Business Courier: For Kids' Sake - John Pepper sees merger of CYC and JCG as smart move
Former Procter & Gamble Co. chairman and CEO John Pepper knows a thing or two about mergers. He was closely involved in P&G’s acquisition of Richardson-Vicks over-the-counter and personal health care products in the mid 1980s and oversaw the purchase of Tambrands, the maker of Tampax Tampons, in the late 1990s.
And he’s convinced the merger of local nonprofits Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates and Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, effective July 1, is a winner. The goal of the merger is to serve more students more effectively, said Jane Keller, CEO of Cincinnati Youth Collaborative. JCG has focused on drop-out prevention, working with students in their last two years of high school. CYC has services that include mentoring, that start as early as third grade and continue through college.
“This allows for young people and their families to navigate these services in a simpler fashion,” said Keller, who will be CEO of the merged organization.
Pepper was instrumental in the development of JCG, established in 1982, and the creation of CYC 25 years ago. He spoke with Business Courier Senior Reporter Lucy May about the merger. Excerpts follow.
Q: How did you become involved in these organizations?
Let me start with the CYC. My involvement in that really grew out of my being part of the National Alliance for Business. I was at one of those meetings you hope to get out of as fast as you can when I heard an electrifying speech by Assistant Labor Secretary Roger Semerad. He talked about how America’s young people weren’t prepared. He alarmed me. I came back really energized to see what we could do locally. I started talking withNelson Schwab (of Graydon, Head & Ritchey), (former Kroger Co. CEO) Joe Pichler, (Western & Southern Financial Group CEO) John Barrett, Kathy Beecham (of U.S. Bank) and others. We were very fortunate that Sister Jean Patrice Harrington, who thought she was retiring from being the president of the College of Mount St. Joseph, agreed to be our executive director.
Q: What about Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates?
That began in ’82 before I had this deep, burning commitment to do something. I was involved in it for P&G and saw it was working well at Woodward, which was P&G’s high school partner. My plea always was start earlier than the 11th grade, but it’s a money issue. My involvement in that has been much less than CYC.
Q: I understand the two organizations combined have served 160,000 young people over the years. What’s been the success rate?
Ninety-five percent of the students enrolled graduate from high school. These are children who are for the most part very challenged. And 85 percent go on to post-high school education.
Q: What’s been the key to success?
Continuity of great leadership. If you don’t have a strong CEO leading any nonprofit, you’re dead.
Q: What will the merger mean for the mission?
Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates serves 500. We in total serve 3,000. We will be able to significantly increase the number of students we serve.
Q: Why is this work important to local businesses and the region’s economy?
Does anybody seriously think we’re going to have the community or the economy we want if 30 percent to 40 percent of our young people are not even graduating from high school? This is fundamental.
Lucy May, Business Courier