issued identification presented at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening checkpoints must be REAL ID.

Columbus Promise Boosts FAFSA and College Applications, Attracts Major Philanthropic Support

Columbus is fulfilling its promise of free college for Columbus City Schools seniors, with nearly 1,000 applicants so far to the Columbus Promise program, over 70 percent of which have already met all requirements to enroll. Columbus City Schools has seen Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates grow 43 percent compared to this time last year. Thanks to generous community support, the Columbus Promise has nearly met its phase one $9.5 million fundraising goal to serve the Columbus City Schools graduating classes of 2022, 2023 and 2024.

As of May 1, 728 students are “Promise-ready”, meaning they have completed the Columbus Promise application, FAFSA, the Columbus State application, and all they have left to do to qualify is graduate. Another 150+ seniors have started the application process but not yet completed it. The application will reopen this month at https://cbuspromise.com/ and will close on August 15.

Every student who completes these steps is eligible to participate in the program, but some will inevitably opt for other postsecondary options. However, this early application volume suggests the program is on track to meet its goal of enrolling 425 Promise Scholars in the first year. That would signify a 30 percent boost over and above the last three years when on average 327 students graduated from Columbus City Schools and enrolled in Columbus State the following fall.     

The program is a public-private partnership projected to cost $9.5 million through June 2025. The City of Columbus and Columbus State Community College have pledged $5 million to the effort. Philanthropic and private sector contributions have totaled $4.105 million, leaving roughly $395,000 to raise. This puts the Columbus Promise campaign at 96 percent of its fundraising goal.

While more than 150 other cities and several states are home to similar “free college” promise programs, the Columbus Promise has been praised for its inclusive and progressive model. It lasts six semesters, permits part-time students, offers $500 per semester to defray the cost of books and transportation (in addition to fully covering tuition and fees), and allows the pursuit of either an associate’s degree or another workforce credential.

Those wishing to contribute on a personal level can donate to the Columbus Promise Fund at the Columbus Foundation, where program funds are professionally managed and invested.

Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention and Resilience Program

Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA) is now accepting applications for the new Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program, which will provide nearly $70 million in grant funding for the recruitment and wellness needs of Ohio’s first responders. The $70 million in grants is part of the $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding that DeWine and the General Assembly dedicated to first responders to help them counter various pressing issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased stress and decreased staffing levels. Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies are among the first responder entities eligible for funding. The application for the program is available on the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s website. The deadline to submit a grant application is Friday, June 17 at 5 PM.

AARP Veterans Fraud Center

AARP recently launched the AARP Veterans Fraud Center, a new online education and resource center to help protect veterans, service members, and their families against fraud. To learn more about the AARP Veterans Fraud Center and to download a free copy of the new Watchdog Alert Handbook: Veterans’ Edition, go to https://campaigns.aarp.org/vets-fraud-center.

Columbus Seeking Feedback on Electric Vehicle (EV) Ready Parking Ordinance

The City of Columbus is exploring the adoption of a standardized, equitable electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure strategy that would significantly increase the number of, and access to, EV charging stations community-wide.

Sustainable Columbus, in partnership with Smart Columbus and local partners CommEN Strategies and IMPACT Community Action, is leading an equitable community and stakeholder engagement process to discuss opportunities and challenges associated with the installation of EV charging infrastructure. Stakeholders, residents, and community groups will have opportunities to provide direct input on the co-creation of an Equitable EV Readiness Ordinance for Columbus City Council consideration. 

The City has conducted over ten months of stakeholder engagement, beginning with one-on-one meetings with developers, the affordable housing sector, and community groups in 2021. In January 2022, the City launched a dedicated three-month meeting series (EV Ready Roundtables) convening a diverse set of organizational voices to co-create an Equitable EV Ready Parking Ordinance, including developers, the affordable housing sector, community-based organizations, utility companies, environmental advocates, industry professionals, and others.

EV Ready Parking Ordinances ensure that newly created parking lots and garages have EV charging stations installed and/or have the ability to be easily and affordably installed in the future. Columbus’ draft Equitable EV Ready Parking Ordinance is a reflection of the input provided by the EV Ready Roundtable participants and current and projected EV adoption and charging infrastructure data.

The informational webinars will provide an overview of the EV Ready Parking Ordinance and proposed Zoning Code amendment. For more information, please visit the city’s website: https://www.columbus.gov/sustainable/evreadyparking/.

dez bryant
Dez Bryant
Vice President of Government Relations
dezbryant@columbus.org