Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

The commissioners’ commitment to equity is rooted in the principles of justice and the understanding that our country is not yet living up to some of its highest ideals, such as that people’s chances of success in the world should be based on their character, their work ethic, and their big ideas. A child’s future should not be determined by their zip code, skin color or religion, or by how much money their parents have, and good intentions aren’t enough to make the change. Equity work is about erasing disparities, and requires affirmative, systematic, and forward-thinking action.

Agency Partner: Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The commissioners’ Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) leads the effort for equity in their office, guiding a sustainable infrastructure to advance the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the ways that we recruit, retain, develop, procure, and offer our services. ODEI coordinates the commissioners’ participation in events such as the annual Pride Parade and Juneteenth celebrations, and also engages the commissioners and their team through the Racial Equity Council, which is made up of employees from throughout the BOC.

Program Highlight: Columbus Fashion Alliance

Since its founding in 2019, the Columbus Fashion Alliance has reinvested nearly $1 million in the community through programs and initiatives that are dedicated to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the fashion and retail industry, including:

Columbus Fashion Alliance
  • Innovative workforce, education, and skills development programs to help fashion and retail creatives increase their skills and earning potential.
  • Building a community and industry ecosystem that support the launch and growth of fashion-based businesses while lowering the barriers to access and entry.
  • Promoting the art of fashion and the many designers who call Franklin County home.

Columbus has the third-largest fashion economy in the nation, behind only New York and Los Angeles, and the commissioners have invested nearly $2 million in recent years to support the Columbus Fashion Alliance’s efforts, most recently for a workforce development program that focuses on retail readiness and entrepreneurship training, and which will provide hands-on, essential jobs skills training for young adults. The commissioners and the Columbus Fashion Alliance are working together to provide new opportunities in a growing industry and to make sure that the world of fashion is accessible to all.

Columbus Fashion Alliance

In 2023, ODEI hosted the first ever Franklin County DEI conference with more than 300 participants, and a focus on economic equity and development, workforce development, effective collaboration, and driving policy using data. The agency also increased its outreach to Small and Emerging Businesses Enterprises (SEBEs) by more than 100%, and expanded the County Futures program, which helps low-income Franklin County residents into middle class careers in county government. There were 12 County Futures career fairs held throughout Franklin County with 526 participants, of which 60 were hired.

ODEI also partners regularly to provide grant funding to community organizations that provide opportunities for underserved residents, providing more than $3.2 million in grants and sponsorships this year, including:


for youth programs such as the Made for Medicine program that prepares minority students for careers in medicine.


for the African American Male Wellness Agency to support the African American Male Wellness Walk and the launch of new Uplift Her initiatives to support women’s health.


for US Together for Welcoming City initiatives to support New Americans with family stability, education, health equity, civic engagement, workforce development, and other similar programing.


for Tech Corps to support the Tech Corps Hack-a-Thon in which students participate in computer science competitions.

We’re working every day in Franklin County to ensure that DEI is part of our DNA so that we can best serve all of our residents in every part of our community.

~ Kenneth N. Wilson, County Administrator

Agency Partner: Purchasing Department

The commissioners’ Purchasing Department works closely with ODEI to increase the diversity of the companies with which the county does business, and with the commissioners’ Public Facilities Management Agency to ensure that the businesses and people employed to build and maintain the county’s facilities reflect our community as a whole.

  • 504: number of purchase orders with SEBEs, a 27% increase over 2022
  • $25,106,244: dollar value of purchase orders with SEBEs, a 170% increase over 2022
  • 30.2%: SEBE participation in construction of the James A Karnes Corrections center (goal was 12%)
  • 30.4%: SEBE participation in construction of the Franklin County Crisis Care Center (goal was 18%)
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Program Highlight: Health Equity Grants

Last year, the commissioners provided grants totaling $1,683,000 to community partner organizations for the purpose of promoting equity in healthcare for Franklin County residents. The nine grant recipients were chosen from among more than 50 applicants because of their focus on reducing disparities in health outcomes primarily for populations that have been historically underserved by high-quality healthcare and health services. The grants are administered by the commissioners’ Community Partnerships Agency which has made similar grants since 2021, and which oversaw more than $10.5 million in total grant funding the year before.

Recipient organizations included the Children’s Hunger Alliance and the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio, both of which are expanding their nutritional support for at-risk youth, and the Cancer Support Community of Central Ohio and Physicians CareConnection, which are working to reduce barriers to care, including by providing education and other culturally appropriate services. In addition, Catholic Social Services will use the funding to provide preventative health measures aimed at Central Ohio’s Hispanic population, Lutheran Social Services will use it to address health concerns for residents of the Faith Mission and CHOICES domestic violence shelters, and OhioHealth’s grant will go to maternal health and infant mortality efforts.

Applicants for the health equity grants were required to not only show that they are providing healthcare to residents in need, but that they are also focused on long-term improvements in health outcomes, and also on moving health equity forward within the organization and its partners. The commissioners’ 2019 Rise Together Blueprint for Addressing Poverty in Franklin County identified disparate health outcomes as both a symptom and a cause of poverty in our community.

Health Equity Grants